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Mendel Arendar * 1886
Heinrich-Barth-Straße 11 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Mendel Emil Arendar, born 6 May 1886 in Brody, Galicia, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Mendel Emil Arendar was born in 1886, the first son of his parents Samuel Arendar, a tailor, and Chassel Rebecca Arendar, née Helfer. Six years earlier Chaja Mirl Tänzer, née Arendar or Helfer, was born, on 27 November 1880, also in Brody.
Before her marriage to Samuel, Chassel Rebecca had lived in a common-law marriage with Joseph Racker. They had at least one son and possibly a daughter. Max/Mayer Helfer was born on 10 April 1878 in Brody. He was Mendel Arendar’s half-brother. According to Charles Kraus, Mendel’s great-grandson, Clara Helfer was born on 25 November 1873. She would have been Mendel’s half-sister.
The Helfer/Racker and Arendar families lived in Brody, the "most Jewish town in the entire Habsburg Empire.” The town, on the border to Russia and near the city of Lviv, was a crossroads for the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe. The principle languages spoken there were Yiddish and German.
Mendel Arendar moved to Hamburg in 1913 and earned his living as an independent tailor. He lived with his half-brother Max Helfer, who was also a tailor, in an apartment at Grindelallee 168 III. Helfer had applied for citizenship in Hamburg, and it was granted to him on 16 January 1913. The two men worked together as tailors at Grindelallee 168.
It is unknown whether Mendel Arendar fought in the First World War. His name is not listed in the muster rolls of the Hamburg Military Commission, and there is no evidence in other records that he participated in the war.
On 10 February 1922 Mendel Arendar married Anna Wallach (see Biographies: Anna Arendar) in Hamburg. According to their marriage certificate, they had not yet moved in together: Mendel still lived with this half-brother at Grindelallee 168, and Anna with her parents at Heinrich-Barth-Straße 11 III. Their daughter Charlotte Herta Gisela, called Lotte, was born on 15 January 1923. Four years later their son Leonhardt Arendar was born, on 14 December 1927.
From 1925 to 1928, the family lived at Heinrich-Barth-Straße 11 III, the same address as Anna’s parents, Amalie and Wilhelm Wallach. It is unclear whether both families shared an apartment on the third floor, or whether there were several apartments there.
Mendel Arendar worked as a tailor with his half-brother at Grinelallee 168. The Hamburg address book lists his address from 1928 to 1933 as Rappstraße 11. According to Charlotte Kraus and Len Hardy Adams, Anna and Mendel Arendar’s children, the family lived on Rappstraße until 1932. They were registered with the German-Israelitic Community under this address. It is likely that the family lived in the apartment on Rappstraße and that Mendel worked on Heinrich-Barth-Straße. He earned around 300 RM per month, which allowed him and his family to live a well-to-do life. Anna was even able to hire a girl to help with her daily chores. Mendel Arendar’s income decreased after 1929 during the Great Depression. On 26 January 1931 he became a partner in his half-brother Max Helfer’s company – probably a tailor’s shop.
On 21 June 1932 the Arendar family moved to a 5½-room apartment on the first floor of Heinrich-Barth-Straße 11. The rent was 85 RM a month. It was one floor down from Anna’s parent’s apartment.
On 5 April 1933 Mendel Arendar changed his status in his half-brother’s company to become a silent partner. The Nazi Party had called for a nationwide boycott of Jewish shops on 1 April 1933, and had begun pushing Jews out of the German economy. It is possible that this was the first time Mendel Arendar had personally felt the influence of the new government, and didn’t want to attract attention as a partner in a company. After 19 March 1933 he ran his own tailor’s shop, the "Viennese Tailoring Shop” (Wiener Maßwerkstätte), at Heinrich-Barth-Straße 11. He worked there alone, without the help of employees or his wife, in a room that had been converted to a tailor’s workshop.
The family’s finances worsened increasingly in 1935 as a result of the persecution of German Jews. Many "Aryan” Germans avoided Mendel Arendar’s tailor’s shop – either for fear of reprisals or because they supported the Nazi ideology. By the end of the 30s, his customers were nearly all Jews, most of them Polish Jews.
From that point onwards the Arendar family lived "from hand to mouth,” as Leonhard said in 1955, and received one warm meal each day from the Jewish Community. Both the Arendars and Anna’s parents rented out rooms in their apartments. By the end of 1938 three rooms had been let out in order to bring in enough money to pay the rent of 85 RM.
Charlotte and her brother Leonhard Arendar were growing up in Hamburg during this time. Charlotte attended the German-Israelitic Community’s Girls’ School on Karolinenstraße. There she received a conventional religious education, but, according to Harrison Cohen, the Arendar family was not particularly religious.
In the spring of 1938, her parents withdrew Charlotte from the school without a finishing certificate because of the political situation. They wanted her to train for a skilled trade in preparation for emigration. Anna und Mendel Arendar had probably planned for the family, or at least the children, to emigrate.
Leonhardt Arendar attended the Talmud-Torah School next to the Bornplatz Synagouge, only a few blocks from his home, from 1934 to 1938. Like the Girls’ School, it was a Jewish school with a secular education. Leonhardt was a very good student. His parents hoped that he would go on to study at a university. Under normal circumstances Mendel Arendar would have been able to finance his son’s studies. Leonhardt wanted to be a civil engineer, while his parents hoped that he would study medicine or law.
Charlotte apprenticed as a dress-maker at the Hirschfeld Brothers clothing store from 1 April 1938 to 10 November 1938.
The November pogrom in the night of 9-10 November 1938 (Kristallnacht) had significant consequences for the Arendars, as well as for many other Jews in Hamburg. On 10 November 1938, the Harburg Synagogue and the Bornplatz Synagogue were severely damaged, as were numerous Jewish homes and businesses. In the following days the police arrested between 20,000 and 30,000 Jews in the entire Reich and put them into "protective custody” in concentration camps. The pogrom was intended to induce the Jews remaining in the German Reich to emigrate.
Mendel Arendar was among those arrested by the Gestapo – on 10 November 1938 while on his way to his half-brother’s. His wife Anna received a call that she could pick up his keys and wallet from the police station. She didn’t know where her husband had been taken, or for how long he would be gone.
A further result of the November Pogrom was the Aryanization of Jewish businesses. According to a law passed on 12 November 1938, they had to be closed by the end of the year. The Hirschfeld Brothers store on Neuer Wall, where Charlotte Arendar was doing her apprenticeship, was one of the companies that was Aryanized after the November Pogrom.
After Mendel Arendar’s arrest, the family could no longer support itself. There was no longer any income from his tailor’s shop – in 1938 it had earned about 60 RM per month. The family had no property, no savings, and no valuables, and the money from renting out rooms brought at the most 60 RM a month.
On 18 November 1938 Anna applied for welfare subsidies. On 1 December 1938 her application was approved for three months, and she was granted 57 RM per month.
Anna Arendar’s parents still lived in the apartment above the family. Wilhelm Wallach was retired and received a monthly pension of 57.30 RM. He and his wife had also rented a room to a married couple named Philipp. During a visit to Anna Arendar by a welfare agent in November 1938, the agent overheard and noted down a remark made by Wilhelm Wallach: "When will this work of the devil come to an end?” According to the agent’s notes, Anna Arendar was horrified, either by his remark or because he made it in front of the agent.
Meanwhile the Gestapo was holding Mendel Arendar at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. After his arrest he was held for two days at the Fuhlsbüttel prison. He was sent to Sachsenhausen on 13 November 1938 with the other Jews from Hamburg who had been arrested on Kristallnacht. The administration at the concentration camp had not expected the transport, and had therefore not arranged for enough housing. In December 1938, 8309 people were being held at Sachsenhausen – 6000 of them were Jews who had been sent there over a few days in November. They were physically and psychologically abused, they had to suffer tortuous exercises disguised as sports and persecution by the SS. Anyone who could prove that they had plans to emigrate was released. It is unclear whether Mendel Arendar had emigration plans. He was released in Berlin on 21 December 1938, from where he sent his family a postcard. He was 52 years old, and suffered from a chronic gall bladder condition. When he was released from the concentration camp he had severe biliary colic.
Mendel Arendar was never to see his children again. Charlotte and Leonhard were sent to England with a children’s transport on 14 December 1938. About 10,000 children and teenagers – nearly 1,000 from Hamburg – were able to leave the German Reich after the November pogrom, with the help of the "Refugee Children’s Movement,” and other organizations. The Jewish children were placed in homes or with foster families.
One letter from Anna Arendar to her son Leonhardt in Scotland has survived: "Papa arrived Thursday morning (22 December). On Wednesday he was a guest at the Support Association in Berlin!” It is not known if there were other letters between the parents and children.
Due to the Aryanization, Mendel Arendar’s Wiener Maßwerkstätte remained closed after 1 January 1939. The couple received welfare subsidies of 66 RM for three more months.
After 1 January 1939, Mendel and Anna Arendar, like all other Jews in the German Reich, were forced to add the names Israel and Sara to their given names.
Mendel Arendar began working for a company called "Bernard jr.” on 27 March 1939. He worked at home, but it is unclear what kind of work it was. He was no longer permitted to work as an independent tailor.
Beginning in 1939, welfare recipients were conscripted to forced labor in various companies and weapons factories, among other places. In the Arendars’ welfare records a welfare agent classified them as able to do "light support work.” The file does not say whether they were forced to work or not.
Mendel and Anna Arendar were two of the few close relatives from the Arendar/Wallach/Helfer families who remained in Hamburg. Anna’s father Wilhelm Wallach died on 10 January 1939 in Hamburg. His wife Amalie emigrated in 1939 or 1940 to Buenos Aires to live with her son Naftalius. Mendel Arendar’s parents had passed away some years earlier. His other half-siblings lived in Poland. Only Max Helfer and his family were still in Hamburg.
The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 brought with it a large number of anti-Jewish laws which severely limited the freedom of Jews in their everyday lives. Anna and Mendel Arendar were forced to wear the yellow star from 19 September onwards. In October the Nazis began systematically deporting Jews to Eastern Europe.
968 Jews were deported from Hamburg to the Minsk ghetto on 8 November 1941. Mendel and Anna Arendar were on this transport. Thereafter there is no trace of them.
On 8 May 1943, all Hamburg Jews in the Minsk ghetto who were still alive were shot or killed in gas vans. Of the 968 Jews who were deported on the Minsk transport, only 16 survived the ghetto.
The tax office confiscated all the Arendars’ household and personal effects immediately after they were deported. They were auctioned off on 20 March 1942 for the sum of 1227.70 RM.
Max Helfer and his wife Rolina (née Hirsch, *16 Oct. 1875), with whom the Arendars, especialy Mendel, had a close relationship, were deported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942. Max Helfer died there on 11 February 1943; Rolina Helfer was murdered in Auschwitz on 15 May 1944.
Charlotte Arendar lived in Nottingham, her brother in Edinburgh and Fife, Scotland. It is unknown whether the children were in contact with each other during the war.
Charlotte Arendar worked as an unskilled laborer until she joined the British Army in 1942. She left the army in 1947, and in 1949 she married Walter Kraus, whose name she took. From 1951 onwards she was a housewife and mother of three children. She never learned a trade.
Leonhardt Arendar attended school in England from January 1939 to April 1942. At the age of 17 he joined the British Army, and in May 1951 he changed his name to Len Hardy Adams. He began working as a clerk in September 1952. He married in 1953 and had one daughter. He died in 1990.
In November 1942 the siblings received a letter from the "Search Bureau for German, Austrian and stateless persons from central Europe,” in which they were informed that their parents had been deported to Minsk on 8 November 1942, and that their date of death had been declared as 8 May 1945.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Nadine Kaspersinski
Quellen: StaHH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 b, Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburgs, Mendel Arendar; StaHH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 b, Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburgs, Amalie Wallach; StaHH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, 388 a, Liste der Hamburger Juden ohne Jahr (kurz nach 1914) mit Angabe von Beruf und Wohnung aber nicht von Geburtsdaten und Geburtsorten, Helfer; StaHH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, 388 c 1, Angehörige der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde im Staate Hamburg am 10. Oktober 1928, Arendar; StaHH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinde, 992 e 2, Band 2, Transport nach Minsk am 8.11.1941, Liste 1; StaHH, 351-14, Arbeits- und Spezialfürsorge, 888, Fürsorgeakten, Mendel Arendar; StaHH, 332-5, Personenstandsunterlagen, 8765, Heiratsregister, 49/1922,1922 I 1-246, Nr. 49, Arendar; StaHH, 351-11, Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 13459, Anna Arendar; StaHH, 351-11, Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 45476, Charlotte Kraus geb. 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