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Max Hoffmann * 1885
Brahmsallee 6 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Max Hoffmann, b. 10.6.1885 in Hamburg, deported to Minsk on 11.8.1941, murdered
Henny (Hemi) Hoffmann, née Goldscheider, b. 8.3.1889, deported to Minsk on 11.8.1941, murdered
Louis Hoffmann, b. 1850 in Hamburg, and his wife, Johanna, née Magnus, had three sons: Gustav, Max, and Hans. The family lived at Gneisenaustrasse 43. Louis worked as a trade representative; he died in 1927, at 77 years of age.
The brothers Max and Hans were dealers and representatives, like their father. The oldest son, Gustav, studied medicine and became a physician in Hamm.
Max, the middle brother, married Henny Hemi Goldscheider (b. 8.3.1889 in Hamburg).
They lived in a spacious apartment at Brahmsallee 6, 2nd floor. The marriage remained childless. With the implementation of the prohibition of self-employed commercial representation by Jews, Max lost his livelihood. An emergency solution was to take in sub-lessees in the 8-room apartment, for which Henny Hoffmann worked as "morning lady,” that is, cleaning lady.
In connection to the November Pogrom, Max Hoffmann was imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for a few days; he was released on 17 December 1938. During the following period, Henny was also a helpful support for her brother Hugo Goldscheider in Altona, who as a result of unemployment and illness was wholly without means. According to a public welfare report, he spent his days with his sister because he was only able to finance a place to sleep, which he had to vacate during the day.
Max and Henny Hoffmann were deported from Hamburg to the Minsk ghetto on 8 November 1941, where they died.
Henny’s brother Hugo was deported a short time later, on 6 December 1941, to Riga. He died at Riga-Jungfernhof, where Hamburg deportees had been brought.
Max’s brother Gustav Hoffmann (www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de) and his wife were able to have both their children emigrate to Palestine. After having also finally decided to emigrate, they were killed in the German air raid over London on 19 September 1940. The two children, Kurt and Hilda, survived (see the volume, Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Hohenfelde.)
The youngest of the three brothers, Hans (b. 9.22.1892) and his wife Frieda Johann, née Charig, (b. 11.28.1899 in Schneidemühl) also lived in Hamburg. Hans worked as an independent commercial representative. Hans and Frieda had two sons: Gerhard, b. 2.9.1923, and Walter, b. 4.25.1930. Hans Hoffmann represented the coal firm "Vidal.” The family lived in a well-appointed 4-room apartment at Rappstrasse 13, 3rd floor. From 1935, Hans dealt in textile goods and attempted to distribute briefcases. They also sub-leased a room. He had scarcely any income and was dependent on public welfare and help from the Jewish Congregation. Hans Hoffmann wrote, after a house visit by an employee of the public welfare office on 28 February 1935: "I request that the chief welfare authorities take on my case. Today, I, my wife, and two children were granted, by Welfare Office XIII, support of 16 Marks a week. My application has been in process since 5 February and I have also received a payout of 5 and 10 Marks. I have been in arrears with the rent since the first of the month; furthermore, I have been obliged to go into debt because of the application for support. Welfare Office XIII puts me and my family in danger of living on the street, because I cannot pay rent on 16 Marks a week since I need to use the payment for our sustenance. In the words of the Führer: ‘None shall starve and freeze.’ But with the 16 Marks per week, Welfare Office XIII places me in the dire straits of starving and freezing, if I would have to pay even a portion of my rent. After much running here and there to various offices by me and my wife, today the above payment (16 Marks) has been granted with the remark: my case is not clear-cut.
As a frontline soldier and tax-payer of long standing, I do not understand why today, when I have fallen into need, I am met with such mistrust. After the many obstacles put in my way, I feel my application for assistance as worse than begging. I request most kindly that the chief welfare authorities take on my case. I thank you in advance and sign myself most respectfully, Hans Hoffman, Hamburg 13, Rappstrasse 13.” Apparently the letter was not successful. Later, Hans Hoffmann tried street-peddling to earn a living for his family.
Hans’ older son, Gerhard (Gerschon) Hoffmann, who attended the modern Talmud Torah High School until 1939, had to interrupt a graphics training course after half a year: "After the outbreak of the war in 1939, I had to work for the German armed forces as a painter in a military warehouse for anti-gas devices.”
On 8 November 1941, Hans and Frieda-Johanna Hoffmann, with their sons Gerhard and Walter, were deported to Minsk, as were Max Hoffmann and his wife. Gerhard was the only survivor and could later testify: "Many died of hunger and cold. For example, my Uncle Max, the brother of my father, and his wife. I was present at their deaths. They were totally exhausted, dirty, and lice-ridden. It was a terrible picture.” Gerhard wrote this in a letter on 22 October 1945 to a friend of the family. He described the years from deportation to liberation, beginning with his family in Minsk: "Perhaps, you can imagine what we suffered mentally. The situation was something like this: when anyone was summoned (for what reason was never communicated), a few hours later, the whole family followed, automatically …” He also went into his father’s situation: "Papa was a painter and found a position with the local military garrison. A bearable work detail, however he did not have the opportunity to bring something home at night for Mommy and Walter to eat. Thus, I became the bread-winner of the family.” He had had brief training in advertising and poster design and therefore was lucky to get a post as an advertising illustrator in the Main Food Warehouse East. His father did not survive an Action by the Security Service, to which he was assigned, and "with his German sense of duty, once again reported punctually at 3 o’clock,” after having said farewell to his family. Following the Action, in July 1942, he was murdered by the Security Service.
His mother and her sons, according to Gerhard, remained in the Minsk ghetto until 10 September 1943. He recounted: "Mommy and Walter engineered quite good work for themselves (in a clothing room for the Organisation Todt) and could thus contribute to our sustenance.” Then Gerhard was in a reception camp for evacuation. However, he was able to rejoin his mother and brother and live with them for two weeks. "Then, again, it was ‘all single men step forward.’ We were told we would be on a transport. Women and children would rejoin us in a few days. We believed this. I never saw them again. So far as can be determined, they were all sent to Auschwitz and gassed.”
"Now there began a period which was much worse than our ghetto lives. We were shoved from one camp to another. Work camp-concentration camp, concentration camp-work camp. Hunger, illness, epidemics, blows, shootings, gassings, and other brutalities. I went through the Lublin camp, the Budzin work camp, on 9.11.1943 the Budzin concentration camp, Milec work camp, Milec concentration camp, Wjetletschka concentration camp, Flossenbürg concentration camp, and Hersbrock concentration camp. Transported in cattle cars with a hundred men, or on foot.” That is, he remained in the Budzin concentration camp until May 1944, than, according to his account, in Militz (Milec) from early August 1944, and from 5 August 1944 until 16 April 1945 in the Flossenbürg concentration camp. In Flossenbürg he worked as a draftsman at, among others, the Heinkel airplane works and the Messerschmitt airplane works. "On 4.16.1945, I was transported to Dachau and on the way there I was liberated on 4.23.1945.” After he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1964, his wife and two and one-half year old daughter returned to her family in Detroit. When she was a student, Yonit Hoffmann began searching for traces of her father. After she researched the places in Israel in which her father lived and suffered, she visited Hamburg in 2014.
A commemorative stone at Brahmsallee 6, remembers Max and Henny Hoffmann. For Gustav Hoffmann and his wife a commemorative stone has been placed in Hohenfelde. Commemorative stones have also been placed at Rappstrasse 13 for Hans Hoffmann, his wife, and son, Walter.
Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Ulrike Martiny Schüddekopf
Quellen: 1: 2; 4; 5; StaH 351-14_1294 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge (Max Hoffmann); StaH 522-1992 e 2 (Deportationsverzeichnis der jüdischen Gemeinde von Hamburg nach Minsk, am 8.11.1941 (Max und Henny Hoffmann); Kultussteuerkarten 1921-1941 (Aussiedlungsvermerk v. 6.11.1941); StaH 332-8_B 2440 Hausmeldekartei Brahmsallee 6 (Max und Henny Hoffmann). Deportationsverzeichnis der jüdischen Gemeinde von Hamburg nach Minsk: (Frieda, geb. Charig, Hans, Walter und Gerhard Hoffmann am 8.11. 1941); StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 992b, Kultussteuerkarte v. 1921–1941 (Aussiedlungsvermerk v. 8.11.1941); StaH 351-11_14393 (Hans Hoffmann); StaH 351-11_22831 (Frieda Johanna Hoffmann); StaH 351-11_45813 (Gerhard Hoffmann ); FZH/WdE, Dr. Yonit Hoffman, 2014: http://jcfs.org/blog/highlights-from-hamburg-a-delicate-balance; Monika Liebscher (1.12.2015); Jan Svimbersky (27.1.2016), Brief von Gerhard Hoffmann an Herbert Mosbach, v. 22.10.1945.
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