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Ernst Fraenkel * 1872

Lübecker Straße 101 / Wandsbeker Stieg (Hamburg-Nord, Hohenfelde)

JG. 1872
TOT 16.6.1943

Dr. Ernst Fraenkel, born 21 Aug. 1872 in Rybnik, Silesia, deported 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died there 16 June 1943

Lübecker Straße 101

When Ernst Fraenkel was born in 1872, the city of Rybnik had just become part of the German Empire one year earlier. It lay in the Kingdom of Prussia, the Province of Silesia (today the Silesian Voivodeship in Poland), and the administrative district Oppeln (Opole), in the southwestern part of modern-day Poland near the Czech border. Because of the rich coal deposits in the region, Fraenkel’s hometown had experienced a strong economic and demographic upturn during the phase of industrialization in Prussia, and it continued to grow. The census of 1890 showed a population of 80,927 in the Rybnik administrative district, of whom 1,065 were Jews (1.3%) – a notable minority. 3,104 were Protestant, but the 76,757 Catholics made up the majority.

Ernst Fraenkel’s father, Dr. Daniel Fraenkel, was the local rabbi. His mother’s name was Julie and was the daughter of the Berlin rabbi Rosenstein. The couple had twelve children, of whom several later achieved great notoriety. Dr. James Fraenkel (1859-1935) was a psychiatrist, a pioneer in the field of psychotherapy and the founder of the Berolinum (1890), a private psychiatric hospital in Berlin-Lankewitz and one of the most progressive of its time. Max Fraenkel (1856-1926) was an architect. He was a civil servant in Berlin and specialized in the construction of hospitals and sanatoria.

The Fraenkels also sent their son Ernst to college-preparatory school and made it possible for him to study at a university far from home. He received his medical degree from the University of Munich at the age of 26 on 7 March 1899. His dissertation was titled "On the Question of the Prevention of Water Absorption upon Ingestion of Mucilagonosa,” a dermatological topic. He had received his medical license a year before his dissertation was published. He was a specialist for skin conditions and venereal diseases.

He continued his medical career in Berlin, where he met Charlotte Levy (*1885), the daughter of Gustav and Agnes Levy, and who was from a wealthy family. They married in 1906, when he was 34 and she was 21. Their only child Stephanie was born in 1910. She survived the Shoah in Palestine, where she had fled in 1939. It is not known why the family moved to Hamburg in 1919 at the end of the First World War. The family was financially well-situated enough to afford an eight-room apartment at Lübeckerstraße 101. Ernst Fraenkel also had his practice in these rooms.

Fraenkel was hard-working and successful. His practice was open daily from 8-12:30 a.m. and 4-7 p.m., and on some days he saw up to 80 patients. He earned a good living, and the family’s lifestyle was cultivated and bounteous. They had a large library with medical texts and literature, a Bechstein concert piano, a player piano, and an extensive collection of sheet music. The inflation in 1923 ate up some of the family’s considerable fortune, especially Charlotte’s dowry, but the practice flourished and the family was not forced to give up their frequent trips to Italy, Spain, and to their relatives in Silesia, nor did they have to forgo attending concerts or the theater, pastimes that they greatly enjoyed. They also kept their household help.

The situation changed with the coming to power of the Nazi regime. On 1 May 1933, Jewish physicians were banned from treating socially insured patients. They could no longer afford the large apartment, and moved their living quarters and the practice to a smaller one at Lübeckerstraße 147. In order to recoup some of the lost income, Ernst Fraenkel extended his hours to 8 p.m., but shortened his morning hours by 30 minutes to 12:00. Jewish Community church tax records show that he was apparently able to make ends meet thanks to the loyalty of privately insured patients, and was able to avoid the plummet into destitution that many Jews experienced in the early years of the dictatorship. In 1930 he paid 1,280 Reichsmarks (RM) in church taxes, and in 1931/32 1,457 RM. But in 1932/33 his tax payment dropped to 421 RM, in 1935 295 RM, and in 1937 only 136.96 RM. These numbers represent a drop in income from about 11,500 RM in 1931/32 to 2,400 RM in 1937.

The medical licenses of all Jewish doctors were revoked on 25 July 1938. In exceptional cases they were allowed to treat Jewish patients as "healers of the sick.” Fraenkel’s practice was thus ruined, and room freed up for an "Aryan” dermatologist. Ernst and Charlotte once again had to find a smaller and less expensive apartment, and moved to Hegesteig 14 in Eppendorf in October of that year. Their daughter Stephaine fled the country, but her parents made no attempt to leave. Ernst was 66 years old, Charlotte was 53, and they couldn’t imagine that the situation could get any worse.

On 6 December 1938 the Fraenkels received notification from the Hamburg Chief Tax Authority that they were to pay a "Jewish Property Levy” of 8,500 RM.

The inevitable "security order” was also placed on their assets on 3 March 1940, under which they were denied access to their accounts and securities. The finance authorities allowed them to withdraw 350 RM per month from their savings for their rent and living expenses. A written and substantiated request to the tax office was required for "special requests” like glasses or medication. The Fraenkels were also required to wear the "Jews’ star” from 19 September 1941 onwards.

On 1 March 1942, the Fraenkels were expelled from their apartment on Hegestraße and forced to move to a room in the "Jews’ house” at Frickestraße 24. These overcrowded collective accommodations were the last stop before deportation.

In May they received orders to prepare for their "departure” to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 15 July. They auctioned off what furniture and possessions they still had in storage. The meager proceeds of 2,832.85 RM was, of course, not paid out to them, but transferred by the auction house directly to the secured account, as per regulations. After they were deported, the state confiscated every penny from their bank accounts and securities. Nazi propaganda cynically camouflaged this plundering of defenseless citizens before they were deported to Theresienstadt with the aid of decrees, police, and bureaucrats behind the phrase "retirement plan.” The Fraenkels were ultimately robbed of 10,031.04 RM.

The first Hamburg deportation transport to Theresienstadt left the station on 15 July 1942. There were 926 people on it, including Ernst and Charlotte Fraenkel. The tax office auctioned off what they had been forced to leave behind in the room on Frickestraße, and pocketed the sum of 3,533.55 RM.

In the horrific living conditions in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, Ernst Fraenkel died 11 months after his arrival, on 16 June 1943 at 10:15 a.m. of "adynamia cordis – weakness of the heart” (death notice of the Council of Elders in the Theresienstadt Ghetto) at the age of 71.

Charlotte Fraenkel died a few months later, on 26 November. She was 58 years old.
Another Stumbling Stone remembering Ernst Fraenkel is located in front of his last voluntarily chosen residence at Hegestraße 14 in the district Hoheluft-Ost. There a Stumbling Stone remembers also his wife Charlotte Fraenkel, neé Levy.

Translator: Amy Lee

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: May 2016
© Johannes Grossmann

Quellen: 1; 2; 3; 5; 7; 8; StaH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident F 553; StaH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident F 554; StaH 351-11 AfW 140610; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden Abl. 1993, Ordner 10, Heimeinkaufsverträge; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden 390 Wählerliste 1930; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden 992 e 2 Bd. 4; Königlich Preußisches Statistisches Landesamt (Hrsg.), Statistisches Jahrbuch für den preußischen Staat, Jg. 12, 1915; Broche/Carlebach (Hrsg.), Biographisches Handbuch der Rabbiner, 2004; Meyer (Hrsg.), Verfolgung, 2006, S. 70 ff.; Auskünfte von Yoram Ehrlich, 4.4.2013; Seite "James Fraenkel", in: Wikipedia. Die freie Enzyklopädie, Bearbeitungsstand 25. Februar 2015, 11:24 UTC, online unter: (letzter Zugriff 14. August 2015); Seite "Max Fraenkel", in: Wikipedia. Die freie Enzyklopädie, Bearbeitungsstand: 22. Dezember 2014, 13:46 UTC, online unter: (letzter Zugriff 14. August 2015).
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