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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Hanna Isaak * 1918
Brahmsallee 16 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
further stumbling stones in Brahmsallee 16:
Charlotte Bravo, Ruth Isaak, Michael Isaak, Pauline Isaak, Daniel Isaak, Betty Jacobson, Recha Nathan, Helene Rabi, Max Warisch
Hanna Isaak, b. 7.15.1918 in Hamburg, deported to Minsk on 11.18.1941
Hanna Isaak left no traces in Hamburg. Everything we know about her goes back to the testimony of her mother and her brothers. Hanna was the youngest child and the only daughter of Isidor and Lea Isaak, née Gradenwitz. Hanna’s older brothers were Felix Michael (b. 2.4.1911) and Heinz Daniel (b. 2.25.1921). The family lived at Rappstrasse 2.
Her father Isidor Isaak was an official with the Hamburg bank M. M. Warburg & Co. The banking house was internationally famous; it was at the forefront as financier of the imports for many Hamburg entrepreneurs in the import-export trade and of raw materials for the finishing industry. The M. M. Warburg bank held on to this position even after the National Socialists gained power. All the staff continued to be employed. They felt themselves somewhat protected by the paternalistic solicitude of their chief, Max Warburg. Isidor Isaak did not think it necessary to emigrate, although Max Warburg eased the way for numerous Jews who did want to emigrate. Later, in a questionnaire from the "Workshop of Memory” [Werkstatt der Erinnerung], his son, Felix Michael, judged that his parents had not recognized the danger posed to them by the Nazis, or had not wanted to. His parents and also his sister Hanna were so firmly Orthodox in their faith that they feared nothing. All holy and feast days were observed in close contact with the congregation of the Bornplatz synagogue. Moreover, the children were shaped by their parents’ Jewish values of fatherland and democracy, which were in keeping with their education at the Talmud Torah School.
In spite of these powerful influences, the development of the sons followed a different path. From his sixteenth year, Felix Michael belonged to the Misrachi [religious] Zionist movement, joined the Jewish youth movement "Ezra,” and became an active Zionist. After graduating with his higher school certificate in 1929, he could not or would not pursue his desired profession by becoming a physician. He was engaged, at first voluntarily and then professionally, in the Zionist Federation of Germany in Berlin. In 1935, he emigrated to Palestine, with the support of the Jewish National Fund, then became an official of that body, and, in 1948, immediately entered the state service of Israel. His younger brother, Heinz Daniel, also emigrated to Palestine. The Zionist orientation of their sons conflicted with the religiously Orthodox beliefs of Isidor and Lea Isaak. They decisively rejected the idea of emigration to Palestine. This is said to have resulted in serious arguments. Because Hanna did not join the Zionist movement, it is probable that she sided with her parents.
The Warburg Bank was "Aryanized” in 1938. However, because the city government was quite eager to retain the financial institution, which was extraordinarily important for Hamburg’s economy, the transformation was carried out with utmost secrecy; the public knew nothing of the "Aryanization” or the theft attached to it. Of course, all Jewish employees had to be let go, including Isidor Isaak. From this moment on, he no longer blocked his sons’ efforts for their parents’ emigration. Emigration had become increasingly more difficult but succeeded at the last moment. Hanna remained back in Hamburg, but continued to pursue her own emigration. On 3 September 1939, she received her certificate of clearance.
On 14 September 1939, Isidor and Lea Isaak traveled by train to Triest. After staying overnight in a hotel, they continued on by ship, the "Galilea,” to Haifa. Isaak was ill and thus had to travel 1st class. A short time after arriving in Palestine, in the year 1940, he died. Lea was dependent upon the help and support of her children.
Hanna Isaak moved to Brahmsalle 16, to her relatives Michael and Pauline Isaak. She probably heard of the arrival of her parents and of the death of her father. She was alone in Hamburg and on her own; all gates to the outside were locked. In the Congregation she cared for the little children, although this work is not documented, and there are no longer any witnesses. Hanna had completed her training in the Wangensheimstrasse Kindergarten Teachers and Caregivers Seminar in Berlin. For a short time she worked in a private kindergarten in Hamburg and, in addition, gave private lessons. Afterwards, as her brother affirmed to reparations officials, she worked, until her deportation in November 1941, as a children’s caregiver in the Jewish Congregation in Hamburg, where she had a secure position with a good salary. Like the other Jewish residents of Brahmsallee 16, Hanna Isaak received the written order to appear at the Masonic Lodge building collection point for "resettlement.” On 18 November 1941, the transport train, coming from Bremen, left from the Hannover Railroad Station in Hamburg; three days later it reached Minsk. No one ever saw or heard of Hanna Isaak again.
A macabre epilogue concerning her person took place in the 1950s and 1960s in the Hamburg Offices for Reparation. For the heirs, Felix Michael (now Michael Uzay) and Heinz Daniel, it was a matter of bettering the minimal pension of their mother Lea, who herself filed as an heir. It was necessary for the processing of reparations claims to clarify precisely the occupational activity of Hanna Isaak: what profession did she actually practice? Under which category was she remunerated? The brothers listed her jobs as kindergarten teacher and caregiver; their mother reported that her daughter had been a commercial employee. Neither the one nor the other could be proven. Would Hanna, who was healthy and capable, have been able to support her mother, had she not been murdered? The sons Michael and Daniel explained why they were not in a position to verify [the claims of employment], Heinz Daniel because, unable to find work in Israel, had emigrated to England. The lack of clarity prolonged the process; their attorney requested that in light of the advanced age of Lea Isaak – she was 75 years old--the process be accelerated.
Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Inge Grolle
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 6; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 42808, 4206, 8025; FZH/WdE, Fragebogen, ausgefüllt von Michael Uzay; Bajohr, "Arisierung", S. 254–260.
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