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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Karl und Louise Müller mit ihren Kindern, um 1915
© Privatbesitz

Louise Rebecca Müller (née Hauer) * 1872

Cäcilienstraße 6 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

1942 Theresienstadt
1944 Auschwitz ermordet

further stumbling stones in Cäcilienstraße 6:
Karl Joseph (Carl Josef) Müller

Karl Joseph Müller, born on 19 Jan. 1865 in Hamburg, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died there on 29 Oct. 1942
Louise Rebecca Franziska Müller, née Hauer, born on 12 Feb. 1872 in Hamburg, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, murdered after 15 May 1944 in Auschwitz

Karl Müller was born in Hamburg-Altstadt. His well-to-do Jewish parents Abraham Müller (1832–1896), a citizen of the Hanseatic city since 1869, and Henriette "Jette,” née Burchard (born in 1832 in Neubuckow/Mecklenburg), owned a cigar factory at Spielbudenplatz 5 in St. Pauli. When Karl Müller was ten years old, the business, in addition to the factory and warehouse (by then at Speersort 11 in Hamburg-Altstadt), also included a branch in Altona-Ottensen at Am Felde 68. At that time, the family lived at Pferdemarkt 13 (Hamburg-Altstadt).

After attending the Israelitische Stiftungsschule von 1815, an endowment school, on Zeughausmarkt, Karl Müller completed a three-year apprenticeship as a lithographer. From 1886 until 1888, this was followed by training at the Royal Saxon College of Applied Arts in Dresden with the historical and ornamental painter Donadini, and subsequently with Professor Hanke from the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin.

Karl Müller’s style of painting was conventional-rationalist and not oriented toward modern trends. The year 1891 saw several oil paintings take shape, "Vorbereitung zum Dienst,” "In der Wachstube,” "Zapfenstreich,” "Turnstunde,” "Schleichpatrouille,” and "Rückkehr von der Felddienstübung,” whose central motifs were almost always soldiers. In 1893, he painted "Einmarsch der 76er” [depicting a military unit marching in] as a landscape format in black and white; the painting was purchased in 1930 by the Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte (Museum of Hamburg History). Karl Müller’s convictions at this time could be classified as "loyal to the Kaiser” and "national” (Maike Bruhns) – it was no coincidence that due his motifs he earned the nickname of "soldiers’ Müller” ("Soldatenmüller”). Even before the turn of the century, he successfully participated in exhibitions in Berlin and Hamburg.

Even at this time, the frequent changes of residence are striking: in 1893, Papendamm 25 (Rotherbaum); in 1896, Bundesstrasse 9 (Rotherbaum). In 1898, he was listed in the Hamburg directory as a "genre and portrait painter” residing at 1st Durchschnitt 43 (Rotherbaum).

In 1903, at the age of 38, Karl married the Jewish woman Louise Hauer, called "Lieschen,” in Hamburg. Before getting married, she lived with her mother at Grindelberg 78. Her father, Martin Hauer (1836–1897), also born in Hamburg and a citizen of the city since 1862, owned a plant producing soap and perfume. In 1904 and 1911, the two daughters Karla and Lotte were born.

In 1904 – the family resided at Bogenstrasse 20 in those days – Karl Müller painted as a commissioned work a portrait of the emigrated resident of Hamburg Henry Jones for the opening of the Masonic lodge by the same name at Hartungstrasse 9–11. At this time, he was probably already a member of the Hamburg Artists’ Association of 1832 (Hamburger Künstlerverein von 1832).

Using the phone directories one can reconstruct further changes of residence from 1908 onward: almost on a yearly basis, the family relocated, moving from the Grindel quarter via Hoheluft-Ost to Harvestehude and to Winterhude. In about 1912, they moved into an apartment at Sierichstrasse 156. There, the landlord by the name of Schröder had initially made available to the artist a space measuring 45 square meters (approx. 485 square feet) on the drying loft to use as a studio. However, the building inspectorate found fault with this type of use and after some squabbles, the painter had to relocate his family and studio once again. From 1914 until 1918, the official phone directory indicates as the address Klosterallee 20 (Harvestehude).

In his 1912 artists’ encyclopedia, Friedrich Jansa described Karl Müller’s altered selection of motifs: He "did watercolors in recent years of many items in the environs of Hamburg, now picking his motifs mainly from everyday life at Hamburg’s harbor. His works are exclusively in private ownership.” The paintings that took shape were landscapes, portraits, harbor scenes, and the life of the people. For reasons of advanced age, Karl Müller did not participate in World War I.

After 1918, public interest in Müller’s soldiers’ paintings disappeared. In 1951, the art dealer Karl Heumann recalled in a letter to his [Müller’s] daughter forwarded to the Restitution Office (Amt für Wiedergutmachung) the following: "I met your father after the First World War when I was managing director of the Krone Art Salon. Your father was a frequent visitor there and the inventory of the company included a number of his paintings. I think I remember that they were only soldiers’ images, maneuver scenes, bivouac settings, etc., that I saw there for the first time. However, with the war lost, the fondness for such paintings was gone as well.” In 1919, he created the naturalist painting entitled "Alte Fahrensleute” or "Lotsenzimmer,” respectively, which the Museum of Hamburg History purchased in 1964.

According to the phone directory, from July 1919 until 1932, the family of four lived at Bieberstrasse 9 on the second floor (Rotherbaum). Because of the inflation of 1923, the family lost its entire savings. The financial situation deteriorated even further after the economic crisis of 1929. For the years 1929 until 1933, no payments were recorded in the dues column of Karl Müller’s Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card of the Jewish Community. Relatives supported the family who lived in very straitened financial circumstances. The younger, unmarried daughter Lotte was dismissed from the Berlin State Theater for "racial” reasons in 1933.

Established by law in Sept. 1933, the "Reich Chamber of Culture” ("Reichskulturkammer”) with its seven separate chambers was an obligatory organization for artists, but it made membership dependent on an "Aryan certificate” ("Ariernachweis”). Non-membership de facto meant an occupational and publication ban for the artist. Nevertheless, in its evening edition of 6 Jan. 1934, the Hamburger Fremdenblatt published a page of soldiers’ paintings by Karl Müller, whose popular military depictions now corresponded to contemporary taste once more. However, the paper had failed to notice that for "racial” reasons it was no longer permitted to publish the painter.

For a short time, Karl and Louise Müller moved into an apartment at Schwenckestrasse 54 on the fourth floor (Eimsbüttel). From 1933 until 1937, a telephone connection was entered for Cäcilienstrasse 6 on the ground floor (Winterhude), with a note indicating "painter.” In order to get suitable premises for painting, in the summer of 1933 Karl Müller built in the backyard a simple wooden shack whose roof extended just up to the windowsill of the Müllers’ ground-floor apartment. Since Karl Müller was a welfare recipient and had barely any income of his own by then, the permit fee of 10 RM (reichsmark) due for this was waived. In Oct. 1937, the couple moved to Gryphiusstrasse 7 in Winterhude. At that time, Karl Müller became involved in the "Jewish Cultural Federation Hamburg” ("Jüdischer Kulturbund Hamburg”). The last residence in Hamburg was an apartment in the Martin-Brunn-Stift at Frickestrasse 24 in Eppendorf, which as a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) had to serve as an assembly quarter for deportees.

The art dealer Heumann later reported to the Restitution Office that he had visited Karl Müller on Frickestrasse "after I had received a letter from him in which he asked me to help with the shipment of a larger number of sketches and paintings abroad. At the time (and again today), a law was in effect according to which paintings that would constitute an irreplaceable loss for the German national cultural heritage were not allowed to be exported just like that, no matter whether they were from a Jewish or Aryan collection. If I recall correctly after so many years, he intended to send the pictures to Japan. I suspect that the shipping company alerted him to this legal regulation. As far as I remember, I did eventually prepare for him a written confirmation that there would be no reservations at all against exporting his paintings. (…) I do not know whether the shipping of the paintings abroad was carried out (…).”

The Müller couple was deported from Frickestrasse 24 on "Transport VI/1” to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 15 July 1942. They arrived there on 19 July 1942. According to the death notice, Karl Müller died of "cardiac insufficiency” in the "central infirmary, room 9” ("Zentralkrankenstuben Zimmer 9”) on 20 Oct. 1942. The Rump Artists’ Encyclopedia indicates that he starved to death in Theresienstadt.

Louise Müller was deported further from the Theresienstadt Ghetto to the Auschwitz extermination camp on 15 May 1944; the exact date of her death is not known. For calculation of the restitution claims, the court determined her date of death to be 8 May 1945.

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: October 2017
© Björn Eggert

Quellen: 1; 3; 4; 8; AfW 040211; StaHH 741-4, Alte Einwohnermeldekartei 1892-1925; Bezirksamt Hamburg-Nord, Bauamt/Bauprüfabteilung, Akten Cäcilienstr. 4–16, Gryphiusstr. 7, Sierichstr.156/158, Sierichstr. 160/162; Amtliche Fernsprechbücher Hamburg 1908–1937; Friedrich von Boetticher, Malerwerke des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, Bd. 2, Dresden 1898; Jörgen Bracker, Karsten Prange (Hrsg), Alster, Elbe und die See. Hamburger Schiffahrt und Hafen in Gemälden, Zeichnungen und Aquarelle des Museums für Hamburgische Geschichte, Hamburg 1981; Friedrich Jansa, Deutsche Bildende Künstler in Wort und Bild, Leipzig 1912; Kay Rump (Hrsg.), Der neue Rump - Lexikon der bildenden Künstler Hamburgs, Altonas und der näheren Umgebung, Überarbeitete Neuauflage des Lexikons von Ernst Rump (1912), Neumünster 2005; AB 1866, 1896, 1898, 1904, 1920, 1922; Maike Bruhns, Kunst in der Krise, Band 2, Künstlerlexikon Hamburg 1933–1945, Hamburg 2001; Wilhelm Mosel, Wegweiser zu ehemaligen jüdischen Stätten in Hamburg, Heft 1, Hamburg 1983, S. 15–20; Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte, E-Mail vom 21.12.2007, Auflistung der drei im Museumsbestand vorhandenen Bilder von Karl Müller.
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