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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Rosa Förster (née Wolff) * 1887
Carl-Petersen-Straße 109/Ecke Bei den Blöcken (Hamburg-Mitte, Hamm)
LODZ / LITZMANNSTADT
further stumbling stones in Carl-Petersen-Straße 109/Ecke Bei den Blöcken:
Rosa Förster, née Wolff, born on 10 Apr. 1887 in Hamburg, deported to the Litzmannstadt/Lodz Ghetto on 25 Oct. 1941, died on 26 Mar. 1942
Boris Förster, born on 9 June 1936 in Hamburg, deported to the Litzmannstadt/Lodz Ghetto on 25 Oct. 1941
The furrier and cap maker Josef Wolff, born on 29 June 1851 in Gostyn in the then Prussian Province of Posen (today in Poland), had moved to Hamburg in 1880 and had established himself in Hamburg-Neustadt. His parents, the "tradesman” (trader) Tobias Wolff and his wife Rosel, née Bildhauer, remained in Gostyn until the end of their lives. Josef Wolff married Pauline Salomon, born in Hamburg on 26 June 1884, the daughter of the cigar maker Isaak Salomon and his wife Rahel, née Levin. Both families were Jewish. Their first child, son Theodor, was born on 5 June 1885 in their home at Kattrepel 48.
Josef Wolff pursued his naturalization in Hamburg. The prerequisites for this were that he gave up his Prussian citizenship and earned enough not to be a burden to the state. Since he could prove a taxable annual income of 800 marks, he was admitted to the "Hamburg Federation” (Hamburgischer Staatsverband)” on 13 Dec. 1886. He moved with his family to Spitalerstrasse 67 in Hamburg-Altstadt. There Rosa, the only daughter, was born on 10 Apr. 1887; she was followed by her brother Leo after the family had moved to Rosenstrasse 28 on 16 Nov. 1892.
In July 1894, Josef and Pauline Wolff left Hamburg with their three children with the intention to emigrate to the USA. Aboard the steamship "Empress,” they reached Philadelphia in Pennsylvania via Liverpool. They soon returned, however, and Josef Wolff settled as a cap maker at Brüderstrasse 14 in Hamburg-Neustadt. Michael, the youngest, was born there on 6 Feb. 1897. In 1904, the family moved to Grindelberg 90, where Josef Wolff opened a cap store.
Nothing is known about Rosa Wolff’s schooling and education. On 29 June 1905, at the age of 18, she married Eduard Simonsohn, a Jewish merchant and broker, also Jewish and nine years her senior, born on 20 June 1878 in Scharmbeck, Osterholz District.
He was the youngest of four children of the butcher Simon Simonsohn and his wife Adelheid, née Masur, born on 2 Jan. 1846 in Friedrichstadt. The latter had moved to Hamburg with her daughters Eva Ida (born in 1872), Jette Helene, and her sons Leopold (born in 1876) and Eduard (born in 1878) after the death of her husband Simon. In 1886, they were able to move into an apartment in the Simon Kalker-Stift, a residential home, at Schaarmarkt 28. Eva later became a child educator and cook, Jette a maid and tailor, Leopold a banker, and Eduard a businessman. Jette Helene died already in 1899 and Leopold, as the oldest son, represented the family to the outside world.
Eva Ida was the first of the Simonsohn siblings to marry. In May 1899, she entered into a "mixed marriage” ("Mischehe”). Her husband, master butcher Wilhelm August Schwarz, belonged to the Lutheran Church. After Jette Helene’s death, Adelheid Simonsohn left the residential home and moved in with her daughter Eva Ida on Steindamm in St. Georg, where her husband had built up his butcher’s business.
Leopold Simonsohn’s apartment at Rappstrasse 19 became the new center of the family. On 7 Oct. 1902, Adelheid Simonsohn moved in with him, and Eduard often called there as well, as he traveled a lot and moved frequently, even after his marriage and the birth of his children.
Leopold Simonsohn started his own banking business and after his wedding, moved to Jungfrauenthal 20 in Harvestehude, where he lived with his wife Ella, née Meyer, born in Hamburg in 1885, and their daughter Ilse, born on 11 Apr. 1905, until 1935.
On 6 Jan. 1907, Rosa Simonsohn gave birth to her first daughter, Ruth. Only a few weeks later, her father Joseph Wolff died (on 24 Feb. 1907), and soon afterward, her mother-in-law Adelheid Simonsohn (on 24 May 1907). She was buried at the Ohlsdorf Jewish Cemetery on Ihlandkoppel.
Eduard Simonsohn joined the company established by his father-in-law Josef Wolff and lived at Kleiner Kielort 9. Shortly afterward, he moved to Lauenburg/Elbe. There was also close contact to Rosa Simonsohn’s siblings: When his brother-in-law Theodor Wolff, Rosa Simonsohn’s oldest brother, married in Dec. 1909, Eduard took the place of her father, who had died two years earlier, to serve as best man. Theodor Wolff lived in London, where he ran a collotype printing works, and went on a visiting basis to Hamburg to marry Bella Salomon, born on 29 June 1886 in Hamburg, the daughter of the lottery collector Julius/Isaak Salomon and his wife Sara, née Pfifferling. The young Wolff couple returned to London at the beginning of the First World War.
Eduard Simonsohn took over the banking business of his brother Leopold in Hamburg, but had only moderate financial success during the war years and the subsequent inflationary period.
On 22 May 1911, Rosa Simonsohn gave birth to her second daughter, Alice. In 1913, Ruth was enrolled in school.
On 2 July 1917, Eduard Simonsohn reported to Konstanz for duty at the main tax office of the military border guard. Whether he was drafted or joined voluntarily, and where the family stayed during this time, could not be clarified. In the last year of the war, Margot, Rosa and Eduard Simonsohn’s youngest daughter, was born in Altona on 25 June 1918.
Ruth, Alice, and Margot Simonsohn attended Jewish private schools in Hamburg as long as the family’s means were sufficient. Ruth and Alice later became office clerks by profession, Margot, due to lack of money, received training in housekeeping at the Paulinen-Stift, a charitable foundation.
The 1920s brought many family changes. Since the Hamburg Senate decision of 22 Sept. 1920, Eduard Simonsohn and his family now bore the name of "Förster.” In 1923, Theodor and Bella Wolff as well as Rosa and Eduard Förster divorced. Moreover, Rosa Förster’s mother Pauline Wolff died on 17 Mar. 1925 at the age of 78. She was buried in the Ohlsdorf Jewish Cemetery.
While the marriages of his older siblings failed, Leo Wolff married the furrier’s daughter Sarina, née Blanaré, born on 23 Sept. 1884 in Berlin. On 30 Sept. 1925, their only child was born, son Heinz-Manfred. He was four years old when his father Leo Wolff died in 1929.
Rosa Förster’s youngest brother, Michael, entered into a "mixed marriage” ("Mischehe”) with Erna, née Turlach, born on 2 Aug. 1892 in Hamburg and five years his senior. Erna, widowed name Wagnitz, brought a son into the marriage.
In the year after her divorce, Rosa Förster fell seriously ill. Rosa and Eduard Förster therefore put up Margot, their youngest daughter, with the orphanage of the Jewish Community, from where she attended the Jewish girls’ school on Carolinenstrasse until 1934.
Rosa and Eduard Förster moved several times in the following years. Eduard Förster was found dead on 10 Sept. 1932 in his apartment in the former Mittelstrasse 109 (today’s Carl-Petersen-Strasse) in Hamm. The circumstances of his death could not be clarified.
Meanwhile, the adult children of the Förster couple went their separate ways:
From Nov. 1928, Alice Förster worked as an office employee at the Schümann und Wenke company for rope goods at Grosse Bäckerstrasse 11, where she was dismissed on 1 Mar. 1932 as a result of the world economic crisis, finding no new employment and living on unemployment benefits until Aug. 1934. When she saw no future for herself in Germany, she turned to the Palestine Office and from Oct. 1933 onward prepared for emigration to Palestine in the hachshara camp of the Hashomer Hatzair, a Socialist-Zionist youth organization, in Silsterwitz in Lower Silesia. However, she suffered a serious work accident there and returned to Hamburg in May 1934. The Jewish Community accommodated her in one of its homes. She married and emigrated in Oct. 1934 as Alice Stiel. She had entered into a fictitious marriage, which was also agreed upon as such, and was divorced after she received Palestinian citizenship. Her second marriage, concluded on 15 Oct. 1939, was permanent.
Ruth Förster worked for the Moritz Mündheim brokerage firm on Neuer Wall as a clerk. Her income enabled her to lead an independent life. When she was dismissed in 1933, she found no new employment in Hamburg for a long time and went to Berlin in 1935 in search of work. Since she was not successful there either, she returned to Hamburg and emigrated to Britain in 1938.
In the same year, Sarina Wolff sent her 13-year-old son Heinz-Manfred to London on a children transport (Kindertransport).
Margot Förster would have liked to become a laboratory assistant, but being Jewish, she was denied this education. Until her emigration, she worked as a domestic help in various households. On 9 July 1936, she gave birth to a son, Boris. As the illegitimate child of an underage mother, he had to be given a guardian. Since Margot’s father had died, her mother was given custody of the grandson. This was also entailed Rosa Förster’s obligation to support Boris. Both lived on welfare.
In 1937, Michael Wolff was arrested and in mid-April, the Hamburg Regional Court (Landgericht) sentenced him to four months in prison for infringing the Nuremberg Laws [on race], i.e., committing "racial defilement” ("Rassenschande”). After his release he could not return to his job at Gesamthafenbetrieb Hamburg, the umbrella employers’ association for the port of Hamburg, as he was not a member of the DAF, the German Labor Front, but he was not placed elsewhere either.
In the course of the "June operation” ("Juni-Aktion”) in 1938, which was originally directed against "work-shy persons” ("Arbeitsscheue”) but was then extended to include Jews, the brothers Theodor and Michael Wolff were imprisoned first in Fuhlsbüttel and on 23 June 1938 in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Michael Wolff’s non-Jewish wife successfully pursued his release in September. Theodor Wolff was released only on 23 Dec. 1938, on the condition that he leave the German Reich within 14 days. This was only possible by choosing the route to Shanghai, which was open to him without a visa. He left behind his "Aryan” fiancée, whom he had not been able to marry because of the racial laws.
In Feb. 1939, Leopold and Ella Simonsohn also emigrated to the USA. Their daughter Ilse, married to the doctor Otto Einzig, had already gone to Palestine in 1935, as had Theodor and Bella Wolff’s daughter Ruth, married name Gotthelf.
In 1939, Margot Förster emigrated to Britain. She left her son Boris in the care of Rosa Förster. Nothing is known about any emigration plans of Rosa Förster with her grandson.
By 1940, Rosa Förster’s next of kin still living in Hamburg were the divorced sister-in-law Bella Wolff-Salomon, the widowed sister-in-law Sarina Wolff-Blanaré, her brother Michael Wolff with his wife Erna and her sister-in-law Eva Ida Schwarz, née Simonsohn, with her family. They were themselves destitute and could not support Rosa and her grandson.
After several moves, Rosa and her grandson Boris Förster were eventually accommodated by the Jewish Community in the Samuel Lewisohn-Stift, a residential home, at Kleiner Schäferkamp 32, which was declared a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) in 1942.
They were called up for the first transport toward the "Development in the East” ("Aufbau im Osten"), which left Hamburg on 25 Oct. 1941. The day before their deportation, they were to report to the former Masonic Lodge on the Moorweide, where they stayed overnight. They were then transported by truck to the Hannoversche Bahnhof train station. In the "Litzmannstadt”/Lodz Ghetto, they were assigned quarters on Sulzfelder Strasse, one of the main streets.
Perishing in the ghetto on 26 Mar. 1942, Rosa Förster was buried in the Jewish Cemetery. She reached the age of 55. Nothing is known about the circumstances of Boris Förster’s death. By September at the latest, he is believed to have fallen victim to the murder of all the children under the age of 10 still alive by then. He probably reached the age of six.
Sarina Wolff was transported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942, Bella Wolff (see corresponding entry) together with Eva Ina Schwarz on 19 July 1942. Sarina and Bella Wolff died in Auschwitz in 1943 and 1944, respectively, following another deportation.
Heinrich Schwarz was deported to Theresienstadt on 10 Mar. 1943, where he still met up with his mother and Bella Wolff. He was deported to Auschwitz on 28 Sept. 1944, where he was murdered (see corresponding entry).
Michael Wolff was sent to Theresienstadt on 14 Feb. 1945 for labor deployment and was liberated there, as was Eva Ida Schwarz. They returned to Hamburg. Michael Wolff reunited with his wife and stepson. His nephew Heinz-Manfred Wolff, who came to Hamburg as a British soldier, joined them.
Theodor Wolff returned from Shanghai in 1948 and married his fiancée after 15 years.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2020
© Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 7; 9; HA; Auswanderungslisten, Auswanderungsamt 1, VIII B 1, Band 107;
332-5, Personenstandsregister; 332-7 Staatsangehörigkeit, B III 26655; 351-11 Wiedergutmachung, 7954, 9538, 36954, 42416, 47764; 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 390 Wählerverzeichnis, 391 Mitgliederverzeichnis, 992 e Deportationslisten Band 5; ICRK; https://www.jmberlin.de/kurt-friedmann-alles-um-liebe, Abruf 25.1.2020; Beate Meyer (Hrsg.), Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933-1945, Hamburg 2006, S. 181; Anna von Villiez, Mit aller Kraft verdrängt, München Hamburg, 2009, S. 256f.
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