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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Jeanette Baer * 1903
Brahmsallee 24 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
1944 Auschwitz ermordet
further stumbling stones in Brahmsallee 24:
James Lewie, Anna Pulvermacher
Jeanette Baer, born on 24 Dec. 1903 in Hamburg, deported to Theresienstadt on 23. June 1943 and from there to Auschwitz on 23 Oct. 1944
Jeanette Baer was born on 24 Dec. 1903 in Hamburg as the youngest daughter of the metal goods wholesaler Gustav Baer (1860–1937) and his wife Sara, née Stern (1866–1943, died during emigration in Britain). Jeanette’s father came from an old-established large family in Halberstadt, where the Baers worked as doctors and teachers, among other professions. Her mother Sara was the daughter of Chief Rabbi Anschel Stern (born in 1820 in Hamburg, died in 1888) and his wife Jeanette, née Adler (born in 1832 in Hannover); she also came from a rabbi family. Anschel and Jeanette Stern were married in 1855, Jeanette Baer’s older siblings were Gertrud (born in 1890 in Halberstadt, died in 1981 in Geneva/Switzerland), Erna (born in 1892, died in 1967 in Jerusalem), Walter (born in 1894), Harriet (born in 1896, died in 1956 in Tel Aviv); all of them were natives of Hamburg.
The Baer family settled in Hamburg at the beginning of the 1890s. First, they lived at Hansastrasse 76, and in June 1933, they moved to Brahmsallee 24.
From a self-written curriculum vitae of Jeanette Baer, we learn about the stages of her training. From 1910 to 1920, she attended the Höhere Israelitische Mädchenschule (Lyzeum – a girls’ high school) at Bieberstrasse 4, then the Hansastrassen-Schule (a college), for one year, each of them in Hamburg. This school combination brought her closer to her goal of becoming a teacher of business studies.
Between Apr. 1921 and Sept. 1922, Jeanette Baer worked as an accountant and correspondent in her father’s metal goods wholesale business. Through this activity, she got to know the practical work in a company. From 1 Oct. 1922 to 30 Sept. 1924, she attended the Staatliche Höhere Handelsschule für Mädchen (state secondary business school for girls) in Hamburg and graduated with an overall grade of "good.” From Oct. 1924 until the end of Apr. 1925, she worked as an English and French correspondent for Ludwig Bing & Co., an import and export company at Neuer Wall.
In the summer/winter semester 1925/1926, she began her studies at the University of Frankfurt/Main. These included the preparation courses for the substitute high school graduation exam (Ersatzreifeprüfung). In order to gain practical experience for her future profession, she worked again in her father’s company during the summer semester. On 27 Oct. 1926, she passed the substitute high school-leaving exam. Starting in the 1926/1927 winter semester, she studied, among others, the following subjects: accounting, German, commercial studies at the University of Hamburg, among other places. During the semester break, she sat in on classes and taught at the "School for Office Employees” there. Her main subjects there were cultural studies and English. She continued her studies at the University of Frankfurt/Main at the beginning of the 1927/1928 winter semester in order to complete her theoretical and practical pedagogical training. At the beginning of 1929, she took her final exams in English at the Städtische Handelsschule, a municipal business school, in Frankfurt/Main.
On 24 Feb. 1930, she graduated with a diploma grade of "good” from the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at Frankfurt University. She was now a graduate business teacher. Her diploma thesis on "The suitability of women for office work in commercial companies” (Die Eignung der Frau für Kontorarbeiten in kaufmännischen Betrieben) was evaluated "with distinction.” This shows that Jeanette Baer not only wanted to work in the theory of the female teaching profession, but that its practical component also played an important role for her.
From 15 Aug. to 22 Sept. 1929, she had already been allowed to take on French and English classes as a substitute teacher at the State Business School in Hamburg. At her own request, she was assisted by pedagogical consultants for two years. These attested to her "good teaching activity as well as methodical and didactic qualification” and added that she "works with great dedication, shows a strong personal interest and a lot of understanding toward the individual students. Her lessons were lively, vivid, and the female students were encouraged to think for themselves.” From 1930 onward, she taught on a lesson-by-lesson basis as an assistant teacher at the vocational school for office clerks and the vocational school for saleswomen, as well as giving voluntary evening classes in the following subjects: accounting, business arithmetic, German, commercial, and civic studies. As Jeanette Baer was a very committed teacher and the further education of young people was an important concern for her, she taught at several schools. From mid-Apr. 1931, she took over as a substitute for a teacher on leave (qualified high school teacher Naftali Eldod). Apart from her education, she had been working in the Jewish Community on a voluntary basis for several years. It was important to her to care for her fellow human beings.
Unmarried, Jeanette Baer continued to live with her parents. Thus, she saw firsthand her father’s financial worries about his business. The company was in financial difficulties at the end of the 1920s, which intensified over the following years. According to the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, the monthly dues were significantly reduced. Gustav Baer had been a member of the Jewish Community since 1913 and paid considerable contributions to it every year. From the mid-1920s, however, he was only able to pay modest contributions and starting in 1927, the payments stopped completely. From 1933 onward, the measures against Jewish businesses and enterprises intensified. The "Jewish boycott” on 1 Apr. 1933 is particularly worth mentioning here. In 1935, Gustav Baer is said to have liquidated the company himself, which then ceased to exist on 30 Dec. 1936. A letter from the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg – Labor and Social Security Authority – dated 18 Oct. 1974 reveals that "Mr. Baer was no longer able to run his business for health and age reasons.” This statement reversed cause and effect.
On 11 Apr. 1933, Jeanette Baer received a new contract of employment from the State Education Authority. On 26 June 1933, she was informed that the contract concluded two months before would be rescinded. The reason for this was the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” ("Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums”) passed on 7 Apr. 1933. Consequently, Jewish teachers, among others, were thus excluded from working life at public schools. As a result, Jeanette Baer’s professional situation changed dramatically. She, who was a teacher with heart and soul, was no longer allowed to teach. However, Jeanette Baer did not give up. Through her close contact with the Jewish Community, she was able to give language lessons on an hourly basis at the Israelite Girls’ School on Carolinenstrasse starting in Apr. 1935. The next stroke of fate followed, when her father died on 26 Apr. 1937. She was now the sole breadwinner in the family. She continued to live with her mother.
Jeanette Baer’s brother Walter and his wife Flora, née Levy (born in 1888 in Friedrichstadt/Eider), had been residing in their own home on Mörikestrasse in Hamburg-Blankenese for several years. From the mid-1920s until the 1930s, he was the general manager of Zinnwerke Wilhelmsburg in Hamburg, a pewter manufacturer. Then he lost his job. Due to the "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) issued on 7 Dec. 1938, their entire assets in cash, jewelry, etc. were confiscated. The property on Mörikestrasse was sold at a low price by a trustee. Walter Baer saw no future for himself and his wife in Germany. On 18 Jan. 1939, he fled to Britain, and on 3 Mar. 1939, his wife Flora followed him; in July, Sara, Jeanette Baer’s mother did so as well.
Since Sara Baer was already over 70 years old at the time, she applied to the authorities to see if her daughter Jeanette could accompany her, as some clothes, household goods, etc. had to be taken along. She was allowed to do so by the Gestapo, but only on condition that Jeanette Baer must return. Otherwise, their relatives were threatened with committal to a concentration camp.
Jeanette Baer did return to Hamburg. The Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card does not clearly indicate when she had to leave her apartment on Brahmsallee. In 1942, she was listed as residing on Breitestrasse in Hamburg-Altona, where she lived for several months. With the support of the Jewish Community, she moved into an apartment of the Community at Beneckestrasse 4, a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”). There she made herself available for community work. Although she was also suffering from health problems by then, she was always there when help was needed.
On 23 Aug. 1944, Jeanette Baer wrote a card from Theresienstadt to her former student Fanny Katzenstein (called Lolli) with the following wording: "Dear little Lolli, very warm wishes for New Year’s to you and your good parents and siblings, but especially to your beloved Sara. I am healthy and would be overjoyed if I – like Margot – heard from you every month. Stay well and remember me as I remember your. Love, Your Jeanette.”
Jeanette Baer was deported from Hamburg to Theresienstadt with Transport VI/8, c. 3 on 23 June 1943 and from there to Auschwitz with Transport Et, c. 340 on 23 Oct. 1944.
Jeanette Baer’s assets were confiscated to the benefit of the German Reich. After Jeanette Baer was deported, her remaining household effects were publicly auctioned off on 28 Oct. 1943. The auction was attended by 51 people. The responsible court bailiff by the name of Gerlach took out an ad for this purpose in the Hamburger Tageblatt. After deduction of the advertising costs, 1,023.80 RM (reichsmark) were transferred to the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident).
Fanny Katzenstein (married name Samosh) did not forget her teacher Jeanette Baer. In Oct. 1979, she submitted the Page of Testimony (Gedenkblatt) for her at Yad Vashem.
Regarding the subsequent life of her sisters Erna and Harriet, we found little evidence. Erna Baer was married to her cousin Theodor Baer. This marriage produced five children: Mordechai, Shmuel, Hilde Haya, Ezriel, and Hanna. Erna Baer died in Jerusalem on 11 Jan. 1967.
Harriet Baer was married to Erich Hurwitz, a doctor of medicine. She died on 1 Aug. 1956 in Tel Aviv.
Gertrud Baer (born on 25 Nov. 1890 in Halberstadt, died on 15 Dec. 1981 in Geneva) became known as a champion of women’s rights and a peace activist. She had trained as a teacher in Hamburg and practiced the profession, later she studied at German, American, and Swiss universities. She remained unmarried and had no children. During the First World War, she moved to Munich, where Lida Gustava Heymann and Anita Augspurg lived. Together with Helene Stöcker and others, she was involved in the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom (Internationale Frauenliga für Frieden und Freiheit – IFFF), which was founded in 1915. From 1919 to 1968, she held various executive positions and later edited its magazine. She also represented the institution at the League of Nations and, from 1945, at the UN. In 1933, she emigrated to Switzerland because she was endangered in Germany both as a political activist and as a Jewish woman. In June 1940, she emigrated to the USA, became a US citizen and organized, among other things, the IFFF’s emigrant aid from there. In 1950, she returned to Geneva, where she died in 1981. A documentary film entitled Gertrud Baer. Ein Leben für die Gleichberechtigung der Frau, für Frieden und Freiheit ("Gertrud Baer. A life for the equality of women, for peace and freedom”) (by Michaela Belger, 1977) pays tribute to her multifaceted work.
Walter and Flora Baer survived. The "Association for the Study of the History of Jews in Blankenese” ("Verein zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Juden in Blankenese") has compiled a list of about 150 names of Jews or people declared by the National Socialists to be Jews or "crossbreeds” who lived in Blankenese between 1930 and 1943. That is where they have been commemorated.
Flora Baer’s mother Adelheid Levy, née Heymann (born in 1865 in Friedrichstadt/Eider, died in 1943 in Sobibor), fled to the Netherlands, though the exact date is not known. She thought she was safe there. From there, she was deported to Sobibor, where she was murdered on 23 July 1943. For Adelheid Levy, a Stolperstein was laid in Aug. 2004 by the initiative in Friedrichstadt in front of her last freely chosen address.
This information is based on the work of Ursula Randt on Jeanette Baer, which she published in Wamser/Weinke’s book Eine verschwundene Welt: Jüdisches Leben am Grindel, and in the Hamburg GEW’s (Education and Science Workers’ Union [Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft]) Hamburger Lehrerzeitung 01/1986. Her suggestions also made it possible to go deeper into the family history.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Sonja Zoder
Quellen: 1; 2; 8; StaH 241-1-125; StaH 351-11-709 + 1072 + 10384 + 15922 + 28425 AfW; StaH 361-3-A0724; URL: http://www.viermalleben.de/4xleben/namensliste.htm -Jüdisches Leben in Blankenese am 19.9.13; URL: http://www.juden-im-alten-halberstadt.de/index.php am 5.9.13; URL: http://www.akens.org/akens/texte/stolpersteine/Stolpersteineliste.htm -Stolpersteine in Friedrichstadt- am 20.9.13; Hamburger Adressbuch; Wamser/Weinke, Verschwundene Welt, S. 225–227; Hamburger Lehrerzeitung der Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft Hamburg, Ausgabe 01/1986, S. 43–45; Hochmuth/Meyer, Streiflichter, S. 242; Stiftung Archiv der deutschen Frauenbewegung Telefonat mit Dr. Susanne Hertrampf am 27.11.2013; Starke, Führer, S. 24, 26, 81, 151; Hervé/Nödingen, Lexikon, S. 23f.; Schuchard, Gertrud Baer, in: dies., Frauen, S. 136–138.
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