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Dr. Edgar Franck * 1896

Heilwigstraße 40 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)

1941 Minsk

Dr. Edgar Franck, born on 28 July 1896 in Hamburg, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, murdered there on 8 Mar. 1942

Heilwigstrasse 40 (Harvestehude)

The professional careers of the sons born to the Jewish banker Moses Bernhard Franck (1861–1930) and his Baltic-Jewish wife Sarah (Sonja), née Hirschmann, (born on 4 July 1871 in Goldingen/Kuldiga, Latvia/Courland) were predetermined early on.

In 1893, the couple had married in Berlin and moved into an apartment at Grindelallee 27 in Hamburg-Rotherbaum. The fathers of the couple, Bernhard Jacob Franck and Hermann Hirschmann, were merchants; the bride’s 23-year-old brother, the commercial clerk Max Hirschmann, had made the journey from Moscow just for the wedding. In 1905, Moses Bernhard Franck founded the M. B. Franck & Co. banking house in succession of the J. Franck & Co. banking enterprise that had existed since 1883, with its headquarters at Grosse Johannisstrasse 6. The owners of J. Franck & Co. were Jakob Franck (born on 1856 in Hamburg), who eventually moved to Berlin as a man of independent means in 1905, Martin Franck (1859–1912), and Nachum Franck (1858–1910) – probably brothers or cousins of Bernhard Franck. In 1910, the M. B. Franck & Co. banking house was located in the recently built "Kaufmannshaus” ("merchants’ house”) at Bleichenbrücke (Hamburg-Neustadt). It then relocated to Ness 1 and subsequently occupied rented premises, also in Hamburg-Altstadt, in the "Ballinhaus” office building constructed from 1922 to 1924 according to plans by architects Hans and Oskar Gerson (in 1938, the building was renamed "Messberghof” in compliance with a decree by the Reich Interior Ministry for the renaming of streets with Jewish names). The Francks also held company shares amounting to some 16,000 RM (reichsmark) in the "Bauhof” construction consortium of the subsequent Messberghof. In about 1910, three authorized signatories were employed in the private bank: Moses Cohn, who was also a partner in the company from 1920 until 1924; W. Evers; and Wilhelm Hermann Landahl.

Bernhard and Sarah Franck’s oldest son Walther (born on 18 Mar. 1894) passed his high-school graduating exam (Abitur) at the Johanneum high school in 1912, then worked as a bank employee for a short time, and had already studied four semesters of political science at the universities of Geneva, Munich, and Heidelberg. He was designated to take over his father’s company but he was killed in action on the western front on 2 Dec. 1915. His brother, Richard Franck (born on 19 May 1895), died two years later as a Vizewachtmeister [a rank approx. equivalent to deputy sergeant major] of a field artillery regiment. Both were buried at the Ohlsdorf Jewish Cemetery in a separate "cemetery of honor” with a memorial. Despite the participation of Jewish soldiers and their share in the casualties of World War I, increasing anti-Semitism had spread in Germany. Jews were accused wholesale of "copping-out” and of poor military performance. The War Ministry contributed to this indirectly by ordering a "Jews’ census.” The goal was to record how many Jews were occupying which military posts. No findings were ever published. In 1932, the Reich League of Jewish Frontline Soldiers (Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten) published a memorial book of soldiers killed in action "in order to be able to counter by documentation all defamations to the effect that German Jews had not done their duty in the war.” The publication also contains the names of Walther and Richard Franck.

The third son, Edgar Arnold Franck, had attended the private Wahnschaff Realschule [a practice-oriented secondary school up to grade 10] on Neue Rabenstrasse in Hamburg from 1906 until 1909, changing in Oct. 1909 to the Heinrich-Hertz Realgymnasium [a high school focused on science, math, and modern languages] at the intersection of Bundesstrasse 58 and Schlump, leaving that school in about 1909/1910 to live in the healthy climate on the Island of Föhr. From 1910 until Easter of 1913, he attended, also for health reasons, the Realschule in Güstrow/Mecklenburg (today’s John-Brinckman High School), which he left with the diploma (school-leaving exam of the Realschule) in order to learn the engineering profession. For this purpose, he worked as a trainee for the "Eisenwerk” ("Iron Works”) of Nagel & Kaemp (later, Kampnagel AG) in the Winterhude district as well as in the repair workshops of the renowned Hamburg America Line (HAPAG) in 1913/1914. After the start of World War I, Edgar Franck volunteered to fight in the war on 2 Sept. 1914. He saw action on various fronts, sustained injuries on several occasions, and received quite a few medals and decorations. Following the end of the war and his discharge from military service at the end of Dec. 1918, he joined the "Bahrenfeld Volunteers” ("Bahrenfelder Freiwillige”) in Feb. 1919. This unit, also called "Bahrenfeld Guard Detachment” ("Wachabteilung Bahrenfeld”) or "Bahrenfeld Free Corps” ("Freikorps Bahrenfeld”) was deployed in the summer of 1919 for "securing” the Hamburg City Hall against left-wing revolutionary forces. In terms of his biography, Edgar Franck was a good match for the "Bahrenfelders,” whose ranks were made up of many high school and university students, all of them belonging to bourgeois circles and having been socialized in the Kaiserreich. During the "battle for city hall,” Edgar Franck sustained minor injuries. Until the disbanding of the Free Corps in 1920, Edgar Franck belonged to this unit. Since he had survived the military action of World War I as the only one of the three brothers, the obligation to continue running the father’s company passed to him. He gave up his chosen career of engineer and planned university studies aimed at helping him in the banking business later on. To this end, he completed his high-school graduating exam (Abitur) at the Eppendorf Oberrealschule, [a secondary school without Latin] (today; Eppendorf High School on Hegestrasse) in Nov. 1919. Parallel to that, since the 1919 summer semester he was registered at the newly founded University of Hamburg, taking courses in the "Faculty of Law and Political Science” ("Juristische und Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät”). For the 1920 winter semester, he changed to the University of Frankfurt/Main. In 1921, he was awarded a doctorate in economics by submitting a thesis on the topic of "The Appraisal of Goods in the Financial Statement” (Die Bewertung der Waren in der Bilanz). As early as 1920, Edgar Franck had been entered in the company register as a co-owner of his father’s business. Since Sept. 1919, his sister Wera had sole power of attorney for the company that was deleted [from the company register] in 1931. The executive board of the Hanseatic Stock Exchange (Hanseatische Wertpapierbörse) confirmed in 1957 that the company "operated a relatively sizeable stock market business during the period of inflation (1923) and in the following years, which shrank substantially, however, at the end of the 1920s.” After the death of the father in Nov. 1930, Edgar Franck became the sole owner of the M. B. Franck & Co. banking house – by this time, the company had only three employees. The mother held a share of 38,000 RM and in return received 47 percent of the bank’s profits. The sister, Wera Mahler, née Franck, was at times a co-owner of the family company. The bachelor Edgar Frank continued to live in his parents’ home at Hochallee 94 (Harvestehude), where the family had been residing since 1909, a building whose former owner had been M. Franck. The house next door, no. 96, was home to the merchant Paul Mecklenburg (see biography on Louise Hess, née Mecklenburg). Since 1923 at the latest, Edgar Franck was a member of the Northern German Regatta Club (Norddeutscher Regatta Verein) (Hamburg) as well as the cruising yacht section of the German Sailing Association (Deutscher Segler-Verband). The membership list of the Northern German Regatta Club numbered many respected persons from the merchant world, finance circles, and city government – including Mayor Carl August Schröder (First/Second Mayor of Hamburg from 1910 to 1918), Senator Fr. Sthamer, the bankers/ bank directors Max Warburg (M. M. Warburg & Co.), Rudolf Philippi (J. Magnus & Co.), and Zum Felde, the textiles merchants and brothers Hans and Walter Rappolt (see corresponding biography of the latter), the physician and psychiatrist John Rittmeister (see corresponding biography), and also a member of the family of the steel magnate Krupp, as well as Prince Heinrich of Prussia as an honorary chairman. Whether this club membership served Edgar Franck rather as a means to maintain business contacts or to enjoy sports activities in an illustrious circle is not known. However, the information provided by his sister that Edgar Franck owned a sailing yacht of his own at least points to his active interest in sailing. Essential for this purpose was the proper attire, consisting of a sailing suit, navy trousers, and boat shoes, appearing on the "list of moving goods” for the scheduled emigration even as late as 1939. Edgar Franck seems to have been very active in other sports as well, as some additional items on the "moving list” document: tracksuits, running shorts, a stopwatch, hiking boots, a backpack, tent, swimming trunks, ski boots, and skates. As late as Nov. 1937, Edgar Franck ordered a dark blue right-hand drive eight-cylinder G 8 cabriolet with four seats, produced by the Austrian Gräf & Stift luxury automobile manufacturer in Vienna, at a price of 11,500 RM. In June 1939, this vehicle, jacked up in a garage of the E. Hertzel & Co. automotive company (at Eppendorfer Landstrasse 51–53), was awaiting shipment abroad. Moreover, Edgar Franck was a passionate photographer, using high-quality equipment in pursuing this hobby (including a Leica III manufactured in 1933 that cost 275 RM, an enlarger, photocopying machine, a film winder, a tripod, and a rangefinder). Edgar Franck belonged to the Hamburg Jewish Community since 1922. Very likely, he was also a member of the "Reich League of Jewish Frontline Soldiers” ("Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten”). In minutes of the Hamburg branch of the Reich League of Jewish Frontline Soldiers, dated 1925, appears a "comrade Franck” who was re-elected to cash auditor in 1929. It was not possible to clarify definitively whether the person in question was Edgar Franck. The dues Edgar Franck had to pay to the Jewish Community according to the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card fluctuated considerably. From 1929, he no longer made any contributions; the banking house whose business segment involved "purchasing and selling securities and foreign currency on commission, to a smaller extent also conducting commodity trade” (auditing report dated 27 Oct. 1938) had to cope with great losses in the years 1929 and 1930 due to the world economic crisis. In Jan. 1932, the banking house transacted no sales anymore and its employees worked only by the hour. For the years 1931 until 1933, the bank generated no taxable revenues though it did continue to exist. In the ensuing years, the earnings of the foreign currency bank rose to about 15–20 percent of its equity capital, which amounted to some 150,000 RM: 20,000 RM (in 1935), 15,000 RM (in 1936), and 31,000 RM (in 1937). With the Dr. Schorr & Erwin Rényi KG Company (Grosse Theaterstrasse 41, subsequently Schoppenstehl 20–21), founded in 1923 and trading in solvents, oils, and shellac, the M. B. Franck maintained business relations by way of commercial loans since its foundation. In 1936, the company became illiquid and Edgar Franck bought into the business as a partner in order to support it. In early 1937, a foreign currency audit detected alleged irregularities. The general partner, graduate engineer Erwin Rényi (born on 8 Oct. 1889 in Budapest, died on 22 Aug. 1953 in Budapest), of the Jewish faith, thereupon fled to Budapest (District VI, Szondy utca 92) in May 1937 to join his wife Helene (Ilona) Rényi, née Schönheim (born in 1893 in Craiova), who had returned to Hungary with the three children as early as 1934. After Erwin Rényi’s departure, the Hamburg State Police searched the room he had as a subtenant (with Edgar Burchardt at Feldbrunnenstrasse 21), confiscating various papers. For Edgar Franck, the share in the company resulted in a loss of some 8,000 RM and plenty of trouble with the foreign currency office. Erwin Rényi’s business was deleted from the Hamburg company register in July 1938. On 27 May 1933, Edgar Franck left the Jewish Community, probably in the hope of evading the anti-Semitic agitation of the Nazi dictatorship. However, in accordance with the race laws of National Socialism, he was classified as Jewish and from 1939 onward, he was listed under compulsion as a member of the Hamburg Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband), as the Jewish Community was forced to call itself by then. This forced him in turn to pay dues; later, the state also demanded payment of the newly decreed "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”) – in the case of Edgar Franck some 35,000 RM. From 1905 to 1910, his sister, Wera Franck (born on 12 Oct. 1899), had attended the private girls’ secondary school operated by Cäcilie Delbanco (1860–1930) at Rothenbaumchaussee 187 and from 1910 to 1919, the public girls’ high school (Lyzeum) at Hansastrasse (from 1926 onward, Helene-Lange School). Starting in 1919, she studied psychology and philosophy at the universities of Freiburg/Breisgau, Marburg, and Berlin. In 1921, she married and interrupted her studies until 1926; in 1931, her husband died. As late as 1 Mar. 1933, she obtained her doctorate by submitting a thesis on the topic of "Redirection Activity with Varying Level of Reality” (Ersatzhandlung verschiedenen Realitätsgrades) from the discipline of experimental psychology. Afterward, she worked as an assistant at the Institute of Psychology at the University of Berlin, which was located in Berlin’s City Palace at the time. In 1938, she emigrated to Palestine, where she subsequently worked as an "instructor for psychology.” In Nov. 1938, Edgar Franck was arrested following the state-initiated pogroms and taken by force to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was registered as prisoner no. 008531. Probably on 30 Nov. 1938, he was released. In the aftermath, he made intensive efforts toward his departure. The expert of the foreign currency office dealt with this matter in an entirely businesslike manner: "In terms of the suit listed under item 10 [in the "list of moving goods”], the pants and jacket are wrinkled. According to the information by the applicant, this resulted from the disinfection carried out in the Oranienburg concentration camp and supposedly, it cannot be remedied. If this is the case, the suit is likely almost worthless.” By June 1939 at the latest, Edgar Franck attempted to emigrate to the USA by way of Latvia (his Aunt Rosa Salm, née Hirschmann, a native of Latvia, having stayed once before, in 1893/94, with her sister in Hamburg for six months, and a member of the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community since 1920, also intended to depart to this destination in June 1939). In the USA, Edgar Franck planned to operate an automotive repair shop. Accordingly, he applied to the German authorities for permission to be able to export his car and various tools. He already had a temporary Latvian residence permit and crossing the border was scheduled for July 1939. However, the endeavor failed for unknown reasons. Then, in Dec. 1939, he applied for a passport to "Chile or Haiti,” but this emigration did not materialize either. Therefore, in Nov./Dec. 1940, he launched a new attempt, this time with destination Balboa/Panama, with the booking to take place via the Hamburg-America Line (HAPAG). The plan involved a train journey across the Soviet Union and the Japanese-occupied Chinese territory of Manchukuo as well as a ship’s passage from Yokohama (Japan) to Balboa (Panama). For the 747 US dollars payable to this end, the entire securities depot of the Franck banking house (amounting to 44,000 RM) was supposed to be traded in. In preparation, Edgar Franck took English lessons with Lilly Ganzinger at Haynstrasse 26 (Eppendorf) for three months. However, this attempt at emigration failed as well. As late as Mar. 1941, the foreign currency office (Department F 7) noted that the visa for Brazil was not on file yet and that Franck was currently not allowed to emigrate. Starting in 1933, the National Socialists increasingly restricted the entrepreneurial activities of Jews. The "forcibly coordinated” (gleichgeschaltete) press agitated with articles such as "De-Jewification of the German banking business.” On 25 Oct. 1938, only a few days before the November Pogrom of 1938, the Hamburg Customs Investigation Department carried out an audit of the M. B. Franck & Co. banking house. The search focused on, among other things, any violations of regulations in order to be able to impose fines, forced administration by a trustee, or the exclusion from stock exchange dealings against the Jewish owner. Although it was not possible to determine any wrongdoing on the part of Edgar Franck and his company, an audit aiming at withdrawing the designation as a foreign exchange bank took place. The auditor, Ernst Selck (born in 1892 in Glückstadt/ Holstein, from 1930 to 1936 authorized signatory of the I. Israel & Co. banking house in Hamburg and after the liquidation of this bank, hired as an auditor by the foreign currency office of the Chief Finance Administrator [Oberfinanzpräsident], and a member of the Nazi Party since 1937), noted: "Facts from which to deduce an imminent emigration of the owner were not ascertained by the auditor.” At any rate, the emigration would hardly have been possible since Edgar Franck did not even have a valid passport, as the report also stated. (In accordance with the "ordinance pertaining to the passports of Jews” dated 5 Oct. 1938, all passports of Jewish Germans automatically lost their validity, and they had to be surrendered to German passport authorities.) As a result of the audit, the Nazi state had available a detailed overview of the assets: in the case of Edgar Franck, some 180,000 RM (of which 44,000 RM had already been signed over to the Hamburg-Altstadt Tax Office as a "Reich flight tax security” ("Reichsfluchtsteuersicherheit”); his mother owned assets amounting to about 65,000 RM. Edgar Franck explained to the auditor that he was engaged "in negotiations with the Reich Economics Ministry in order to achieve his recognition as a Jewish half-breed [Mischling] and thus obtain continued status as a foreign currency bank.” The fact that the license of the M. B. Franck & Co. for stock exchange dealings was revoked as of 31 Dec. 1938 demonstrates clearly the hopeless situation of Edgar Franck. In this unspectacular administrative way, the Nazi state withdrew from the enterprise its business basis. Inevitably, this resulted in the necessity of selling the company, in order to save at least part of the business value. However, due to relevant documents lacking, it remains unclear whether a sale was in the interest of the National Socialist Gau (administrative district) leadership and whether this business would have been sufficiently lucrative for an "Aryan” bank. The outcome, in any case, was the complete liquidation of the banking house. Edgar Franck’s securities and his villa, built as recently as 1935 at Bebelallee 87 (at the time, Adolf-Hitler-Strasse 87) in Alsterdorf, were blocked from free disposal by means of a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) on 3 Dec. 1938, which was lifted only on 5 Feb. 1940. The construction date of 1935 suggests that Edgar Franck had attempted early on to evade plundering by the Nazi state at least partially by shifting his monetary assets to tangible assets. However, regulations increasingly more restrictive destroyed any business-related hedging strategy. Henceforth, he was allowed to withdraw from his checking account only a sum set by the authorities. In a further step, the Nazi state ordered the surrender of any gold, silver, and jewelry items. For Jews, acting in contravention of the laws and regulations meant being exposed to the arbitrariness of the authorities, police, and the Nazi judiciary. Often the consequences were not foreseeable, though they always had the potential to be threatening. The authorized signatory of the M. B. Franck & Co. banking house from the years 1923 until 1925, and then again starting in 1938, John Jarren, enjoyed the company owner’s full trust. After the "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) dated 3 Dec. 1938, he received full power of attorney, attested by a notary, over Edgar Franck’s assets. The owner’s mother also appears to have had full confidence in the authorized signatory, for in her last will, she bestowed on him a significant sum of money. Possibly, this was meant only as an interim solution in order to allow the funds to be forwarded to Edgar Franck later. However, this attempt to bring some capital from the systematic plundering to safety was ruined by the authorities’ rigid course of action as well. Following the blocking of assets by means of a "security order,” Edgar Franck reminded the relevant foreign currency office of the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) of the assurance made by administrative staff: "Since according to your information, there was no intention of impeding the company, we would like to ask you to inform the main branch of the Reich Bank in Hamburg that within the framework of legal regulations (free transfer of portfolios to other foreign currency banks) we can dispose of our portfolios.” However, in Feb. 1939, the "security order” was also extended to the portfolios that the M. B. Franck & Co. private bank had with the Deutsche Bank as well as with the Commerz- und Privatbank. Edgar Franck then tried to transfer major amounts of money to persons in his circle of friends and acquaintances who were neither in exile nor in a situation similar to his own. This required approval by the authorities though. The Nazi state already kept a suspicious eye on its victims’ capital that it claimed for itself. As late as Mar. 1939, Edgar Franck made over 7,250 RM in securities to the long-standing non-Jewish housekeeper Else Sellhorn, who had already been working in the Franck household since 1919, and, after the planned departure for Latvia in June/July 1939, she was supposed to take over parts of the furniture and apartment furnishings. In 1939, in order to finance his hoped-for emigration, Edgar Franck had no choice but to sell his villa at Bebelallee 87, using the services of the real estate agent for houses, Franz and Alfred Hunold (at Ferdinandstrasse 59), for 79,000 RM to the merchant August Reimers (born in 1874), since 1917 owner of the Rieck & Melzian sheet metal-processing plant (at Goldbekplatz 2 in Winterhude) as well as co-owner of the "Blechindustrie Hamburg GmbH,” a sheet metal manufacturer founded in 1934. As subsequent files of the Restitution Office (Amt für Wiedergutmachung) reveal, the sale generated a price significantly below the market value of the real estate. Since his attempts at departing Germany failed, Edgar Franck moved to a ground-floor apartment at Heilwigstrasse 40 (in Harvestehude) for the following two years. Until 1940, the banker Eduard Goldschmidt (born on 7 July 1868 in Hamburg) was registered for this address as the owner in the directory; he was the co-owner of the J. Goldschmidt Sohn banking business (founded in 1820), which had been liquidated in the course of the National Socialist "Aryanization policy” as of 30 Dec. 1938. In June 1939, Eduard Goldschmidt emigrated to Britain, eventually passing away in the USA in 1950. The widow M. Hinrichsen purchased the house from Goldschmidt. For the years 1940 to 1942, the tenant indicated was the general manager of the Gutehoffnungshüte hardware store, Walter Rambaum. For 1941 and 1942, an additional person entered on Edgar Franck’s behalf was Elsa Sellhorn, his housekeeper. By Nov. 1940, Edgar Franck’s assets amounted to only 46.000 RM, i.e., some 130,000 RM had been appropriated by the Nazi state and the buyer of the real estate (acquiring the property far below value). After the occupation of Soviet territory by the German Wehrmacht, the western part of Belarus with Minsk was added as the "General Commissariat Belarus” ("Generalkommissariat Weissruthenien”) to the "Reich Commissariat Eastern Land” ("Reichskommissariat Ostland”), newly established in July 1941 and headed by the Nazi Gauleiter of Schleswig-Holstein, Hinrich Lohse. There, starting on 15 Aug. 1941, the Security Police, the Security Service (SD), and mobile units of the Einsatzgruppe A (a Nazi death squad) systematically implemented the "Führer order” ("Führerbefehl”) concerning the murder of the Jewish population. From late Nov./early Dec. 1941 onward, SS-Obersturmführer [an SS rank equivalent to first lieutenant] and criminal detective Georg Heuser (born in 1913) was assigned to the commander of the Security Police in Minsk. To this place, Edgar Franck was deported together with other Hamburg Jews on 8 Nov. 1941. At the same time, he lost his German citizenship, his property was confiscated, and his household effects were auctioned off in Jan. 1942, with the proceeds of 676.80 RM going to the German state. The M. B. Franck & Co. banking house was not deleted in the company register until 22 July 1942, since the Nazi state intended to collect to its own benefit foreign accounts receivable that still existed. The SS, escorting the deportation train in a special railroad car, appointed 45-year-old Edgar Franck transport overseer of the Hamburg deportees and obliged him to name a person responsible for each of the 20 passenger cars making up the train. In the Minsk Ghetto, he was designated as "Jewish Eldest” by the SS, as the deportation train from Hamburg was the first to arrive there from the German Reich. In his room in the ghetto, Franck reportedly hung a certificate from his time as a member of the Free Corps. This was probably less the quirk of a German National but rather a demonstrative reference to having in his possession a kind of writ of protection. After all, on 23 Apr. 1936, the SS-Oberführer (senior SS leader), retired colonel, and national head of the German Reich Warriors’ Association (Deutscher Reichskriegerbund, also called Kyffhäuser League), Wilhelm Reinhard (born in 1869, member of the Nazi Party since 1927), had noted on the certificate in handwriting, "With this, thanks and appreciation by the Reich are expressed to him for voluntarily defending and protecting the German Reich, risking life and limb in doing so.” In the ghetto, the Jewish camp administration was able to establish contact to a German police sergeant (Polizeimeister) not known by name, who agreed to transport mail to Hamburg illegally. However, the operation was exposed, and Edgar Franck as well as seven additional men belonging to the camp administration, who had been quartered in building no. 12, were arrested on 8 Feb. 1942: They included Fritz Rappolt (see corresponding biography), Bruno Behrend (see corresponding biography), Max Bieber (see corresponding entry), Gustav Spiegel (see corresponding entry, Günther Sachs (born in 1923), as well as Cohn and Jacob, who could not be identified in more detail. On 8 Mar. 1942, Edgar Franck, about whom his fellow prisoners did not know where he had been, was brought back to the camp on a sled in a wretched state. He perished that same night. Witnesses from the ghetto suspected that he was mistreated and poisoned. The other arrested persons were executed in the courtyard of the camp. Karl Loesten (Löwenstein) recalled later: "On 13 Apr. 1942, the other seven men were taken to the courtyard of the camp, lying on a truck. Maltreated with kicks and lashes with whips, they had to dismount the truck one by one, lie on the ground face down, and align their feet toward the center. Then, SS-Obersturmführer [SS rank equivalent to first lieutenant] Burckhardt stepped to where their feet were located and first shot the right wingman. Then he went in a big circle around the person lying on the ground to shoot the left wingman. Again describing a circle, he returned to the second one from the right and shot him, then repeating the maneuver until the last one was shot dead.” Differing from that, in 1959 Walter Mahler testified about the execution as a witness in the trial against the SS-Obersturmführer and Kriminaloberrat [approx. equivalent to senior commissioner of the criminal investigation department] Georg Heuser: "In Jan. 1942, my brother, Bruno Behrend, was arrested because he had sent letters via the … officer of the Schutzpolizei [uniformed police force] … back to the Reich territory. When the answer arrived, my brother was arrested. The people detained at the same time included the members of the Jewish Council [Judenrat], about ten to eleven men, because they were responsible for affairs in the ghetto. On 18 Jan. 1942, the persons mentioned were arrested. … At the end of Feb. 1942, all of these persons were executed. The execution was carried out, probably as a deterrent, within the ghetto, more specifically, in front of the seat of the Jewish Council. Back then, I had to carry out my brother’s burial on my own.”

Sarah Franck, Edgar Franck’s 70-year-old mother, who moved out of her own home at Hochallee 94 in Sept. 1937, was quartered, after several stops (together with her sister Rosa Salm) at Alsterchaussee 38 (from the end of 1937 until Oct. 1940) and at Hansastrasse 35 (with the butcher L. Feilmann), at Grindelhof 101 with the physician Gertrud Meier-Ahrens (1894–1944) in Mar. 1942. This choice of accommodation was no coincidence, since Sarah Franck suffered from intestinal stenosis and depended on medical treatment and drugs.

Gertrud Meier-Ahrens and Rosa Salm were deported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942. The former was deported further to Auschwitz on 15 May 1944, the latter on 9 Oct. 1944, and murdered there. The Hamburg District Court (Amtsgericht) subsequently declared Rosa Salm officially dead as of 8 May 1945.

Sarah Franck remained behind. On 15 Sept. 1942, she received a space in a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Schäferkampsallee 25/27 and later a room at Beneckestrasse 6. After an intervention by the Reich Bank Main Office in Berlin, due to alleged derelictions of her son, she was denied the so-called "Vorzeigegeld” [money required for an entry permit] amounting to 1,000 Palestine pounds, applied for in June 1939 toward emigration to the British mandated territory of Palestine. As early as 3 Dec. 1938, the foreign currency office had blocked Sarah Franck’s accounts and company holdings by imposing a "security order.” Of the monthly 470 RM applied for she was granted only 350 RM from her account to cover her living expenses. On 29 Oct. 1942, she was forced to enter a "home purchase contract” ("Heimeinkaufsvertrag”) at a cost of 32,240 RM for room and board, i.e., for her deportation to Theresienstadt. In this way, the Nazi state seized nearly all of the assets of the banker’s widow, which had already been withdrawn from her access by blocking free disposal.

The person moving into the house at Hochallee 94 in 1939 was Erich Thörl (born in 1891), previously residing at Brahmsallee 80, the co-owner of the Nielsen & Wüstner delicatessen-canning plant, of the Dr. H. & E. Thörl margarine plant, as well as of Fassmann’s Kaffee-Kontor, a coffee merchant, in Hamburg since 1922. Like Edgar Franck, he had been a member of the Northern German Regatta Club since 1923 at the latest. Henceforth, the homeowner listed was Mrs. L. C. R. Thörl, residing at Brahmsallee 80.

As the overseer of the first Hamburg deportation train to Minsk, shortly before his deportation Edgar Franck had apparently spoken to Max Plaut (1901–1974), the head of the "Jewish Religious Organization reg. soc.” ("Jüdischer Religionsverband e. V.”), as the Hamburg Jewish Community was forced to call itself by then, requesting him to take care of his mother remaining behind. On 29 Dec. 1941, Max Plaut asked the employee of the "Jewish Religious Organization” Fanny David (see corresponding biography) in a note "to find out whether the woman is well cared for.” During her hospital stay in Aug. 1942 and Jan. 1943, Ernst Wolffson (1881–1955), the head of the Israelite Hospital, looked after her. In terms of asset matters and with respect to her last will, she received advice from Mr. Taterka (probably Marcel Taterka, born in 1878, a salaried employee, married to a non-Jewish woman, employed in the very end by the "Jewish Religious Organization.” Since a "conditional appointment as an heir” of her deported son Edgar Franck (i.e., temporary asset management until his return) was "unfeasible,” according to the jurist of the "Jewish Religious Organization,” Ludwig Loeffler, the search was on for another solution. However, due to the continued confiscation measures of the Nazi state, such considerations became irrelevant. The National Socialist state had "secured toward the Reich flight tax [‘Reichsfluchtsteuer’]” 15,000 RM, as the formulation went in the official German used by the Nazi-controlled authorities, and the "home purchase contract” swallowed up the remaining assets.

Sarah Franck, nearly 72 years old, was deported on 23 June 1943 to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, where she died on 12 Aug. 1944.

A Stolperstein for Sarah Franck was laid at Hochallee 94.

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

Stand: April 2018
© Björn Eggert

Quellen: Staatsarchiv Hamburg (StaH) 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), F 561b (Hinweis auf Bahrenfelder, Kopie der Rathauskampf-Urkunde 23032); StaH 314-15 (OFP), FVg 4573 (Erwin Rènyi); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), R 1938/2969 (Sicherungsverfahren gegen Dr. Edgar Franck, Firma M. B. Franck & Co., Sarah/Sonja Franck geb. Hirschmann und Rosa Salm geb. Hirschmann); StaH 314-15 (OFP), R 1940/106 (Sarah Franck geb. Hirschmann); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), R 1940/ 108 (Sicherungsanordnung gegen Edgar Franck); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2614 u. 919/1880 (Heiratsregister, Jacob Franck geb. 1856); StaH 332-8 (Alte Einwohnermeldekartei 1892–1925), John Franck (geb. 1810), Jacob Franck (geb. 1856), Nachum Franck (geb. 1858), Martin Franck (geb. 1859), Rosa Hirschmann (ohne Angabe Geburtsdatum); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 121099 (Wera Mahler geb. Franck); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung) 3033 (Rosa Salm geb. Hirschmann); StaH 351-11 (AfW), 1400 (Eduard Goldschmidt); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), 992 b (Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), 992 n (Fürsorgeakten), Band 10 (Sarah Franck geb. Hirschmann, 1941-1943); StaH 221-11 (Staatskommissar für die Entnazifizierung), J (E) 1855 (August Reimers); StaH 221-11 (Staatskommissar für die Entnazifizierung), F 13577 (Ernst Selck); StaH 221-11 (Staatskommissar für die Entnazifizierung), Fa 15935 (Erich Thörl); StaH (Lesesaal), General-Trau-Register, 1854 (John Franck); StaH 332-7 (Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht), A I e 40 Bd. 9 (Bürger-Register von 1876–1896, A-K), Moses Bernhard Franck, Nachum Franck; StaH 361-2 II (Oberschulbehörde II, Höheres Schulwesen), B 176 Nr. 3 (Vorsteher-Akte, Cäcilie Delbanco); John-Brinckman-Gymnsium (Güstrow), Eintrag im Hauptbuch der Schule; Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/Main, Universitätsarchiv, Promotionsakte (handgeschriebener Lebenslauf von Edgar Franck); Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Universitätsarchiv, Phil. Fakultät Nr. 744/2 (Wera Mahler geb. Franck); Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg Universitätsarchiv (UAH Stud. A. Walther Franck); Verzeichnis der Abiturienten des Realgymnasiums des Johanneums zu Hamburg von Ostern 1875 bis Ostern 1934, Hamburg 1934, S. 45 (Walther Franck); Handelskammer Hamburg, Firmenarchiv (M. B. Franck & Co., 1905–1931; Dr. Schorr & Erwin Rènyi KG, 1923–1938); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1910, S. 189 (M. B. Franck & Co., N. Franck & Co.); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1935, S. 236 (M. B. Franck & Co.), S. 704 (Rieck & Melzian); Adressbuch Hamburg 1870, 1885, 1896, 1902, 1904, 1907–1910, 1938–1939 (Hochallee 94), 1940–1942 (Heilwigstraße 40), 1941 (Feilmann); Amtliche Fernsprechbücher Hamburg 1895 (J. Franck & Co.), 1940 (August Reimers); Frank Bajohr, "Arisierung" in Hamburg, Hamburg 1998, S. 355 (M. B. Franck & Co.); Frankfurter Volksblatt 11.2.1938 ("Entjudung des deutschen Bankgewerbes"); Gräberkartei Jüdischer Friedhof Ohlsdorf; Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen (unter dem Familiennamen Frank in der Kartei erfasst), Angaben zur Haft (Original im Russischen Militärarchiv Moskau); Beate Meyer (Hrsg.), Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933–1945, Hamburg 2006, S. 63–64 (Bericht der Exekution), 134; Astrid Louven/Ursula Pietsch, Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Wandsbek mit den Walddörfern. Biografische Spurensuche, Hamburg 2008, S. 24–27 (Bruno Behrend); Wilhelm Mosel, Wegweiser zu ehemaligen jüdischen Staetten in Hamburg, Heft 3, Hamburg 1989, S. 84, 163–165, 208; Ina Lorenz, Die Juden in Hamburg zur Zeit der Weimarer Republik, 2 Bände, Hamburg 1987, S. 1148, 1150 ("Kamerad Franck", vaterlänischer Bund jüdischer Frontsoldaten), S. 1158; Brita Eckart, Die jüdische Emigration aus Deutschland 1933–1941. Die Geschichte einer Austreibung, Buch zur Ausstellung, Frankfurt/Main 1985, S. 227 (Passverordnung 1938); Anna von Villiez, Mit aller Kraft verdrängt. Entrechtung und Verfolgung "nicht arischer" Ärzte in Hamburg 1933 bis 1945, München/Hamburg 2009, S. 352/353 (Gertie Meier-Ahrens); Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten, Ein Gedenkbuch, Die jüdischen Gefallenen des deutschen Heeres, der deutschen Marine und der deutschen Schutztruppen 1914–1918, Hamburg 1932, S. 240 (Walther Franck, gest. 2.12.1915, 6/Inf.Rgt.84), S. 370 (Richard Hermann Franck, gest. 6.8.1917, 6/Feldartillerie-Regiment 100); Norddeutscher Regatta Verein, Jahresbericht für 1922/1923, Hamburg 1924, S. 82 (Franck); Das Buch der alten Firmen der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg, ca. 1930, S. VII 31 (Rieck & Melzian); Jonathan Friedman, "No ordinary Criminal". Georg Heuser, other Mass Murderers and Western Germany’s Justice, in: Patricia Heberer/ Jürgen Matthäus, Actrocities on Trial. Historical Perspectives on the Politics of Prosecuting War Crimes, Lincoln 2008; Christian Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde. Die deutsche Wirtschafts- und Vernichtungspolitik in Weißrussland 1941 bis 1944, Hamburg 1999, S. 756; Karl Löwenstein (Karl Loesten), Minsk – Im Lager der deutschen Juden, in: Beilage zur Wochenzeitschrift Das Parlament, B 45/46 v. 7.11.1956, S. 706–718.

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