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Rolf-Edgar Frankenthal * 1921
Wrangelstraße 22 (Eimsbüttel, Hoheluft-West)
Rolf Edgar Frankenthal, born 29 May 1921 in Hamburg, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to the Minsk Ghetto
Wrangelstraße 22 / Sorbenstraße 15, Hammerbrook
Rolf Edgar Frankenthal was born on 29 May 1921 in Hamburg. His parents were still very young at his birth. His father, Theodor Frankenthal, was born on 27 February 1899 in Hamburg. He had a younger brother, Kurt (*29 Oct. 1901 – he emigrated to the US in 1939), and an older sister, Margot (*21 October 1894 – there is no information about her life). Theodor’s parents, and therefore Edgar’s grandparents, were Leo Frankenthal (*16 April 1861 in Hamburg) and his wife Ina, née Lindenthal (*1 October 1867 in Kassel). Leo Frankenthal had an agency and was later a traveling salesman, but what he sold is unknown.
Theodor Frankenthal, Rolf-Edgar’s father, ran a fur wholesaling company in the 1920s. When his business went bankrupt, he worked as an independent fur salesman. According to the church tax records of the German-Israelitic Community (DIG), he had renounced Judaism and had been baptized, but upheld his ties to the Jewish congregation. The DIG kept tax records for him, listed him in 1921 as employed and entered his obligation to pay church taxes for the Jewish Community. He did so, if inconsistently, until 1936. From 1937 onwards there were no more tax payments, and in February 1938 a tax file was started for his wife Alice Freudenthal. What had happened?
Alice Frankenthal, née Freund (*16 July 1900 in Altona) was Edgar Frankenthal’s mother. Her church tax records list no independent income, and give her address as "Wrangelstr. 21 [correct: 22]/II c/o Freund” –her parents’ address, Rolf-Edgar’s maternal grandparents. Alice’s father was Emil Freund (*28 Oct. 1876), a businessman. Her mother was Anna Maria Freund, née Horn. A tax file started on her contains the remark "Christian.” Alice had two sisters, Erna and Käthe. Erna was born on 19 March 1902, and she was also recorded as "Protestant.” Käthe was born on 12 May 1904 and died on 7 December 1926.
Alice Frankenthal’s husband Theodor Frankenthal, Edgar’s father, was arrested on 10 July 1937 in his apartment at Sorbenstraße 19/IV. He was accused "racial defilement” according to the Nazi racial laws. At the trial he was defended by Siegfried Urias (who later emigrated to Chile). Frankenthal was found guilty on 10 November 1927, and sentenced to three years in prison. He served his term in the Fuhlsbüttel prison. He was to be released on 9 July 1940, but the Hamburg police put him in "protective custody.” He was kept at the Fuhlsbüttel prison until 31 July 1940 and then transferred to the Dachau Concentration Camp, via the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, on 6 September 1940. On 5 July 1941 he was sent to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Alice Frankenthal, who had trained as a foreign language secretary, was thus left alone to provide for her small family.
As long as the family still lived together, they moved within Hamburg several times: from Grindelallee to Wrangelstraße 22 in Eimsbüttel (to Alice’s parents’ apartment), then to Schmilinskystraße 64 in St. Georg, and finally to Sorbenstraße 19/IV in Hammerbrook. This last move must have taken place in or shortly before 1936. Edgar Frankenthal had just finished school and begun an apprenticeship, and the DIG started a tax file for him on 31 March 1936. It lists his address as that of his parents.
After Theodor Frankenthal was arrested, the family attempted to emigrate. Alice Frankenthal worked as a typist for the Hugo Hartig company (Deutschlandhaus), but was fired at the end of 1938 when the company was "Aryanized.” She was also evicted from her apartment. She and her son moved in with her parents. She was not granted a permit to work in an office in England, but was able to get one to be household help (how much Theodor Frankenthal was involved in the emigration process is not known; an entry in his records reads "Feb. ’39 to England”, but it was crossed out.).
Rolf-Edgar tried to emigrate to Holland during his apprenticeship. On the "Questionnaire for Emigrants,” which he filled out on 25 November 1938, his answer to the question as to what profession he intended to practice there was that he intended to continue his apprenticeship as a precision mechanic. Even though his income as an apprentice was no more than 3 Reichsmarks, he was not spared the application process with the Foreign Exchange Office of the Reichsbank and the tax offices for a clearance certificate. His mother helped him, but the entry in his tax records that noted that his emigration had been approved was crossed out. A remark on his emigration form in his emigration records, "leaving on a children’s transport,” does not explain the failure of his emigration. Alice Frankenthal left Germany in February 1939. She later wrote: "I left Germany fully destitute and took a job as a cook in England. […] I had to leave my son, who was doing an apprenticeship as a precision mechanic, behind with my parents.”
Rolf-Edgar Frankenthal apparently finished his apprenticeship in 1939 (at that time the training period for mechanics was three years). The DIG changed the "apprentice” entry to "electronics precision mechanic.” Beginning in January 1939, correspondence from the emigration office was sent to Wrangelstraße 22. He therefore also lived with his grandparents. In 1940 he got his first job, and thus his first church tax payment of 12 Reichsmarks was due.
We do not know where Rolf-Edgar worked, nor what his job was. He paid 1 RM per month to the Jewish Community. Sometime in late 1940 or early 1941 he moved to his last address in Hamburg, Belowdamm 22 (present-day Wrangelstraße). This was also the last address of his maternal grandfather, Emil Freund (whose ancestors had come to Hamburg from the Bohemian village of Kolin). In 1960 Emil Freund wrote a letter to the Restitution Board confirming the death and the cause of death of his son-in-law Theodor Frankenthal in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.
When he was in the Dachau Concentration Camp, Theodor Frankenthal attempted to organize his emigration to North America. The completed "Questionnaire for Emigrants” is dated 7 June 1941. The Foreign Exchange Office of the Reichsbank and the Hamburg Tax Office were processing the clearance certificate. His son, Rolf-Edgar, signed an affidavit for him in Hamburg, stating that he had no debts in foreign currency and no debts in Germany. This affidavit was also dated 7 June 1941. Rolf-Edgar Frankenthal was also trying to emigrate at this time. Correspondence from the Hamburg passport office to the Foreign Exchange Office of the Reichsbank in Hamburg states that he had taken "preparatory measures to change his residence to a foreign country.” Did he and his father plan to emigrate together? They had listed differing destinations. The passport office’s processing remarks, dated 5 March 1940, as to Rolf-Edgar Frankenthal’s request to emigrate state: "Frankenthal is a full Jew. He wants to emigrate to Palestine voluntarily. For this purpose, he intends to begin making preparations for his departure soon.”
The emigration never took place, neither for father nor for son. The Hamburg Memorial Book for the Jewish victims of National Socialism lists Theodor Fankenthal’s death on 26 July 1982 in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, and the last entry in his church tax file reads: "26 July 42 death concentration camp, urn Ohlsdorf.”
Rolf-Edgar Frankenthal’s paternal grandparents, Leo and Ida Frankenthal, were deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 15 July 1942. Leo Frankenthal died there on 4 August 1942, Ida Frankenthal on 26 September 1942.
Rolf-Edgar Frankenthal was no longer in Hamburg when his grandparents were deported. He had been "re-located” several months before, on 8 November 1941, to the Jewish Ghetto in Minsk. There all trace of him is lost. He was "declared dead by ruling of the Hamburg District Court. The date of death is 8 May 1945.” His mother, Alice Frankenthal, wrote in a letter: "At the end of 1941 they came and got my boy, who was 20 at the time. He was deported to Poland and then later to Minsk and is still missing to this day. All of the searches by the Red Cross were fruitless.”
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Peter Offenborn
Quellen: 1; 2 (FVg 3811 und FVg 8880); 4; 5; StAH 351-11 AfW 23617; Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Hamm