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Recha Nathan * 1887

Brahmsallee 16 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)

1941 Lodz
ermordet 08.02.1942

further stumbling stones in Brahmsallee 16:
Charlotte Bravo, Ruth Isaak, Hanna Isaak, Michael Isaak, Pauline Isaak, Daniel Isaak, Betty Jacobson, Helene Rabi, Max Warisch

Recha Nathan, born 21 Jan. 1887 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz where she died on 7 or 8 Feb. 1942

Brahmsallee 16

Recha Nathan lived in Hamburg with her older sister Martha, born on 18 Oct. 1884, at Hoheluftchaussee 115, later at Wrangelstraße 27. Neither of them were married. The two sisters’ parents, the butcher Anton Nathan, born on 29 June 1860, and Bianca, née Michelsen, lived on Parkallee and were members of the Jewish community. In 1935 Anton Nathan left the community by "moving to an unknown place”. He was registered in Wiesbaden and died on 1 Aug. 1939 in Frankfurt on the Main (notification by Beate Meyer to the Federal Archive’s resident list).

Their daughter Martha became a teacher as of 1 Apr. 1906, working for Hamburg’s elementary school system, and from 1909 she had a permanent position in the school at Altonaer Straße 58 and from 1923 in the school at Laeisz Straße 12 until she, as a Jew, was banned from working in her profession early in 1933. Recha Nathan is also noted on her religious tax card as being a teacher. However she does not appear in Hamburg’s teacher registry. According to information from her sister Martha, she became sick in 1928 and was unable to work. As of 1933 the two of them had no income whatsoever and must have barely gotten by. Martha passed away in 1936. Recha received welfare support from the Jewish community. She moved to Brahmsallee 16 where she sublet a room. The Isaak Family had lived there for years. The 1940 address book listed three more single Jewish women living at that address. Unlike the other Jewish residents of the large house, Recha Nathan received a summons to report to Moorweidenstraße 36 on 24 Oct. 1941 for resettlement. It remains inexplicable why hers of all names got onto the list of 1,034 people to be transported out of Hamburg in the first mass deportation. Each person was allowed to take 100 Reich Marks, a 50-kilo suitcase, bedding, a blanket and food provisions for several days. The collection point was the former provincial lodge for Lower Saxony. The arrivals were registered in the lodge’s air raid shelter. After their luggage was inspected, they received a stamp in their identification documents. The religious association had set up bunk beds for the night. Helpers from the community gave the travelers food and looked after their medical needs. The helpers later reported how brutally the Gestapo officers treated the people who were to be re-settled.

On the morning of 26 Oct. 1941, the train departed from Hannoverschen Train Station and arrived the next day at Radegast Train Station in Lodz after passing through Lüneburg, Stendal, Berlin, Bentschen, Posen, and Kutno. As they disembarked, the deportees nearly sank into the mud of the drab autumn landscape. That alone robbed them of hope for a tolerable future. Lodz, the second-largest city of the former Poland with its 700,000 residents, was located in "Reichsland Wartegau”, annexed by the Germans. Arthur Greiser, the appointed Reich Governor and Region Head, pursued an ambitious plan to create a "Germanic model country”. All Jews of the city – over 30 percent of the population – were forced to move out of their houses, some very elegant, and move into the decaying Baluty quarter in need of modernization. On 20 Apr. 1940, that quarter was walled off as a ghetto, and inside the walls a factory was set up to make products necessary for war. The Jewish self-administration was responsible for assigning work as well as all other administrative aspects of the ghetto. Chaim Rumkowski was appointed the Eldest of the Jewish Council. He had the difficult task of rigorously managing a shortage of resources. Into the already overcrowded ghetto flowed an additional 23,000 Jews from various cities in the "old Reich”. For the local Polish Jews, who themselves were so terribly discriminated against, "the Germans” were strangers. And now the city’s name was even changed to a new German one. As of May 1940, Lodz was officially called "Litzmannstadt” after the German General Litzmann who had captured Lodz during World War I. The German Jewish arrivals felt especially foreign there. First they had to spend the night on the bare floor of a closed school house until the ghetto authority assigned them to primitive apartments that had no running water or heating. Recha Nathan was assigned a place to live at U-Straße 2. She was not assigned work. Since she had already been sickly before, she will not have had much life left in her following the ordeal of the transport and with the inhospitable accommodation. The caloric content of their rations was below the minimum required for survival, for instance the daily ration of bread was once reduced from 33 grams to 28 grams. Added to that was the poor hygiene. Many people died of starvation, frailty and epidemics. Yet those were not the only kinds of death threatening the Jews of "Litzmannstadt”. They had to fear further deportation. Reich Governor Greiser won sad fame among National Socialists for having gotten the gas trucks going in the nearby village of Chelmno (Kulmhof) which killed 9,035 Jews. A "resettlement commission” set up by the Jewish Council selected the people who were to be deported. The first wave of extermination lasted from 16 to 29 Jan. 1942, the second from 22 Feb. to 2 Apr. 1942. A multitude of pleas for deferment were usually ignored. Recha Nathan did not write such a plea. Her heart could no longer endure the misery. She died between the two killing operations on 2 Feb. 1942 in the infirmary of "myocarditis”, congestive heart failure.

Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: September 2019
© Inge Grolle

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; Gottwald/Schulle, "Judendeportationen", S. 76; Meyer (Hrsg.), Verfolgung, S. 58f.; Bundesarchiv Gedenkbuch; Peter Landé, Lodz Hospital, der Hamburger Gesellschaft für jüdische Genealogie zur Verfügung gestellt, 2009, USHMM Washington, bearbeitet von Margot Löhr; Löw, Juden; Eichengreen, Von Asche zum Leben.
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