Search for Names, Places and Biographies

Already layed Stumbling Stones

back to select list

Porträt Sella Amalia Cohen, 1936
Porträt Sella Amalia Cohen, 1936
© StaH

Sella Cohen * 1893

Großneumarkt 56 (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)

JG. 1893
"VERLEGT" 1940

further stumbling stones in Großneumarkt 56:
Bertha Cohen, A(h)ron Albert Cohn, Thekla Daltrop, David Elias, Theresia Elias, Louisa(e) Elias, Helene Martha Fernich, Martha Minna Fernich, Camilla Fuchs, Siegmund Josephi, Robert Martin Levy, Hertha Liebermann, Fritz Mainzer, Elsa Nathan, Ruth Nathan, Siegfried Neumann, Fanny Neumann, Lieselotte Neumann, Mirjam Neumann, Max Leo Neumann, Therese Neumann, Bela Neumann, Josef Polack, Bertha Polack, Eva Samuel, Rosa Therese Weil, Bernhard Weil, Rosa Weinberg, Siegfried Weinberg

Sella Amalia Cohen, born on 7 Oct. 1893 in Hamburg, murdered on 23 Sept. 1940 in the Brandenburg/Havel euthanasia killing center

Stolperstein in Hamburg-Neustadt, Grossneumarkt 56

Sella Amalia Cohen was the second youngest of five children of the Jewish couple Joseph Hirsch Cohen and Bertha, née Simon.

Bertha Simon was born in 1857 as the daughter of "gold and silver worker” Isaac Behr Simon and his wife Sara, née Frank, at Neustädter Neustrasse 86. Bertha’s father was a "well-known jeweler” based at Wexstrasse 1.

Bertha’s husband, Joseph Hirsch Cohen, born on 12 Sept. 1845, came from Wesselburen, Dithmarschen administrative district. When she married the traveling salesman Joseph Hirsch Cohen is not known.

At the time Bertha and Joseph Hirsch Cohen’s daughter Sella was born, the Cohen family lived at Rosenhofstrasse 10 in the former district of Hamburg-St. Pauli (today Sternschanze). Her brother Henry Jire was born on 12 Sept. 1892 at Altonaerstrasse 60, also in St. Pauli. The sisters Rosa Therese, born on 1 Mar. 1896, Minna Lea, born on 14 Feb. 1897, and Ella Wilhelmina, born on 22 May 1899, were born in the home at Alter Steinweg 63 in Hamburg-Neustadt. Minna Lea died on 16 Aug. 1897, Ella Wilhelmina on 9 July 1899.

Joseph Hirsch Cohen had been seriously injured during his military service as a "private” ("Gemeiner,” i.e., a common soldier without military rank). He was discharged from active service in 1876 after a femoral hernia and a double inguinal hernia. He died on 2 Aug. 1915.

Sella and her sister Rosa were trained as office clerks after their school years. Both lived in their mother’s household. On 25 Oct. 1918, 25-year-old Sella was committed from the Israelite Hospital to the Friedrichsberg "lunatic asylum” ("Irrenanstalt Friedrichsberg”) due to "melancholia.” After being discharged for a short time at the mother’s request, Sella was admitted again at the beginning of 1919 on the grounds of a "simple psychological disorder” ("einfache Seelenstörung”). The admission was accompanied by an expert opinion by Walter Julius Otto Cimbal, then senior physician and later chief physician of the psychiatric department of the Altona Municipal Hospital. In it he described Sella as follows: "A 25-year-old stocky girl of delicate build, moderately nourished, brown-colored all over her body and face, a marked gypsy type.” It is not clear whether Cimbal’s deprecatory description had any influence on Sella’s treatment. Cimbal joined the Nazi party (NSDAP) in May 1933 and took over functions in the "German General Medical Society for Psychotherapy” ("Deutsche allgemeine ärztliche Gesellschaft für Psychotherapie”).

Sella Amalia Cohen remained in Friedrichsberg with short interruptions on leave until her transfer to the Hamburg-Langenhorn State Hospital (Staatskrankenanstalt Hamburg-Langenhorn) on 30 Apr. 1923.

In 1928, her mother Bertha agreed to have Sella’s diagnosed schizophrenia treated with "fever therapy” ("Fieberbehandlung”). According to the state of science at the time, patients were thus infected with malaria pathogens in order to cause a "changeover,” a changed reaction, due to a high-fever disease. However, Sella’s condition remained unchanged. Further therapeutic measures during her long stay in Langenhorn were apparently no longer undertaken. On 28 Oct. 1937, Sella Cohen came to the Oberaltenallee care home (Versorgungsheim Oberaltenallee).

In the spring/summer of 1940, the "euthanasia” headquarters in Berlin, located at Tiergartenstrasse 4, planned a special operation aimed against Jews in public and private sanatoriums and nursing homes. It had the Jewish persons living in the institutions registered and moved together in what were officially so-called collection institutions. The Hamburg-Langenhorn "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Hamburg-Langenhorn) was designated the North German collection institution. All institutions in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg were ordered to move the Jews living in their facilities there by 18 Sept. 1940.

Sella Cohen arrived in Langenhorn on 18 Sept. 1940. On 23 Sept. 1940, she was transported to Brandenburg/Havel with a further 135 patients from North German institutions. The transport reached the city in the Mark (March) on the same day. In the part of the former penitentiary that had been converted into a gas-killing facility, the patients were immediately driven into the gas chamber and murdered using carbon monoxide. Only Ilse Herta Zachmann escaped this fate at first (see corresponding entry).

We do not know whether, and if so, when Sella Cohen’s relatives became aware of her death. In all documented death notices, it was claimed that the person concerned had died in Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German) east of Lublin. Those murdered in Brandenburg, however, were never in this town. The former Polish sanatorium there no longer existed after SS units had murdered almost all patients on 12 Jan. 1940. Also, there was no German records office in Chelm. Its fabrication and the use of postdated dates of death served to disguise the killing operation and at the same time enabled the authorities to claim higher care expenses for periods extended accordingly.

Sella Cohen’s sister Rosa Cohen and her husband Bernhard Weil, born on 23 July 1886, were deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941. Bernhard Weil’s divorced wife, Fanny Weil, née Simons, born on 12 Dec. 1883 in Cologne, was also deported on 30 Oct. 1941 from Cologne to "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz).

In June 1920, Henry Jire Cohen, Sella’s brother, had married Karoline Michaelis, born on 24 June 1897 in Berlin-Adlerhof. The Cohen couple had two sons, Joachim, born on 7 Apr. 1922, and Norbert Nathan, born on 29 Sept. 1924.
On 15 June 1938, the couple Henry Jire and Karoline Cohen were detained in the Fuhlsbüttel police prison (until 1936, Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp). After a short trial in the criminal justice building, presided over by a judge in SS uniform, Henry Jire Cohen was ordered to leave Germany as soon as possible. He fled Germany at the end of Dec. 1938 and found refuge in Shanghai.

Karoline Cohen, her mother Johanna Michaelis, and her mother-in-law Bertha Cohen were deported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942 along with the children Norbert Nathan, and Joachim. Almost three months later, on 13 Oct. 1942, Bertha Cohen died, according to the official death notice, of enteritis and old age.

Johanna Michaelis was deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz on 15 Oct. 1944. Joachim Cohen followed her only one day later. Three days later, on Oct. 19, Karoline Cohen and her youngest son Norbert Nathan were on the next transport to Auschwitz, a journey into certain death.

Henry Jire Cohen, who eked out a living as a shoemaker in Shanghai, was the only survivor of his family. He died in the USA on 30 Dec. 1967.

The fates of Bertha Cohen, née Simon, her children, children-in-law and grandchildren Joseph Cohen, Henry Jire Cohen, Joachim Cohen, Karoline Cohen, Norbert Nathan Cohen, Bernhard Weil, Rosa Therese Weil, née Cohen, only briefly outlined here, have been described in separate biographical accounts (see corresponding entries).

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: March 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; AB; StaH 133-1 III Staatsarchiv III, 3171-2/4 U.A. 4, Liste psychisch kranker jüdischer Patientinnen und Patienten der psychiatrischen Anstalt Langenhorn, die aufgrund nationalsozialistischer "Euthanasie"-Maßnahmen ermordet wurden, zusammengestellt von Peter von Rönn, Hamburg (Projektgruppe zur Erforschung des Schicksals psychisch Kranker in Langenhorn); 332-5 Standesämter 450 Sterberegister Nr. 1109/1899 Ella Wilhelmine Cohen, 2400 Geburtsregister Nr. 896/1896 Rosa Therese Cohen, 9082 Geburtsregister Nr. 2193/1892 Henry Jire Cohen, 9093 Geburtsregister Nr. 2470/1893 Sella Amalia Cohen, 13172 Geburtsregister Nr. 1722/1899 Ella Wilhelmine Cohen; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn 1995 Abl. 1 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26.8.1939 bis 27.1.1941, 1995 Abl. 2 Nr. 14456 Patientenakte Sella Amalia Cohen; 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge – Sonderakten- 1066 (Bertha Cohen); UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patienten-Karteikarte Sella Amalia Cohen der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg, UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patientenakte Sella Amalia Cohen der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg. Klee, Ernst, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich, Frankfurt a. M. 2005.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

print preview  / top of page