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Clementine und Mathias Stein mit ihren Kindern 1928
Clementine und Mathias Stein mit ihren Kindern 1928
© Privatbesitz

Mathias Stein * 1874

Grindelhof 30 (TTS) (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

1942 Theresienstadt
1942 Treblinka ermordet


further stumbling stones in Grindelhof 30 (TTS):
Dr. Walter Bacher, Emil Emanuel Badrian, Asriel Brager, Ilse Brager, Sally Brager, Dr. Joseph Carlebach, Dr. Hermann Freudenberger, Josua Falk Friedlaender, Julius Hamburger, Walter Nathan Herz, Bertha Hirsch, Leopold Hirsch, Dr. Alberto Jonas, Benno Kesstecher, Heinz Leidersdorf, Richard Levi, Emil Nachum, Artur Toczek

Clementine Stein, née Rothschild, born 15.1.1880 in Alsfeld/Hessen, deported to Theresienstadt 19.7.1942, deported to Treblinka 26.9.1942 and murdered.

Mathias Stein, born 7.4.1874 in Storndorf/Hessen, deported to Theresienstadt 19.7.1942, deported to Treblinka 26.9.1942 and murdered.

As children, the grandchildren of Clementine and Mathias Stein did not dare to ask their parents questions about their childhood and early lives or what happened to their grandparents. Ruth Walter, Charles and Wally Oppenheim were aware that their ancestors had been amongst the millions of victims of Nazism, but little more. In 2015 they decided to pool their information to pass on the family history to the next generation. It turned out that Ruth and Wally had been collecting information for years anyway. Ruth had a mass of documentary information, whilst Wally had studied the history of Nazi Germany in depth and gave talks about it. When combined with the research results of the author, the following picture emerges:

Clementine and Mathias Stein both came from large families. Mathias` parents, the cattle dealer Solomon Stein (1836–1884), and his wife Eva, née Adler (1831–1908), had married in 1859. Mathias was the youngest of their seven children and only ten years old when his father died. His home town Storndorf, today part of the municipality of Schwalmtal, had a thriving Jewish community from the 17th century until 1939 and boasted its own school, mikwah and synagogue. The Jewish cemetery still holds the graves of Mathias Stein`s parents and grandparents.

Clementine was the daughter of Joseph Rothschild (1841–1900), a textile merchant and draper, and his wife Henriette, née Stern (1852–1915). She had six brothers and one sister. Her father owned a shop on Rossmarkt in Alsfeld where he sold fabrics, curtains, carpets, ready-to-wear clothes for ladies and gentlemen and also sewing machines. Because of fierce commercial competition in the small town he offered "thorough free instruction” on how to use these in some 1880`s advertisements in the "Oberhessische Zeitung”. Joseph and Henriette Rothschild are buried in the Jewish cemetery in Alsfeld.

We do not know when and where Clementine and Mathias met. They were married in Alsfeld in October 1903. Clementine`s brothers Sally and Leopold acted as witnesses in the registrar`s office.

As a child, their daughter Eva used to hope that she was somehow related to the rich and famous Rothschild banking family, but as far as the family knows this was not the case.

Mathias went to primary school in Storndorf, afterwards, presumably from the age of 13, he attended the "Israelitische Präparanden- und Bürgerschule Talmud Tora” in Burgpreppach/Franconia. One of the educational aims of the school was the preparation for teacher training college. His grandchildren say that he came from a poor family; their poverty was probably due to the father`s early death. From 1891 to 1894 Mathias trained to be a teacher at the Jewish Teacher Training College in Hannover. His siblings are said to have financed his studies. Afterwards he taught at a Jewish primary school in Gleidingen near Hannover until 1897. His son, Shlomo Stein, contributed an anecdote from that time to Ursula Randt`s book "Die Talmud Tora Schule in Hamburg”: "Mathias Stein was the only teacher in the small Jewish community... The school only had one class... He loved teaching and the children, and also liked to recite the prayers in synagogue. What he hated was to slaughter cattle and poultry, also his duty. And he did not like to be disturbed when teaching...” One day a rich cattle dealer insisted on having a cow slaughtered during school hours. By chance, Mathias Stein had a school inspector in class who told the man off and sent him away. The cattle dealer returned in the afternoon and his request was met, but in the evening Mathias Stein received a threatening letter from him, saying he would be dismissed. The next morning, the man had his letter back, all orthographic and stylistic mistakes having been heavily marked in red. At the bottom it said: In spite of the many mistakes and the rude behavior graded ADEQUATE. However, the Gleidingen Jewish authorities were not prone to humour – the next day Mathias received notice of his dismissal. He then moved to Hamburg to become "Schönschreiblehrer” [teacher for beautiful handwriting] at the Talmud Tora School, then in Kohlhöfen [street], teaching mainly boys of primary school age. Later he also taught other subjects. His son, who attended the school, remembered that handwriting was very important and that the boys had to write to the rhythm of a metronome.

During World War I Mathias served in the German Emperor`s army, and according to the family won medals for bravery.

In 1937 he celebrated his 40th anniversary at the Talmud Tora School. The occasion was marked by a donation Mathias made towards "Kinderverschickung”, a collection/funds to send frail poor children on holidays. In 1938 he retired, aged 64.

We do not know anything about Clementine`s life before she married. In Hamburg, being a wife and mother, she stayed at home. There were servants to do much of the work, as was normal with middle class families at that time.

Mathias and Clementine had four children – three boys and one girl, as follows: Fritz Solomon/Shlomo (born 20.9.1904), Joseph (born 8.2.1906), Herbert (born 20.3 1909) and Eva Henriette (born 23.4 1919).

The head of the household, "M. Stein, Lehrer”, is listed for Rutschbahn 37 in the Hamburg address book from 1905 onwards. The family lived in a rented apartment on the third floor that had central heating, quite a modern achievement at the time. The building survived the air raids during the war and is still standing today. In 1957 the daughter Eva visited Hamburg with her family. Eva told her children that both of her parents were strict and distant, not uncommon at the time. Mathias Stein was nicknamed "Oliwo mit dem Glaspopo” [Oliwo with the glass bottom] by his pupils. According to Ursula Randt they thought he looked like an Italian ice cream seller by the name of Oliwo from Großneumarkt. The "Glaspopo” was added just for fun because it rhymed. Mathias does not seem to have minded the nickname, as it was also used by his own family. His former pupil Fred (formerly Manfred) Leser remembered him as "quite a nice guy with a slight lisp”. In summer 2015 Eva`s daughter Ruth Walter was visiting Hamburg and met Fred Leser. She found it very moving to speak to someone who actually had known her grandfather personally.

Clementine and Mathias were relatively old when their daughter was born; he was 45 and she was 39 years old. Eva told her children that she disliked the old-fashioned clothes she was expected to wear. She would go for walks along the Alster every Sunday with her father and had piano lessons. Summer holidays would be spent at the seaside, all common practice in lots of families. According to Eva`s memories, Friday night and Jewish holidays were very strictly kept, her brothers having to go outside to smoke on the Saturday (Shabbat). During Friday night meals her brothers would kick her under the table and make her laugh during the religious ceremony, so that she would be told off. All four children managed to flee Nazi Germany thanks to considerable support by their parents. The two sons, Fritz Solomon (later Shlomo), who had earned a university degree in chemistry, and Herbert, emigrated to what was then Palestine in 1935 and 1936 respectively.

Fritz, like his father, became a teacher. He taught chemistry, mathematics and geography at religious schools in Jerusalem. As an orthodox Jew, he was active in a synagogue of German-born believers, Emeth and Emunah (truth and belief). He died in Jerusalem in 1986 . Herbert had completed his medical studies in Berlin shortly before his escape. He and his wife arrived in the British Protectorate of Palestine with a huge immigration wave of of doctors. Since Herbert could not find a job as a physician he worked as an orthopaedist for almost 15 years, until he could return to his vocation in 1951. After a time in Hadassah hospital, then in Shaarei Zedek hospital, in Jerusalem the family moved to Beer Sheva, where he worked as a family doctor until his death in 1969.

Joseph, who had become a dentist and was married with a small son, was imprisoned twice in Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp in March 1937 for "treason”. In 1938 he fled via Belgium, where his parents-in-law lived in exile, to India, then part of the British Empire. His wife and son followed him some time later. Joseph received a loan from an English Jewish Aid Association and set up a dental practice in Ahmedabad. He even counted one of the maharajahs amongst his patients. He stayed in India until 1956. After a brief interlude in Hamburg he settled in England where he continued to work as a dentist until his sudden death in 1968.

During the Nazi period Jews were banned from working in the media, entertainment or the arts. That meant Eva could not train as a pianist, which is what she had hoped to do. So instead she went to a Jewish domestic science school in Breslau in 1935, when she was 16 years old. After her training she worked in Frankfurt am Main for some time and then returned to Hamburg. According to her "Kultussteuerkartei” she did an internship in the Paulinenstift, the orphanage for Jewish girls, and also worked in the Jewish hospital (Israelitisches Krankenhaus). She never touched a piano again. The memory of having to give up her beloved playing was too painful.

The pogrom in 1938 on the night of 9/10 November was the turning point for her deciding to emigrate. Eva was absolutely terrified as she heard that members of the SA had attacked the homes of people she knew. This experience was so traumatic that Eva decided she had to leave Germany, even though it meant leaving her parents behind.

She managed to escape to Great Britain in February 1939 with a domestic servant’s visa. A friend of hers, Ruth, after whom she later named her own daughter, had an aunt already living in London, who asked around her neighbourhood and found domestic jobs for four people. Three were for Ruth, her mother and a cousin. That left one – which she offered to Eva. Eva accepted, but did not tell Mathias and Clementine that she would be working for a Christian family, as her parents were Orthodox Jews.

Later she made repeated efforts to get her parents out of Germany and felt guilty that she had failed.

In around 1937 Mathias and Clementine Stein moved into a flat in Bornstraße 29. In September 1938 their bank accounts were "secured”, which means they were closed to their owners, and Mathias had to declare all his income and assets and hand in the completed forms to the "Oberfinanzpräsident" [OFP]. The documents list his teacher’s pension of 350 RM [Reichsmark] per month and his various assets, including shares and two mortgages, and also that he did not own a passport. The Hamburg State archive keeps a file containing several application forms. Mathias had to request any release of his own monies. He asked to be allowed access to some of his assets to help support one son and his daughter [Eva] who were trainees. In November 1938 he asked for 1,000 RM to be released to pay for the emigration of his daughter-in-law, the wife of Fritz, then living in Breslau with their small son. In December 1938 he asked for a further 1,400 RM to pay taxes, and 4,000 RM to pay for Eva’ s emigration. He was allowed 2,000 RM for Eva. All further requests seem to have been granted. These included 268 RM to be sent to his son Herbert in Palestine in April 1939 and, from July 1939, 20 RM per month for his sister, Rebecka Stein, who was a deaf-mute living in Berlin. The robbing of the Jewish population continued. In October 1939 Mathias had to pay 1,000 RM "Judenvermögensabgabe", a special tax Jews had to pay for the damage of the November pogrom. This sum was probably only one of four or five instalments. In November or December the couple took in a lodger, Edgar Ephraim Hirsch (see for his biography). A Stolperstein was laid for him in Bornstraße 28.

The preserved Stein family files in the Hamburg State Archive contain no indication that Clementine and Mathias tried to emigrate at some point. In 1939 they were 59 and 65 years old – which country would have offered them refuge?

As mentioned earlier, both Mathias and Clementine Stein had brothers and sisters. This is what we know about the Rothschild children: Clementine`s brother Hugo ( 1872–1930), had taken over the textile business from his father and continued to run it together with the second eldest son Leopold (1873–1920). Max (1875–1969) became a doctor and emigrated to Palestine. Sally (1877–1956) managed to flee to the US with his wife as late as 1940. Clementine`s only sister Betty Adler (born in 1882) lived in Gelsenkirchen and Mannheim and was deported to Riga on 27 January 1942. She was murdered there 26.3.1942. Her brother Adolf Rothschild (born in 1884) lived in Vienna and was deported to Nisko am San in occupied Poland with the 2nd transport on 27 October 1939. Like the majority of the deportees, he was driven across the demarcation line into Soviet territory. These deportees were regarded as "enemy aliens” by the Soviets and imprisoned in forced labour camps. According to his daughter, who survived in exile, Adolf Rothschild found himself in a NKVD camp in Suchobezwodnaja (Gorki area). There he "disappeared". Adolph Rothschild`s wife Anna was deported to Riga from Vienna in January 1942 and murdered. Clementine`s youngest brother Karl (born 1890) was killed in France as a soldier in 1915.

Mathias` siblings were Markus, Malchen, the twins Veilchen and Abraham, Bertha and Rebecka.

Markus Stein (1860–1942 in Frankfurt/Main) was a merchant and married to Zippora, née Roth (1855–1930). Their son Salomon (born in 1893) was deported to Majdanek and murdered on 2nd September 1942, their daughter Jenny (born in 1896) was deported to an unknown place from Frankfurt.
The fate of Mathias` two sisters Malchen (born in 1862) and Veilchen (born in 1864) is unknown. They do not appear in the "Gedenkbuch für die Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden ", so hopefully they died of natural causes. The same applies to Veilchen`s twin brother Abraham who, according to the census, also lived in Frankfurt in 1939. Another sister, Bertha (born in 1871), married to Hesekiel (Hugo) Rothschild, lived in Gießen until her husband`s death in 1938. She then moved to her married daughter`s in Berlin and managed to flee to Palestine to join her other children. In 1955 she died in Rishon LeZion, Israel.

The aforementioned deaf-mute sister Rebecka (born 11.9.1866), who was financially supported by Mathias, seems to have lived with each of her siblings in turn. In 1912 she stayed with the Rothschilds in Gießen, in June 1921 she moved from Hamburg (address Rutschbahn 37) back to Gießen and in January 1922 to Storndorf. According to the May 1939 census she then lived in Frankfurt, Schwanenstraße 12, with her brother Markus and his children Salomon and Jenny Stein. A short time later she moved or was transferred to Berlin-Weissensee to the "Dauerheim der Israelitischen Taubstummenanstalt für Deutschland", an institution for the deaf mute in Parkstraße 22. On 14 September 1942 she was deported to Theresienstadt, together with 81 fellow inmates. They were part of the "Zweiter großer Berliner Alterstransport" [Second large Berlin transport of the aged] that comprised 1000 people. Rebecka Stein died in Theresienstadt on 1 June 1943.

Meanwhile in London Eva Stein had met a friend and probably former class mate of her brother Joseph, Georg Oppenheim. Georg had been a pupil of her father and had even been caned by him.The two fell in love and, after a "whirlwind romance”, as their children put it, married.

Via the Red Cross Eva told her parents in October 1941 that she was pregnant. This news will have brought great joy to them, since conditions for Mathias and Clementine continued to rapidly deteriorate. From September 1941 all Jews in Germany had to wear a yellow star.

In April 1942 there was forced mass relocation to heavily overcrowded "Judenhäuser”. Mathias and Clementine Stein were forced to leave their home and move into one such house at Papendamm 3, the former Jewish boys´orphanage, where a short while later they received the deportation order to Theresienstadt. Mathias Stein had been forced to agree to a "Heimeinkaufsvertrag”. He had had to pay 1.847,72 RM, probably the rest of his assets. This "contract” meant he had to transfer all their savings to the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland in return for the lifelong use of a "care home” in Theresienstadt. This deal was entirely ficticious. In the end the money collected by the "Reichsvereinigung” was confiscated by the Gestapo.

Two months after their arrival in the "old age ghetto” the couple was deported to the extermination camp Treblinka and probably murdered immediately.

The inscription "Minsk” on the Stolperstein in front of the Talmud Tora School is based on an error.

There are two more Stolpersteine for Mathias and Clementine Stein in front of Rutschbahn 37.

Stand: May 2017
© Sabine Brunotte

Quellen: 1; 2; 3; 5; Walter Oppenheim, The Oppenheim and Stein Family: A Short Family History, April 2016, Familienerinnerungen und Dokumente, zur Verfügung gestellt von Ruth Walter und Walter Oppenheim; StaH 314-15 R 1938/2925; StaH 351-11 35602; StaH 522-1 Ablieferung 1993, Ordner 10; Hamburger Adressbücher 1905, 1915, 1920, 1925, 1930, 1936 und 1937, Zugriff 25.6.2015; Randt: Die Talmud-Tora-Schule, S. 262 u. S. 266; Dittmar/Jäkel: Geschichte, S. 73; Müller: Juden, S. 542, 574 und 612; telefonische Auskunft Fred Leser vom 7.6.2015; schriftliche Auskunft Staatsarchiv Hamburg, E-Mail vom 15.6.2015; schriftliche Auskunft Eric Brück, Frankfurt am Main, E-Mails vom 5. und 6.7.2015; schriftliche Auskunft Stadtarchiv Alsfeld, E-Mails vom 17. und 21.7.2015; schriftliche Auskunft Bundesarchiv Berlin, E-Mail vom 23.7.2015; schriftliche Auskunft Standesamt Alsfeld, E-Mail vom 18.8.2015; schriftliche Auskunft Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstands, E-Mail vom 18.9.2015; schriftliche Auskunft Lothar Dymianiw, Ortsarchiv Storndorf, vom 20.9.2015; Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt für das Gebiet der Hansestadt Hamburg, Ausgabe Nr. 7 1937, S. 10, online eingesehen unter, Zugriff am 18.10.2015, (letzter Aufruf: 24.10.2015); (letzter Aufruf: 24.10.2015); Alemannia Judaica (Hrsg.): Burgpreppach; nen_1942_45 zu "Heimeinkaufsvertrag" Theresienstadt (letzterAufruf: 22.11.2015); schriftliche Auskunft Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, E-Mail vom 6.4.2016; Meyer: Hirsch; schriftliche Auskunft Eitan Avitsur, E-Mails vom 25.5.2016.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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