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Leopold Appel * 1891
Brahmsallee 17 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Leopold Appel, born on 22 Mar. 1891 Hamburg, emigrated to France in 1933, deported on 9 Sept. 1942 from the Drancy camp to Auschwitz and murdered
Brahmsallee 17 (Hansastrasse 79)
Leopold Appel was born on 22 Mar. 1891 in Hamburg-St.Georg, at Steindamm 81. He was named after his late maternal grandfather, Leopold Salomon Freymann. The grandfather came from Königsberg (today Kaliningrad in Russia) and had already died in Callao/Peru when Leopold’s mother was one year old. Her mother Lina, née Weinstock, had married Jacob Kaiser from Leipzig in her second marriage.
Leipzig was where Leopold’s mother Johanna, née Freymann, born on 15 Jan. 1867 in Königsberg, grew up, where her siblings from her mother’s second marriage, Siegmund Kaiser and Bertha Kaiser, were born on 8 Oct. 1877 and on 14 Mar. 1883, respectively.
Leopold Appel’s parents were married in Leipzig one year before he was born, on 27 June 1890. His father Siegfried Appel, born on 13 Mar. 1862 in Hildesheim/Prussia, had arrived in Hamburg at the age of 18 in 1879 to trade Dutch goods, such as yarns and bales, jerseys, and woolen goods. On 7 Sept. 1886, he founded as the sole owner a trading business, the "Siegfried Appel” Company located at Steindamm 81 on the ground floor. The certificate of Hamburg civic rights (Bürgerbrief) was presented to him on 25 May 1888. His annual taxable income at that time ranged between 3,000 and 4,000 marks.
Leopold’s paternal grandfather, Joseph Appel, who was widowed in Hildesheim, moved to Hamburg at the end of Aug. 1893 and lived with them in the family home for another six months. On 9 Jan. 1894, he died at the age of 67 and he was buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Hildesheim, next to his wife Sara Sophie, née Schnabel.
Difficult times ensued for the Appel family. On 24 Feb. 1896, the "Siegfried Appel” Company went bankrupt. Johanna and Siegfried Appel and their son Leopold moved to Rutschbahn 16 in the Grindel quarter in November of the year. Leopold visited the Talmud Tora School, which before 1911 was still located at Kohlhöfen 19/20 in Hamburg-Neustadt.
In 1902, the family lived at Heinrich-Barth-Strasse 34, with the new company headquarters located at Neuer Wall 62, and since 3 Sept. 1905, probably around the time of Leopold’s bar mitzvah, his religious maturity, the family belonged to the German-Israelitic Community.
Economically, things picked up again in 1909. On 31 Dec. 1908, Leopold Appel’s father became the owner of the "Appel Siegfried” export agency and commission company located at Graskeller 3. When Leopold came of age at 21, he joined his father’s general partnership (OHG) on 30 Nov. 1912. During this time, the family lived at Brahmsallee 24, three years later at Isestrasse 71. During the First World War, when Leopold had been drafted as a soldier, business was completely suspended. However, Siegfried Appel had made good provisions and he was able to draw on his savings during this time. In the course of the following inflation, however, his assets were completely lost.
Siegfried and Leopold Appel tried to rebuild their business, something they managed to a modest extent. Their office and apartment were located at Hansastrasse 79 since 1925; they had their stock pit in front of pillar 21; Leopold Appel also worked in a permanent position for another company.
On 22 Mar. 1932, his forty-first birthday, Leopold Appel married in Hamburg Stefany, née Hammerschmidt, born on 7 Mar. 1906 in Hamburg. Her first marriage with Oscar Weichselbaum had been divorced. Stefany’s mother Mary, née Leopold, born on 31 Aug. 1877, came from the Barchfeld/Sonneberg District in Thuringia. Her parents had married in Gotha in 1897 and come to Hamburg with her sister Carla, who was seven years older. The trading business for "Zwirne en gros,” specializing in yarns, operated by the father, Hermann Hammerschmidt, was located at Süderstrasse 67, house no. 5. Stefany lived with her family at Oderfelderstrasse 11, on the fourth floor. There, her father died of cardiac insufficiency at the age of 63 in Apr. 1930.
After the wedding, the young couple, Stefany and Leopold Appel, lived at Isestrasse 43, near Leopold’s parents, who resided at Isestrasse 59 with Solomon. The unfortunate day of Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Reich Chancellor, 30 Jan. 1933, was a happy day for the Appel family – their son Peter Hermann was born.
The persecution measures of the National Socialists intensified after the assumption of power and became an increasing strain on the Appel family. As late as the fall of 1932, Leopold Appel and his father had tried to keep the company afloat by exporting knackwursts for a sausage plant. The business importing ostrich feathers, bird skins, quills, etc., which they had operated up to then, had come to a standstill. Since the beginning of 1933, they were forced to have payment of invoices from external producers deferred.
After the anti-Jewish boycott on 1 Apr. 1933, Leopold Appel decided to emigrate with his wife Stefany and their little son Peter to Paris/France in May 1933. He had the hope of establishing new business relations there. Leopold’s mother-in-law, Mary Hammerschmidt, who had recently lived with them on Isestrasse and then moved to Lehnhartzstrasse 15, followed them into exile one year later. In 1934, they lived together again in Paris.
Leopold Appel’s parents were alone in Hamburg. Life became increasingly difficult for them. At that time, Siegfried Appel hardly had any income left, so they were dependent on support. They had to move several times because they could no longer raise the rent. In Oct. 1933, they moved in with Laura Levy at Heidestrasse 23 on the second floor.
In Feb. 1934, Leopold’s father, Siegfried Appel, turned to the "Jewish Middle-Class Aid Society” (Israelitische Mittelstandshilfe) with the request for intercession at the welfare authority concerning an increase of the weekly subsidy by 5 RM.
In the following letter of the Chamber of Commerce to the welfare office, Siegfried Appel was described as a respectable personality and a first-class expert of his company, "export agency and brokerage in plumes.” However, the letter went on, such feathers were hardly needed anymore as a result of the current fashion; just like feather quills for cigar tips, since the cigars were so cheap that the addition of tips would hardly come into consideration. According to this, he worked mainly for Fuhrmeister & Co, at Alsterdamm 16, and used to be wealthy in the past. The son, like the father, "although he is Jewish,” had always shown a national attitude. Leopold Appel was a former war volunteer, front-line soldier, and holder of the Iron Cross Second Class and the Hanseatic Cross. Probably because of this letter, a monthly support of 34 RM was granted to 72-year-old Siegfried Appel.
Leopold’s father died on 26 Mar. 1935 at the age of 73. Siegfried Appel had succumbed to a heart attack in his room on Heidestrasse. The German-Israelitic Community took care of the funeral and supported Leopold’s mother Johanna Appel with a monthly sum of 15 RM; she had to pay this amount for her room as a subtenant with Laura Levy. Johanna Appel was occasionally invited by her for lunch. Johanna Appel received a monthly support payment of 12 RM from the welfare office. She was further assisted by her relatives, Leopold’s uncle Siegmund Kaiser from Leipzig and the family of her sister Bertha Alexander, née Kaiser, her husband, the merchant Hugo Alexander, and their son, the lawyer Rudolf Alexander. The Alexander family lived at Hansastrasse 14 and prepared to leave for Palestine. Siegmund Kaiser emigrated in Apr. 1939 via Hamburg to London/England.
After the "Décret-loi,” the legislative decree dated 12 Apr. 1939, Leopold Appel was registered as an "Étranger Prestataire,” a foreign worker, on the registration list called "Livret Matricule” and interned at the beginning of the war, on 6 Sept. 1939 in Colombes, Montargis. After almost three months, on 28 Nov. 1939, he regained freedom for the time being and – according to later statements by his wife – returned to Paris. In Apr. 1940, Leopold Appel was arrested again and, after the German occupation, was taken from Buffalo, a stadium and collection camp near Paris, to the Bassens camp near Bordeaux, Gironde, on 14 May 1940.
At that time, German citizens and all foreigners who were born German (Germans, Austrians, and Saarlanders) but had no permanent citizenship were concentrated together in assembly places; this included men aged 18 to 55 and women of the same age who were single or had no children.
According to documents from the "Bureau de Recrutement des Étrangers Prestataires,” the office of recruitment for foreign workers, Leopold Appel came to the St. Antoine camp in Albi (Département Tarn in the Midi Pyrènées) on 15 May 1940 and was assigned to Group 318, "Groupement des Prestataires du Camp Saint-Antoine.” His list of clothes, the "List des Effets Distribués,” contains an entry indicating that he received a pelerine, flannel, and blanket.
He worked on various assignments: from 10 July 1940 to 27 July 1940, "au casern et affecti,” from 20 Aug. 1940 to 24 Nov. 1940 "a la cie apartementale du train du tarn.” On 25 Nov. 1940, he returned to the "camp Antoine,” Group 318.
Leopold Appel was one of the Jewish exiles who were collected in internment camps and recruited for work, among the "Groupes de Travailleurs Etrangers, GTE” created by the Vichy regime on 27 Sept. 1940.
Spanish civil war refugees, Jewish exile, Polish soldiers, and Belgian refugees interned in the French camps of the "Third Republic” were used as cheap labor in French industry and agriculture. They were under guard, suffered due to poor housing as well as lack of food and hygiene. Many died in the camps. Each worker was to receive a worker’s food card with higher fat ration (550 grams instead of 450 grams per month), bread ration (300 gr. instead of 275 gr. per day), and meat ration (260 gr. instead of 180 gr. per week). However, the distributed rations are said to have been considerably smaller, as the frequently corrupted Vichy administration, the camp management, and the security personnel are said to have lined their pockets with them. Whether Leopold Appel was remunerated as a non-qualified worker with the 50 centimes per day set for this purpose – corresponding to the wage of an ordinary soldier – or whether he did unpaid work, is not documented.
According to the notes of "Service” No. 623, on 12 Feb. 1941 he was assigned head of Group 3, "du délígue du chef de groupement 3,” and on 14 Feb. 1941 to Group 311, "Groupe en exécution.” He was probably supposed to be definitively deported to a concentration camp. After his incapacity for work was acknowledged during a doctor’s visit in Feb. 1941, Leopold Appel was taken to the Gurs internment camp on 3 Mar. 1941. On 27 Mar. 1941, he was listed there as "Prestataire N-J, Nr. 182 CTE” (CTE = Compagnie des travailleurs étrangers/unit of foreign workers) and recorded in documents of the "Inspecteur-Chef Vignau” dating from July 1941 as a packer in a paper factory for cigarettes, as a Catholic with Jewish origin and as healthy.
Leopold Appel’s mother-in-law, Mary Hammerschmidt, also had to spend two months in the Gurs camp. From the Resistance in the Muette/Passy quarter, Stefany got false papers for her son, her mother, and herself. She was henceforth called "Suzanne Appel, née Hammer” and pretended to be a native of Zurich. For his own protection, she had her son Peter, called Pierre, grow up in the Catholic faith starting on 18 May 1941. Pierre, eight years old, received Holy Communion from Monsieur l'Abbé Cléry, Curcé, in the "chapelle Ste Geneviéve, paroisse Ste Jeanne de Chantal.”
In constant fear and with great deprivation, Stefany Appel lived with her son in Paris with false papers. Her mother, Mary Hammerschmidt, who had been deprived of German citizenship, as published in the Deutsche Reichsanzeiger dated 7 June 1941, had refused to accept false papers.
According to later statements by his wife, Leopold Appel had been transferred further from Gurs to Toulouse and "Soler.” Documents prove that he was deported to the Rivesaltes internment camp in the Département Pyrénées-Orientales on 26 Aug. 1942. In a transport list of 31 Aug. 1942, he appears under no. 257 with the trade of "bobineur au papier,” a cigarette turner. A few days later, on 1 Sept. 1942, his name was put on the Nomina No. 1 list, No. 173, at the Centre D'Hébergement de Rivesaltes for transport in convoy to Drancy near Paris. On 7 September, he was recorded in the Drancy transit camp under number 10 on the "deportation list” for transport on 9 September. After his ordeal through the internment camps, Leopold Appel was deported from Drancy to Auschwitz on 9 Sept. 1942 and murdered. He was 51 years old.
His mother, Johanna Appel, who had been committed to the Mendelson-Israel-Stift, at Kurzer Kamp 6, declared a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”), together with Laura Levy in June 1940, was deported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942. She probably did not learn of her son’s deportation to Auschwitz. On 21 Sept. 1942, Johanna Appel was further deported to Treblinka and murdered. She was 75 years old. A Stolperstein commemorates her at Kurzer Kamp 6 in Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel.
Mary Hammerschmidt was arrested in her Paris apartment, at Quai St. Blériot 164, on the night of 10 Feb. 1943, and she was, like her son-in-law Leopold Appel before her, taken to the Drancy camp. On 2 Mar. 1943, she was deported from Drancy to Lublin-Majdanek and murdered. She was 65 years old. A Stolperstein commemorates her at Lenhartzstrasse 15 in Hamburg-Eppendorf.
After the war, Stefany Appel received a visit to her apartment in Paris from a Frenchman who told her that in Auschwitz Leopold Appel had given him her address, asking him to visit her if he himself should not return. He had apparently died in the Auschwitz concentration camp shortly before the liberation, probably of typhoid fever.
Leopold Appel’s wife Stefany Appel left France in 1946 with 13-year-old Peter, called Pierre. They travelled on the "SS La Deirada” from Le Havre to New York and from there by plane to Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Sister Clara, who had previously emigrated from Hannover, lived there with her husband Hermann Herzfeld and their children Herbert, born in 1920, Wolfgang, born in 1922, and Ulrich, born in 1925. After the war, they all emigrated to New York, as did Stefany Appel with her son in June 1947.
In 1950, Stefany Appel, née Hammerschmidt, was married in her new home to Joseph Henry Kraft, who adopted Leopold Appel’s and her son Peter.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Margot Löhr
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 7; 8; StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht Hamburg, B 15233; StaH 231-10 Vereinsregister, B 1973-48; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, 2246 u. 848/1891; StaH 332-5, 8102 u. 184/1930; StaH 332-5, 13797 u. 88/1932; StaH 332-5, 9873 u. 257/1935; StaH 332-7 Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht, AIf 166, Nr. 14670; StaH 332-7, BIII 30070; StaH 342-02 Militärersatzbehörden, D II 28 Bd.1; StaH 351-11 AfW, 1530, Alexander, Hugo, 3375; StaH 352-5 Todesfallanzeige, 1930, Sta 3, 184; StaH 352-5, 1935, Sta 3a, 1935; StaH 376-2 Gewerbepolizei, Spz VIII C 31, Nr.1263; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 696e Nr. 143; StaH Hamburger Börsen Adressbuch A 909/0022 Nr. 11 1912/13, A 902/0017, 1926; Amt für Wiedergutmachung 150167, Appel, Johanna geb. Freymann; AfW 300133 Kraft (früher Appel) Peter; Auskünfte Claudia Hinze, Stadtarchiv Leipzig, Standesamt Leipzig I, Nr. 853, 1890; StaL I, Nr. 1245, 1883; Auskünfte Birgit Stuke, IST Arolsen, Copy of Doc. No. 11187254#1 (18.104.22.168/0001/0085 in conformity with the ITS Archives Lager Rivesaltes, Transportlisten; Copy of Doc. No. 11181309#1 (22.214.171.124/0038/0100) in conformity with the ITS Archives Abschub-Listen, B.d.S Frankreich; Copy of Doc. No. 11187254#1 (126.96.36.199/0001/0085) in conformity with the ITS Archives Lager Rivesaltes, Transportlisten; in conformity with the ITS Archives; Copy of Doc. No. 11189489#1 (188.8.131.52/0012/0008) Juden, deportiert vom Durchgangslager Drancy zum Konzentrationslager Lublin-Majdanek 2.3.43; Copy of Doc. No. 11189509#1 (184.108.40.206/0012/0028) in conformity with the ITS Archives Juden, deportiert vom Durchgangslager Drancy zum Konzentrationslager Lublin-Majdanek 2.3.43; Zentrale Namenkartei in conformity with the ITS Archives; Auskünfte Cathie Bertrant, Marie Landelle, Jérôme Ramirez, Archives départementales des Pyrénées Atlantiques, Dokumente AD64-72W57, AD64-72W129; Koser/Brunotte, Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Eppendorf, S. 188; Mary Hammerschmidt; Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel, Margot Löhr (in Vorbereitung); http://bdi.memorialdelashoah.org/internet/jsp/core/MmsRedirector.jsp?id=2041&type=VICTIM, eingesehen Juli 2010. http://www.juden-in sachsen.de/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=26; http://yehudeiperu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1567:freymann-emilio&catid=6:f&Itemid=11, eingesehen Juli 2010; http://www.mjp.org.pe/WEB3/Libros/LIBRO14.pdf; http://www.judeninostpreussen.de/upload/pdf/Marriage_Koenigsberg_1856-1864.pdf, Heirat 19.10.1864 Königsberg Freymann, Salomon aus Königsberg, Kaufmann und Weinstock, Lina, aus Königsberg, eingesehen am 22.12.2013; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-894V-ZX83?wc=MFK4-KP8%3A1030134801%3Fcc%3D1923888&cc=1923888, eingesehen am 22.12.2013; Leon Trahtemberg Siederer, La Immigration Judia al Peru 1848-1948, Lima-Peru 1987, S. 303; http://www.mjp.org.pe/WEB3/Libros/LIBRO14.pdf; http://www.apra.asso.fr/Camps/Fr/GTE.html, eingesehen 4.02.2016; http://www.corinna-coulmas.eu/german/die-deutsche-emigration-in-frankreich.html#_Toc196546423, eingesehen 4.2.2016.
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