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Elka Appermann (née Verschleisser) * 1878
Schlegelsweg 1 (Wandsbek, Eilbek)
Elka Appermann, née Verschleisser, born 18 Nov. 1878 in Vienna, deported 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga
Schlegelsweg 1 (Schlegelsweg 11)
Elka Verschleisser was born on 18 November 1878 in Vienna. She married Moriz Appermann, who was also from Vienna. The place and date of their marriage is not known. Her parents, the haberdasher Moses Verschleisser and Sara, née Hühner, were Polish citizens and of the Jewish faith. According to Hamburg police records from 1840, Elka Appermann had German citizenship. She documented this fact with a passport from 1904, which was in all likelihood issued by Austria. The "Regulation for German Citizenship in the Country of Austria” from 3 July 1938, after the annexation of Austria, gave all Austrian citizens German citizenship.
The couple’s four children were born in Hamburg: Gerhard (26 Apr. 1907), Heinz (7 Apr. 1908), Walter (27 July 1909), and Werra (13 June 1910).
Elka and Moriz Appermann divorced in 1922, according to a statement made by Elka to the police. The date cannot be correct, however, since Moriz Appermann remarried in 1921.
After the divorce Elka Appermann lived in the Eilbek district in Hamburg: from 1920 to 1923 at Friedenstraße 13, and from 1924 to at least 1933 at Schlegelsweg 11. Both apartments were within walking distance to Kantstraße 4, where her son Gerhard Appermann and his family lived.
The Hamburg address book listed Elka Appermann as a seamstress, but she likely had very little income. She claimed to have been unemployed since 1918.
In 1939 Elka Appermann left Eilbek. Her reasons for doing so are unknown. It is possible that she, like many other Jewish families, was forced to move out of her apartment. Her next address was Rutschbahn 25a, where she still lived in 1941 when the building was turned into a "Jews’ House.” Elka Appermann received 44.50 Reichmarks from the Jewish Community for living expenses.
In 1940, Elke Appermann came to the attention of the Hamburg police because she had failed to apply for the special identity card for Jews that had been compulsory since 1938. She told the police that she had missed the deadline for application for the identity card for Jews because she had been sick, and that she thought that since she was from Vienna, she didn’t have to submit the application in Hamburg.
Before an official decision was made on this issue, she was called to the police station on 15 August 1940. This time she was asked to explain why she had failed to notify the police department that she had taken a second name, Sara. As a Jew, she was obligated to do so. She explained that she had registered her obligatory Jewish name on 21 July 1939. The registration was late because she didn’t know that she was required to notify the Hamburg Police, and that she had been in the Israelitic Hospital.
The proceedings against Elka Appermann dragged on. An enquiry to the Vienna authorities made by the Hamburg district attorney’s office on 26 July 1940 was finally processed in Vienna on 6 September 1940. The answer confirmed Elka Appermann’s statements. The Hamburg district court then levied two fines of 20 Reichmarks each for failing to meet the deadlines, but repealed them on 6 November 1940 after she entered a plea for pardon and due to her inability to pay.
Elka Appermann was deported to Riga at the age of 63 on 6 December 1941. After that there is no trace of her.
Two of her children were also murdered by the Nazis. Her eldest son Gerhard (see Biography: Gerhard Appermann) was deported to Minsk on 8 November 1941.
Her son Walter evidently fled to France. His last known whereabouts before he was arrested was the internment camp Septfonds in southern France, according to a notification from the Ministère des Anciens Combattants. This camp was established on 25 Februar 1939, and was used by the French army as a prison for "dangerous persons” after the cease-fire agreement between France and the Third Reich of 22 June 1940. The beginning date and the length of Walter Appermann’s detention in Septfonds are unknown, nor is it known under what conditions and on what date he was transferred to the Drancy internment camp. From there he was deported to Auschwitz on 31 October 1943. In the records of the SS Hygiene Institute in Berlin, which was in charge of the human experiments in the concentration camps, he is listed as a patient in section BIIf Bl (the men’s hospital ward) in Birkenau. His saliva was tested for TB bacteria. It can be assumed with certainty that he did not survive Birkenau.
Heinz Appermann emigrated to New York in June 1938.
Werra Appermann, the youngest of the four children, never married. She was a sales clerk, but was registered as unemployed since 1 February 1938. She wanted to emigrate to France in January 1939, but this never happened. On 23 December 1938 the tax authorities granted her a clearance certificate, which was necessary for her to leave the country. Why the emigration to France never took place, as is noted in the Hamburg Jewish Community’s church tax records, cannot be deduced from her immigration records. A memorandum exists, according to which she left Germany for England on 17/18 May 1939. In the records for 18 May 1939, her passport is listed as invalidated, which meant that at that point she had either left or been forced to leave the country. It is possible that she was able to leave on one of the children’s transports to England – thanks to the lucky circumstance that, at the age of 17 years and eleven months she had not yet reached the upper age limit of 18 for the children’s transports.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Peter Offenborn / Ingo Wille
Quellen: 1; 2; 6; 9; StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafakten 4929/39, 5608/43; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 11118; 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 922 e 2 (Deportationslisten); Standesamt Hamburg-Nord, Geburtsurkunde 518/1910 Werra Appermann; Auschwitz Museum Archives (Auskunft zu Walter Appermann); Yad Vashem (Auskunft über Familie Appermann); Rosenberg, Heinz, Jahre des Schreckens.
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