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Maria Rebecca Auerbach (née Reé) * 1856
Behnstraße 28 (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)
Maria Rebecca Auerbach, née Rée, born on 4 Jan. 1856, deported on 9 June 1943 to Theresienstadt, died there on 15 Oct. 1943
Maria Rebecca Auerbach was born on 4 Jan. 1856 as the daughter of Martin and Clara Rée, née Symons, in Altona. The members of the Jewish Rée family were active in Hamburg and Denmark as merchants and farmers. The Hamburg branch was mostly engaged in the grain trade, and the family relations and business contacts reached as far as the Americas. The Rée family was very religious and actively involved in the local Jewish Communities; there were musical and literary talents; and family relationships existed, for instance, to the Melchior and Warburg families. Martin Rée operated a grain trading company in Hamburg and maintained intensive business connections to Great Britain. His wife Clara was a native of Altona.
Maria Rebecca Rée grew up in the upper-middle-class circumstances of an assimilated Jewish family whose contacts to Christian families were very pronounced and whose willingness to baptize their children as Lutherans was growing.
When Maria Rebecca was two years old, her mother passed away. In 1860, after the father had married Emma Rée, née Ruben, in his second marriage, she lived with four brothers, one sister, and one stepsister in a large household. The father moved from Hamburg to Chausseestrasse in Ottensen and bought another house, still under construction at the time, in Ottensen at Klopstockstrasse 5, where Maria Rebecca Rée lived until she was married.
On 9 Dec. 1876, Maria Rebecca Rée married Ludwig Auerbach in Altona, 14 years her senior and born on 18 Apr. 1842 as the son of a Jewish family. His parents are buried in the Jewish Cemetery on Bornkampsweg.
After passing his doctoral exam in 1868, her husband Ludwig Auerbach had founded the eye and ear clinic in Altona together with his colleague Paulsen in 1870, then volunteered in the Franco-Prussian War as a Sanitätsrat [a title roughly equivalent to "medical councilor”], working primarily as a doctor at military hospitals in Strasbourg. After the war, he continued working with his colleague Paulsen at the newly purchased Altona Eye and Ear Clinic on Blücherstrasse. After getting married, the Auerbach couple lived at Behnstrasse 28 in Altona and had several children: Daughter Tony Henriette was born on 9 Oct. 1877; on 26 Oct. 1878, the second daughter Gertrud (later married name Benckendorff); and on 23 Oct 1882, son Walter Theodor. Another daughter, Hedwig, was born in 1895. Two children died when they were still toddlers. All of the children were baptized as Protestants.
The parents, Ludwig and Maria Rebecca Auerbach also converted to the Lutheran faith. On 22 Sept. 1910, Ludwig Auerbach passed away at the age of 68; by then a widow, Maria Rebecca Auerbach continued to reside in the ground-floor apartment of the house at Behnstrasse 28.
In 1939, Maria Rebecca Auerbach, raised in the Jewish faith and belonging to the Lutheran denomination after her conversion to the Christian religion, was forced, like all people of Jewish descent, to seek compulsory membership in the "Reich Association of Jews in Germany” (Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland). Her daughter, Tony Henriette Auerbach, who died on 20 Dec. 1940, was a member in the association as well.
By that time, the Nazi state had used legislation to give the plundering and expropriation of persons of Jewish descent a seemingly legal façade. On the orders of the foreign currency office of the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident), Maria Rebecca Auerbach had to fill out a questionnaire for reviewing her financial circumstances and estimate the value of the real estate encumbered with a mortgage. According to her information, her monthly expenses for rent and utilities, living expenses, and the costs for a domestic help amounted to 95 RM (reichsmark). For the administration of the real estate, she paid 70 RM a month, and in comparison to that, she had a rental income of 130 RM a month. Her accounts were blocked, and she was allowed to dispose only of funds to cover her monthly living expenses. Confronted with imminent "Aryanization,” Maria Rebecca Auerbach drew up a will making over the house and the property at Behnstrasse 28 to her granddaughters Margarethe Maria Louise Auerbach and Ruth Maria Elisabeth Hedwig Auerbach on 18 Dec. 1940. In addition to the instruction in the will, on 30 Apr. 1941, she applied for donating the property at Behnstrasse 28 in Altona to her granddaughter Margarethe Maria Louise Auerbach in order to preserve the house for the family. The contract of donation between Maria Rebecca Auerbach and Ruth Auerbach and Walter Auerbach as the legal representatives of the underage Margarethe Maria Louise Auerbach was approved on 1 July 1941.
On 29 Apr. 1943, the Gestapo issued the so-called "outmigration order” (Abwanderungsbefehl), the deportation order, for Maria Rebecca Auerbach. On 5 May 1943, she was to report to the house at Beneckestrasse 2/6, a Jewish retirement home and one of the so-called "Jews’ houses” ("Judenhäuser”). However, she did not leave her home at Behnstrasse 28. After the war, her son, Walter Auerbach, reported that his mother was taken away from her apartment on 5 May 1943. Her assets were confiscated. For about four weeks, she was assigned a quarter on Beneckestrasse. On 9 June 1943, she was deported from there to Theresienstadt at the age of 87. A total of 81 persons arrived on this transport in the ghetto located in German-occupied Czechoslovakia, and eventually only eight of them would survive. On the arrival lists of Jews deported from Hamburg that reached the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 11 June 1943, the first person listed is: "Auerbach, Marie S., née Rée, [born on] 4 Jan. 1856 [in] Altona.” In the ghetto, an old fortress, Maria Rebecca Auerbach was assigned to the "ailing people’s room” ("Marodenzimmer”) at Badhausgasse 8. The woman, very advanced in years, perished there two months later, on 15 Aug. 1943. In the death notice, the attending physician indicated "debility of old age” as the cause of death.
Walter Auerbach, the son of Maria Rebecca and Ludwig Auerbach, who had worked as a Protestant pastor in Altenkrempe until his dismissal in 1935, continued to live in Hamburg-Altona at Behnstrasse 28. On 4 Jan. 1949, Walter Auerbach confirmed before the Hamburg-Altona District Court (Amtsgericht), which he had asked to declare his mother dead, that he had been informed of her death by Anna Daus. Anna Daus and Maria Rebecca Auerbach knew each other because the lawyer Dr. Ernst Daus, Anna Daus’ father, had been friends with Maria Rebecca’s husband, Walter Auerbach’s father. "My mother [...] still wrote to us several times from there [Theresienstadt]. Then I got a card from Miss Anna Daus, who was also in Theresienstadt, to the effect that ‘On 15 Aug., I closed your mother’s eyes.’”
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr
Quellen: 1; 2 (R 1941/105 Auerbach, Maria); 3; 4; 7; 8; AB Altona; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 44463 (Auerbach, Margarethe); StaH 424-111 Amtsgericht Altona 5554, (Aufgebot zur Todeserklärung der Witwe Maria Rebecka [sic] Auerbach); StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 m 1 Band 3 (Ankunftslisten der von Hamburg in das KZ Theresienstadt deportierten Juden, Ankunft 11.6.1943); Dokumente im Besitz der Familie Auerbach/Jacoby: Private Briefe, Aufzeichnungen der genannten Familienmitglieder; Informationen und Fotografien des Jüdischen Religionsverbandes Hamburg, Zweigstelle Altona von 1938 über die Familien Rée und Auerbach; diverse Berichte, Kataloge, Informationen über Anita Rée, Carl Melchior, Paul Rée, Familie Warburg.
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