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Walter Hauptmann, 1938
Walter Hauptmann, 1938
© Nationalarchiv Belgien (NAB)

Walter Hauptmann * 1905

Brahmsallee 18 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)

1944 Kowno

further stumbling stones in Brahmsallee 18:
Johanna Oppenheim, Siegmund Silberberg

Walter Hauptmann, b. 4.6.1905 in Hamburg, deported on 5.15.1944 from the Drancy camp in France to Kaunas, Lithuania

Brahmsallee 18

Walter Moritz Hauptmann was born in Hamburg on 4.6.1905. His parents, Arthur Hauptmann (b. 4.28.1869 in Kreuzburg, Upper Silesia) and Selma Hauptmann, née Baumgarten (b. 10.27.1868 in Berlin) lived in Hamburg since 1900, for the longest period of time (1913-1933) at Woldsenweg 6, in the Eppendorf quarter.

For the first time, the Hamburg directory of 1900 recorded Arthur Hauptmann as the editor of the Neue Hamburger Zeitung [New Hamburg Newspaper], a left-liberal oriented paper for bourgeois readers. In 1909, he acquired citizenship in the Hanseatic City and was listed as commercial editor. In August 1922, the Neue Hamburger Zeitung merged with the General-Anzeiger für Hamburg-Altona [General Gazette for Hamburg-Altona), both of which were located at Gänsemarkt 21–22 and owned by the publishing house Giradet & Co.; the new paper was the Hamburger Anzeiger (Hamburg Gazette). During the Weimar era, the left-liberal Hamburger Anzeiger, since the mid-1920s the largest circulation Hamburg newspaper, projected the election results on a giant screen in the Gänsemarkt. The writer Willi Bredel described this peculiarity in his novel, Rosenhofstrasse: Novel of a Hamburg Workers’ Street. The "Giradet-Haus,” built in 1896, still stands today at Gänsemarkt 21–23; the adjacent rear printing house lies at Poststrasse 20. In the directories of 1928 and 1932, Arthur Hauptmann is still listed as a writer, although he had become jobless in the wake of the world economic crisis of 1929.

In 1933, the Hamburger Anzeiger was "coordinated” by the National Socialists and Alois Winbauer, its chief editor up to this point, was dismissed. In the meantime, the now 64-year old Arthur Hauptmann worked as a bank clerk. For the last time, in 1933, his name appeared with his occupation as "clerk” and his address as Woldsenweg 6.

In March 1906, Arthur Hauptmann had himself registered as a member of the German Israelite Congregation. His son, Gerhard Hauptmann (b. 2.23.1913 in Hamburg), was an autonomous member of the Congregation from 1934. He emigrated to the USA in 1937.

In November 1930, Walter Hauptmann became an independent sales representative. His main business seemed to be trading in mineral oil. The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, in its database of old firms, noted him for "commercial representations, Woldensweg 6.” In the official phonebook of 1931, this entry was "Walter Hauptmann, businessman, Woldsenweg 6, Tel. 528658.” Certainly, this signified his parents’ home and their telephone line. The establishment of the firm took place under difficult circumstances and met with little success. From 1933 onward, to the consequences of the economic crisis was the added the problems posed by the sniffing out of political views and investigations of ancestry by state and party offices. On 1 April 1933, a nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses took place, conducted by the National Socialists. The police, already controlled by the Nazis, did not intervene.

Since the 1930s, Walter Hauptmann was married to Gertrud, née Winckler (b. 10.1.1908 in Hamburg), a divorcée formerly married to Klöhn, who belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. We do not know whether she was also of Jewish descent. The couple supposedly lived apart, according to the entry on the communal religion tax record of the Jewish Congregation. The further course of Gertrud Hauptmann’s life is not known.

Walter Hauptmann reported himself as Evangelical and "Aryan" to state offices, which was uncontested until 1937. He tried to cover up his financially strained situation and the drop in orders for his firm with little tricks. From 1936, the juridical basis for a thorough hindering of Jewish-owned businesses was put in place by the National Socialist state. Currency and customs investigations targeted Jewish entrepreneurs for evidence of offenses against the law. Penalties pertaining to these laws extended from considerable monetary fines to the blocking of accounts to the imposition of receivership for the firm. When the Reichsbank demanded information from Walter Hauptmann in October 1936, he did not respond and was for this reason fined RM 100. He could not repay a private loan in September 1936 and was therefore condemned to two weeks in jail for fraud. The danger that his Jewish ancestry would be discovered became more threatening with a second entry in the criminal register and the intensification of the anti-Jewish laws. The Commercial Register noted the liquidation of Walter Hauptmann’s firm on 16 July 1937.

The housing circumstances of Walter Hauptmann can only be partially reconstructed: in 1936, after his marriage, he presumably moved out of his parents’ house at Woldensweg 6 to Strasse Rehagen 13, 3rd floor, and (probably after the separation from his wife) lived as a sub-lessee. From the beginning of March until the beginning of April 1937, he lived for five weeks at the house of the dermatologist Ludwig Goldschmidt at Brahmsallee 18, 4th floor. Also in the house, on the ground floor, was the Rotherbaum-Harvestehude district office of the National Socialist People’s Welfare Service (NSV) and on the second floor the "NSV Mother and Child Support Service," a difficult neighborhood. From June 1937, he was recorded at Strasse Rehagen 13, 4th floor, with his parents who lived there since April 1937.

It is probable that, after serving his jail sentence, he fled, in early September 1937, to France. An official emigration application has not been preserved in the holdings of the Office of the Chief Financial Governor – in all likelihood because none was ever made. As early as November 1937, German officials issued travel permits for Jews only in exceptional cases; the confiscation of still valid German passports was also possible. Walter’s brother, Gerhard, emigrated to the USA in December 1937. From October 1938, a "J" was stamped on the passports of Jews. Apparently, Walter Hauptmann succeeded in leaving Germany shortly before these worsening harassments. According to a notation on the communal religion tax records of the German Israelite Congregation of Hamburg, the Resident Registration Office was first informed of the change of address for Walter Hauptmann on 3 July 1938. The Reich Gazette of 16 June 1939 documented the withdrawal of citizenship for Walter Hauptmann and his wife, Gertrud Hauptmann, née Winckler.

In France, the main goal of German immigrants, an identity card (Carté d’identité), was issued only upon proof of legal entry and a written work permit. Because the card was at the same time the prerequisite for a work permit, many immigrants remained in France illegally. After the collapse of the Popular Front government of Léon Blum, the policy toward illegal immigrants became more restrictive, entailing the threat of jail sentences and expulsion. The November Pogrom of 1938 resulted in a mass flight of German Jews to France. In Paris, at the beginning of the war, thousands of illegal refugees were declared "enemy aliens” and interned. With the invasion of the German armed forces (12 May 1940) and French capitulation (22 June 1940), Walter Hauptmann again came under the scrutiny of the National Socialist machinery of persecution.

A massive flight of German refugees to the unoccupied southern part of the country ensued. Whether Walter Hauptmann holed up in the collaborationist Vichy controlled southern France or in the occupied northern and western part of the country is not known. The Vichy regime shaped its policies in an increasingly anti-Jewish vein; from 1939, Jews could be interned without a judicial process; from July 1942 began the systematic internment of Jews in camps. After that date the Vichy regime handed the Jews over to the Drancy camp in the occupied part of France. On 12 November 1942, the southern part of France was also occupied by the German armed forces.

Walter Hauptmann found himself among the detainees of the Drancy camp. On 15 May 1944, he was deported, along with 877 men, in a cattle car, via Frankfurt am Main and Berlin to Kaunas (Kovno in Russian, Kauen in German) in occupied Lithuania. In the list of deportees, Walter Hauptman was labeled a translator by profession and had the prisoner number 20,495. The trip of "Transport 73” lasted three days. After the conquering of the Soviet-occupied city of Kaunas by the German armed forces in the summer of 1941, the Vilijampole quarter, situated on the river bank facing the old city, was sealed off as a ghetto. Adjacent to it was the former border fort no. 9, dating from the tsarist period, now used as a concentration camp; here and in eight satellite camps, from September 1943 to July 1944, approximately 100,000 people (among them 35,000 Jews of Kaunas) were said to have been murdered.

Those deported on the Paris transport of 15 May 1944 were brought to the slave labor camp Proyanowska, where 160 of them were shot and six weeks later, as the Red Army advanced, the rest were deported first to the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig, and then, in January 1945, to the Dachau (Bavaria) concentration camp. In the entry books and name listings of the Dachau concentration camp, Walter Hauptmann’s name does not appear. Concerning his date and place of death no details are available.

Walter Hauptmann’s parents, who until 1933, were registered in the Hamburg directory at the Eppendorf address Woldsenweg 6, apparently lived as sub-lessees from 1934 to 1937. In 1936, Arthur Hauptmann reported to the Jewish Congregation that he was without means. Only after the flight abroad of his older son, did Arthur Hauptmann again appear in the directory of 1938 with the entry, "Hauptmann, Arth., Rehhagen 13, Tel. 525852.” At this Hummelsbüttel address, his son was previously the main renter, with the occupational designation "trade representative” (1935) and "mineral oil trade representative” (1937), respectively. Two years later, the Jewish Congregation noted on the communal religion tax record for the 68 and 69 year old Hauptmann couple "no income and no assets.” Emigration was therefore possible only with massive financial support from the family sphere. In late November 1940, the penniless couple were dependent on the Jewish Congregation’s Winter Aid program. On 2 July 1941, the housing office assigned them to a little apartment at Bundestrasse 43 (Rotherbaum); the 56 residences there, built in 1890–1891 by the John R. Warburg Foundation, served as a "Jew house.”

On 15 July 1942, Arthur and Selma Hauptmann were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto and from there, on 21 September 1942, to the Treblinka extermination camp. Their exact date of death is not known. In February 2008, commemorative stones for them were placed in their former residence at Woldsenweg 6 (Eppendorf).

Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: September 2019
© Björn Eggert

Quellen: StaH 213-11 (Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen), 05142/38 (Walter Hauptmann); StaH 332-7 (Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht), A I e 40 Bd. 16 (Bürger-Register 1906-1910, Buchstabe A-H), Arthur Hauptmann; StaH 332-7 (Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht), B III 101 829 (Akte zu Arthur Hauptmann, 1909); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), 992b (Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg), Arthur Hauptmann, Gerhard Hauptmann, Walter Hauptmann; StaH 731-8 (Zeitungsausschnittsammlung), A 773 (Winbauer, Alois); Handelskammer Hamburg, Firmenarchiv (Walter Hauptmann, HR-Nr. A 36752); Die Ausbürgerung deutscher Staatsangehöriger, Band 1, S. 176 (Walter Hauptmann, Reichsanzeiger Nr. 136); Bundesarchiv Koblenz, Gedenkbuch, Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933–1945, Internet; Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburger jüdische Opfer, Seite 150; Memorial de la Shoah (Frankreich), Internet (Deportationsliste mit dem Namen von Walter Hauptmann); Gilbert, Endlösung, S. 188/189, 200; Bruhns, Geflohen, S. 53f.; Hipp, DuMont Kunst-Reiseführer, S. 188, 191; Skrentny (Hrsg.), Hamburg, S. 32; Hamburger Adressbuch 1900, 1904–1910, 1913, 1921, 1928, 1932–1935, 1937–1939; Hamburger Adressbuch (Straßenverzeichnis, Brahmsallee 18), 1938; Hamburger Fernsprechbuch 1931; Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1935, S. 345 (Walter Hauptmann); Informationen von Barbara Brix; wikipedia, Hamburger Anzeiger (eingesehen am 6.5.2014); (eingesehen am 7.10.2014, Aberkennung der Staatsbürgerschaft bei Gertrud Hauptmann geb. Winckler).

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