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Bruno Otto Fries * 1885

Braamkamp 12 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

JG. 1885
ERMORDET 24.8.1943

Bruno Otto Fries, born on 1.3.1885 in Hamburg, imprisoned in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp in 1943, deported to Auschwitz on 8.2.1943, murdered there on 24.8.1943.

Braamkamp 12 (Hamburg-North)

Bruno Otto Fries was the only child of his parents Sally Fries and Zipora, née Brandon. His father came from a large Jewish family that had been resident in Hamburg for generations. His grandfather Louis Fries (1816 - 1892) had acquired Hamburg citizenship in 1852, which had been possible for Jews since 1849. He made his money from emigrants, as he ran a lodging house, traded in goods that the emigrants needed, and may have been a shareholder in HAPAG. In the second half of the 19th century, many people, especially from Eastern Europe, emigrated to the New World via Hamburg. Ship voyages to America, for business or pleasure, were nothing unusual for the Fries family. Bruno Fries also traveled to New York on a HAPAG ship at the age of 20.

When Bruno Fries was born in 1885, his parents lived at Neuer Pferdemarkt 7. Many cousins lived in Hamburg, and the bond between the children and grandchildren of his grandfather Louis Fries seems to have been good.

Bruno's father Sally Fries was a successful merchant before the First World War. Around 1890, he partly owned his father's company, Louis Fries & Co. It was renamed "Sally Fries" in 1901, and by the turn of the century Sally Fries was dealing in foodstuffs such as meat extract, and later in petroleum and mineral oil as an agent for the Pure Oil Company, which had been founded in America in 1895. He owned the general agency for Bilz-Sinalco with a warehouse at Süderstraße 83 and lived in a villa in Blankenese at Baursweg 1, where he is listed in the address book until 1927.

Bruno Fries worked in his father's company and lived at times with his parents in Blankenese until he married. He was co-owner of the company "Sally Fries Petroleum en gros", but father and son could not keep the company in economically difficult times after the First World War and had to file for bankruptcy in 1925. Presumably, both lost their fortunes, and the father had to give up the villa in Blankenese. The mother Zipora Fries died as early as 1919, and Bruno Fries lived at Hochallee 10 until the mid-1920s.

In September 1910 he married Anna Uhlfelder from Hamburg, who like him was Jewish. Her parents were Jacob Uhlfelder and Friederike, née Frankfurt. The marriage produced two sons: Heinz Herbert (later Henry Herbert) (born August 19, 1911) and Werner Jürgen Fries (born June 28, 1914).

The marriage between Bruno and Anna Fries was divorced in a judgment dated March 6, 1923. In November 1923 Bruno married again. His second wife was Else, née Voss, divorced Ahrens (born March 10, 1895 in Altona), who was not of Jewish descent. She brought two children into the marriage, Günther (born Oct. 20, 1913) and Ingeborg (born Sept. 21, 1916), who were adopted by Bruno Fries. Both children were baptized Protestant.

In 1940 there is an entry in the address book Braamkamp 12. This address appears among others also on the tax card of the Jewish community (Kultussteuerkarteikarte). The building belonged to a housing cooperative. Since Bruno had married a non-Jewish woman, he lived in a "mixed marriage" according to Nazi terminology, which presumably later protected him from the large deportations in 1941. As a Jew, however, he was not allowed to live in a housing cooperative after 1938. According to his wife, he is said to have been taken into "protective custody" from the Braamkamp apartment on January 6, 1943. According to the files, he lived at Gryphiusstraße 12, presumably as a subtenant, and most recently at Bornstraße 22, a "Judenhaus." It is possible that he had to leave the marital home because he was Jewish, and then only stayed there unofficially.

Bruno Fries was persecuted as a Jew. We know little about the legal proceedings against him. On April 12, 1941, he was convicted of an offense against the ordinance on the compulsory identification card. The punishment was light. At the beginning of 1943, he was then imprisoned for six weeks as a "protective prisoner" in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp and was transferred from there to the Auschwitz concentration camp on February 18, 1943. In the meantime, a decree issued in the fall of 1942 stated that the concentration camps, prisons and penitentiaries in the German Reich were to be made "free of Jews," so those incarcerated there were deported to Auschwitz.

There is still a trace of him in Auschwitz, for his name appears in the operation books of the surgical department (Block 21) of the prisoners' infirmary in April, May and August 1943. Presumably he was operated on there four times for abscesses and phlegmon. These diseases were common among the inmates and were caused by the catastrophic living conditions, possibly by beatings, work accidents, and unsanitary conditions. According to the memorial book of the Federal Archives, Bruno Fries died on Aug. 24, 1943. Whether he died of sepsis as a result of his illnesses or was murdered in the gas is unknown.

Bruno Fries' divorced first wife Anna Fries did not remarry after her divorce. She successfully took her life into her own hands and found a position in Hamburg in 1926 as an export correspondent and private secretary in the firm S. & L. Durlacher Sociedad Vinicole. At the end of June 1937 she was dismissed because she was Jewish. The company, where she was held in high esteem, employed her a little longer. Since she no longer saw any prospects for herself in Germany, she emigrated to the USA in April 1938. Her upper middle-class household with its household goods was auctioned off. In the USA it was no longer possible for her to gain a professional foothold. She worked as a domestic help and nanny. On March 23, 1944, Anna Fries had herself naturalized there. In old age, she moved to France, where her son Heinz Herbert Fries lived. She died in Baugé on Jan. 17, 1974.

Bruno Fries' son Heinz Herbert Fries left Hamburg as early as April 1933, after losing his job. He was 22 years old then. He went to Paris, and managed to make a living. He married Germaine Louise Lucienne Pery in Paris, and they had a daughter Claudine Annie (born Jan. 20, 1938). At the outbreak of the war he was interned in the north of France, escaped and went to the south, which was not yet occupied, where he found his wife and child again. He had no means of earning money there, but his mother did not succeed in getting him out of France to the USA. After the Germans occupied southern France, he was taken to a labor camp in Haute Savoie and held there until he managed to escape. He found refuge in a convent and remained there until liberation. During the war, his mother supported her son's family in France. Heinz Herbert Fries traveled with his wife and child from Lisbon to the United States in 1946, but later returned to France.

The younger son Werner Fries left Germany in October 1936, when he was just 18 years old. He was a musician and had managed to be accepted as a student in the Jerusalem Conservatory after qualifying in an exam in Berlin. This enabled him to enter Palestine. The money for a year's tuition, accommodation and passage by ship had to be provided by his mother. She was even able to have a grand piano, sheet music and books sent to him in Jerusalem. In 1939 Werner Jürgen Fries traveled from Palestine to the USA to join his mother. He studied music and German at Indiana University in Pennsylvania and worked at various universities and colleges. He was married to Edith Carstens (born Dec. 31, 1922 in Hamburg). Werner Fries died in 1995, his wife in 2000. Both are buried in a military cemetery in Michigan, as Werner had fought in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Bruno Otto Fries' second wife Else Fries received reparations after the war. She changed apartments frequently and was addicted to narcotics. At times she lived in the Farmsen nursing home and in the Storman district. She died on Dec. 29, 1954.

Translation by Beate Meyer
Stand: February 2022
© Susanne Lohmeyer

Quellen: 1; 5; HAB; StaH 331-1 II_7254; StaH 351-11_9466; StaH 351-11_17342; StaH 332-5_8668-242-1910; StaHH 332-5_2100-1086-1885; Handelskammer Hamburg, Handelsregisterinformationen (S. Fries & Co, HR A 15233; Sally Fries Petroleum en gros, HR A 7239); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1910, S. 106 (Sally Fries, Prokuristen Semmy Kurzynski und Bruno Otto Fries); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1926, S. 301 (Sally Fries Nachfolger, Inhaber Semmy Kurzynski); Adressbuch Hamburg (J. Kurzynski) 1892–1896, 1898–1902; StaH 522-1_1064, Mitteilungen über den Tod von Hamburger Juden in Konzentrationslagern, 1943; StaH, 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, Nr. 992 b; StaH 331-1 II Polizeibehörde II, Nrn. 7252 -7254; StaH 213-8 (General-)Staatsanwaltschaft Oberlandesgericht -Verwaltung, Nrn. 973 -977; IST Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives Operationsbücher der Chirurgischen Abteilung (Block 21) des Häftlingskrankenbaues Auschwitz. Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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