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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Lissi, Käthe und Margarete Kaufmann, 1932
© Privatbesitz

Käthe Kaufmann * 1902

Bendixensweg 11 (Hamburg-Nord, Barmbek-Nord)

1942 Auschwitz

further stumbling stones in Bendixensweg 11:
Jacob Kaufmann, Franziska Kaufmann, Margarethe Meyer

Jacob Kaufmann, born 23 April 1870, deported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942, died there 8 Feb. 1943
Franziska Kaufmann, née Cohn, born 27 June 1872 in Hamburg, died 23 July 1942 in Hamburg
Gertrud Silberberg, née Kaufmann, born 21 May 1898, deported to Auschwitz on 17 Mar. 1943
Käthe Selma Kaufmann, born 18 Jan 1902, deported to Auschwitz on 11 July 1942
Margarete Meyer, née Kaufmann, born 15 Oct 1905, deported to Auschwitz on 11 July 1942

Bendixensweg 11

Jacob Kaufmann‘s parents Moses Kaufmann and Gertrud, née Stock, lived in Sürth near Cologne, where Jacob was born on April 23rd, 1870 as the youngest of seven children. His parents had hoped he would develop an interest in the cattle trade, but the youth’s inclinations soon took another direction. He joined a circus that brought him to Hamburg.

Franziska Kaufmann, née Cohn was born on June 27th, 1871 in Hamburg and had eight brothers and sisters. Her parents were Catharina, née Brose, and Abraham Joachim Cohn; the father came from a Jewish family, whereas her mother was baptized a Lutheran Protestant who later converted to Judaism. Her father Johann Brose, a sculptor, had immigrated to northern Germany from Tarnów in Galicia (now Poland).

Jacob and Franziska met in Hamburg; they were married on June 3rd, 1897 at the Rotherbaum registrar’s office. They had four daughters: Gertrud, Käthe, Lissi and Margarete, who were very attached to their parents all life long. In 1912, the family, according to the official Hamburg address book, lived at Karolinenstrasse 24, so that the sisters only had to cross the street to get to the Israelitic Girls’ School. Later, they attended a high school for girls. The daughters’ education was very important to their mother, and it was a matter of course for her that her children also got vocational training in order to be able to look after themselves.

Father Jacob remained attached to the theater and drama, working as a stage hand and technician, among other jobs. Drafted into the Army in World War I, he was proud of the decoration he earned, an Iron Cross. His Weltanschauung was patriotic, his only surviving daughter Lissi recounted decades later; he tended towards the Social Democrats.

The family lived in a 5½-room apartment in Gneisenaustrasse in the "Generals‘Quarter” in the district of Hoheluft until 1926, when they moved to a newly built 3-room apartment on the corner of Heidhörn and Steilshooper Strasse in North Barmbek, most likely for financial reasons. On June 8th, 1926, Gertrud, the eldest daughter, married Siegfried Silberberg, who was born in Wandsbek (then a town of its own). In 1932, Gertrud and Siegfried Silberberg moved to Berlin, where Siegfried took a job as an accountant.

The couple adopted a son, Peter, né Binner, born on June 3rd, 1936 in Berlin. The boy’s mother Käthe Binner later bore the name Klein. The Silberberg family lived at Storkower Strasse 18 until 1934, then at Brunnenstrasse 40; from 1939 on, they no longer occur in the Berlin address book; according to a letter from the International Research Service in Bad Arolsen, they last may have lived at Rosenstrasse 14.

The Kauffmann daughters Käthe, Lissi and Margarete, who still lived with their parents in Hamburg, were unhappy with the move to Barmbek, where the young working women were to share a room. In the end, however, they accepted the accommodation lovingly furnished by their mother – the girls’ good relationship to their parents will certainly have made it easier to accept this solution. It seems that the family couldn’t afford a larger dwelling, even though the daughters had their own modest incomes.

Franziska Kaufmann, known to be very fond of children, cared for a foster child for a couple of years after her daughters had grown up and become independent – the child’s mother was a friend of Käthe, Lissi and Margarete.

Margarete got married in 1931, but was divorced in 1933 when it turned out that her husband was a member of the SA, and moved back in with her parents. Lissi had married her Christian husband Franz Acker in 1930; the couple also lived in Barmbek most of the time, near to her parents and her sisters.

The family maintained good social and neighborly contacts. Among other activities, Jacob Kauf¬mann joined in the founding of a community garden society in Otto-Speck¬ter-Strasse, together with many families from their neighborhood. In such a garden plot, city dwellers could not only spend their leisure hours outdoors, but also grow fruit and vegetables, which was most welcome for families living on tight budgets. From 1935 on, however, Jews, including the Kauffmann family, were expelled from their community garden plots.

Also in 1935, Jacob Kaufmann, on account of his "race”, was fired from his Job as head of the stage workshops at the State Opera, where he had worked for 15 years. He found a new position with the Hamburg Jewish Cultural Society, where he took charge of the technical stage equipment at the Besenbinderhof Theater until the end of 1937. The pay, however, was meager; the Cultural Society, dependent on the dues of its members, had hired several other Jewish artists and other employees who had been banned from their professions to give them work and a chance to make a living.
The dire economical situation forced the Kauffmanns to seek aid from Jewish Welfare and apply for temporary support. In addition, Jacob was indicted for fraud because he had allegedly failed to correctly declare income from occasional side jobs as a teller at events. He was sentenced to three months in jail, but it is unclear if he actually had to serve them.

Jacob and Franziska Kaufmann and the two daughters Käthe and Mar¬garete still living with them changed apartments several times in the following years, because of lack of money and an on account of increasing hostility towards Jews. They lived in Lambrechtsweg, as did Lissi’s family for a short time, until they could no longer stay there following a denunciation. At Bendixensweg 11, they finally did find a very cramped flat.

On November 30th, 1938, a marshal from the bailiff’s offices served them the cancellation of their dwelling effective Jan. 1st, 1939. Margarete Kaufmann, up to then the family’s main earner, had just lost her job. She immediately phoned the Adalbert Hansen property management in Mönckebergstrasse and learned that a neighbor from Bendixensweg 11 had written a letter saying that the tenants’ community had voted against Jews living in the same building; they would, however, tolerate the family’s staying, provided the other tenants got a discount on their rent.
The property management decided to terminate. In a telephone conversation, the Kauffmann family was granted a respite until the end of February; but in view of their distressed financial situation, Margarete Kauffmann offered to move out on an earlier date – the flat was to be vacated by Jan. 10th, 1939; there was an agreement by telephone to offset the 16 RM she had paid in advance for the gas meter and the complete renovation of the flat only a few months before against the rent for January, but this agreement was not kept, so that a lawsuit followed.

The owner of the building, Adal¬bert Hansen, sued Jacob Kaufmann and his wife for the unpaid rent for the month of January. Judgment was passed on May 17th, 1939: the Kauffmann family was sentenced to pay 44 RM plus 4 percent interest to Adalbert Hansen – a large sum in those days that could only be paid in small installments.

The Kauffmanns now lived in a Jewish beneficence Flat at Bogenstrasse 25, where Jacob got a job as janitor. After the Gestapo confiscated the building, an involuntary dwelling in a "Jews’ house” at the (no longer existing) Schlachterstrasse 46/47 near St. Michael’s Church became their last home.

Mother Franziska had been ill for some time and was cared for by her daughter Käthe, who wasn’t in good health herself – she was often ailing and very short-sighted. Margarete contributed to the family income by her work. It is likely that both daughters did not take advantage of opportunities to flee the country in consideration of their sick mother. One could have emigrated to join acquaintances in Palestine; the other could have accepted an American friend’s proposal to marry her.

Obviously, the Kauffmann family almost until the end did not imagine in what danger they really were. According to her daughter Lissi, Franziska commented the running rumors with the words: "That cannot be, nobody can do such a thing!” When the deportation order for the daughters arrived, they still preferred to believe in a "labor camp”. Jacob bought them overalls and a well-equipped toolbox so that they might be able to build an emergency hut for themselves. Käthe and Margarete Kauffmann were deported to Auschwitz on July 11th, 1942. Their sister Gertrud and her husband Peter Silberberg were "evacuated” from Berlin to Auschwitz together with their 5-year-old son Peter on March 12th, 1943 with the 36th eastward transport. All of them were killed there.

Did Jacob Kauffmann know what was waiting for him? On July 17th, 1942 one week after their daughters had been deported to Auschwitz, he was separated from his sick wife and brought to Theresienstadt, where he was assigned to building Q 418. According to the accounts of survivors, Jacob died of famine and typhoid fever. In the existing death notice of Feb, 8th, 1943, septic blood poisoning and myo¬dege¬neratio gordis / degeneration of the heart muscle were given as the cause of death.
His wife Franziska Kaufmann remained in Hamburg after she had been admitted to the Israelitic Hospital in Schäferkampsallee following a stroke. Her daughter Lissi was not allowed to take her home and later reported the agonizing death of her mother who kept calling out loud for her children and her husband. Perhaps she had an idea of what was going to happen to her loved ones? She died on July 23rd, 1942, two weeks after the deportation of her daughters and one week after that of her husband. In her death certificate, a further stroke is given as the cause.
Lissi, married to Franz Acker, was the sole surviving daughter of Franziska and Jacob Kauffmann. Her fate is recounted elsewhere in this book.
Jacob Kauffmann is likely to have met his widowed brother Samuel Kauffmann, born 31 July 1868 in Sürth, who was transported to Theresienstadt on September 1st, 1942. Both of them died there. Their youngest sister Adelheid, married Wolff, born 22 June 1871 in Sürth, and her husband Alexander Wolff were murdered in Minsk. The fate of two further brothers and two sisters as well as that of Franziska Kauffmann’s brothers and sisters is still unknown.

Translated by Peter Hubschmid

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: October 2016
© Eva Acker/Erika Draeger

Quellen: 1; 3; 4; 5; 8; StaHH 351-11, AfW, Abl. 2008/1, 25.04.04 Acker, Lissi; StaH, 621-1/85, 71, Konsulentenakte; Interview mit Lissi Acker, Dez. 1990, Geschichtswerkstatt Barmbek; Private Familienunterlagen; Wamser/ Weinke: Eine verschwundene Welt, S. 236; IGDJ: Das Jüdische Hamburg, S.131, S.144; Meyer: Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden, S. 29, S. 51, S. 68ff, S. 206.
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