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Mechel Hesslein * 1874
Maria-Louisen-Straße 104 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)
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Mechel (Martin) Hesslein, born 2 July 1874 in Hamburg, died on 22 June 1943 in Hamburg (suicide)
Mechel Hesslein was born in St. Pauli, where his parents lived at Feldstraße 51. On his birth certificate, "Marum” was recorded as his given name, and over the course of his life this name turned into "Mechel” or also "Martin.” His father, Seeligmann Hesslein (born 1839 in Hamburg) was a retailer and a citizen of Hamburg; his mother, Rike, née Horwitz, came from Rendsburg.
Mechel Hesslein took up the profession of real estate agent. He was a member of the Jewish community, and in 1917 he married Emilie Franziska Thölke, a Protestant born in Buenos Aires in 1867. The couple had no children. They lived at various addresses, including Flemingstraße 16, and probably longest at Maria-Louisen-Straße 104. Mechel Hesslein seems to have been successful in his profession: from 1919 to 1932 he paid annual sums of three figures to the Jewish community.
The lawyer Gerson, who filed a restitution application after the war, estimated Hesslein’s annual income at RM 7,500–8,000. A "List of Influential and Wealthy Jews from Hamburg,” compiled by the SS Security Service, estimated his assets at around RM 1.5 million.
The lawyer also mentions that Mechel Hesslein had to pay the Levy on Jewish Assets (Judenvermögensabgabe) and that his firm, Martin Hesslein General Partnership, Real Estate Agents and Mortgage Brokers, had to be liquidated. However, the exact process of the looting by the National Socialist state cannot be reconstructed from the files we examined. On the basis of the documents in the restitution file, however, additional "typical” signs of disenfranchisement and social exclusion are easy to read, although not always in terms of exact years: The couple had to give up the apartment on Maria-Louisen-Straße, and there followed addresses in the Grindel quarter: Grindelallee 126, Rutschbahn 11 c/o Derenburg (1942), and then the "Jews’ house” (Judenhaus) at Bornstraße 22. On 16 May 1943, Emilie Franziska Hesslein died at the age of 76. In the terminology of the National Socialist state, the marriage had been regarded as a "non-privileged mixed marriage” (nicht privilegierte Mischehe), which nonetheless had kept Mechel Hesslein from being deported. His wife’s death deprived him of this protection. His name, the last entry on the list for transport to Theresienstadt on 23 June 1943, was added in writing. Mechel Hesslein defied this last imposed demand by taking his own life.
Translator: Kathleen Luft
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2016
© Ulrike Sparr
Quellen: 4; 8; AfW 020774; StaHH 522-1 jüd. Gemeinden, 992e2 Bd.5; Sonderarchiv Moskau Sign. 500-1-659, Bl. 56-58 Nr. 23; StaHH 331-5 (Unnatürliche Sterbefälle), 1943/1144.