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Reisel Hammer (née Apter) * 1912
Grindelallee 153 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Reisel Hammer, née Apter, born 3 May 1912 in Wisnicz, Poland, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz
Alfred Hammer, born 21 Oct. 1936 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz
Josef Hammer, born 16 Dec. 1907 in Kraków, Poland, deported 25 Oct. 1941 from the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp to Lodz, from there to the Groß Rosen Concentration Camp in 1942, then probably to the Auschwitz Extermination Camp where he was murdered (a Stolperstein for Josef Hammer does not yet exist).
Josef Hammer was the third son of Moses and Lotte Hammer. He was born in Kraków, and had three brothers and one sister. The Hammer family probably came to Hamburg in 1913. Josef’s father Moses was a textile goods wholesaler in Hamburg. Moses emigrated to Santiago de Chile in 1938. Josef’s younger brother Samuel and his sister Regina also left the country, in 1932 and 1934, respectively. His brother Hermann Tzvi (*26 June 1906, murdered, date and location unknown) was listed in the tax records beginning in 1925, so Josef must have lived in Hamburg by then as well.
On 15 January 1930 Josef married Rosa Apter, who also called Rosel or Reisel. She was born on 3 May 1912 in Wisnicz, Poland and had one brother and two sisters. One of her sisters, Chana, later lived in Berlin. Chana Berger and two of her three daughters were murdered. The other members of the Apter family, who had remained in Poland, survived.
Josef and Reisel lived at Bartelsstrasse 5 in St. Pauli. Their son Alfred was born on 21 October 1936. Josef ran a tally shop at this address, and, like his father, traded in textile goods. It is possible that he worked together with his elder brother Wolf, who had a textile goods wholesale business at Bieberstrasse 2. Wolf (*9 September 1904), his wife Siema and their sons Bernhard and Friedel fled to Great Britain in July 1939.
Josef was apparently in the Fühlsbüttel Concentration Camp in 1935. In 1936 he received welfare benefits. Reisel was a housewife, but sometimes worked as a bookkeeper, probably in her husband’s business.
On 28 October 1938, Josef, Reisel and Alfred, like nearly 1000 other Jews in Hamburg who were originally from Poland, so-called Eastern Jews, were arrested and sent by train to Poland. The expulsion of 17,000 Poles from Germany was the Nazi regime’s reaction to the Polish government’s announcement, on 31 March 1938, that it would require all Polish citizens who had lived abroad for more than five years to have their passports renewed, and their threat not to renew the passports of Jews living abroad, thus rendering them stateless. The Nazi regime feared that the result of this decree would be that these Eastern Jews would remain in Germany permanently, and so, without warning, all Polish Jews living in Germany were rounded up and dumped at the border town of Zbaszyn. They vegetated for months in the No-Man’s-Land along the border, because Poland refused to accept them. A few were given permission to return to Germany to settle their business affairs – Josef, after eight months, was one of these lucky few.
Until Josef’s return, his brother Wolf took care of his affairs. On 20 March 1939 the Hamburg Foreign Exchange Office required Wolf to submit a list of his expenses on behalf of Josef. The main office of the Reichsbank had noticed that he had sent "clothing at the weight of 100 kg to Poland,” and, as a result, the Reichsbank requested that the Foreign Exchange Office investigate whether he intended to emigrate, and recommended that, if so, they forbid him to send further consignments out of the country. Wolf Hammer’s list of expenses on behalf of his brother included rental payments, costs for six suitcases and for telephone calls between Hamburg and Zbaszyn, and "diverse goods” valued at 133.30 Reichsmarks. In a letter dated 30 March 1939 he replied to a request for more exact information: the "diverse goods” were shirts, shoes, and a suit.
Josef returned to Hamburg on 28 June 1939 and was required to register with the police. Reisel and Alfred had remained in Poland, and Josef requested that they be allowed to return as well, so that they could emigrate together. He was given a residency permit for eight weeks, in which he was to settle the financial affairs of his business. He was also required to sign an "order of expulsion.” His assets were subject to Section 59 of the foreign exchange law, which stipulated that he was allowed to dispose of his assets only with permission on the Foreign Exchange Office. The document he signed declared: "This order is necessary because you are a Jew and intend to emigrate. In light of the experiences we have recently had with Jews, it is necessary to issue restrictions on the access to assets.” Josef was also informed that "your wife and your son Alfred are considered foreigners according to the foreign exchange laws.”
A race against the clock began, which the Hammers eventually lost. Josef immediately went to the offices of the Hamburg America Line to inquire about three tickets for the MS Caribia, which was to sail to Dover on 26 August. He was to pay one-quarter of the price of the tickets to ensure his booking, and thus had to request the Foreign Exchange Office, in a letter dated 29 June 1939, that his brother Wolf be allowed to lend him the money. His request was granted. In a letter dated 10 July 1939 and sent from Wolf’s address at Grindelallee 153, he requested that travel money for Reisel and Alfred be sent to Zbaszyn. He also submitted a list of the outstanding payments due to his company, which amounted to 10,000 Reichsmarks. On 10 July Josef received permission to send Reisel and Alfred 50.00 RM so that they could finally join him in Hamburg. By August they were both back in the city and living with Josef at Grindelallee 153.
On 27 July 1937, Bernhard Hintz was appointed liquidator for "Josef Hammer’s Jewish tally shop.” From that date onward he had control of Josef’s money, and Josef had to request the funds he needed for living expenses. On 7 August 1939, the St. Pauli tax office sent a letter to the Gestapo requesting a clearance certificate for Josef and Reisel, since they intended to travel to Poland. On 18 August, Josef asked for money for tickets to a destination outside of the Reich. It is unclear as to why the family never boarded the ship for Dover. Whatever the reasons, Josef withdrew the request for travel money on 24 August.
On 19 September 1939 it was Reisel who submitted a request for money. She wrote a postscript on her request: "My husband is interned at this time.” Polish Jews residing in Germany after the invasion of Poland in September 1939 were sent to concentration camps, where they died en masse due to the especially severe prison conditions. Josef was sent first to the Fuhlsbüttel Concentration Camp, then transferred to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp near Berlin on 1 March 1940. On 25 October 1941 he was transferred from there to Lodz.
On 15 November 1939, Rosa was called to appear at the Foreign Exchange Office to answer questions about the assets of Josef’s brother Wolf, who had left the country. The agent had written in Wolf’s file: "Where is the silver?”
Wolf must have been very close to Josef’s family. On 14 December 1939 he sent his sister-in-law Reisel 30 Reichsmarks from London. It can be assumed that she had difficulties supporting herself and Alfred.
Reisel’s requests for money were submitted to the Foreign Exchange Office until 4 October 1941. On 25 October she and Alfred were deported to Lodz.
On 29 October 1941, the outstanding payments due to Josef Hammer, "address unknown,” were confiscated by an agent from the Office of the Four-Year Plan.
We do not know how long Reisel and Alfred were able to survive in the Lodz Ghetto, nor if they ever saw Josef again. Josef was sent from Lodz to the Groß Rosen Concentration Camp on 4 February 1942. Perhaps he was forced to labor in one of the quarries there. Perhaps he died while in Groß Rosen, or perhaps he was sent to Auschwitz and was murdered there.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2016
© Nora Bisanz
Quellen: StaH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, Film A22: Jüdische Gemeinden- Kultussteuerkarten 1913-1942, StaH, 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident Bd.1, FVg 2972 Bd.1, F 883, R 1938/1172 u. Bd.3, R 1939/2071; www.yadvashem.org, Central Database of Shoa Victim's Names, Gedenkblatt 1972 durch Bruder Samuel registriert; Hamburger Adressbuch 1937; Frank Bajohr: Von der Ausgrenzung zum Massenmord. Die Verfolgung der Hamburger Juden 1933-1945. In: Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte (Hg.), Hamburg im "Dritten Reich", Göttingen 2005, S.471-518, hier: S.500; Beate Meyer: Das "Schicksalsjahr 1938" und die Folgen, in: Beate Meyer (Hg.) Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933-1945. Geschichte. Zeugnis. Erinnerung. Hamburg 2007², S.25-32, hier: S.25; Bundesarchiv Berlin. Liste der jüdischen Einwohner des Deutschen Reiches 1933-1945.