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Marion Krauthamer * 1924
Laufgraben 37 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Chaim (Kurt) Krautham(m)er, born 23 Dec. 1891 in Manatersko (Ukraine), deported from the Mechelen transit camp (Belgium) to Auschwitz 31 Dec. 1942
Manfred Krautham(m)er, born 10 Mar. 1928 in Harburg, deported from Hamburg to Auschwitz 11 July 1942
Marion Krautham(m)er, born 18 Apr. 1924 in Harburg, deported from Hamburg to Lodz 25 Oct. 1941
Paja (Berta) Krautham(m)er, née Bartfeld, born 31 Jan. 1899 in Kolomea (Ukraine), deported from the Mechelen transit camp (Belgium) to Auschwitz 31 July 1944
Wilstorfer Straße 51
When Chaim and Paja Krautham(m)er, née Bartfeld, were born into two Jewish families in Galicia at the end of the 19th century, that part of Europe still belonged to the Danube Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. After World War I, their places of birth became Polish, and today the Ukrainian flag waves there. Vast stretches of the lives of these two people and their children lie in darkness, where they will forever remain.
The two young people were not the only ones to leave their East Galician homeland at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century to find a new home in the Prussian industrial city of Harburg on the River Elbe. Paja’s younger sister Rosa was born in the new homeland on 4 Oct. 1901. Seven years later, her father Israel Bartfeld opened a store for textiles and furniture on Wilstorfer Straße, at the corner of Feldstraße (today: Kalischerstraße), a store which he moved to Wilhelmsburg in 1925.
We are unable to say precisely when Chaim Krautham(m)er reached Harburg or what happened to him during World War I. However, it is clear that professional career began with mercantile training and the young merchant and husband lived with his wife Paja many years at Wilstorfer Straße 51, according to the Harburg address book, during the turbulent time of political upheaval after the fall of the monarchy.
This was where their two children Manfred and Marion Krautham(m)er grew up, well taken care of by their parents. Their grandmother Jetti Bartfeld, née Krug, was not permitted to see more than the first years of her grandchildren’s development. She died on 13 Apr. 1929 and was buried at Harburg’s Jewish Cemetery on the Schwarzenberg.
The fact that Chaim Krautha(m)mer together with his father-in-law Israel Bartfeld opened a textiles and factory goods store in Harburg on Albersstraße (today: Knoopstraße) in the immediate vicinity of the local synagogue during the years of the global economic crisis, a time when many other business people lost their livelihood, certainly deserves special recognition. The textiles house "Bartfeld & Krauthammer" was a popular address for many old and new customers due to its discount prices and favorable conditions for payment.
The tide turned when Hitler became Reich Chancellor in Jan. 1933. The textiles business of Chaim Krautham(m)er and his father-in-law was also on the list of Jewish enterprises that Harburg’s SA men stood in front of on 1 Apr. 1933 with signs calling for all passersby only to buy from "Germans". This "defensive boycott" was the beginning of the end for many large and small businesses.
It did not remain without consequences for the Krautham(m)er Family. Several months later, Chaim Krautham(m)er’s father-in-law found himself forced to give up his factory goods store at Kirchenallee 34 in Wilhelmsburg. A new start with a linens and woolen goods store in Harburg was also unsuccessful. It failed after a short time. In Dec. 1934 Paja Krautham(m)er’s older sister Golda Bartfeld immigrated to Palestine with her husband.
The textiles business in Harburg also slowly went downhill, and one day it was through. In 1936 the Krautham(m)er Family moved to Hamburg – probably not voluntarily. They first moved into an apartment at Grindelhof 64 in Feb. and five months later another one at Gindelberg 5. At the same time, the parents and their children became members of Hamburg’s German-Israelite Community.
The reasons why they moved apartment are not known. Yet from other former Jewish men and women of Harburg we know that they no longer felt comfortable in the rather provincial, anti-Jewish atmosphere of their surroundings, that non-Jewish landlords made their lives increasingly difficult and that their Christian neighbors distances themselves ever more from them. In Hamburg’s Grindel District, they were less conspicuous and could hope for greater solidarity, not an unjustified expectation.
Yet those hopes, if they indeed harbored them, were not fulfilled. The threat grew. On 28 Oct. 1938 Paja Krautham(m)er’s father and sister Rosa with her husband and two children were carried off in a covert operation (Polenaktion) together with approximately 1,000 other Jewish men and women of Polish extraction from Hamburg eastward to Neu-Bentschen where they were driven over the border of the Reich into the neighboring country to the east. Barely two weeks later, the synagogues burned in countless German cities, the windows of Jewish businesses were shattered, and in all parts of the German Reich, the prison gates closed behind many Jewish men who had been arrested without judicial warrant.
After the events of 1938 and despite all political and financial hurdles, there was no reason for Chaim and Paja Krautham(m)er to stay in Germany, even if they, for good reasons, had not anticipated that they would once again have to turn their backs on everything they had so painstakingly worked to acquire to make their way empty handed to a foreign country and subject themselves to an uncertain future. At the start of 1939, Chaim Krautham(m)er submitted an application to immigrate to Argentina. The ensuing inquiries by the Finance Office revealed that nothing more remained of the applicant’s assets. The Jewish Aid Organization wanted to cover part of the travel costs. Why the legal emigration plans never came off can no longer be reconstructed.
The records of Hamburg’s Jewish Community show that Chaim Krautham(m)er was no longer in Hamburg in July 1939, but instead was "abroad". Today we know that he and his wife Paja had made their way to Belgium. The details of their flight out of Germany are shrouded in darkness. The decision to take this step must have been taken suddenly and very likely under great distress, for their two children remained behind in Hamburg. Why their parents did not take them along, or were unable to take them, and what other considerations were going through their minds, to the extent that the future left them any room to plan, are questions that remain unanswered.
The two children left behind, Marion and Manfred Krautham(m)er, turned in desperation to the director of the Talmud Torah School, Arthur Spier, for protection. He immediately notified the local police headquarters. As a result, Marion was sent to the Paulinenstift, at Laufgraben 37, a Jewish orphanage for girls, and Manfred to the Jewish orphanage for boys at Papendamm 3.
Hamburg’s two remaining Jewish orphanages were also in great need. Ever growing numbers of children found shelter there in very close quarters, many were orphans or had lost one parent, others were in the same situation as Marion and Manfred Krautham(m)er. School children came from all parts of the Reich to attend Hamburg’s two Jewish schools since they no longer were allowed to take part in classes at public schools. Furthermore, the two Jewish orphanages were forced increasingly to make room available for elderly people.
When deportations from Hamburg began, the Paulinenstift was not spared. Among those who received an "evacuation order" for 25 Oct. 1941 was the seventeen-year-old Marion Krautham(m)er. The transport carrying 1,034 Jewish men, women and children arrived at Lodz one day later, where the new arrivals were driven into the city’s ghetto which had already been established. They were housed in primitive, unheated emergency accommodation without running water or drains. They were plagued by hunger. Those who were able to work performed forced labor in numerous production facilities for the German Wehrmacht and the German textiles industry. Hunger, cold and epidemics claimed the lives of thousands in the first weeks alone. An even greater number were "resettled" and disappeared forever. Their lives ended at at the Chelmno/Kulmhof extermination camp, which was erected in 1941 with major involvement by Harburg’s coffee wholesaler and Higher Police Leader and SS Leader for "Warthegau", Wilhelm Koppe. In many other instances they were killed at Auschwitz extermination camp. Marion Krautham(m)er was no longer alive at the end of World War II.
On 11 July 1942, the charges of the boys’ orphanage on Papendamm were deported along with their male and female caregivers and the director of the home, Hildegard Cohen, to the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. For the fourteen-year-old Manfred Krautham(m)er it was a journey to death.
The route into Belgian exile only provided Chaim and Paja Krautham(m)er with a brief reprieve while fleeing from their persecutors. When the country was occupied by German troops in May 1940, the two refugees, and many of their kind, were back in the National Socialists’ sphere of control. Step by step, yet at a much faster pace, anti-Jewish laws were adopted here, as in all other occupied countries. Chaim Krautham(m)er initially had to perform forced labor for the Todt Organization in northern France before he was deported to Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp on 31 Oct. 1942.
The train was underway for three days, arriving at its destination on 3 Nov. 1942. Of the 1,696 men, women and children on the transport, 919 people were immediately sent to the gas chambers following the initial selection. The others were marked with numbers and imprisoned in the camp. Chaim Krautham(m)er did not survive the Holocaust.
His wife was also deported to Auschwitz nearly two years later on 31 July 1944 from the Belgian collection and transit camp Mechelen. It was the last transport of Belgian Jews or Jews living in Belgium to that extermination camp. The train arrived at its destination on 2 Aug. 1944. After the selection, 365 of the deported were admitted to the camp while 202 men, women and children were driven directly into the gas chambers. Paja Krautham(m)er did not return either.
The reunion that these four former members of Harburg’s Jewish Community had longed and hoped for remained a dream for the parents and their children. Four memorial sheets at the main Israeli memorial Yad Vashem, left by relatives who survived, remind us today of the violent deaths of these four individuals. Marion and Manfred Krautham(m)er’s names are engraved in two additional Stolpersteine located in front of the two former Jewish orphanages at Laufgraben 37 and Papendamm 3 (today: Martin-Luther-King-Platz) in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel.
The victims of the Holocaust also include their grandfather Israel Bartfeld and his second wife Sara Bartfeld, née Fleischmann, who was among the 753 people deported on 6 Dec. 1941from Hamburg to Riga, as well as their Aunt Rosa Bartfeld and her husband Max and their children Jutta and Benni who first stayed with relatives at the start of World War II in Mosciska near Lemberg and were probably deported from there on 12 Oct. 1942 to Belzec extermination camp.
Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2016
© Klaus Möller
Quellen: Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, bearbeitet von Jürgen Sielemann unter Mitarbeit von Paul Flamme, Hamburg 1995, S. 221 f.; Gedenkbuch für die Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft, 4 Bände, Bundesarchiv Koblenz (Hrsg.), S. 781, Koblenz 2006; Yad Vashem, The Central Database of Shoa Victims´ Names: www. yadvashem.org; Harburger Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, Bezirksamt Harburg (Hrsg.), Harburg 2003, S. 8; Staatsarchiv Hamburg 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden; Staatsarchiv Hamburg 992b, Kultussteuerkarteikarte der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde, Hamburg; Staatsarchiv Hamburg 314-15, Akten des Oberfinanzpräsidenten, F Vg 7621; Staatsarchiv Hamburg 430-5 Magistrat der Stadt Harburg-Wilhelmsburg; Staatsarchiv Hamburg TT 73, Spier an das Polizeipräsidium am 28.8.1939; Jüdisches Deportations- und Widerstandsmuseum Mechelen (Malines), www.cicb.be; Barbara Günther, Margret Markert, Hans-Joachim Meyer, Klaus Möller, Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Harburg und Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg, Landeszentale für politische Bildung (Hrsg.), Hamburg 2012, S. 290 ff.; Hildegard Thevs, Stolpersteine in Billstedt-Horn-Borgfelde, Landeszentale für politische Bildung (Hrsg.), Hamburg 2011, S. 62 ff.; Eberhard Kändler/Gil Hüttenmeister, Der jüdische Friedhof Harburg, Hamburg 2004, S. 236; Harburger Anzeigen und Nachrichten vom 1.4.1931; Harburger Adressbücher; Johann-Hinrich Möller, Erinnerung an die von den Nationalsozialisten ermordeten Kinder, Betreuerinnen und Erzieher der ehemaligen Hamburger Waisenhäuser Papendamm 3 und Laufgraben 37, Hamburg 2006; Reiner Lehberger/Hans-Peter de Lorent (Hrsg.), Die Fahne hoch. Schulpolitik und Schulalltag in Hamburg unterm Hakenkreuz, Hamburg 1986, S. 325 ff.; Danuta Czech, Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939–1945, Reinbek 1989, S. 332, S. 839; Hanno Loewy/Gerhard Schoenberner, Unser einziger Weg ist Arbeit. Das Getto Lodz 1940–1944, Frankfurt 1990; Mathias Heyl, Vielleicht steht die Synagoge noch. Jüdisches Leben in Harburg 1933–1945, Norderstedt 2009; Beate Meyer, Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933–1945. Geschichte. Zeugnis. Erinnerung, Hamburg 2006.