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Max Fränkel * 1910

Schloßstraße 108 a (Wandsbek, Marienthal)

1941 Riga

further stumbling stones in Schloßstraße 108 a:
Ida Fränkel

Ida Fränkel, née Ehrlich, born 12 May 1878, deported 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga
Max Fränkel, born 23 June 1919, imprisoned 1938-39 in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, deported 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga

Formerly Schloßstraße 2c

Jacob Fränkel was a retail clothing salesman and, like many other members of the Wandsbek Jewish Community, had moved to Wandsbek from a rural area. In 1903 he took over the Behr Bros. company, a men’s clothing and shoe store at Lübeckerstraße 54 (Wandsbeker Marktstraße 165)

He was originally from Obbach in Franconia, where he was born on 5 January 1974. His parents were Moses Fränkel and his wife Babette, née Adler. He married Ida Babette Ehrlich on 12 May 1878. She was born in Bamberg. The couple had three children, all of whom were born, raised, and went to school in Wandsbek. Their daughters Martha and Hertha were born in 1905 and 1906, their son Max on 23 June 1910. The family lived at Freesenstraße 10, then at Schillerstraße 2. They later moved to Schloßstraße 2c. While Jacob Fränkel was away at war, beginning in 1915, his wife Ida ran the store.

Jacob Fränkel was the vice-chair of the Wandsbek Jewish Community in 1910, and was a member of the Israelitic Brotherly Relief Organization. It supported needy members of the Community with free medical treatment and medications. Fränkel was also a synagogue official in the 1930s, after many the members of the Community had emigrated or moved to Hamburg. A small circle of active members remained in Wandsbek, who took turns with various duties.

In 1927, Martha Fränkel married Josef Beith, the son of the real estate agent and Community chairman Benny Beith. The marriage not only bound the families closer together, it contributed to a more family-like atmosphere in the Community administration (see chapter: Beith). The Fränkel’s daughter Hertha married in 1931. She did not remain in Wandsbek like her sister, however, but moved to Tilsit in East Prussia with her husband. She had worked in her parent’s store until her marriage. Her brother Max took over her position when she left.

The coming to power of the National Socialists put a large strain on the conditions of life in Wandsbek. The Behr Bros. clothing store was a victim of the April 1933 boycott – this was the beginning of the end for the well-situated company, as Jacob Fränkel wrote in letters to his daughter Hertha.

Hertha Winster, née Fränkel, was the only member of the family who survived. She, her husband Leo and their two daughters were able to emigrate to Shanghai and later to the US. She described the persecution her parents and siblings experienced in Wandsbek in an affidavit for the Office of Restitution: "My father had a prosperous and respected store for men’s clothing, workwear, caps and such, and shoes for men, women and children. The shop had two store windows and good furnishings, and had three employees before 1933. I was responsible for doing inventory and the annual accounts. As I recall the annual profits were at least 12,000 Marks.”

In the mid-1930s, the store and the name of the owner were printed on an anti-Semitic propaganda flyer that was distributed by the Wandsbek chapter of the Nazi Party and the local administration in order to discourage "Aryan” customers and alienate Jewish shop-owners. Fränkel’s situation became increasingly worse, even though he was able to keep the store.

But in November 1938 things became threatening. Fränkel and his son Max were arrested in the wake of the pogrom – like countless Jewish men – and sent to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. There they were registered as political prisoners, photographed and assigned to prisoners’ blocks. Max Fränkel spent his time in Sachsenhausen in Block 20; his father in Block 60. Jacob Fränkel remained in the camp until 6 December 1938, and his son until 11 January 1939. Both were returned to Hamburg when they were released.

Max Fränkel remained under Gestapo observation after his release, and he was apparently strongly urged to leave the country – a common procedure, especially with wealthy Jews. On 14 January 1939, the Wandsbek tax office informed the notorious Gestapo headquarters at Stadthausbrücke that Max Fränkel was employed at the Behr company. He planned to leave the country for Peru. He had not submitted a declaration of assets, and there were no fees due. This could only mean that Max Fränkel had no assets to declare. When he tried to cash in his life insurance at the Foreign Exchange Office, however, they intervened and called him to their offices. Max Fränkel did not emigrate – whether his plans failed for financial reasons or because of other circumstances is unknown.

Of the approximately 2200 Reichsmarks that Max Fränkel declared, about 1700 RM was a loan that he was to receive from the Behr Bros. company. The record states: "Since the company was being liquidated, however, it is unknown whether he received the money or not.” Without the loan, his assets would have been reduced to 500 RM.

In January 1939, Hertha Winster came from East Prussia to visit her family in Wandsbek. Her father’s shop, which he had run for 35 years, had been forced to close down. According to Hertha, two civil servants were in charge of selling off the inventory. Each of them were to receive 1,400 RM. By March 1939 everything had been sold and the company was liquidated. "My father complained that everything had been sold at half its value. I don’t know how much the final sum was, after all debts and outstanding accounts had been paid, but I know my father never received the money. I also don’t know if special fees were paid from the money,” wrote Hertha Winster later.

It can be assumed that the Fränkel family was forced to pay the considerable duties that were imposed on members of the Jewish population.

In 1939 they were also forced to hand over all of the family jewelry and silver objects used for religious ceremonies. The formerly well-to-do family drifted further into poverty, and had to give up the apartment on Schloßstraße for a smaller one in Hamburg’s Grindelviertel. They moved to Heinrich-Barth-Straße 17 on 24 July 1939. They were forced to leave many of their valuable furnishings, an estimated value of 5000 RM, behind.

In April 1940, Jacob Fränkel also tried to cash in his life insurance with the Foreign Currency Office. A security order on his accounts was issued immediately. He thus had access to only a very small amount of cash. But as a formerly successful Jewish businessman, he was suspected of smuggling money out of the country. He requested that he be allowed the sum of 80 RM for his family’s living expenses plus 55 RM rent per month. The Fränkels never submitted a declaration of assets. In May 1940 the couple declared "We have no income.”

The farewells began in August 1939. Hertha Winster and her family emigrated on 25 August, just a few days before the outbreak of the war. Jacob Fränkel died on 25 April 1941. Six months later to the day, Martha Beith, her husband and three children, who had lived next door to her parents at Heinrich-Barth-Straße 11, were deported to the Lodz Ghetto, and then murdered at the Chelmno Extermination Camp (see chapter: Beith).

Ida and Max Fränkel boarded the deportation transport on 6 December 1941. All traces of them are lost in the Riga-Jungfernhof Ghetto. Shortly thereafter, all of the family’s assets were confiscated.

Ida Fränkel’s date of death was declared as 8 May 1945. None of her children or grandchildren who were deported survived. Only her daughter Hertha, who was able to flee the country just in time, remained to tell the story of the family’s life in Wandsbek.

The Stolpersteine at Schloßstraße 108a are in front of a house that stood at the time the Fränkel family lived on the street. The building was neither destroyed by bombs, nor radically changed by renovations – a rarity in Wandsbek.

Translator: Amy Lee

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Astrid Louven

Quellen: 1; 2 R 1939/353, R 1940/750; AfW 120578; AB 1913 VI, 1920 VI, 1924 II, 1931 II, 1941 II; Archiv der Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen D 1 A/1020, Bl. 469; D 1 A/1022, Bl. 515 und Bl. 700; D 1 A/1024, Bl. 019; Archiv der Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen, Auskunft von Monika Liebscher am 12.7.2007 und 13.9.2007; Landesbetrieb Geoinformation und Vermessung, Auskunft Frau Wolckenhauer vom 10.09.07; Frank Bajohr, "Arisierung", S. 311ff; Astrid Louven, Juden, S. 34, 134, 201; Günter Morsch, Organisations- und Verwaltungsstruktur, in: Ort, hrsg. von Wolfgang Benz und Barbara Distel, S. 58–75, hier: S. 65f; Jahrbuch 1931/32 Nr. 3, S. 75.

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