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Herbert Kaftal * 1894
Willistraße 12 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)
Herbert Kaftal, born on 25 May 1894 in Hamburg, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, date of death there unknown
Margherita Kaftal, née Meyer, born on 18 May 1902 in Nervi/Italy, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, date of death there unknown
Gabriele Kaftal, born on 2 Dec. 1922 in Hamburg, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, date of death there unknown
Hermann Heinrich Kaftal, born on 11 Dec. 1929 in Hamburg, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, date of death there unknown
The merchant Herbert Kaftal was the son of Sewerin Gabriel Kaftal, a broker in niter, and his wife Martha, née Arnhold. Though of Jewish descent, he was, like his wife Margherita and the couple’s children, Gabriele and Hermann, baptized a Protestant.
As a young man, Herbert Kaftal joined his father’s business. In 1919, he became an authorized signatory of the company, and in 1920, a partner, together with Antoine Kaftal. In 1928, he became the sole owner of the enterprise, which was located on Gröningerstrasse. What exactly happened to the business after 1933 is not known, though one can probably assume that, as a "Jewish company,” it had no chances of surviving. On 19 June 1942, the entry in the company register was deleted.
Daughter Gabriele Kaftal completed the [private] Firgau School on Sierichstrasse (see also biographies on Maass, Ledermann, Windesheim, Elsbeth Götz) and afterward started training to become a nurse. Her younger brother Hermann initially attended the elementary school at Vossberg 21 and then, in 1939, he was forced to change to the Talmud Tora School on Grindelhof. The family lived at Willistrasse 12. In Mar. 1940, probably already facing the pressure of discriminatory legislation by the Nazi state, they moved to become subtenants at Hagedornstrasse 51. On 8 Nov. 1941, they complied with the deportation order to Minsk. At Hannoversche Bahnhof train station, they boarded the train together with Heinz Rosenberg, one of the few survivors of that transport. Later, he reported about, among other things, the journey, the Kaftal family, and conditions in Minsk:
"The train cars were not heated, the compartments overcrowded with people and luggage … father, mother, my sister, and I sat on one side of the compartment, opposite us the Kaftal family with their children Gabi and Hermann. Gabi was the only nurse on the transport. I was able to help her doing her work. Every time the train stopped – about every eight hours – Gabi and I were allowed to leave the car and go to another car in order to help sick and very old persons. At every stop, the SS guards first surrounded the entire train with pistols drawn.” After three and a half days, the train arrived in Minsk and the involuntary travelers were permitted to leave the train in order to march into the ghetto camp. The Kaftal family was quartered in an unfinished schoolhouse. However, beforehand, it was necessary to remove several hundred corpses from there – the previous occupants murdered by the SS. Heinz Rosenberg: "I can only repeat again and again that Herbert Kaftal was a particularly brave man, who, shortly before the SS shot him, still gave the bandits a piece of his mind. … Gabi was a nurse who put in a particularly great effort and helped many people. She was present when the SS criminal Ruebe had all patients of the auxiliary hospital in Minsk murdered, and she was there when her mother died of starvation and the cold in 1942, and I remember that she came to me one day, saying that she was now all by herself, since her brother had died as well. … He was with an external camp detachment, where every Jew had to work hard to live, and only few survived.” Soon afterward, Gabriele Kaftal perished as well.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2016
© Ulrike Sparr
Quellen: 1; 4; 8; Handelskammer Hamburg, Firmenarchiv, Handelsregister A 10763; www.erzwiss.uni-hamburg.de/ewi-report/EWI15/2_pritzl.htm (einges. 14.08.2007); Gespräch mit Frau Helga K., Juni 2008 (Firgau-Schule); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 34. Aufl, Hamburg 1933; Uwe Lohalm, Die nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung in Hamburg 1933–1945, Hamburg 1999, S. 49; Heinz Rosenberg, Jahre des Schreckens ... und ich blieb übrig, dass ich dir’s ansage, Göttingen 1985, S. 18.