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Meta Freundlich (née Oppenheimer) * 1893

Eimsbütteler Chaussee 15 –17 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)

JG. 1893

further stumbling stones in Eimsbütteler Chaussee 15 –17:
Heimann Freundlich

Heimann Freundlich, born 8 July 1882 in Gnesen, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Meta Freundlich, née Oppenheimer, born 27 May 1893 in Hamburg, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk

Eimsbüttler Chaussee 15–17

"Heimi” Freundlich, as he was known to family and friends, was the youngest son of the Jewish couple Dorothea, née Levisohn, and Moritz Freundlich. Like his elder brother Paul (see Freundlich, Paul), he was drawn from his hometown near Posen to the big city of Hamburg, where Paul had bought a pharmacy in 1909 on the corner of Fruchtallee and Vereinsstraße. Heimann trained to be a plumber, earned his master craftsman’s certificate, and came to Hamburg in 1919. There he opened a plumber’s workshop in 1923 at Agathenstraße 7, right around the corner from Weidenallee.

In Hamburg he met Meta Betty Oppenheimer, who was eleven years younger and also Jewish. Her mother Henriette ("Henny”) Oppenheimer, née Guth, was born on 7 August 1863 in Dirschau near Gdansk. Since Meta was born in Hamburg, her family must have lived there since at least 1893. From 1913 onwards they lived at Lappenbergsallee 24 in Eimsbüttel. At that time Meta was twenty, her brother Max was 21, her sister Frieda was 19, and the youngest, Paula, was 5.

On 28 May 1920, one day after her 27th birthday, Meta Oppenheimer married Siegmund Lichtenstein in Hamburg. He was eight years her senior, Jewish, and lived in Grabow in Mecklenburg. The marriage was annulled about two years later by the Mecklenburg-Schwerin District Court. At that time a decision of this kind was only possible in the case of a formal error; of legal incapacity, unconsciousness or "temporary mental incapacity of one partner” at the time of the marriage ceremony; of bigamy or consanguine marriage; or of adultery. Eight years later, in 1928, Meta Oppenheimer and Heimann Freundlich married. After the wedding, Meta gave up her job as a sales clerk, which she had had for eight years, and began working in her husband’s plumbing shop. She did the office work and bookkeeping. She was also active in the Jewish community, among other things in the women’s group of the Jewish Craftsmen’s Association. The couple had no children.

In 1929, Meta Freundlich’s father died, aged 64, and her mother gave up their apartment on Lappenbergsallee. She moved into the Jewish Nanny-Jonas Trust at Agathenstraße 3, near her son-in-law’s workshop. The Trust was primarily a residence for widows.

Heimann Freundlich’s workshop prospered, and that remained so even after the Nazis came to power in 1933. Freundlich did all of the plumbing work for his brother’s pharmacy, had contracts for buildings that belonged to the German-Israelitic Community, and often worked for members of the Jewish community, which did its best to support Jewish businesses. It is likely, however, that the family was aware of the growing danger for Jews in Germany and the possible consequences.

Meta Freundlich’s youngest sister Paula had married Martin Neumann in December 1934. He was from Eastern Prussia, and had trained as a sales clerk. From October 1933 to October 1934 he attended a carpentry class at the Advisory Center for Jewish Economic Relief on Beneckestraße (today the street no longer exists. It was where the campus of Hamburg University now stands). His goal was to emigrate to Palestine. In late 1934 Paula and Martin Neumann moved in temporarily with Henriette Oppenheimer on Agathenstraße. In December 1935 they boarded a ship for Haifa in Triest. Meta’s elder brother Max, a businessman, also left Germany. He, his wife, and two children ( born 1927 and 1929) fled to New York in 1939.

Frieda Oppenheimer remained in Hamburg. Paul Freundlich and his wife Irma also apparently did not consider emigrating, even though by 1935 the bureaucratic harassment had reached such a degree that his livelihood was threatened, and he had to give up his pharmacy in 1936. Heimann and Meta finally decided to emigrate, but it was already too late.

The Freundlich Plumbing Service was liquidated on 31 December 1939. The lawyer Hermann Breiholdt, Jungfernstieg 30, acted as trustee. Two months later, he demanded payment from Heimann Freundlich of all debts and outstanding accounts. The head of the plumber’s guild assessed the value of the company’s entire inventory and sold it for a sum of 297.98 Reichsmarks. This was all that was left to Meta and Heimann Freundlich of the livelihood they had built up together over so many years. It was just enough to cover their living expenses for one month. They had lived for many years at Eimsbütteler Chaussee 13, but in 1938 they gave up the apartment, probably for financial reasons, and rented rooms at Bellealliancestra0e 60.
In January 1939, Meta’s brother Max was able to sell a piece of property he owned in Altona, on which Meta and Heimann held a mortgage of 5,000 RM – exactly the sum that the buyer, Else Mehlhorn, was to pay. But the money had still not been received by the end of May 1939. How were they to go on? The payment from the settlement of the plumbing company had also not arrived. The couple’s savings, which had not been much to begin with, dwindled rapidly, and emigration became ever more impossible. Had they already given up hope? The letter that Heimann Freundlich finally sent to the Chief Tax Authority asking that they expedite the payment of the sum from the settlement was desperate – he was in a dire financial situation which was delaying the emigration. The money finally arrived, and Meta and Heimann Freundlich received subsidies from the Hamburg Jewish Religious Organization in July, September, and October 1941, but there was no longer any escape for them. On 8 November 1941 they were both deported to Minsk.

There is proof of Meta Freundlich’s death, but none for Hermann Freundlich or for Meta’s sister Frieda, who was also deported to Minsk in 1941.

Meta’s brother Max and his family survived the Shoah in New York. Her sister Paula died in Jerusalem in 1957 of cancer. She suffered for many years, according to the diagnosis of her doctor, under "severe nervous anxiety” and was unable to work. Paula’s husband Martin Neumann and his second wife returned to Hamburg in 1963. His and Paula’s daughter Rina, probably born in 1938, remained in Israel.

Max Oppenheimer and Martin and Rina Neumann applied for restitution for loss of liberty and professional damages with respect to Meta Freundlich. The application was denied in 1961, on the grounds that, according to Section 1356 of the (old) Civil Code, Meta, as Heimann’s wife, was obligated to work in her husband’s company and that her duties did not exceed "that which, in these circles, were common duties for a wife.”

Translator: Amy Lee

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Frauke Steinhäuser

Quellen: 1; 2 (R 1939/2673); 4; 5; 8; StaH 241-1 Gerichtsvollzieherwesen 550; StaH 332-5, Standesämter, 8750 u. 452/1920 sowie 9091 u. 1301/1893; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Abl. 2008/1, 5737 u. 15631; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 390 Wählerliste 1930; ebd., Ordner 42/1; ebd., 487 Fasc. 3; StaH 621-1/85 Konsulent Walter Schüler, 180; Adressbücher; Baumbach u. a. "Wo Wurzeln waren"; Engelhardt, Missglückte Regelung.

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