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Erna Goldberg * 1909
Konsul-Renck-Straße 4 (Harburg, Harburg)
1938 Zbaszyn / 'Polen-Aktion'
Channa (Anna) Goldberg, born on 21 Dec. 1890 in Cieszkowice, expelled on 28 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn, date of death unknown
Elisabeth (Else) Goldberg, née Simon, born on 16 May 1882 in Berlin, expelled on 28 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn, date of death unknown
Erna Goldberg, born on 13 Jan. 1909 in Wilhelmshaven, expelled on 28 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn, date of death unknown
Hirsch (Hermann) Goldberg, born on 13 Nov. 1878 in Cieszkowice, expelled on 28 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn, date of death unknown
District of Harburg-Altstadt, Konsul-Renck-Strasse 1
Hermann Goldberg and his younger sister Anna grew up in a Jewish parental home in Cieszkowice near Tarnow in Galicia, which at the time belonged to Austria-Hungary and became Polish after the First World War. At an early age, they left their home to begin a new life abroad. In this way, Hermann Goldberg arrived in Germany, and there he met his future wife Lotte Elisabeth Simon, who came from a Jewish family in Berlin. Initially, they settled in Wilhelmshaven, where their daughters Erna (on 13 Jan. 1909) and Reta (on 24 Mar. 1910) were born. From there they moved to Konsul-Renck-Strasse 1 in Harburg in 1912. At this location, Hermann Goldberg soon opened a small store, and his third daughter Henny was born there on 26 July 1915.
The Goldbergs were among the approx. 50 families of the Harburg Jewish Community at the time that assembled for worship in the synagogue on Eissendorfer Strasse. In the First World War, Hermann Goldberg fought in the ranks of the German Imperial Army for the Kaiser and the fatherland, while Else Goldberg had a tough time feeding the family on her own in the face of the tight supply situation. In this context, her friend Frieda Cordes repeatedly assisted her with advice and support.
The parents and their children felt at home in Harburg during the years after World War I. Hermann and Else Goldberg were regarded by their neighbors and acquaintances as assiduous, hard-working, helpful, and honest people. Hermann Goldberg was also very well respected among his customers. The two older sisters – and at first, the youngest daughter, too – attended Harburg middle school [Mittelschule – a practice-oriented secondary school up to grade 10] and, like their friends, had joined sports clubs in Harburg. In the initial years after 1919, anti-Semitic tendencies emerged only very rarely in Harburg. However, this changed in the course of the years ahead, affecting some Harburg schools as well. These changes were, among other things, a reason for Henny Goldberg to switch to the Israelite Girls’ School on Karolinenstrasse after a few years, where she felt more comfortable again.
The anti-Semitic currents became more evident after 1933. After Hermann Goldberg had been forced to give up his business due to the world economic crisis, it was now up to the three daughters to secure a living for the family. This was no easy task, becoming even more difficult when Erna lost her job at the Harburg district savings bank (Harburger Kreissparkasse, today: Sparkasse Harburg-Buxtehude) in Feb. 1933. The human resources manager had advised her to take a holiday first and then look for another job.
In the social sphere, too, the changes were obvious. An increasing number of neighbors turned away from the family, fewer friends came to visit all the time. Even before Jewish members were excluded from all "Aryan” sports clubs, the three sisters voluntarily declared their resignation in order to evade the humiliation of being officially asked to do so. They owed that to their pride and their dignity, as Reta Goldberg put it later.
Else Goldberg was the one to suffer most intensely from the mounting marginalization and isolation. Many people she had known well in the past suddenly acted as if they had never met her. In early 1937, the parents moved to the Grindel quarter in Hamburg along with their children, hoping to be able to evade the increasing everyday discrimination through the protection of big-city anonymity.
However, things took a turn for the worse. At daybreak on 28 Oct. 1938, the family members were picked up by police straight out of bed and expelled to Poland that same evening. Afterward, many expelled persons – including the Goldberg family – spent the next weeks in emergency shelters in the Polish border town of Zbaszyn. Reta and Henny Goldberg were extremely fortunate in the summer of 1939 to be allowed to depart for Britain as housemaids. They associated their rescue with the hope of being able to help their parents and older sister from Britain.
Shortly before the Second World War, the expelled persons had to leave the border region on orders of the Polish government. After that, Hermann and Else Goldberg, along with their daughter Erna, who had already packed her suitcases for her impending departure to Britain, went and saw distant relatives in Tarnow in the southeastern part of Poland. One week later, the city was conquered and occupied by the German Wehrmacht. Thus began the time of suffering for the Jewish population living there. This also applied to Else, Hermann, and Erna Goldberg. The living space they shared with others became ever more cramped and the food rations on which they had to make do were becoming smaller. The sanitation facilities of the apartment were more than primitive. In the winter, it was bitter cold in the rooms. When it rained, the water dripped through the ceiling. The constant hunger, the numerous worries, and the extreme weather conditions took their toll on the three people. Else and Hermann Goldberg’s state of health deteriorated noticeably. Their daughter, too, suffered from frequent colds, which was even more disastrous in light of the fact that her parents were more dependent on her help all the time.
The other two daughters were unable to do anything for their family members in dire need. As often as they could they wrote letters reaching Poland by way of the International Red Cross, letters repeatedly expressing the hope for a speedy reunion.
The contact some relatives and friends from Harburg – above all, their neighbor Frieda Cordes – initially maintained with the expellees was also of inestimable importance to Erna Goldberg and her parents. They were not only grateful for the material help they received in the form of parcels but also for the numerous letters that reached them from their old home. Some of the letters in which Else, Erna, and Hermann Goldberg confirmed, with heartfelt thanks, the receipt of the parcels to their Harburg friend Frieda Cordes and at the same time asked for further help, have been preserved because the resident of Harburg kept them. For instance, in the spring of 1941, Erna Goldberg expressed thanks for the swift delivery of urgently needed knitting needles.
In May 1942, the correspondence broke off. The postal service had apparently terminated the transport of letters to the inhabitants of the city. On 12 May 1942, Else Goldberg in vain searched for explanations for this alarming state of affairs in a worried letter to her Harburg friend. It was her last letter.
Already in the winter of 1941/42, the city of Tarnow had seen initial large-scale "police operations” in the course of which Jewish men, women, and children were herded together and murdered. In June 1942, more than 15,000 inhabitants of the city were deported to the Belzec extermination camp. Those left behind had to relocate to the newly established ghetto, which did not exist for long, however. In Sept. 1943, the ruling powers dissolved the "Jewish residential district” of Tarnow altogether, and the inhabitants were deported to other towns or murdered. Hermann, Else, and Erna Goldberg survived the Shoah no more than Hermann Goldberg’s sister Anna. When and how they were killed cannot be established in detail.
The Stolpersteine for Anna, Else, Erna, and Hermann Goldberg were laid in Konsul-Renck-Strasse in the presence of Henny Ekyns, née Goldberg, (passed away on 12 May 2006) on 8 May 2003. The sponsorship had been taken on by Luisa Gluck, a student of Heisenberg High School (Heisenberg-Gymnasium) who was awarded the 2002 BERTINI Prize for her documentary "Nach uns könnte eine Generation kommen, die das Ganze nicht versteht. – Die Familie Goldberg aus Harburg 1933–1945” ["After us, a generation might follow that does not get it – The Goldberg family from Harburg, 1933–1945”]. The high school student was very successful in calling for additional sponsorships at her school and in Harburg.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Klaus Möller
Quellen: 1; 2 (FVg 7277, FVg 5008, FVg 4875); 4; 5; 8; StaH, 351-11, AfW, Abl. 2008/1, 131178 Goldberg, Hermann, 160582 Goldberg, Elisabeth, 240310 Barsam, Reta, 260715 Ekyn, Henny; StaH, 430-5 Dienststelle Harburg, Ausschaltung jüdischer Geschäfte und Konsumvereine, 1810-08, Bl. 89ff.; Heyl (Hrsg.), Harburger Opfer; Heyl, Synagoge; Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg, Werkstatt der Erinnerung, Interviews mit Reta Barsam, geb. Goldberg, und Henny Ekyn, geb. Goldberg; Gluck, "Generation"; Lilla Mittler, Bericht über die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Juden in Tarnow, in: Kenkemann u. a. (Hrsg.), Kinder, S. 360ff.
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