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Wilhelm Czymmek, um 1930
© Privatbesitz

Wilhelm Czymmek * 1906

Berner Chaussee 16 (Wandsbek, Bramfeld)

JG. 1906
ERMORDET 16.1.1945

Wilhelm Hermann Johann Czymmek, born 23.1.1906 in Hamburg-Bramfeld, 1943 Neuengamme concentration camp, died in Bremen-Farge forced labor camp on 16.1.1945

Berner Chaussee 16 (formerly Bernestraße 25/33)

The Stolperstein for Wilhelm Czymmek is laid in front of his birthplace, because his last residential address is unclear. We came across his story by chance because a descendant of the Czymmeks had contacted us with questions about a Bramfeld photo. He wanted to find out the address of the family. In the photo of the golden wedding anniversary of Joachim Hinsch and his wife, Wilhelm Czymmek's parents are in the back row, and he himself is sitting in the front row, fourth from the left, among his siblings. The family lived in a cottage in Bramfeld at least until 1929, then in Barmbek. According to descriptions, the croft was located near Anderheitsallee, had neither electricity nor running water, and was used as a smokehouse after the family moved. This description most likely pointed to the former smokehouse Krogmann, located at the then Bernestraße (parallel to Anderheitsallee) number 33. In the Hamburg address book of 1914, the address of the Czymmeks is given as Bernestraße 25/33. In the registration book for Bramfeld 1899-1904, the family's move is noted for October 1, 1900.

The Czymmeks were a typical Bramfeld working class family. The father, Karl Czymmek, came to Hamburg from East Prussia and married Martha Hinsch in 1898.

With their six children they lived in Bramfeld's north in a small croft. As a municipal worker, Karl Czymmek earned so little according to the income tax rolls of 1909 and 1915 that he did not have to pay taxes. Oldest son Otto, born in 1901, learned carpentry and went on the road.

Son Karl, born 1904, learned carpentry, worked for Blohm & Voss and emigrated to the USA in 1929. Wilhelm, born in 1906, worked as a coal carrier. His sister Frieda, born in 1900, began working at the age of ten in the Max Bahr family in Bramfeld - the parent company of the later DIY chain.
A great-nephew of Wilhelm Czymmek wrote to us: "She looked after the Bahrs' children, helped in the kitchen and got a 'good lunch' there, as she told us. In the afternoon, school began for my grandmother. She worked for the Bahrs until 1914. The Bahrs were very generous. Since my grandmother's parents were poor, the Bahrs set up my grandmother's own savings account, which she received after confirmation, so that she later had a dowry." There were two other sisters, Martha, born in 1903, and Anna, whose year of birth is unknown to us.

About Wilhelm Czymmek, his great-nephew recorded the following family memories: "My grandmother told me that he liked to do gymnastics and, like many at that time, was in a gymnastics club. In our family Wilhelm Czymmek was called Uncle Willi. In the 1930s, our great-grandparents and my grandparents lived in Barmbek. Wilhelm Czymmek also worked there as a coal carrier, and probably lived there as well.

Wilhelm Czymmek was an active member of the SPD and decided to go underground after the Nazis came to power in order to work politically against the Nazis. My father (born in 1926) could remember how Christmas 1933 or 1934 my great-grandparents brought his uncle Wilhelm Czymmek to my grandparents and then celebrated Christmas together. After that, my father did not see Wilhelm Czymmek again until after the war began in the spring of 1940. In the meantime my grandparents and my great-grandfather Karl Czymmek lived in our house in Langenhorn. Wilhelm Czymmek came to our house. My father remembered that he was wearing old worn-out clothes and sneakers. Sneakers were very unusual in the street scene at that time. Wilhelm Czymmek wanted to talk to his father, Karl Czymmek. He said he wanted 'papers' from him. What exactly these papers were, had always remained unclear to my father. It came to a very heated argument between Wilhelm Czymmek and his father in our garden. As a result, he walked away without the 'papers'.

My grandfather met Wilhelm Czymmek again later by chance at the Barmbek train station. Between 1942 [the 1943 electoral register indicates that W. C. had been registered in Winterhuder Weg since August 1942, author's note] and 1944, Wilhelm Czymmek must have been arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg. From Neuengamme he was transferred to the Bremen/Farge subcamp.

In Bremen/Farge, about 10,000 people were working daily on a large submarine bunker, of whom about 3,000 were concentration camp prisoners. The SS calculated that the prisoners could work an average of nine months with daily 12-hour shifts before they died from exhaustion or illness and were then replaced by new prisoners. My uncle could remember the doorbell ringing at our front door in January 1945. It was the police. They told my grandmother that her brother Wilhelm Czymmek had died in the Bremen/Farge satellite camp on January 16, 1945, and handed her a small note with these details: ",...died of symptoms of poisoning through his own fault. Cremation took place in Bremen. Death certificate can be obtained from the Neuengamme registry office.'"

Further research into Wilhelm Czymmek's fate at the Hamburg SPD, the archives of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and the Ernst Thälmann Memorial was unsuccessful. Czymmek did not appear as a defendant before the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court, where offenses of political resistance were tried.

In the penal files, however, it is noted that between 1933 and 1942 he was sentenced four times for property offenses before the district court to terms ranging from 10 days to five months and was transferred to the Glückstadt state labor institution on November 17, 1942. The death register entry at the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial site contained the following information: "Denomination: Protestant; marital status: not married; occupation: transport worker; place of death: Bremen-Farge, labor camp; cause of death: poisoning by antifreeze; reporting person: Apenburg, Otto." Otto Apenburg, as criminal secretary, was head of the political department at Neuengamme concentration camp. His task was to monitor the inmates and to camouflage murders by providing false information in the death register.

Whether the reported poisoning by antifreeze was brought about by Wilhelm Czymmek himself - for whatever reason - or was Apenburg's invention remains open.

In the death book of the memorial it is noted: "Wilhelm Hermann Johann Czymmek. Transport worker, born on January 23, 1906 in Hamburg-Bramfeld/Germany, died on January 16, 1945 in the subcamp Bremen-Farge (submarine bunker Valentin) prisoner number 25809."

The high prisoner number indicates that Czymmek came to Neuengamme in 1944 (late 1943: prisoner numbers up to 25700. Since the Bremen-Farge bunker project was not operated with labor from Neuengamme until July 1, 1943, it seems plausible that he was sent to Neuengamme in early 1944).

According to information from the Neuengamme Memorial, there were three prisoners who were assigned the number 25809. One of these prisoners was admitted on January 10, 1944. According to information from the memorial Bunker Valentin, Czymmek was admitted to Neuengamme on 14 October 1943 with prisoner number 23859. According to information in the Hans Schwarz estate in Neuengamme, Wilhelm Czymmek's grave is located in the Bremen-Riensberg cemetery, at the honorary grave site CC 1873.

An employee of the memorial told us in 2011 the cemetery Bremen-Osterholz. According to the cemetery management of the Osterholz Cemetery (Bremen), the perished concentration camp prisoners from Bremen-Farge were cremated at the Riensberg Cemetery. The urns were then initially stored in an outbuilding of the crematorium. In 1956, the Bremen Senate decided to consolidate all war victims (soldiers, forced laborers, concentration camp prisoners) from the surrounding cemeteries centrally at the Osterholz cemetery and to create dignified burial places and memorials there. Since then, the perished concentration camp prisoners have been buried in the Osterholz cemetery in field K. Wilhelm Hermann Johann Czymmek is also buried there.

Translation by Beate Meyer
Stand: January 2022
© Ulrike Hoppe

Quellen: StaH, 423-3/3 I C II 1 Einkommensteuerrolle 1894–1916; StaH, 242-1 II Abl. 13 und Abl. 16 Strafvollzugsanstalten; StaH, 322-8 Bd. 2 A 41/4 Bd. 2 Meldewesen Bramfeld 1899–1904; StaH, 322-8 Bd. 2 A 49 K 4656 Steuer- und Wahlkartei 1943; Hamburger Adreßbuch 1914 Film 170; KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, Sterberegister und Totenbuch, Hans-Schwarz-Nachlass; Hermann Kaienburg, Das Konzentrationslager Neuengamme 1933–1945, Bonn 1997; Raymond Portefaix u.a., Hortensien in Farge, Überleben im Bunker "Valentin", Bremen 1995; Herbert Wagner, Die Gestapo war nicht allein, Münster 2004; Stadtteilarchiv Bramfeld, Briefwechsel mit T. H. 2011; Stadtteilarchiv Bramfeld, Briefwechsel mit der Gedenkstätte Neuengamme 2011; Stadtteilarchiv Bramfeld, Briefwechsel Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung 2011; Auskunft Kathrin Herold, Denkort Bunker Valentin, v. 25.10.2011; Stadtteilarchiv Bramfeld, Telefonauskunft Ernst-Thälmann-Gedenkstätte 2011.

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