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Martha Goldschmidt (née Fein) * 1883
Curschmannstraße 13 (Hamburg-Nord, Hoheluft-Ost)
Martha Goldschmidt, née Fein, born on 19 Apr. 1883 in Breslau, deported on 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga
Martha Goldschmidt came from a well-to-do family living in the "Silesian capital” of Breslau, today’s Wroclaw in Poland. Since 1880, her father, Abraham Hiller Fein, was the co-owner of the Wurst & Fein Company, together with his wife’s brother, Salo Wurst. They sold finery goods [Putzartikel; from German: "(heraus)putzen” = to trim up], satins, silks, ribbons, lace, and flowers in bulk. Like her sisters Bianca, Margarethe, and Elly, Martha enjoyed the education and training of a young lady of good class: She attended the Augustenschule for ten years, learned to play the piano, and got private lessons in literature, philosophy, and English.
In 1907, at the age of 24, she married Paul Goldschmidt. He was a successful businessman as well, owner of Albert Goldschmidt metal foundry and fittings manufacturers located at Venusberg 4/6. In order to enable her to help in her husband’s company in case of an emergency, Martha Goldschmidt took accounting courses.
In the restitution proceedings, her sister Elly de Vries stated: "I know that my sister Martha always pitched in when necessary. For this purpose, she had taken an accounting and stenography course. I practiced with her – she was so eager to help. As a result, my brother-in-law was able to dictate letters to her, and she did the bookkeeping for a long time. In the last years, until my brother-in-law’s death, it became more of a steady employment, especially after the last temporary worker to do these jobs had left the company.” After Jewish enterprise was banned from employing "Aryan” ("arische”) staff in 1933, Martha Goldschmidt took over all administrative tasks in the enterprise. Now she was responsible for bookkeeping, account management, and correspondence.
In Apr. 1937, Paul Goldschmidt died of pneumonia affecting both lobes of the lung. Since the couple had no children, he had designated her as his successor by will. Therefore, she then continued to manage the company with assistance by the former non-Jewish employees Arthur Henning and Wilhelm Weber. In Oct. 1937, she decided to sell them the company for a purchasing price of 37,171.72 RM (reichsmark), which they were to pay in installments. The provisions of sale also envisaged that after payment of the purchasing price, Martha Goldschmidt would receive a lifelong pension of 300 RM a month. This contract, fair to both parties, was rejected by the NSDAP’s Gau Economic Advisor (Gauwirtschaftsberater). He ordered the sale for a lump sum without any interest and pension. The Jewish firm was to be liquidated. The "Aryan” owners then had to found a new business corporation.
However, Martha Goldschmidt was not even allowed to dispose freely of the sum from the cash sale. The Chief Finance Administrator ("Oberfinanzpräsident") put her accounts under "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”). She was entitled to an amount of only 320 RM a month of her own property. If she needed money beyond that, she had to fill out an application and get it approved. For instance, in the spring of 1940, she applied for 90 RM twice in order to be able to pay storage costs for her sisters’ "lift vans,” i.e., moving containers: "[S]ince Mrs. Friedlaender is my sister, I ask for your kind approval for being allowed to pay the above-mentioned sum to the moving company in Breslau … .” Margarethe and Hans Friedländer had emigrated shortly before the outbreak of war and they waited, completely destitute, in a transit country for entry to Palestine. Everything they owned was still in storage with a Breslau-based moving company. Martha’s sister Elly, too, was still waiting for her moving goods in Boston by Mar. 1940. In July 1940, Martha Goldschmidt filled out an application for "issuance of a tax clearance certificate [Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung].” She intended to emigrate to Shanghai, the place that was the last hope for many because China did not require a visa. However, the departure failed. Martha Goldschmidt was deported to Riga on 6 Dec. 1941.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Maria Koser
Quellen: 1; 4; 6; 8; AfW 190483 Goldschmidt, Martha; StaH 314-15 OFP, R 1940/195; StaH 352-5 Todesbescheinigungen, Sta. 21b, Nr. 81 1937; StaH 332-5 7195 Nr. 81 Jg. 1937.
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