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Susanne Friedländer (née Cohen) * 1868

Mühlendamm 72 (Hamburg-Nord, Hohenfelde)

JG. 1868
ERMORDET 11.3.1944

Susanne Friedländer, née Cohen, born on 5 Apr. 1868 in Loppersum, Emden District, deported on 5 May 1943 to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, perished there on 11 Mar. 1944

Mühlendamm 72

"Since her marriage in 1901, my mother, whose only child I am, Mrs. Marie Friedländer, née Cohen, and her sister, Mrs. Susanne Friedländer, née Cohen, with their husbands (brothers), Robert and Joseph Friedländer, respectively, lived in a residential and business community at Burggarten 8 in Hamburg.

My aunt Susanne’s marriage remained childless. Her husband Joseph Friedländer died in 1916, and since it had been a business community, my aunt continued to receive her livelihood in the ongoing living and residential community. My father, Robert Friedländer, passed away in 1922, and his death put an end to our business and the rapid inflation devoured all the money of my mother and aunt Susanne.”

Thus began the letter Wilhelmine Mittendorf, née Friedländer, attached to her application for restitution, which she submitted in 1953. The few sober sentences with which she outlines "vis-à-vis the office” a large part of her murdered aunt Susanne’s life conjure up images: Two sisters married two brothers, lived together in one household, and ran a business together. The close ties in important areas of life suggest that both the relationship between the sisters and between the brothers was basically very good.

Susanne Friedländer and her sister Marie, two and a half years her senior, came from the small town of Oldersum near Leer, where Jews had been living since the seventeenth century. Their parents were Levi Moses "Jehuda” Cohen and his wife Wilhelmine "Makel,” née Leers. They had six older siblings: Moses (born in 1856), Amalia (born in 1857), Henriette (born in 1859), Aron (later Adolf, born in 1861), Elise (born in 1862), and Rosa (born in 1864). His father Levi Cohen, who later called himself Leo, worked as a livestock trader and merchant. From 1858 onward, he was the leaseholder of the castle located in the small market town. In 1866, the family moved to Harsweg, north of Emden. There Levi Cohen leased a country estate, and he also headed the Jewish Community of the small village. Susanne’s brother Aron stayed in Harsweg, married Minnie Levy, and later became the mayor of Harsweg. Their sister Esther Elise lived in Berlin after her wedding with Jacob Weiss, who came from what was then Upper Silesia (now Poland). Rosa Cohen married Lazarus Sekkel from Groningen in 1894. Both lived there afterward and their son Levi was also born there in Feb. 1896.

Susanne’s sister Marie Cohen married Robert Friedländer on 15 Mar. 1901 in Hinte near Aurich. Susanne herself celebrated a wedding with his brother Joseph. The two brothers jointly managed Joseph Friedländer & Co. in Hamburg, an "export agency as well as wholesale warehouse trading in iron products and dry goods, domestic and kitchen appliances, and wickerwork.” Her father Adolph had laid the foundations for it and from about 1876, he traded in hardware and dry goods on Krayenkamp in Hamburg-Neustadt. Hardware included "cooking utensils, eyelets, and iron bedsteads.” In 1883, he had his two sons Robert and Joseph join the company, which they took over completely after he left the business. Starting in 1888, they also had a stock exchange pit, first in front of pillar 24a, later in front of pillar 22. At first, the two brothers continued the company in the previous premises on Krayenkamp; in about 1889, they moved to the 2nd Erichstrasse 23 in the St. Pauli quarter.

In Nov. 1901, Susanne and Marie Friedländer’s father Levi Cohen died. He was buried at the Emden cemetery on Bollwerkstrasse because the Oldersum Jews belonged to the Emden Synagogue Community (Synagogengemeinde).

The translation of the Hebrew inscription on his tombstone reads:

PN (here is buried)
the righteous man Jehuda son of Mozes
de kohen he died in the days of his age
ninety-five [erroneous: 75] years old
on the eve of rosh
chodesh [new moon day] Kislev and he was buried
the second day ervan
TNSBH (May his soul be bound up in the bond of life.)

In 1902, the brothers Joseph and Robert Friedländer moved their company to the Hopfenhof on Kleiner Burstah. In the same year, on 22 April, Marie and Robert Friedländer’s daughter Wilhelmine was born, Susanne Friedländer’s niece. Two years later, on 15 June 1904, Marie and Susanne’s mother Wilhelmine, also known as Minna, died. She was buried like her husband in the Emden Jewish cemetery on Bollwerkstrasse. In Hebrew, her gravestone reads:

PN (here is buried)
highly esteemed madam, dear madam
Makel, daughter of the honored Mr. Aaron
(the wife of) the honored Mr. Yehuda, son of
hak(ohen) (she died)
with a good name.

Marie and Susanne Friedländer’s husbands did well in Hamburg. In 1905, the two couples moved together with Wilhelmine, by then three years old, into a joint house at Burggarten 8 in Borgfelde. However, in 1916, Susanne Friedländer’s husband Joseph passed away. She was 48 years old when he died. Six years later, his brother Robert followed him. Thus, both sisters were widowed and Marie’s daughter, then 14 years old, became a half-orphan. The joint company was closed, but the women were provided for through financial reserves. However, this safety net proved deceptive. Already in the following year, 1923, the savings were almost completely swallowed by the hyperinflation. That meant a life of poverty from then on. Susanne Friedländer became a small pensioner and received a modest monthly pension from the Hamburg welfare authority by mail. Wilhelmine had to provide for her mother Marie Friedländer’s livelihood. In the summer of 1928, she married Friedrich Erich Mittendorf, a non-Jewish judicial employee. Both moved to Elisenstrasse 5 in Hohenfelde and took in Marie and Susanne Friedländer. Wilhelmine Mittendorf herself had completed an apprenticeship as a bank employee. From 1930 onward, she worked at the Christian-Jewish Robert Götz private bank on Alsterthor.

After the transfer of power to the Nazis in 1933, Susanne Friedländer’s financial situation became even more precarious. She was 71 years old when she was also deprived of the minor state support from the welfare authority she had received until then: The Tenth Ordinance to the Reich Citizenship Law (10. Verordnung zum Reichsbürgergesetz) dated 4 July 1939 excluded destitute Jews from public welfare. From then on, the Reich Association of Jews in Germany (Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland) had to support her. A few months later, on 31 Dec. 1939, Wilhelmine Mittendorf’s employment with the Robert Götz bank, which the non-Jewish co-owner K.J.H. Sundquist had managed alone since Robert Götz’s death in 1931, also ended. In addition, Erich Mittendorf’s health deteriorated to such an extent that he was no longer able to work and he resigned his position at the Hamburg municipal treasury, which he had held by then, on 31 Dec. 1940. This made the financial situation of the couple even more difficult, especially as they continued to provide for Marie and Susanne Friedländer. Marie, too, was over 70 years old by this time and surely, the shared everyday life and residing together in the apartment on Elisenstrasse under these circumstances would not have been easy for her either.

By intervening with Willibald Schallert, the head of the "Sonderdienststelle J” ("Special Section J”) of the Hamburg Employment Office, Wilhelmine Mittendorf’s former employer succeeded in obtaining permission for her to work for the Robert Götz bank again starting on 15 Jan. 1942 and not being forced to work elsewhere. The non-Jewish businessman Gustav Jantzen had already joined the bank as a general partner in 1940. However, according to the order of the employment office, Wilhelmine Mittendorf had to work "in isolation” as a Jewess, and was therefore unable to return to her former position, thus being employed at a significantly lower salary than before. Since Erich Mittendorf was not Jewish and they had no children, both led a "privileged mixed marriage” ("privilegierte Mischehe”) according to the Nazis. At that time, this protected Wilhelmine Mittendorf from deportation and she did not have to wear a "Jews’ star” ("Judenstern”).

On 2 Oct. 1942, Marie Friedländer died at the age of 77 in the Jewish Alten- und Siechenheim at Schäferkampsallee 29, a retirement home and infirmary, from the effects of stomach cancer. The numerous ordinances against Jews, which had restricted her life for years and years, and then, from Oct. 1941 onward, the constant fear of being deported, had increasingly taken an emotional and physical toll on her. Half a year later, on 5 May 1943, one month after her seventy-fifth birthday, Susanne Friedländer was transported to the "ghetto for the elderly” ("Altersgetto”) in Theresienstadt. On 11 Mar. 1944, she died there under the appalling conditions of hunger, diseases, epidemics, cold, and permanent fear of death.

Susanne Friedländer’s sisters Esther Elise and Rosa were also murdered by the Nazis. Esther Elise Weiss was taken from Berlin to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 8 July 1942 and two months later to the Treblinka extermination camp, where her husband Jacob Weiss was killed as well. Rosa Sekkel’s husband Lazarus had died in Amsterdam in 1941. From there, she was deported to and murdered in the Sobibor extermination camp on 23 Apr. 1943. Her son Levi was gassed in Auschwitz on 24 Sept. 1943.

Wilhelmine Mittendorf was found dead in her apartment on 8 Aug. 1956. She had committed suicide by taking an overdose of pills at the age of 54. Two days earlier, her husband Erich had passed away.

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

Stand: December 2019
© Frauke Steinhäuser

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 1345 u. 160/1956; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 26259 (Wilhelmine Mittendorf, Susanne Friedländer); StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden 390 Wählerliste 1930; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden 922 d Steuerakten Bd. 9; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden Nr. 992 e 2 Bd. 5, Transport nach Theresienstadt am 05.Mai 1943; Hamburger Adressbücher; Klaus Euhausen, Oldersum, in: Historische Ortsdatenbank Ostfriesland, PDF-Download von (letzter Zugriff 19.3.2015); Klaus Euhausen, Die juedischen ehemaligen Familien in Oldersum, (letzter Zugriff 19.3.2015); "Susanne Cohen", in:, Ortsfamilienbücher, Juden im nördlichen Teil des ehemaligen Deutschen Reiches, (letzter Zugriff 19.3.2015); Institut Theresienstädter Initiative/Nationalarchiv Prag, Datenbank der digitalisierten Dokumente, Susanna Friedländer, (letzter Zugriff 19.3.2015); Gewerbeverein Oldersum und Umgebung e.V., Alte Burg am Dock um 1910, online unter: (letzter Zugriff 19.3.2015); "Adolf Cohen wurde in Kloster-Harsweg zum Ortsvorsteher wiedergewählt (1913)", in: Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums, 28. März 1913, online auf: (letzter Zugriff am 19.3.2015); "Rosa Sekkel-Cohen", in: Joods Monument, (letzter Zugriff 19.3.2015).
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