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© Yad Vashem
Paula Stoppelmann (née Delmonte) * 1896
Grindelberg 90 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
1939 Flucht Holland
Aron Adolf Stoppelmann, born on 28 May 1894 in Hamburg, deported in 1943 to Bergen-Belsen, died on 23 Apr. 1945 near Tröbitz
Paula Stoppelmann, née Delmonte, born on 20 Jan. 1896 in Altona, deported on 15 Feb. 1944 to Bergen-Belsen, died there on 6 Nov. 1945
Aron Adolf Stoppelmann attended the Hamburg Talmud Tora School in his youth. Between 1909 and 1912, he did an apprenticeship in the A. Katzenstein textile company, where he worked as a warehouse clerk and "city traveler” (sales representative in the city area) until 1914. In Feb. 1914, Aron received his own trade license. Between Oct. 1914 and Aug. 1919, he served in the military and fought on the eastern front in the First World War. Wounded twice during the war, he received two decorations, the Eastern Front Cross and the Honor Cross for Front-Line Veterans.
Paula Stoppelmann, née Delmonte, was the daughter of the textile dealer Johanna Delmonte. Probably her father’s name was John Delmonte. The Altona directories during this period noted him as residing at Königsstrasse 28, directly next to Johanna’s shop. The fact that Aron and Paula Stoppelmann named their son John also suggests this. Aron and Paula got married in 1920. Aron relocated to Altona after the wedding and moved in with the Delmontes. He became a partner and managing director in the store selling children’s clothing, which his mother-in-law ran at Königsstrasse 32. During his time in Altona, Aron also worked for the Jewish Community in an honorary capacity; for instance, he was at times a member of the property and assessment commissions.
On 21 Dec. 1921, Aron and Paula became parents to a son, John Hans. Daughter Vera was born on 5 Dec. 1924. In 1922, Aron became a partner in the Gabriel & Belzinger Company and in Apr. 1928, he joined the Wilhelm A. Rudermann trading company at Mönckebergstrasse 10 as a partner. He started his own business in 1932.
In the same year, the family relocated to Hamburg, moving into a modern five-room apartment at Bundesstrasse 38. In addition to his partnerships, in the 1920s and 1930s, Aron worked as a representative for various companies, including Max Neuber (1925–1936), B. Finkert & Co. (1933–1936), and for Karl Hensel (1936–1938). All of them were large textile companies in Hamburg and northern Germany. For these, he regularly visited some 250 department stores, in Hamburg, for example, Karstadt, the Alsterhaus, and the East India House. Aron usually received a commission of eight percent for the sales made during his time as an agent, but in some cases only six or three percent. His clients also financed the business trips he made in his own car. According to his son, Aron Stoppelmann probably earned between 12,000 and 16,000 RM (reichsmark) a year.
In 1936, almost all companies – as his son later stated – gave him notice for racial reasons. Karl Hensel was the only employer left to him, who wanted to appoint him as his representative in the Netherlands in 1938, but Aron Stoppelmann did not receive a work permit there.
In 1935, the Stoppelmann family moved into a six-room apartment featuring an elevator and heating in a new building on Grindelberg 90. As long as it was permitted by law, the Stoppelmanns also employed a non-Jewish maid and a nanny. Between 1933 and 1938, Paula’s mother Johanna also lived with them. In addition to the large apartments, other things pointed to the prosperity of the Stoppelmanns. They are said to have also owned a weekend cottage in the Altona area and made major trips abroad during their holidays on a regular basis, including to France, Denmark, and the Netherlands, where they always stayed in good hotels.
His son John attended the Jewish Oberrealschule [a secondary school without Latin] in Hamburg and his daughter Vera, who was deaf-mute due to an operation for inflammation of the middle ear in the first year of her life, first received lessons from a private teacher and then went to the deaf-mute school in Hamburg. John was very athletic and a member of the Jewish Schild sports club, where he engaged in gymnastics, swimming, football, handball, and hiking. He had his first experiences with Nazi persecution at an early age, and on his way to school, he was regularly beaten up by members of the Hitler Youth.
In Apr. 1938, the Stoppelmanns first sent their son John to the Netherlands, before the rest of the family finally turned their backs on Hamburg at the end of 1938 or beginning of 1939 to flee from the increasingly harsh repression of the Nazi regime. This emigration was already known beforehand, as it had been noted in the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card even several months earlier. John had obtained his high school diploma (Abitur) at the Talmud Tora School by passing an "emergency graduating exam” just in time. The Stoppelmanns were not the only emigrants. Between 1933 and 1937, about ten percent of Hamburg’s Jewish population emigrated annually, preferably to Palestine or Western European countries. In 1938, the annual share increased to 24 percent. If Aron still owned his shareholdings in the businesses at the time of emigration, he probably had to sell them by that time at the latest, forced to do so by Nazi law, which demanded this of all emigrants.
In the Netherlands, the family settled in The Hague. It is not known whether Aron was employed there again. His daughter Vera went to a home economics school for a year and then attended a deaf-mute school again. His son John started an apprenticeship as a car mechanic at "Internationale Automobiel Maatschappij,” but was unable to finish it. He probably left his family after the invasion of the German Wehrmacht in 1940. He later stated that he hid frequently and spent many nights outside his parents’ home. He was evacuated to Utrecht in 1941. He found a job with a farmer in North Holland and only corresponded with his parents. In mid-March 1942, he traveled to Amsterdam and lived there illegally for two and a half months before moving on to Brussels. There he is said to have obtained false identity papers to the name of Henry Schmidt and in July 1942 traveled to the unoccupied South of France. In Oct.1942, he fled to Switzerland, where he lived in various refugee camps. He later blamed himself greatly for having discouraged his parents from going to Brussels because in this way he might have been able to save them from deportation. Aron, Paula, and Vera had also left The Hague, lived in Utrecht from 1941 to 1942, and then moved to Amsterdam, where they lived at Rapenburgerstrasse 90. Daniel and Röschen Leers were also registered as residing at the same address. Maybe they belonged to the family of Aron, because he had distant relatives with this last name. It is also known for this period that Aron worked as a shoemaker.
The exact paths of the remaining three family members are difficult to retrace. Aron, Paula, and their daughter Vera were probably detained on 25 Mar. 1943 in the ’s-Hertogenbosch concentration camp near Vught, which had only been set up at the beginning of that year. It served above all as a "transit camp.” Many inmates were taken further to Westerbork, which was also a "transit camp.” These included the Stoppelmanns, on 17 Sept. 1943. In Westerbork, Aron worked for the Jewish Council (Judenrat), again as a shoemaker. From there, many prisoners were transferred to concentration camps in Germany or Eastern Europe. Aron, Paula, and Vera as well as 770 other people were deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on 15 February. As in ’s-Hertogenbosch and Westerbork, Paula Stoppelmann had to perform forced labor in Bergen-Belsen as well. There she fell ill with typhoid fever.
On 6 Nov. 1944, Paula Stoppelmann perished in Bergen-Belsen from circulatory weakness. The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was also designed from the outset for so-called "exchange Jews.” These were prisoners who were considered important enough to be exchanged for Reich Germans who had been arrested abroad, or to be released in exchange for payment of foreign currency. Jews who had contacts or relatives abroad could also belong to this group. Thus, they were practically Jewish hostages. Between 6 and 10 Apr. 1945, three trains with a total of about 6,700 "exchange Jews” had left the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They were probably meant to go to Theresienstadt (today Terezin in the Czech Republic). However, only one of the trains arrived there on 21 April. A second one had already been liberated by the American armed forces at Farsleben on 13 April. The third one went on an odyssey for days and finally went down in history as the "lost train.” It took until 23 April before the Red Army liberated it at Tröbitz, a town in southern Brandenburg. Aron Stoppelmann was also on this train. He had apparently been considered privileged enough to serve as an "exchange Jew.” Aron Stoppelmann did not survive the hardships and the epidemics. According to his daughter Vera, he died on 23 Apr. 1945 in Tröbitz. Vera survived, but according to her own information, she had to witness the death of her father, which later caused her to suffer from health problems.
After the war, Vera first returned to Amsterdam, where she was treated in a hospital. She then completed an apprenticeship in the Netherlands in the fields of home economics and agriculture. In 1947, she left the Netherlands and emigrated to Palestine, where she settled in Jerusalem. There she first attended the deaf-mute school until 1948. Due to her traumatic experiences, she did not feel able to fulfill her father’s career wish for her, to become a dental technician. Instead, she learned the trade of a tailor at the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO). After her training, she worked in a baby nursery in Jerusalem. On 12 Apr. 1954, she married Schmuel Grinbaum, who worked in a laundry service station. Born in 1907, he was a widower and the father of two sons. Vera gave up her job in the same year. The reason for this was her physical and above all psychological ailments as a result of her experiences during the Nazi era. She had been diagnosed with "experience-reactive personality change with mental and psychosomatic disorders.” With her husband Schmuel, she had a daughter, but the marriage was not happy and the contact with her daughter was strained by Vera’s psychological disorders.
Vera’s brother John had already emigrated to Palestine in 1945. He initially lived in a kibbutz for some time and trained as a tractor driver and fitter. In 1950, he married Gisela Bienenstock, whom he had already met in the Netherlands. In the same year, their son Michael was born. From 1953 onward, John worked as an employee in the office of a Jerusalem vocational school. Like his sister, John also had to struggle with physical and psychological problems. Already from 1948, he experienced disorders. In 1952, he suffered a "reactive anxiety neurosis with depressive strains and accompanying neuro-vegetative disorders” during a trip to Europe, which led him to Holland, among other places. While his son Michael later studied Arabic and political science, John had to give up his profession in 1970 for health reasons. However, he invested a lot of energy taking care of his sister.
John Stoppelmann died on 25 June 1980 in Jerusalem. The further life of his sister Vera is not known.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Fabian Boehlke
Quellen: Archief Amsterdam A01232_0787_0049, Einwohnermeldekartei von Amsterdam, Aron Stoppelmann; StaH 351-11_700, Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Victor Leers; StaH 351-11_16714, Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Aron Adolf Stoppelmann; StaH 351-11_18580, Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Paula Stoppelmann; StaH 351-11_44850, Amt für Wiedergutmachung, John Stoppelmann; StaH 351-11_46474, Amt für Wiedergutmachung, Vera Grinbaum; StaH 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, Kultussteuerkarte Nr. 5647, Aron Adolf Stoppelmann; Altonaer Adressbücher; Hamburger Adressbücher, E-Mail von José Martin, Mitarbeiterin Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork, vom 26.4.2016; Yad Vashem – List of persecuted persons: Aron Stoppelmann, online: http://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html? language=en&s_lastName=stoppelmann&s_firstName=aron&s_place=&itemId=6766005&ind=0&wi nId=–5722382450274504230 (letzter Aufruf: 17.4.2016); Hájková: Das polizeiliche Durchgangslager, S.217–248; Meyer: Die Verfolgung, S. 15–24; de Vries: Das Konzentrationslager, S. 197–216; Rahe: Bergen-Belsen, S. 187–217.