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Gemälde-Porträt Otto Friedeberg
Gemälde-Porträt von Otto Friedeberg
© Verein der Getreidehändler der Hamburger Börse

Otto Friedeberg * 1855

Adolphsplatz 1 (Hamburg-Mitte, Hamburg-Altstadt)

JG. 1855
TOT 7.7.1945

further stumbling stones in Adolphsplatz 1:
Valentin Burchard, Leopold Cohn, John Hausmann, Ludwig Moritz Mainz, Heinrich Mayer, Ivan Philip, Franz Max Rappolt, Paul Salomon, Max Stein, Dr. Heinrich Wohlwill, Cäsar Wolf, Leo Wolfsohn

Otto Friedeberg, born on 15 May 1855 in Magdeburg, died on 7 July 1945 in Cottbus

Vice-President of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce 1927–1929, Member of the Plenary Assembly of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce 1911–1933, Member of the Board of Directors of the Grain Exchange, no later than 1928–1933

Otto Friedeberg, born on 15 May 1855, originally came from Magdeburg. His father was the Jewish merchant Carl Friedeberg (c. 1806–1876), his mother Julie Friedeberg, née Arndt. Otto had three other siblings: Eduard (1838–1918), Paul (1845–1898), and Emma. Father Carl and brother Paul, both merchants, owned a spirit and rum factory in Magdeburg at Spiegelbrücke 16/19. For decades, Carl Friedeberg was chairman of the Representatives’ Assembly of the Synagogue Association (Synagogengemeinde) in Magdeburg.

Otto Friedeberg completed secondary school in his hometown and then did commercial training at the local Gebr. Friedeberg (Friedeberg Bros.) company, grain and commission business. He gained professional experience with grain trading companies in Berlin, Paris, and London. In Finchley, Britain, he married Marie Louise Wylimann on 3 June 1880. She came from Bern, Switzerland, where she was born on 3 Dec. 1855 as the daughter of Johann Heinrich Willimann and Anna, née Gasser. In the same year, Otto Friedeberg moved with her to Hamburg, where they lived at Jordanstrasse 6. Since his confirmation, he had already belonged to the Lutheran denomination. His daughters Dorothea Louise (born in 1881) and Gertrud Anna (1884–1978), born in 1881 and 1884 respectively, were both baptized Protestants. In the following decade, the family changed homes several times: The addresses were Heussweg 60 (1884–1886), Sechslingspforte 5 (1887–1889), and Uhlandstrasse 33 (1890–1992). In 1892, they acquired a small urban villa in Winterhude at Sierichstrasse 15 as their permanent residence. In the meantime, the family had grown to include daughters Margarethe Lucy (born in 1890) and Lily Magdalena (1892–1983).

Otto Friedeberg initially worked in Hamburg in the grain and commission business of G. Arndt and Arnstädt at Alte Gröningerstrasse 1. On 30 Dec. 1882, he became self-employed and operated his own company entered in the company register under Otto Friedeberg. The grain, produce, and commission business was only a few houses away from his previous workplace at Alte Gröningerstrasse 15, and the company’s headquarters also changed frequently in the following decades: Neue Gröningerstrasse 9 (around 1890–1993), Grosse Reichenstrasse 11 (1894–1899), Zollenbrücke 3 (1900–1903), Grosse Reichenstrasse 63 (1904–1918), Schauenburgerstrasse 15 (1919–1929) and finally, from 1930 onward, Alter Wall 60.

As early as 1882, Friedeberg had joined the Association of Grain Merchants of the Hamburg Exchange (Verein der Getreidehändler der Hamburger Börse). From 1889, he was on the board of the association and from 1907 to 1929, he held the office of chairman.

On 30 Nov. 1911, Otto Friedeberg was elected member of the plenary assembly of the Chamber of Commerce and confirmed in the elections of 1917, 1919, 1923, and 1929. From 1927 to 1929, he held the office of vice president and by 1931 at the latest, he was on the committee for the admission to official trading on the exchange. In numerous sections of the Chamber of Commerce, he was, mostly until spring of 1933, a valued member: for maritime navigation, for river navigation (in 1931, chairmanship), for commodities trade (in 1931, chairmanship), for election lists and the annual report, for the stock exchange, library and interior (in 1931, chairmanship), for judicial and legal affairs. In Jan. 1932, at the age of almost 77, he resigned from the chairmanship of the River Navigation Section, the Commodities Section and, "in spite of the lively coaxing by the members present,” from the Internal Affairs Section. Otto Friedeberg also held other important offices: He was Treasurer of the Chamber, Chairman of the Upper Elbe Arbitration Court, Chairman of the Freight Committee, Chairman of the Board of the Grain Exchange and a member of the Commission for Commercial Classes. From 1919, he was delegated by the Chamber to the Deputation for Indirect Taxes and Charges; from 1927, to the Deputation for Dutch Shipping and Trade; he was on the large committee of the Central Association for German Inland Navigation, on the Hamburg State Railway Council, on the Elbe Waterways Advisory Council and on the Sea Waterways Advisory Council. Moreover, he was a member of the Association of the "Honorable Merchant” before the First World War and in the 1920s.

After the "seizure of power” by the Nazis, it became increasingly clear in the spring of 1933 that the structure of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce was to be reorganized. On 12 June 1933, President Nottebohm called upon the previous plenary assembly members to resign from their office in order to initiate a new staffing along the lines of rejuvenation and Nazi conformity. Otto Friedeberg had anticipated this when he submitted his resignation on 8 Apr. 1933. In his personal file as a plenary assembly member, the following was noted succinctly: "voluntary, for reasons of age.” Kurt F. Rosenberg, lawyer and from 1924 to 1933 legal adviser to the Vereinigung Hamburger Getreide-Importeure (Association of Hamburg Grain Importers), regretfully noted in his diary on 19 April: "Otto Friedeberg – an old experienced expert – has resigned from his eleven honorary posts at the Chamber of Commerce. They have been transferred to a previously subordinate employee in the grain industry who has neither Friedeberg’s experience nor his skills.”

Already in 1923, Friedeberg had established the Otto Friedeberg Foundation of the Association of Grain Merchants of the Hamburg Exchange with the approval of the Hamburg Senate – the occasion was his fortieth anniversary as a member of the Association in 1922. Donations for the jubilarian formed the basis; well-off members of the Association provided further financial means in the following years. The objective of the foundation was "to support needy members of the above-mentioned Association and their relatives, without distinction of creed, in restoring their health, in learning, establishing or promoting a profession or to facilitate their ongoing maintenance.” The same regard for persons of all denominations was a personal concern to the Lutheran Otto Friedeberg, who came from a Jewish home.

As late as the beginning of Jan. 1933, the Chairman of the Board of the Association of Agents for Grain, Flour, and Animal Feed of the Hamburg Exchange sent the member Otto Friedeberg congratulations on his fiftieth anniversary and a financial contribution to the Otto Friedeberg Foundation.

However, when it became apparent soon that the new Nazi government of the Reich no longer wished to negotiate with associations that had Jewish members, controversial discussions began in this association as well, in an extraordinary general assembly, about a new formation of the board consisting only of non-Jewish persons. To enable the Association to continue to exist, Leopold Cohn, John Hausmann, and Leopold Hiller declared their immediate resignation. Otto Friedeberg thereupon declared, "Although he had been a Christian for 57 years, his parents had been Jews. It would be better if he too resigned from the board,” and joined the resignations.

At the end of 1935, Otto Friedeberg retired from the management of his company at the age of 80. He did not have a son to whom he could have transferred it. The company was converted into a general partnership. Henceforth, the persons serving as partners were the long-time authorized signatories and Hamburg merchants Max Richard Christian Vonhacht (since 1909) and Friedrich Carl Christian Petersen (since 1921). It was not possible to determine under which conditions Friedeberg withdrew. One can assume, however, that this was also due to the fact that, under the increasing restrictions and discrimination, it became increasingly difficult to find contractual partners and customers in Germany. The general partnership (OHG) was dissolved again at the beginning of 1940 and Petersen continued the business as sole owner. On 8 May 1941, he registered the change of name to Friedrich Carl Petersen, Getreide-Import. In 1939, the company headquarters had been relocated from Alter Wall to Mönckebergstrasse 9.

In his new phase of life as a private citizen, Otto Friedeberg nevertheless seems to have maintained contacts with some of his former companions from the Chamber of Commerce. It is documented that in 1936, he met with Hinrich Elso Klöver, who had been Deputy Legal Adviser since 1928 and Legal Adviser to the Chamber of Commerce since Sept. 1933, for breakfast, after which Klöver was reprimanded by the SA.

In 1936, Otto and Marie Louise Friedeberg, whose daughters were married and ran their own household, moved from their urban villa on Sierichstrasse to an apartment in Eppendorf, on the second floor of a five-story solid middle-class house at Loehrsweg 11.

Starting in the fall of 1937 at the latest, the official measures against Jewish citizens in Hamburg also intensified. They were increasingly ousted from economic life and their freedom of movement was curtailed. In spring 1938, the legalized state grab for Jewish companies and private assets began. "Otto Friedeberg belonged to the Protestant Lutheran religion, but he was persecuted on racial grounds because of the Jewish religious affiliation of his deceased parents. In 1938/39, he was also forced to pay the levy on Jewish assets (Judenvermögensabgabe). The amount he had to pay totaled approx. 20,250 RM, which he settled for the most part with securities.

In the fall of 1940, the Otto Friedeberg Foundation he founded, at the insistence of the supervisory authority for corporations, erased his name from its designation and renamed itself the "Stiftung Hamburger Getreide-Kaufleute” (Hamburg Grain Merchants Foundation).

On 31 Dec. 1941, Otto Friedeberg’s wife Marie Louise died of bronchitis in the Hanseatic city. A contemporary recalled the following: In 1943, the SS "forced him to leave Hamburg with gentle coaxing.” In 1952, his daughter Lily described the event in more detail: "Around Aug./Sept. 1943, he was forced to leave Hamburg by the state police authority by means of terminating his apartment. Only in this way could he escape the admission to a Jewish ‘retirement home’ already ordered, which would have resulted in his imminent ‘death.’” In fact, the Hamburg residents’ register listed Friedeberg until July 1943 at Beneckestrasse 6 under the address of the local "Jewish retirement home.” On 29 June 1943, he had been deregistered for deportation to Theresienstadt. However, the 88-year-old escaped the threat of being transported to a concentration camp by hiding with his daughters Dorothea Hahn in Cottbus and Lily Kotze in Freienwalde. These "were married to ‘Aryan’ men, which allowed him to avoid further persecution for the time being.” It is most remarkable that Friedeberg, very advanced in age, managed to find his way to his children under the travel bans for Jews and the omnipresent controls that were in force at the time. After the end of the war, he had intended to return to his hometown of Hamburg, but he was not meant to realize that plan. "Exhausted by the efforts of fleeing from the invading Russians, he died on 7 July 1945 in Cottbus.”

After the end of the Second World War, Otto Friedeberg’s daughters filed applications for restitution for the damage inflicted on their father: Dorothea Hahn, who continued to live in Cottbus and whose husband Rudolf was the executor of Friedeberg’s will; Margaret Post, by then in Bad Kreuznach; Gertrud Mutze, who lived in Gangkofen in Upper Bavaria; and Lily Kotze in Hildesheim. The files are incomplete, but it appears that they were at least awarded damages for the special levies paid by their father.

After the war, the former Otto Friedeberg Company, by then the Friedrich Carl Petersen Company, initially operated at Kleine Rosenstrasse 4, and from about 1950 onward at Alstertor 1. After Petersen’s death around 1956, it was temporarily continued by his widow, then by Alfred Erwin Altermann, and continued to exist until 1960.

In 1950, the Foundation of Hamburg Grain Merchants was renamed the Otto Friedeberg-Stiftung des Vereins der Getreidehändler der Hamburger Börse e. V. (Otto Friedeberg Foundation of the Association of Grain Merchants of the Hamburg Exchange reg. soc.)

© Text courtesy of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce (eds.) taken from: "Against Forgetting. Victims of totalitarian persecution from the honorary and full-time office of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce” (Gegen das Vergessen. Opfer totalitärer Verfolgung aus dem Ehren- und Hauptamt der Handelskammer Hamburg). Hamburg 2019

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

Stand: July 2020
© Dr. Karin Gröwer

Quellen: HK-Archiv 2210/5 (Personalakte Plenarmitglied Nr. 427); HK-Archiv 53.D.2.2.9 (Ernennung der Mitglieder der Allgemeinen Abteilung des Börsenvorstandes (Börsenkommission) 1926–1934); HK-Archiv I.6.C.5.1. (1) Neugestaltung der Handelskammer (Gleichschaltung) 2) Bestellung von Staatskommissaren zur Weiterführung der Geschäfte und Vorbereitung der endgültigen Neugestaltung 3) Einschaltung der Staatskommissare in das Präsidium 4) Ausscheiden der Kammermitglieder Krogmann, Heye, Friedeberg 1933); HK-Archiv I.6.G.3.6.14 (Geschäftsverteilung der Handelskammer für 1932, 1933 und die einstweilige Geschäftsverteilung vom Juni 33 nach der Gleichschaltung); Landesarchiv Berlin, Sterberegister Berlin-Zehlendorf 1898 Nr. 66; SHWA V8/17 (Verein der Vermittler für Getreide, Mehl und Futtermittel der Hamburger Börse E. V. zu Hamburg 1933, Vorstand Sitzungsprotokolle); Sta Magdeburg, Magdeburgische Zeitung Nr. 421 vom 9. September 1876 (Nachruf der Synagogengemeinde auf Carl Friedeberg); Sta Magdeburg, Magistrat der Stadt, Rep. A II J 41 spec. 2 ("Den Ankauf der Grundstücke Spiegelbrücke No. 16 und 19 von den Kaufleuten Carl und Paul Friedeberg" 1882–1898); Sta Magdeburg, Standesamt Magdeburg-Altstadt, Rep. 55 / 3.23 Band 3 (Sterberegister 1876 Nr. 1797); Sta Magdeburg, Standesamt Magdeburg-Altstadt, Rep. 55 / 3.428 (Sterberegister 1918 Band 1 Nr. 180); StAHH 231-7_A 1 Band 11 (Handelsregister A 3135); StAHH 231-7_A 1 Band 192 (Handelsregister A 42593); StAHH 332-5_6311 (Standesamt Hamburg 21, Geburtsregister 1884 Nr. 414); StAHH 332-5_6311 (Standesamt Hamburg 21, Geburtsregister 1890 Nr. 271); StAHH 332-5_7982 (Standesamt Hamburg 03, Sterberegister 1905 Nr. 430); StAHH 332-5_8954 (Standesamt Hamburg 03, Geburtsregister 1884 Nr. 872); StAHH 332-5_9077 (Standesamt Hamburg 03, Geburtsregister 1892 Nr. 1522); StAHH 332-5_9519 (Standesamt Hamburg 03a, Heiratsregister 1905 Nr. 225); StAHH 332-5_9525 (Standesamt Hamburg 03a, Heiratsregister 1907 Nr. 76); StAHH 332-5_9920 (Standesamt Hamburg 01 Sterberegister 1941 Nr. 784); StAHH 351-11_655 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Gertrud Mutze, geb. Friedeberg); StAHH 351-11_656 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Margaret Post, geb. Friedeberg); StAHH 351-11_657 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Lily Kotze, geb. Friedeberg); StAHH 351-11_658 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Dorothea Hahn, geb. Friedeberg); StAHH 351-8_B 735 (Aufsicht über Stiftungen, Otto Friedeberg-Stiftung (1923–1976)); Zum 50-jährigen Bestehen des Vereins der Getreidehändler der Hamburger Börse 1868–1918, Hrsg. Verein der Getreidehändler der Hamburger Börse, Hamburg 1918, S. 51ff; Bajohr, Frank: "Arisierung" in Hamburg. Die Verdrängung der jüdischen Unternehmer 1933–1945, Hamburg 1997, S. 218ff, 223ff; Bielfeldt, Hans: Vom Werden Groß-Hamburgs. Citykammer, Gauwirtschaftskammer, Handelskammer. Politik und Personalia im Dritten Reich, (Staat und Wirtschaft. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Handelskammer Hamburg) Hamburg 1980, S. 141ff; Hamburger Adressbuch; Klein, Gottfried: 100 Jahre Verein der Getreidehändler der Hamburger Börse, Hannover 1968, S. 32, 116; Magdeburger Adressbuch; Offizielles Hamburger Börsenadressbuch; Reichshandbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft. Das Handbuch der Persönlichkeiten in Wort und Bild, Band 1 A–K, Band 2 L–Z, hrsg. vom Deutschen Wirtschaftsverlag, Berlin 1931 (Artikel Otto Friedeberg, S. 487); Rosenberg, Kurt F.: "Einer, der nicht mehr dazugehört". Tagebücher 1933–1937. hrsg. von Beate Meyer und Björn Siegel, (Hamburger Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Juden 41) Göttingen 2012, S. 84.

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