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Josua Falk Friedlaender * 1871

Grindelhof 30 (TTS) (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

1942 Theresienstadt
ermordet 22.10.1942


further stumbling stones in Grindelhof 30 (TTS):
Dr. Walter Bacher, Emil Emanuel Badrian, Asriel Brager, Ilse Brager, Sally Brager, Dr. Joseph Carlebach, Dr. Hermann Freudenberger, Julius Hamburger, Walter Nathan Herz, Bertha Hirsch, Leopold Hirsch, Dr. Alberto Jonas, Benno Kesstecher, Heinz Leidersdorf, Richard Levi, Emil Nachum, Mathias Stein, Artur Toczek

Josua Falk Friedlaender, b. 11.11.1871 in Stade, deported 10.3.1942 to Theresienstadt and perished there on 10.22.1942

Grindelhof 30

The commemorative stone for Josua Falk Friedlaender (also Friedländer, Friedlander) lies at Grindelhof 30, in front of the then Talmud Torah School, which is today the Joseph Carlebach School. Another commemorative stone remembers him at Siegmundshof 15 in Central Berlin, and another for his wife Else (also Elsa, Elza) Friedlaender.

Josua Falk Friedlaender was born the son of Joel Friedlaender and his wife Sophie, née Lesser. Joel Friedlaender was born on 29 July 1831 and died on 2 August 1906 in Stade. Sophie Friedlaender was born on 1 August 1848 in Bücken and died on 25 May 1859, also in Stade. Josua was the oldest of altogether five children. His four siblings were name Henriette Jaffe, Eliazer Gotthelf, Leah Philips, and Raphael Mordechai. With the exception of Leah, all were born in Stade between 1873 and 1881. Leah’s birthplace was Halberstadt. The information on her, however, is dubious, since she was supposedly born in 1899 although her mother Sophie Friedlaender had already died in 1895.

Although Josua’s sister Henriette had already died in Hamburg in 1912, his three other siblings all survived the Nazi era: Leah died in London in 1957, Eliazer in 1959 in Beckenham, UK, and Raphael in 1962 at an unknown place.

In 1890, Josua received his university studies certificate from the Stade Preparatory School. Between 1890 and 1896, he studied modern philology and Hebrew at the universities of Berlin and Göttingen, passing his state examinations in 1896. In this period, he had also spent the year 1892-1893 in England, where he attended Jews‘ College (London), the director of which was his uncle, Michael Friedlaender. He lived with his uncle at this time. He later translated one of his uncle’s books, The Jewish Religion, into German. In the course of his teacher training, he completed a seminar year at the Modern High School in Goslar (1896-1897), and his second probationary year (1897-1898) at the Kaiserin Auguste Preparatory School in Linden, Hanover.

From his beginnings, Josua was brought up strictly Orthodox, but then, during his school years turned toward liberal Judaism, without, however, giving up a deep bond to traditional Judaism. "One cannot be truly liberal, if one has not been Orthodox," he was accustomed to saying.

Josua Friedlaender’s wife Elsa was born in Posen on 11 May 1875, the daughter of Avraham Neumark and his wife Henrietta (Henriette), née Neufeld. Else was also a school teacher, who maintained contact to her family, sending letters to Posen almost every week from whatever place they lived, as her daughter Sophie later recalled.

The Friedlaenders came to Hamburg in 1898; on 7 December 1900, their son Walter was born, and on 16 June 1902, their son Johanan Priel, called Hans.

From 1898, Josua had a position at the Talmud Torah School, giving instruction in the French and English languages. C. Z. Klötzel, one of Josua’s students at the time, later published his recollections of his schooldays. "Fridl" or "Friedl," as their teacher was called by his pupils, stood out from most of the other teachers, according Klötzel, above all because of his elegance. He was said to have had an aristocratic bearing, and although he did not overmuch impress his students as a pedagogue, he nevertheless made a great impression upon them as a personality.

As Klötzel described, he was, for him, "the first person from whom a consciously esthetic aura emanated. As a pupil, one could not dress with the same calm elegance as Friedl, nor be more fragrant, even with good soap, nor could one’s linen be more spotlessly white than his, and from his hands we learned the concept of the manicure, even before we had heard of the word. What is more, he was a good-looking man with splendidly cultivated side-whiskers, a bold hooked nose, and fine coloring, what in England is called ‘a schoolgirl complexion.’

"Friedl could not maintain good discipline; the same characteristics which we admired in our heart of hearts, understandably provoked boys on the edge of puberty. How could we let a man get off scot-free, who was so ‘foin’ (‘fine’ in Hamburg speech), that he never once uttered the word ‘slothfulness,’ but rather just wrote a ‘reprimand for a lack diligence’ in the grade book! Nevertheless, no matter how much or little French we may have learned with Fridl, his appearance alone was the reflection of a strange, disquieting, and at the same time alluring world which we looked for around us, in vain." Klötzel described Josua’s instruction as, in contrast to the other teachers, "graceful, well-ordered, and quiet."

From 1900, Josua Friedlaender was also listed in the Hamburg directory. Thereafter, the family lived for several years at Grindelberg 41. Between 1905 and 1906, they moved to Bogenstrasse 23.

In 1906, Josua gave up his position in Hamburg and moved with his family to Berlin. The Friedlaenders lived at first at Eberswalder Strasse 35/IV, between 1917 and 1918, at Schönhauser Allee 81/I, and finally, around 1934 or 1935 at Siegmundshof 15, where they lived until his deportation. The apartment was on the mezzanine floor and had three rooms, hot water, heating, and a balcony. The homeowner E. Steiner was also Jewish. The Friedlaenders had, in addition, sub-lessees.

In Berlin, on 2 July 1907, the couple’s third son, Ernst, was born. The birthplace and year of their daughter Sophie are unknown. Josua also attempted to give his children a Jewish identity and instituted several religious festivals and evenings. According to Sophie, the family observed all the Jewish holidays.

In Berlin, too, Josua Friedlaender worked in the teaching profession. He taught modern languages, Latin, and the Jewish religion, among other subjects, at the Königsstädisch Modern High School. In Berlin, he received the title of professor and the status of senior teacher. As in Hamburg, his relationship to his pupils and colleagues was said to have been cordial. For a long period, Josua was the only Jew on the faculty, and he made his Jewish identity visibly apparent. In 1933, he was pensioned off on the basis of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service.

His daughter Sophie recalled later that, in his day, her father had been a progressive teacher. He prepared English texts in the natural sciences for other teachers. For a long time he was responsible for the preparation of lesson plans, always at the cost of large portions of his Easter vacation.

He rejected "skipping grades” in the school on psychological grounds because this took place only on the basis of the ability to learn and did not take into consideration the organic development of the pupil. When he had to fail a student seeking the university study certificate, it caused him great sorrow. Sophie remembered also that her father always took the entire family to school events, where they were heartily welcomed by the director. Her father was esteemed by his colleagues, and he was friendly with a few of them, although she did not remember any of them every visiting him at home. The everyday of the family was thoroughly school-oriented. In addition, Josua gave private tutoring lessons.

The two oldest Friedlaender sons, Walter and Hans, went to the humanistic Sophien High School. Ernst, the youngest, attended the Sophien Modern High School. During vacations, the family holidays were a never-to-be forgotten experience for Sophie. Although the family went on holiday to a whole series of places, two destinations especially stood out: Waren on Lake Müritz in Mecklenburg and Kolberg on the Baltic Sea.

Even during his long professional career, Josua was socially as well as religiously engaged. He was a member of the School Committee of the Jewish Congregation in Berlin. In addition, he was a member of the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith (Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens, or CV). For many years he led the synagogue on Rykestrasse in Berlin (Pankow). There he instituted divine services which sought to find a form that was Jewish-liberal, but also preserved what was essential, thereby having something to say to modern people. He involved adults as well as young people, consciously shortening his sermons so as to hold the attention of the worshippers. During the High Holy Days, he acted as a lay preacher in the prayer halls. At the Auerbach Orphanage, Josua occasionally took over the post of director and attempted here, too, to shape the divine service to his conceptions.

He often performed his social activities together with his wife Else. Among other things, during the First World War, he took on the task of caring for the spiritual needs of hospitalized Jewish soldiers. In addition, he and his wife were involved in travelers’ aid at the railroad station for East European Jewish workers on the way to the Ruhr region. He also volunteered at the Central Welfare Office of German Jews looking after Jewish people in the Prenzlauer Berg district.

During World War I, it grieved Josua Friedlaender, who was a member of the Reserve, that his English relatives were unavoidably on the enemy side. In order to give publicity to a relevant opinion on this matter, he translated into German an "Essay on Nationalism” by C. G. Hayes. As long as it was possible, he engaged himself in presenting his political convictions in the bourgeois-liberal CV, advocating for the social equality of Jews. Only after the rise of Nazism, did he turn to a possible future in the "Holy Land,” that is, Palestine. These dreams, however, were suddenly destroyed by the outbreak of war in 1939.

After 1933, his health grew steadily worse. He was still able to plan for the publishing of a Hebrew dictionary, and had already made extensive preparations for it. In 1941, for his 70th birthday, his friends dedicated a festschrift to him. On the occasion he was named a melamed, that is, a learned teacher in Judaism.

On 3 October 1942, Josua was deported from Berlin to the Theresienstadt ghetto. It was but one of a total of 123 deportations that left the German capital for Theresienstadt. Its 1,021 people made it the third largest "old people’s transport.”

Else Friedlaender had been deported even before her husband. She was, to be sure, no longer in Berlin when the deportation took place, but rather in the Jacoby Medical and Nursing Home in Bendorf-Sayn near Koblenz. According to information from Josua, she had wanted to rest there. In fact, the clinic had been founded in 1869 for Jews suffering from nervousness and depression. However, on the orders of the Reich Ministry of the Interior, from 1940 to the summer of 1941, in the wake of "euthanasia” measures, all Jewish patients in mental institutions were to be collected in Bendorf-Sayn in 1942, and, along with others from the Koblenz area, transported to the General Gouvernment (Occupied Poland) and murdered. Else Friedlaender was in one of the largest transports leaving Koblenz on 15 June 1942 and most likely deported to Izbica. Whether she died there or was deported to another camp, perhaps Sobibor or Belzec, is not known. According to a memorial page at Yad Vashem, she was murdered in Auschwitz in 1942. Shortly after her deportation, according to Josua, there was no further information received concerning her stopping places.

Josua died on 22 October 1942 at 5:40 am, thus only about two weeks after his arrival. In the Theresienstadt death notice, the direct cause of death was listed as Adynamia cordis, weakness of the heart. Also noted was that Josua suffered from rectal cancer, that is, cancer of the bowel. Josua had already undergone an operation for bowel cancer in Berlin.

All four Friedlaender children survived the Shoah. This was above all the result of having left Germany before the beginning of World War II. The three sons had been professionally active in Russia during the 1930s and went afterwards to Palestine. Walter Friedlaender was a physician, Hans had worked for a construction firm in Berlin, and Ernst was an electrical engineer. According to Sophie, all three later married and each had two children.

Sophie Friedlaender, who after her schooling lived for a time in England and then studied in Berlin, worked at the beginning of the Nazi era in private and Jewish schools as a teacher. She profited from her good knowledge of English, left Germany in 1938 in timely fashion, and went again to England. She got around a lot there and practiced various professions. Among other things, she helped in camps for refugee children, who had been fetched out of Germany in the Children’s Transports, worked in British schools and in private homes where refugee children lived. During this time, she got to know Hilde Jarecki, whom she befriended, worked, and lived with for decades. Hilde had, like Sophie, lost family members in the Holocaust. In 1949, Sophie traveled to the newly-founded state of Israel and visited her brothers for the first time since the war ended. These visits became regular occurrences. Since the 1950s, Sophie felt herself increasingly at home in England. She worked again as a teacher until her retirement in 1970. In those years, she undertook several trips to Germany. In 1996, she brought out her memoirs in book form.

Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Fabian Boehlke

Quellen: 4; 5; 8; BLha Rep. 36 A Oberfinanzpräsident Berlin-Brandenburg (II) Vermögensverwertungsstelle (1941–1945) – Nr. 10279, Josua Falk Friedlaender; Berliner Adressbücher 1907–1935; Deportationsliste von Berlin nach Theresienstadt am 3.10.1942, (letzter Aufruf: 25.1.2016); E-Mail von Tatjana Ruge, Stolperstein-Initiative Hansaviertel Berlin, vom 24. Januar 2016; Hamburger Adressbücher 1900–1906; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, DC, Name Index of Jews Whose German Nationality was anulled by the Nazi Regime (Berlin Documents Center), Aufzeichnungsgruppe 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675–1952, Aufzeichnungsgruppe-ARC-ID: 569, Veröffentlichungsnummer T355, Rolle 3, Fränkel, Werner – Hartmann, Herrmann; Profil von Josua Falk Friedlander bei,–Friedlander/6000000014159186259 (letzter Aufruf: 25.1.2016); Todesfallanzeige Josua Falk Friedlaender, (letzter Aufruf: 25.1.2016); Yad Vashem, Page of Testimony Else Friedlander, (letzter Aufruf: 25.1.2016); Yad Vashem, Page of Testimony Josua Falk Friedlaender, Name=friedlaender&s_firstName=Josua&s_place=&itemId=4399298&ind=5 (letzter Aufruf: 25.1.2016); (zuletzt eingesehen am 4.7.2016); Jenner: Quellen; Friedlaender/Jarecki: Sophie; Gruner: Judenverfolgung; Klötzel: Erinnerungen, S. 201–216; Lowenthal: Bewährung; ders.: Juden; Randt: Die Talmud-Tora-Schule; Schabow: Die Israelitische Heil- und Pflegeanstalt, S. 55–95; Liste der am 15.6.1942 aus der Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Bendorf-Sayn ausgesiedelten Juden, in: Dokumente des Gedenkens, Koblenz 1974, S. 274–280.
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