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Elsa Friede
Elsa Friede
© Yad Vashem

Elsa Friede (née Perlmann) * 1875

Behringstraße 96 (Altona, Ottensen)

JG. 1875
ERMORDET 10.7.1944

Elsa Friede, née Perlmann, born 8/29/1875, deported to Theresienstadt 7/19/1942, died there 7/10/1944

Behringstrasse 96 (Roonstrasse)

Elsa Friede was born on August 29th, 1875 in Königsberg as the daughter of Eli and Louise Perlmann, née Jolowicz. As her daughter Elisabeth Charlotte Herzberg, nee Friede, testified at the compensation hearing in 1957, Elsa Friede attended a secondary school for girls. Before her marriage, she lived abroad. She married the physician Dr. Hermann Friede, born January 26th, 1860, who had his practice at Kronprinzenstrasse 4 (now Erzbergerstrasse) in Ottensen, where the family also lived. Their daughter Elisabeth Charlotte, called Lotte, was born on April 25th, 1899. Her sister Magda, called Maggi, followed in 1909. After graduating from the junior high school of the Altonaer Lyzeum, she worked as an assistant in her father’s practice. Hermann Friede died on September 30th, 1920.

In order to make a living for herself and her daughters, Elsa Friede worked as a free-lance journalist, mainly writing for ladies’ magazines, but also for local dailies, e.g. the Hamburger Anzeiger, the Hamburger Fremdenblatt and the Altonaer Nachrichten. Her writing was witty; she was committed and had a keen sense of observation, as she demonstrated in her article about the Bismarck bath house in Altona which had been opened in 1911, a bath house with a pool for ladies and a larger one for men, bathtubs and even a dog bath in the Altonaer Nachrichten of March 9th, 1928: "Altona, the spa. The health of our nation depends on light, air and water. In spite of the fact that the waters of Altona are the object of harsh written and spoken polemics, not only the citizens of Altona, but scores of people from Hamburg pilgrimage to the ‘holy waters’ of the Bismarck bath, seeking the roots of salubrity, seeking harmonic balance, to maintain the systems of the body, to counteract noxious predispositions, to heal diseases. Who can count all the people, call the names in these overcrowded baths? Who is surprised when the attendants keep reminding: ‘Ladies, close the door quickly, it’s very crowded outside.’ Crowded and ever more crowded, Altona’s famous Bismarckbad must be enlarged; the sweat baths and resting halls, the massage rooms and the simple mud baths are no longer adequate for the city that has grown, and because you always have to wait and wait before the showers, before the mud baths. And if you bring your pooch to the Bismarckbad, you won’t get him back dripping wet, but good deal of waiting later. […] Here in Altona, going to the baths is a popular custom, and these baths must also offer physical education, with gymnastics and other physical exercises. [...] Altona is a spa and will surely know how to maintain its cultural fame.”

In 1930/31, Elsa Friede published a series called "Striking Ladies of Altona”, where she portrayed female celebrities of the city. It started on August 6th, 1930 with an article about Ida Dehmel, the wife of the writer Richard Dehmel and founder and president of the Community of German and Austrian lady artists. Ida Dehmel committed suicide in 1942 in view of her imminent deportation (see P. 426) "She offered me her hand; for a moment, I looked into the eyes of this woman, perhaps my glance contained the unspoken question: ‘Is Ida Dehmel one of those women behind a great man or is she a creative artist in her own right?” Elsa Friede began her story, "just a few words in her suave rhinelandish idiom tell me: Ida Dehmel is both, her husband’s muse, the treasurer who collected his life’s work and then gave it to Hamburg for safeguarding. […] But that does not complete the outlines of the picture of Ida Dehmel. As a craftswoman, she gathered a number of war widows to make finest beadwork according to her design to enable them to make a living for themselves. Ida Dehmel is in the middle of the social women’s movement; she is founder and president of the Community of Female Artists and Art Lovers, she is a writer and a radio speaker. In the exhibition rooms of the Women’s Club at the Hamburger Hof Hotel she shows craftwork by female artists from all of Germany. She is always willing to fuel performances, help talents, to pave new ways for women’s ambition, for women’s work.”

Elsa Friede also portrayed the writers Charlotte Niese and Katharina Maass-Lind, the lyricist Andrea Frahm, , the painter Käthe Mahr-Köster, the pianist Olga Zeise, the literary scholar Vilma Mönckeberg-Kollmar and Elisabeth Cimbal , the president of the Altona City Association of Women’s Clubs, who since 1921 was also a member of the Altona City Council. Friede also wrote film reviews.

After the Nazis came to power, she no longer got assignments from papers and magazines because she could not become a member of the Reichsschrifttumskammer (the compulsory state writers’ organization) because she was Jewish. She had lost her assets in the inflation; her daughter Maggi,. Engaged to the engineer Paul Farka, had died on April 23rd, 1929 at the age of 20 following a short severe illness. Her daughter Lotte in the meantime had married the Jewish ophthalmologist Dr. Fritz Herzberg. Sand worked as assistant in his practice at Bahrenfelderstrasse 111. Fritz Herzberg supported her financially, but after he had been forced to close his practice, he and Lotte emigrated to Palestine. The widowed Elsa Friede stayed behind, now supported financially by her Dutch sister-in-law Käthe de Wind. In 1932, Elsa Friede had moved to a two-room apartment at Roonstrasse 96 (now Behringstrasse) in the Friedrich-Ebert-Hof in Ottensen. In March, 1939, she moved to Hagedornstrasse, where her address was "with Conrad.” Elsa Friede, too, wanted to emigrate; according to a note in the records of the Public Information and Counseling Agency for Emigrants in Hamburg of March 9th, 1939, she had already bought a ticket to Palestine.

At the end of 1940, the Gestapo evicted her from her home. First, she moved to Klosterallee 5, with Cohen. On July 1st, 1941, the Gestapo quartered her in the "Jews’ house” Sonninstrasse 14 (now Biernatzkistrasse) in Altona, and from December 1st, 1941, she lived at the "Jews’ house” Steubenweg 36 (now Grotiusweg) in Blankenese. Elsa Friede was deported to Theresienstadt, where she perished two years later, on July 10th, 1944. Fritz and Lotte Herzberg lived in Haifa, where he was able to open a practice. They had a son and a daughter. Fritz and Lotte Herzberg both died in 1974.

Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr

Quellen: 5; 8; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 22622 (Herzberg, Charlotte), Korrespondenz mit Uri Shani, Verwandter, März 2015; Auskunft von Sabine Boehlich, 10.3.2015.
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