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Hertha Coutinho * 1903
Brahmsallee 11 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Hertha Coutinho, born 3/2/1903 in Hamburg, deported to Theresienstadt on 7/15/1942, deported on to Auschwitz on 10/9/144 and murdered there
Hertha Coutinho came from a family whose roots reached back to Portugal for many generations. There and in Spain at the end of the 15th century, Jews were deprived of their faith and their security by forced baptisms and persecution. The involuntary new Christians, however, were not accepted by the Christian population. The hostilities in Portugal culminated in the pogrom of Lisbon in 1506, in which many people were killed. This resulted in a wave of emigration that took the new Christians to where the families found shelter and were able to use their mercantile skills to build new existences. In the second half of the 15th century, settlements formed in southern France, Italy and the Netherlands (Bruges and Antwerp), from 1590, the Sephardim, as they were called on account of their origins in Spain and Portugal, settled in Amsterdam, Emden and Hamburg. The name Coutinho is present in Hamburg and Glückstadt in the 17th century.
On May 9, 1894, Hertha’s parents Solms Coutinho (born 4/27/1869 in Hamburg) and Louise Aronson (born 1/22/1874 in Leipzig) married and moved into their first common home in Rutschbahn 22.
Solms Coutinho was the firstborn child of Isaac (born 18365, died 1903) and Pauline Coutinho, née Meyer (born 1839, died 1907); he was followed by his siblings Agathe (born 1876, murdered in the Lodz ghetto), Annita (born 1878, died 1880), and Carl (born 1880, died 1925). All the Coutinhos’ children were born in Hamburg.
Louise was the first common child of her parents Adolf (born 1851 in Plau in Mecklenburg, died 1899 in Bergedorf) and Caroline Margarete Aronson, widowed Schröder, née Frels (born 1849 in Friedrichstadt, died 1929 in Bergedorf). Three further children were born in Hamburg, Henny (born 1876), Elsa (born 1877) and Albert (born 1881). The four Aronsons had a half-sister from their mother’s first marriage, Auguste Henriette Juliane Schröder (born 1871).
Solms Coutinho provided for his family’s livelihood by working in his father’s company, "Coutinho & Meyer, Lithographische Anstalt und Steindruckerei" (lithography and stone printing), which he took over after his father’s death and ran it until his brother Carl succeeded him in 1910. Carl died in 1925, and the company was sold. From then on, Solms focused on his own cigar business, "Solms Coutinho Zigarrenagentur”, Louise cared for the family and their household.
Her Son Sophus, born 2/26/1898 at Rutschbahn 26, was the first of four children. He attended the Wahnschaffschule, a public school popular with Jewish parents up to his graduation from the 10th grade. After that, Sophus began a commercial apprenticeship at a Hamburg company, which he had to interrupt because of health problems, but he was able to complete his training at his father’s cigar business. He remained there after his father’s death on March 29, 1925 until the company had to close; subsequently, he acted as a free-lance salesman for various cigar manufacturers.
A present Sophus received from his parents as a kid had decisive influence on his further life: a small greenhouse with three cacti, which led him to develop a passion for raising succulents. He was in regular contact with the employees and the management of the Hamburg botanical gardens and expanded his knowledge of raising and caring for cacti. Pretty soon, there was no longer room for the prickly plants at the family home, now in Johnsallee 63. His father solved the problem by donating a greenhouse to the botanical gardens (which is said to have cost 40,000 marks) that was named after his son, so that Sophus had a place to continue his passion professionally (the Sophus Solms conservatory was destroyed in the air raids of July 1943).
Sophus Coutinho was among the almost 900 Jewish men arrested by the Gestapo in Hamburg after the pogroms of November 9/10, 1938. Most of them were taken from the Fuhlsbüttel police prison directly to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg north of Berlin. The purpose of this imprisonment was to humiliate the men and force them to leave Germany. Sophus Coutinho was detained in Sachsenhausen from November 15 to December 7, 1938, and again in Fuhlsbüttel from March 1 to 8, 1939. This second arrest was allegedly made following a denunciation for "racial defilement.” However, there is no record of further investigations. Sophus understood his second arrest as a final warning and succeeded in fleeing to Great Britain.
In spite of the fact that he lacked formal training as a gardener, he got a job at Kew Gardens near London on account of his profound knowledge of cacti. He worked at Kew until 1955. Sophus Coutinho died in England on March 14, 1975.
His brother Adolf was born on 3/1/1900 at Reinbeckerweg 54 in Bergedorf. As the family moved several times, he attended the Wahnschaffschule in Hamburg, and later switched to the Hansaschule in Bergedorf. After graduating from junior high school in 1916, Adolf left Hamburg and became an agricultural apprentice on a large farm in Mecklenburg. After completing this training, he returned to Hamburg to study agriculture at the university, earning his diploma in 1922. He worked in his occupation learnt until 1925, when he switched to the tobacco business like his father and brother. In 1927, he married Anna-Elisabeth Schnell (born 1906 in Bremen), who was not Jewish. Two sons were born in Hamburg, Solms, named after Adolf’s father, in 1928, Bernt in 1929. In May 1938, Adolf Coutinho was arrested, indicted for alleged "racial defilement” and convicted. He served his sentence until May 1942. Only two months later, he was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto on July 15, 1942, together with his sister Hertha and their mother Luise. Adolf’s wife had officially divorced her husband in 1941 in order to protect herself and her children from further persecution – as she testified after the war.
Hertha Coutinho was born 3/12/1903 at Bogenstrasse 23 in Eimsbüttel. Only few biographical traces of her are left. Her mother described the family’s financial situation as very good, so that all the children could receive a sound education. Hertha, however, presumably never had a job. Her culture tax card at the Jewish Community does identify her as a "clerk”, but she never paid tax from an income of her own. Notes confirm that she was supported by her mother.
After her father’s death, she remained with her mother, presumably to support her in the household. In July 1932, the two of them and Hertha’s brother moved from the large apartment in Johnsallee 23, where the family had lived since 1915, to Brahmsallee 11, 2nd floor. Hertha seems to have had a special relationship to her brother, helping him care for his cacti and also when he presented his plants at shows.
Irma, the youngest of the four Coutinho children, was born on 10/24/1905, when the family lived at Hallerstrasse 4. Nothing is known about her short life. She died at the age of eleven of an inflammation of the heart sac, probably caused by rheumatism, on November 10 1916. She is buried next to her father Solms at the Jewish cemetery in Ilandkoppel in Hamburg-Ohlsdorf. The epitaph on her tombstone reads: Ein kurzer, heller Sonnenstrahl, warst Du in diesem Erdental. In unserer Herzen blieb zurück, Dein sonniges Lachen, Dein lieber Blick. – "You were a brief, bright beam of sunlight on this earth. Your sunny smile, your kind glance remain in our hearts.”
Hertha, her mother Luise and her brother Adolf had to join the first large deportation transport from Hamburg to the Theresienstadt ghetto on July 15, 1942.
Hertha und Adolf were deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp during the "1944 autumn transports” between September 28 and October 1944. Adolf was summoned for the first transport on September 28, Hertha for the transport on October 9. Both were murdered in Auschwitz.
About 11,000 inmates remained in Theresienstadt after these mass deportations, among them 70-year-old Luise Coutinho. She survived the ghetto and returned to Hamburg after the liberation. For a short while, she lived with her half-sister Auguste, married Böhle, at Rothenbaumchaussee 114.
In March 1946, she left Hamburg for good to join her son Sophus in London, where she died on February 9, 1962.
Stumbling Stones in Hamburg commemorate Hertha Coutinho before the house in Haus Brahmsallee 11, her brother Adolf before the house at Hansastrasse 21 and her aunt Agathe Blanck, née Coutinho, before the house at Isestrasse 36.
Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Christina Igla
Quellen: 1; 5; 6; 9; StaH, 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft-07942/39; 242-1 II Staatsanwaltschaft II- 13124; 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident_FVg 4181(Sophus C.); 332-5 Personenstandsunterlagen _8033/673/1916 (Sterbeurkunde Irma C.), _8565/186/1894 (Heirat Coutinho/Aronson), _9142/429/1898 (Geburtsurkunde Solms C.), _8099/481/1929(Sterbeurkunde C.M.A.), _13361/5/1900 (Geburtsurkunde Adolf C. ); 332-8 Melderegister "Toten-und Verzogenenkartei", Film Nr. 4343; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung_ 2511 (Louise C.), _ 21257 (Sophus C.); 352-5 Todesbescheinigung _ 1916/Sta3/673 (Irma C.), _ 1925/Sta3a/631 (Solms); 353-34 Abrechnung Schutzhaftkosten Gefängnis Fuhlsbüttel; 522-1_Jüdische Gemeinde_995a Band1 und Band2 (Portugiesische Gemeinde Geburtsregister); Hamburger Adressbuch –online– (Jahrgänge von 1877–1943) (Zugriff 20.,21., 22.1.2016); Böhm, Sephardim, in: Juden in Hamburg, S. 21–40; Hoffmann, Schule, S. 103; Studemund-Halevy, Biographisches Lexikon, S. 377f.; Gottwaldt/Schulle, "Judendeportationen", S. 435–439; www.archive.org/stream/gartenfloramonat71rege/gartenfloramonat71rege_djvu.txt (Zugriff am 31.1.2016).
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