Search for Names, Places and Biographies
Already layed Stumbling Stones
Gertrud Hess (née Levy) * 1871
Bogenstraße 27 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)
1944 weiterdeportiert nach Auschwitz
Gertrud Hess, née Levy, born on 22 Dec. 1871 in Hamburg, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, murdered on 15 May 1944 in Auschwitz
Gertrud Hess was 70 years old when she was deported to Theresienstadt in July 1942. By that time, she had been forced to live in the "Jews’ house” at Bogenstrasse 27.
Gertrud Hess was the daughter of David and Henriette Levy, née Berg. In her second marriage, Gertrud’s mother Henriette was married to the real estate agent for houses Anton Emden, born in 1849, who passed away in 1926. The Jewish Emden family played an important role in Hamburg’s economy. At the time Gertrud Levy married the real estate agent for houses Julius Hess (born in 1853) on 30 Apr. 1889, she lived with her mother and her stepfather Anton Emden at Rothenbaumchaussee 171. Her husband, Julius Hess, then lived at Schlump 3. The parents-in-law of Gertrud were Levin Jacob Hess – he had already passed away by the time his son got married – and Henriette, née Blumenthal. Between 1890 and 1894, three sons were born: Lothar, Richard, and Felix. In 1896, daughter Ilka followed. The growing family lived in the Rotherbaum district first at Eichenallee 12. (Eichenallee no longer exists. It branched off from Bornstrasse. Then, in 1889, Rappstrasse was laid out, running from Eichenallee toward Grindelhof.) Subsequently, they moved to Alsterkamp 13, at the end of 1904 to Abteistrasse 14, and eventually to house no. 53 in the same street. Until 1907, Julius Hess was a partner in the Anton Emden & Julius Hess Company, real estate agency for houses, at Grosse Bleichen 46. Probably Gertrud and Julius had met via the business connection of Anton Emden and Julius Hess.
Gertrud Hess got divorced in 1915. According to information by the family, her husband lived on Beseler Strasse in Othmarschen in the very end, dying a natural death in 1935. None of Gertrud and Julius Hess’ children survived the period of National Socialism. Lothar died in an accident. Felix committed suicide after the November Pogrom of 1938, and Richard perished in pretrial detention in Hamburg on 21 May 1939. A Stolperstein for Felix Hess is located on Isestrasse. Ilka, the youngest child, was deported. A Stolperstein for her is located in front of the former "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Heimhuderstrasse 17 and in front of the house at Fernsicht 5 (on the children of Gertrud Hess, see also the publications entitled Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Winterhude and Stolpersteine in der Hamburger Isestrasse). The persons that survived were the grandchildren of Gertrud Hess, who were children when their parents died.
Gertrud Hess was an emancipated and self-confident woman, who even in those days already wore pants. This, at any rate, is the recollection preserved in the family. During her marriage, she led an upper-middle-class life, with stays at the spa in Karlsbad (now Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic) and vacations in Travemünde and Westerland. In Karlsbad, she had also met the family of the Austrian Field Marshall Lieutenant Theodor von Gabriel. This acquaintance resulted in the marriage of one of Gabriel’s daughters with son Richard Hess. When the Hess family came under pressure after 1933 due to their Jewish descent, Theodor von Gabriel adopted his son-in-law Richard, whose family called themselves Hess-von Gabriel from then on.
Even after the divorce, Gertrud Hess was able to live in solid middle-class circumstances. From the old card register of residents and from old phone directories, one can reconstruct that she lived at Eichenstrasse 61 from 1922 until 1926. Until 1931, her address was then Haynstrasse 19 and from 1932 onward, she resided at Eppendorfer Landstrasse 14. One grandson was still able to remember a spacious, grand apartment in Eppendorf, where Gertrud Hess also employed domestic staff. Just when she was forced to vacate this apartment is unknown. Starting in 1941, she lived at Geffkenstrasse 6 and from Mar. 1942 onward in the "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Bogenstrasse, the place from which she was deported.
The Hess family was bourgeois and very conservative. They did not observe Jewish religious laws, and three children of Gertrud Hess converted to Catholicism. Sons Richard and Felix had married Catholic wives. The family of daughter Ilka also converted to Catholicism. In Gertrud Hess’ Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card, one finds a note saying "without religious affiliation.” This file card was started only in 1941, when Gertrud Hess was forced to join the Reich Association [of Jews in Germany] (Reichsvereinigung [der Juden in Deutschland]) due to her Jewish descent.
Probably because the family had dissociated from Judaism to such an extent and was very conservative-nationalist in orientation, no one recognized the danger that was looming. Apparently, all of the family members were unable to imagine becoming the target of anti-Semitic measures themselves. In Feb. 1942, Gertrud Hess wrote a petition to the Hamburg Reich Governor (Reichsstatthalter), asking to be exempted from wearing the "Jews’ star” ("Judenstern”). The letter speaks to her complete bewilderment at being deprived of rights and marginalized. By that time, her sons were no longer alive, but Gertrud Hess felt very closely connected with her non-Jewish daughters-in-law and the baptized grandchildren. Maintaining contact to these families seemed impossible to her if she was visibly stigmatized by the "Jews’ star.”
After her deportation to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942, she braved the adverse living conditions in the ghetto for nearly two years, before being deported to Auschwitz in May 1944 and murdered.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2016
© Björn Eggert, Susanne Lohmeyer
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Strafsachen, 3650/42; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, 9122 und 1693/1896; StaH 332-5, 8540 und 141/1889; StaH 332-5, 9053 und 14/1890; StaH 741-4, Alte Einwohnermeldekartei; HAB II 1937; Gespräche mit den Enkeln; "Stolpersteine in der Hamburger Isestraße", S. 246ff. und "Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Winterhude" S. 83ff.