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Frieda Elias * 1898

St. Benedictstraße 21 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)

1941 Riga

Frieda Elias, born on 18 Aug. 1898 in Hamburg, deported on 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga

St. Benedictstrasse 21 (Harvestehude)

Frieda Elias was born in Aug. 1898 in Hamburg-St. Pauli (at Marktstrasse 25) as the daughter of the typesetter, printer, and eventually, watchman, Elias Elias (1854–1936), born in Altona, and his second wife Emma, née Blumenthal, from Mahlerten near Nordstemmen/Hildesheim (1866–1938). A year and a half earlier, her brother Alfred had been born. The grandfathers, the "tradesman” Alexander Elias (died before 1881 in Altona) and the "tradesman” Isac Blumenthal (died before 1896 in Mahlerten), had already passed away by the time Frieda Elias was born. Best man at the parents’ wedding in 1896 was the 42-year-old merchant Michael Alexander Elias from Brüderstrasse 17 (Hamburg-Neustadt), presumably a brother of the groom Elias Elias.

Initially, the family lived at Marktstrasse 25 on the third floor as subtenants of the widow F. Elias. Only from 1900 onward, one finds Elias Elias’ own entry in the directory, which refers to his own apartment. For over 30 years, he lived with his family in the Karolinenviertel neighborhood at Marktstrasse 113 (1900–1934); in the very end, daughter Frieda ran the household.

In the Karolinenviertel (St. Pauli quarter), higher apartment buildings were gradually erected starting in about 1900 in place of the previous houses with gardens. The house at Marktstrasse 113 was a narrow five-story building that had been located there for around 20 years, as can be seen from the directories from 1883 to 1902. Only one main tenant was registered per floor.

It is not known whether Frieda Elias attended a public school in the district or the nearby Israelite Girls’ School at Karolinenstrasse 35, founded in 1882. In 1912, she probably finished the eight-grade elementary school (Volksschule). It is conceivable that she subsequently attended courses in typewriting, shorthand, or accounting, as she listed, among others, office clerk as a professional activity on her Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card some 20 years later.

Only with the beginning of the Nazi regime did the parents and Frieda Elias move to Mansteinstrasse 46 on the third floor in 1934 (Hoheluft-West) to join Frieda’s brother Alfred Elias. At that time, Frieda Elias worked as an office clerk. After the death of her father, she and her mother, by then 70 years old, moved to Lenhartzstrasse 6 (Eppendorf) in 1936 to lived as subtenants of Grätz; in early 1937, her brother Alfred Elias moved into a six-room apartment in this house, to which her mother and Frieda also moved (they gave up this apartment on 31 May 1938).

According to the Jewish religious tax card file of the Jewish Community, of which she had been an independent member since 1934, Frieda Elias worked as an office clerk and later as a nurse. In 1938, she also stated to the foreign currency office that she worked as a salesperson and beautician. Since it was unusual for women of her generation to complete an apprenticeship, it would likely have been a matter of semi-skilled work in each case. The very different fields of activity are testimony on the one hand to Frieda Elias’ great flexibility, but on the other hand to her economically tense situation as well. The anti-Jewish measures of the Nazi rulers also aimed at the dismissal of Jewish workers. Frieda Elias was hit by unemployment in 1935.

After the death of her parents, who were both buried at the Jewish Cemetery in Hamburg-Ohlsdorf, and the emigration of her brother, from 1938 on, she lived in accommodations as a subtenant. Four months after the death of her mother, on 15 July 1938, she moved in with John Fels (1869–1942) and his wife Gretchen Fels, née Hildesheimer (1879–1944) as a subtenant at Schlankreye 36 (Harvestehude).

While the bureaucratically and administratively implemented anti-Jewish measures of the Nazi party (NSDAP) afflicted Frieda Elias from 1933 onward, the death of her parents and the emigration of her brother between Oct. 1936 and Mar. 1938 added to this. During the examination of the latter’s moving goods, it had turned out that Frieda Elias had taken some clothes. She was thereupon summoned to an interrogation in the rooms of the customs investigation department (at Poggenmühle 1) at the end of Oct. 1938 and minutes were taken, but further punitive measures were then waived.

The November Pogrom of 1938 ("Reichskristallnacht” – "Crystal Night”) was followed by prohibitions at the end of 1938, such as a ban on accessing cultural facilities, swimming pools, etc., in order to achieve a complete separation of Jews and "Aryans.” Frieda Elias was exposed to these measures as well as to the hostility of officials, neighbors and even passers-by on her own. In Dec. 1938, the official of the Hamburg Records Office 20 noted the additional compulsory first name of "Sara” on her birth certificate, which she had to use starting on 1 Jan. 1939, also for any name entries and signatures.

The "Law on Tenancies with Jews” ("Gesetz über die Mietverhältnisse mit Juden”) dated 30 Apr. 1939 withdrew tenant protection from Jews; they were no longer able to freely choose their place of residence. The concentration in buildings declared "Jews’ houses” ("Judenhäuser”) was prepared jointly by local housing offices and Gestapo offices. At the time of the German national census of May 1939, in which Jews were recorded separately, Frieda Elias lived at Dillstrasse 1 (Rotherbaum); the house belonged to the widow E. Fehling and the sausage representative Hermann Matthies. Their previous main tenants, John and Gretchen Fels, at the time lived in this house as well, on the third floor to the right. Her brother Alfred Elias had also lived in this house until his emigration in 1938, as a subtenant of the sales clerk Else Kurzbart, née Tichauer (born on 1 Dec. 1893 in Oppeln [today Opole in Poland]) (see At the beginning of 1940, Frieda Elias moved to Lenhartzstrasse 13 (Hamburg-Eppendorf) to reside with Laura Coutinho (1868–1942).

The situation for Frieda Elias had also worsened financially. Due to her several years of unemployment, she was dependent on social welfare. Starting in 1933, the Welfare Commission of the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community compensated for the cuts made by the Hamburg Welfare Office with subsidies for Jews. As of Nov. 1938, Jews in the German Reich were no longer entitled to public welfare; henceforth, they received support exclusively from the Jewish Community. Frieda Elias no longer had any family members who could temporarily support her financially.

In this economically precarious situation, the sale of residential property was the only way to get some money. From July 1938 to Dec. 1938, the foreign currency office of the Hamburg Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) still approved 250 RM per month of the blocked "emigration credit balance” of her emigrated brother. In Feb. 1939, she sold his newly acquired furniture (purchase price of 1,200 RM) for 500 RM and reported this to the foreign currency office – the customs investigation department had prohibited the export of the furniture. Frieda Elias was still hoping at this time to be able to leave soon. On 11 Feb. 1939, she had to hand in silver cutlery and two silver candlesticks (706 grams of silver net) to the public pawnshop at Bäckerbreitergang 73, for which she received only a fraction of the value, amounting to 153 RM. In the summer of 1939, she no longer had any relevant valuables that she was compelled to or able to sell. The Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband), as the Jewish Community had to call itself by then, certified the following in Dec. 1939: "Due to economic circumstances, Miss Elias has not been called upon to pay community taxes in recent years. She does not have to pay the special tax for Jews.” In addition to the legal backing, by this time she also lacked any financial support.

Since 15 Jan. 1941, Frieda Elias had been living as a subtenant with Max Levi (born on 24 Sept. 1866 in Hechingen) and his wife Eugenie Levi, née Wärmer (born on 30 June 1877 in Vienna) at Benedictstrasse 21 on the second floor (Harvestehude). The Jewish Levi couple had only moved into this apartment in Oct. 1938. Before that, they had resided in Rudolf Prem’s Pension (guesthouse) at An der Alster 9-10, and even earlier, they had lived in Stuttgart. The Levi couple was deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 19 July 1942; Max Levi probably survived. The owner of the house at St. Benedictstrasse 21 was the Jewish lawyer Edgar Windmüller (1875–1956), who had emigrated to Great Britain in Jan. 1939 after being banned from his profession (on 30 Nov. 1938).

In Oct. 1938, Frieda Elias had submitted an application for departure to the foreign currency office of the Hamburg Chief Finance Administrator. Regulations, limits on the number of emigrants to be admitted, and the obligation to provide proof of capital assets made departure less transparent for the applicants; there was always the risk that immigration regulations would change during the long waiting period. Accordingly, Frieda Elias had to be flexible with regard to the country of emigration and, if necessary, even choose a destination on a completely different continent. Whereas in Oct. 1938, she had still stated "Dutch India” (Indonesia), in Jan. 1939, a form indicated Britain, and in early 1940, South Africa, where her brother had emigrated. In June 1939, she informed the foreign currency office that her emigration efforts had come to a standstill.

In Sept. 1939, the war began and with it, the entry regulations in almost all of the countries involved in the war and their allies became stricter. The last official note in her emigration file, dated 2 Feb. 1940, read, "Miss Elias comes by and states that the emigration to South Africa cannot take place because of the war.” What caused her efforts to leave the country in 1938/1939 to fail is not documented; perhaps the necessary capital for passage on a ship was lacking. After South Africa had broken off relations with Nazi Germany in Sept. 1939 and declared war on it, emigration to that country was no longer an option.

Since Sept. 1941, Frieda Elias was obliged to wear a yellow "Jewish star” clearly visible on her clothes. In Oct. 1941, the systematic deportations began from the German Reich to ghettos, which were set up in the conquered territories of Eastern Europe. Frieda Elias was deported to the Jungfernhof subcamp of the Riga Ghetto in occupied Latvia on 6 Dec. 1941; the date of her death there is not known. Since 2002, a Stolperstein at St. Benedictstrasse 21 has been commemorating her.

The fate of Frieda Elias’ unmarried brother Alfred Elias (born on 11 Mar. 1897 in Hamburg) unfolded as follows: The severely war-damaged veteran of World War I (shot to the head) and since 1920 an independent member of the German-Israelite Community (listed there with the reference of "invalid” on his file card), founded a casing import and export business in June 1932 at Süderstrasse 87 (Hammerbrook). The sole proprietorship, which from 1933 was affected by the reduction of state import quotas, boycotts, and tax discrimination, was converted into a general partnership (oHG) in Jan. 1937. Cornelia de Haas, née de Haas (1897–1942) joined the company as a partner with a 50-percent stake. Even then, the company still employed two clerks in the office and ten to twelve workers in the casing sorting business. Possibly, however, the admission of a female partner also took place with a view to an intended emigration.

Alfred Elias had already made a first cautious attempt in Oct. 1935. For a business trip to South Africa, he applied to the Hamburg Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK), which had been under the supervision of the Reich Minister of Economics since Aug. 1934, for 120 English pounds (some 1,500 RM) to take along. Alfred Elias hoped that he would be able to act as a temporary representative in South Africa for German companies, which would "create a continuous flow of foreign currency for the German Reich.” The deputy IHK counsel Herbert Krause (born in Breslau [today Wroclaw in Poland] in 1897, member of the Nazi party since 1 May 1933), responsible there for handling foreign currency matters relating to capital and goods traffic, suspected, however, that he was leaving the country permanently, informed the foreign currency office of the Chief Finance Administrator responsible for emigrations of this fact, and thus accomplished a stop to his travel efforts. He made a clear judgment, which was probably also due to the Nazi-compliant orientation of the leading employees of the authority: Alfred Elias "has, according to the enclosed application for a trip to British South Africa requested that an amount of £120 be taken along. After reviewing the (...) letters of the English business friend [Albert V. Judson, note by the author, B.E.], the Chamber comes to the conclusion that it no longer constitutes a business trip, but that the intention is to take up permanent residence in South Africa. (...) There is no guarantee that Elias will return to Germany after the purpose of the journey has been achieved. (…)”

In spite of the hindrances caused by the authorities and offices instructed by the Nazi state, the Alfred Elias Company was able to maintain its economic position even during this period. Since the admission of the partner in 1937, sales and profits even increased significantly. Surprisingly, two representatives of the Reich Office for Animals and Animal Products (Berlin-Mitte, at Johannisstrasse 20/21) appeared in the business office on 16 Mar. 1938. Messrs. Rauffmann and Georg Griebler unequivocally demanded the sale of the company to Georg Griebler, and in support of their demand, they blocked the entire warehouse, which meant an indefinite halt to the company’s export activities. Rauffmann held a leading position in the Main Association of the German Livestock Industry (Berlin-Kreuzberg, at Kochstrasse 6/7). Georg Griebler (born on 15 Aug. 1886 in Aufhausen near Munich) was a trained butcher and later a sales representative, a Nazi party member since 1937 and since at least 1938, a representative of the Reich Occupational Group Leader and State Occupational Group Leader of Casing Traders (Reichsfachschaftsleiter und Landesfachschaftsleiter der Darmhändler) of the Gau Nordmark (Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein).

Alfred Elias signed the dictated contract of sale for 20,000 RM (without stock on hand) on the same day and fled to France via the Netherlands the next day. He had appointed Ernst de Haas (1899–1943) as a general agent, whose wife Cornelia de Haas was compensated for her share of the business with 40,000 RM from Alfred Elias’ assets. She emigrated to the Netherlands in Aug. 1938. Alfred Elias commissioned attorney Henry Minden (1890–1971) to handle his official emigration and the shipping of the furnishings (attorney Minden also emigrated to the Netherlands in Nov. 1938 due to the ban on Jewish lawyers).

Alfred Elias’ moving goods were checked by the Hamburg customs investigation department in Sept. 1938 in the storage facility of the Berthold Jacoby shipping company on Sillemstrasse (Eimsbüttel). In this context, customs secretary Walter Wierdemann (born in 1904, member of the Nazi party since 1 May 1933) established that, contrary to the submitted transport list, the goods included some new acquisitions from Aug. 1938. He also determined (see above) that Frieda Elias had taken some clothes from the moving goods, but this did not lead to any punitive measures against her. In the case of Alfred Elias, on the other hand, the customs investigation department saw punishable behavior and noted, "As there is suspicion that Elias emigrated illegally, I have reservations approving the authorization to forward the moving goods. I ask, in consultation with the 23rd Office of the Hamburg Criminal Investigation Department, to examine whether the expatriation and confiscation of domestic assets, including moving goods, ought to be pursued.”

In Dec. 1938, the Vereinsbank in Hamburg stated Alfred Elias’ current place of residence as being Monton, France. It was not until Mar. 1939 that the transport of his apartment furnishings could take place to Cape Town/South Africa, where Alfred Elias had emigrated to a month earlier from France via Genoa. For emigration, he had to pay 6,000 RM to the Nazi state, the "Reich flight tax” and levy to the Gold Discount Bank (Reichsfluchtsteuer and Dego-Abgabe) as well as 6,500 RM for visa, passage on a ship, and shipping of his household effects. In May 1939, the German Reich expatriated him.

In Apr. 1938, his business was taken over by Georg Griebler (1886–1943) as well as indirectly, and for a short time, also by Heinrich F. W. Dühren and Jonny J. Soldtwedel and it continued to operate under the company name of Griebler & Co. at Hammer Landstrasse 60 (Hamm). The latter two had been running their own casing import and export business in the Hanseatic city under the company name of Soldtwedel & Dühren since May 1933. Soldtwedel described the company takeover in 1961 before the Hamburg Regional Court (Landgericht): "In Mar. 1938, Mr. Griebler took over the Alfred Elias Company based on his authorization by the Central Association of German Livestock Farmers. On this occasion, Mr. Griebler approached Soldtwedel & Dühren to obtain the necessary capital for the takeover. Our company then entered Mr. Griebler’s enterprise with a contribution of 25,000 RM.” Alfred Elias’ stocks on hand were taken over by the Reich Office for Animals and Animal Products (Berlin), and six companies were asked to purchase partial inventories, for which the Reich Office demanded a total of RM 43,657, which, however, did not go to Alfred Elias. Already in Aug. 1938, Soldtwedel and Dühren were removed from the company register as shareholders of Griebler & Co.

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

Stand: July 2020
© Björn Eggert

Quellen: Staatsarchiv Hamburg (StaH)213-13 (Landgericht Hamburg Wiedergutmachung), 19496 (Alfred Elias); StaH 221-11 (Staatskommissar für die Entnazifizierung), I (BE) 54 (Dr. Herbert Krause); StaH231-7 (Handelsregister), A 1 Band 169 (Alfred Elias, HR A 37587); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), FVg 7862 (Frieda Elias); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), F 433 (Alfred Elias); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2628 u. 775/1881 (Heiratsregister 1881, Elias Elias u. Dorothea Louise geb. Friebus geschiedene Engel); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8581 u. 313/1896 (Heiratsregister 1896, Elias Elias u. Emma Blumenthal); StaH332-5 (Standesämter), 9151 u. 1906/1898 (Geburtsregister 1898, Frieda Elias); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 1053 u. 372/1936 (Sterberegister 1936, Elias Elias); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 1088 u. 74/1938 (Sterberegister 1938, Emma Elias);StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 19519 (Alfred Elias); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), 992b (Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg), Frieda Elias, Elias u. Emma Elias, Alfred Elias, Max Levi, Else Kurzbart; Bundesarchiv Berlin, BArch R 9361-IX Kartei 11900500 (NSDAP-Mitgliederkartei, Gaukartei Nr. 5581506, Georg Griebler); Stadtarchiv Hameln, Sterbeeintrag Hameln 607/1943 und Sterbefallanzeige (Georg Griebler); Jüdischer Friedhof Hamburg-Ohlsdorf (Elias Elias, Grablage 03-55; Emma Elias geb. Blumenthal, Grablage 03-56; Lisette Elias geb. Cohn, Grablage A12-321); Handelskammer Hamburg, Handelsregisterinformationen (Alfred Elias, HR A 37587; Griebler& Co, HR A 37587; Soldtwedel&Dühren, HR A 38095); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1935, S. 205 (Alfred Elias, Darmhandlung), S. 803 (Soldtwedel&Dühren); Adressbuch Hamburg (Marktstr. 25, Witwe F. Elias) 1898, 1899; Adressbuch Hamburg (E. Elias, Schriftsetzer) 1901, 1906, 1911, 1920, 1928, 1931, 1934; Adressbuch Hamburg (Alfred Elias, Darmimport, Süderstraße 87) 1932–1938; Hamburger Adressbuch 1938 (Else Kurzbart), 1940 (Griebler, Soldtwedel, Levi), 1940 (Benedictstr.); Hamburger Adressbuch (Marktstraße 113) 1880, 1883, 1884, 1887, 1890, 1892, 1894, 1896, 1899, 1902; Claus-Dieter Krohn/Patrick von zur Mühlen/Gerhard Paul u. Lutz Winckler (Hrsg.), Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration 1933–1945, Darmstadt 1998, S. 402–410 (Südafrika); Uwe Lohalm, Fürsorge und Verfolgung. Öffentliche Wohlfahrtsverwaltung und nationalsozialistische Judenpolitik in Hamburg 1933 bis 1942, Hamburg 1998, S. 29, 46; Heiko Morisse, Jüdische Rechtsanwälte in Hamburg, Ausgrenzung und Verfolgung im NS-Staat, Hamburg 2003, S. 147 (Minden), S. 166 (Windmüller); (Volkszählung Mai 1939), Frieda Elias, Else Kurzbart, Max Levi; (Alfred James Elias: Mai 1939 deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft entzogen, 1947 US-Sozialversicherungsindex, 1960 wohnhaft New York, Staatsangehörigkeit Südafrika); (John Fels; Cornelia de Haas).

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