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Leonhard Weinberg * 1893
Grindelberg 90 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Leonhard Siegfried Weinberg, born on 10 Apr. 1893 in Hamburg, probably murdered between 2 and 5 June 1942 in the euthanasia killing center in Bernburg/Saale
Leonhard Siegfried Weinberg was born in the Grindel quarter. His parents were the Jewish merchant Siegfried Weinberg and his wife Henny, née Gans, who lived in an apartment in the house at Rutschbahn 17 at that time. Leonhard’s older sister, Ilse Helene, had already been born three years earlier. In the years before Siegfried’s marriage in 1889, he lived and worked as an agent on Grossneumarkt in his own company, named after him and in existence since 1881. This was also the location of the parents’ company, L.S. Weinberg Wwe., an agency for lottery, investment funds, and exchange transactions, which was managed until 1900 by Samuel Joseph Levy, the second husband of Fanny Levy (née Horwitz, widowed name Weinberg), Siegfried’s mother. The marriage of the two in 1869 remained childless and in his will, he bequeathed his property not only to his wife but also to their three children from her first marriage with the merchant Levy Simon Weinberg. After Levy’s death in 1898, Leonhard’s father inherited not only the considerable sum of 25,000 M (marks), but also the lottery business of his stepfather. Until the beginning of the First World War, Siegfried’s companies were housed door-to-door in two buildings numbered 73 and 75 on Grosse Reichenstrasse. He then rented business premises on Königstrasse, today Poststrasse, between Hohe and Grosse Bleichen in Hamburg-Neustadt.
Since 1899, the family lived in an apartment at Klosterallee 13 between Hallerstrasse and Hansastrasse, a part of the street that today is covered by the Grindel high-rise buildings. There is no reliable information available on Leonhard Weinberg’s youth and education, but he is very likely to have completed a commercial apprenticeship in his parents’ business. He participated in the First World War as a soldier, but apparently without having fought at the front. His superior, Captain Edmund Graffunder of the 48th Infantry Regiment, gave him a portrait photo in uniform on the day of the armistice and thanked him in the dedication for "faithful and successful cooperation.” After the end of the war, demobilization, and his return to his hometown, Leonhard worked for and supported his father for a short time after his mother Henny died in 1919. Siegfried Weinberg continued to operate two companies even after the end of the war. In his trading business, he sold spirits, sugar, Swiss chocolate, condensed milk, and cement, among other things.
Leonhard started a business of his own in Apr. 1920 as an insurance broker, but continued to share the business premises with his father in the "Ottoburg” office building on Königstrasse. As an insurance broker, he primarily brokered transport insurance for sea and inland waterway vessels. Despite the currency and economic crises that the Weimar Republic experienced in its early years, he managed to build up a solid living, which was reflected in his Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) payments and occasional donations to the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community. In 1923, he left his parents’ home on Klosterallee and bought shares in Isehaus GmbH, a housing company that managed the building at Grindelberg 90 directly on the intersection of Isestrasse and Grindelberg. He moved to the second floor, into a 74-square-meter (close to 800 sq ft) apartment with 4.5 rooms, kitchen, bathroom, separate toilet, pantry, and a broom closet. On 18 August of that year, he married the non-Jewish woman Anita Wilhelmine Flebbe, born on 24 Mar. 1897. However, the union lasted only three years and was divorced on 28 Aug. 1926. Leonhard’s sister Ilse Helene died in 1931. In 1933, Leonhard Weinberg relocated his business to the Kontorhaus quarter (the business building quarter) of Hamburg’s historic downtown. For two years, it was located in Haus Hubertus at Burchardstrasse 24. In 1935, he moved his business premises to his apartment on Grindelberg.
On 10 Nov. 1938, Leonhard Weinberg was arrested in the course of the November Pogrom, detained in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, and transferred the following day to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Oranienburg. Quartered in prisoner block 18 and numbered 8,398, he was held until 23 December and then released on the orders of the political department within the camp administration. Leonhard Weinberg had to pay a "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”) of 4,500 RM (reichsmark). For many Jews from Hamburg and the entire German Reich, fleeing abroad was the only logical consequence of the events taking place during the November Pogrom and the ever-increasing discrimination. For Leonhard Weinberg, however, this option did not seem to be a prospect despite the availability of funds and the sustained stable income from insurance policies that had been in place for years. One reason for this might have been his father, who had continued his trading business at different addresses until 1937 and finally moved to the Jewish retirement home on Sedanstrasse shortly before his seventy-eighth birthday. He died there on 26 Mar. 1940. Prior to this, Siegfried Weinberg had been ordered by the District Court (Amtsgericht) on 3 Feb. 1939 to have his L.S. Weinberg Wwe. Company, still registered in the company register, deleted. He responded promptly and without objection, but noted in his reply that he could not pay the fees because he was completely destitute.
Exactly one month after the death of his father, in Apr. 1940, Leonhard Weinberg and three other Jewish occupants or part owners, respectively, of the house at Grindelberg 90 – Minnie Ascher as well as Richard and Josef Meier – received a letter from the Administration Office for Commerce, Shipping, and Industry (Verwaltung für Handel, Schiffahrt und Gewerbe) in Hamburg, in which they were ordered to sell their shares in Isehaus GmbH by the end of the following month, referring to Sec. 1 and 2 of the "Ordinance on the Use of Jewish Assets" ("Verordnung zum Einsatz jüdischen Vermögens”) dated 3 Dec. 1938. The persons concerned lodged a complaint via the Jewish "legal adviser” (Rechtskonsulent), Alexander Bachur, since Isehaus GmbH was not a profit-oriented business, but served solely and exclusively the purpose of maintaining the property and enabled the shareholders to live rent-free through their contributions. In addition, they pointed out that it was not a Jewish business along the lines of the ordinance, since none of the aforementioned was active in management. Leonhard Weinberg had already resigned in Sept. 1938. At the time of the complaint, the Jewish residents owned only 25 percent of the capital stock overall. Following a review, the complaint was allowed.
As early as July 1940, Leonhard Weinberg once again came under the scrutiny of the authorities. This time the goal was the "de-Jewification” ("Entjudung”) of his company. The letter drawn up in the name of the Reich Governor (Reichsstatthalter) in Hamburg again referred to Sec. 1 of the "Ordinance on the Use of Jewish Assets" dated 3 Dec. 1938 and ordered Weinberg to give up his business and to wind it up by the end of September. On 14 August, Leonhard Weinberg lodged another complaint via the "legal adviser” Bachur. In it, Bachur demanded that the case be re-examined in detail and that the ruling be withdrawn. He argued that Weinberg belonged to a family of merchants who had lived in Hamburg for several generations and that he was the owner of the Honor Cross of Front-Line Veterans. Attached to the complaint were numerous photocopies: the civic oaths of his father and grandfather, the portrait of his superior from the war together with a dedication, a letter of recommendation from the director of Hamburger Allgemeine Versicherungs AG, Henry J. Duve, in which he certified Leonhard Weinberg to be an expert in the field of transport insurance and to have always worked in an exemplary way and without complaints in all matters, as well as a certificate of the district and chief air-raid protection physician Moltrecht from Eppendorf, from which emerged that Weinberg suffered from a severe metabolic disease, heart weakness, kidney stones, hearing loss, and "considerable nervous disorders.” This time the complaint was rejected by the Reich Minister of Economics.
On 26 Aug. 1940, Leonhard Weinberg received a letter from the Insurance Representatives and Insurance Brokers Occupational Group of the Berlin Economic Group for the Brokering Trade (Fachgruppe Versicherungsvertreter und Versicherungsmakler in der Wirtschaftsgruppe Vermittlergewerbe Berlin). It called on him to surrender his membership card immediately. The justification was, "After we have established your non-Aryan status, we must inform you that we have to withdraw from you the identity card for 1940 already issued by mistake.” This was preceded by a statement from the Nordmark District Group indicating that Weinberg did not include the first name of "Israel” in the company name as was prescribed since Jan. 1939. Weinberg refused and pointed out that his business was registered under this name in the company register and that, according to Sec. 3, Par. 2 of the Second Decree regarding the Implementation of the Legislation on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names [2. Verordnung zur Durchführung des Gesetzes über die Änderung von Familien- und Vornamen] dated 17 Aug. 1938, he was not obliged to disclose it in commercial transactions. Further measures on the part of the Occupational Group have not been documented.
However, his complaint regarding the liquidation of his company was less successful. On 30 Sept. 1940, Alexander Bachur requested that at least the deadline for liquidation be extended to 30 June 1941 and that the appointment of a trustee be waived. The Administration Office for Commerce, Shipping, and Industry then immediately appointed the insurance broker Fritz Plickert to review the circumstances in the Weinberg Company, which meant that he was to be granted unrestricted access to the business files and information at all times. After an in-depth investigation by Plickert, Bachur’s application was not granted and the liquidation was ordered by 31 Dec. 1940. As an "alternative,” Weinberg was offered the sale of his business to an "Aryan” company.
Leonhard Weinberg decided to sell his business to Henry Rughase, an insurance broker from Hamburg-Bergstedt, and submitted the contract for approval to the Administration Office for Commerce, Shipping, and Industry. Permission was denied and Leonhard Weinberg was ordered in January to sell his business to Wilhelm Paschen. At the same time, the former auditor Plickert was appointed trustee. Again, Weinberg filed a complaint because he considered the previously concluded contract with Rughase to be binding. From Mar. 1941 onward, Plickert was the sole authorized signatory of the Weinberg Company and controlled all business transactions. Weinberg also attempted to appeal against this to the Administration Office for Commerce, Shipping, and Industry. In vain. At the end of April, the Gestapo searched his business and private premises and "seized” all business files. Weinberg suffered a dizzy spell in the process, whereupon he was admitted to the Jewish Hospital on Johnsallee.
From his sick bed, Weinberg waived the agreement with the buyer Rughase and surrendered the company to trustee Plickert – subject to his financial claims and under the condition that his private account be unblocked again and all his private files returned to him. The "official in charge” in this matter was most likely the Gestapo officer Walter Wohlers, to whom Weinberg, after his release from hospital on 12 May 1941, reported his continued poor state of health and accessibility. For the first time, Leonhard Weinberg expressed in his letter of renunciation the intention to leave the German Reich without, however, mentioning a destination or concrete measures. For this purpose, he drew up a detailed list of files and material that he needed for the exercise of his profession abroad but that were still confiscated. Some of the private files were actually handed back to him. However, Plickert kept large quantities of unused stationery with him.
During the house search, the Gestapo again raised the issue of Weinberg’s housing situation. He was ordered to surrender two of his rooms. During a subsequent visit with the housing commissioner Stelling, he informed him that he intended to get married, so the matter was postponed for the time being. The marriage did not come about, however, because the bride withdrew from the engagement, even though the wedding had already been announced. Leonhard Weinberg immediately tried to arrange another marriage. The names of both fiancées are unknown and ultimately Weinberg had to hand over the two rooms.
In May, Leonhard Weinberg asked the trustee Plickert to sign some money transfers to cover his hospital costs, which the latter refused, however, on the grounds that the costs arising from the trustee’s handling of the company affairs were not yet foreseeable and that only a small amount was available for Weinberg’s private expenses. On 22 May 1941, Weinberg turned to the "legal adviser” Bachur with the request to intervene again with Plickert to unblock the private account and to make the transfers. He informed Bachur that he no longer had a penny and that he already had to borrow money. By the end of the previous year, Weinberg had already been unable to pay the contributions for membership in the Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband). At the same time, Weinberg’s complaint dating from January was definitively rejected by the Reich Economics Minister.
The purchase contract between Paschen and Plickert was concluded on 14 June 1941. It contained, among others, the following clauses: Transfer of the insurance portfolio, waiver of Weinberg’s right to withdraw from the contract, and waiver of influence and contact to his former customers. On 24 June, Leonhard Weinberg was informed of the sale of the insurance portfolio managed by him. On 2 July 1941, he first requested a copy of the contract from Plickert and one week later again from the Administration Office for Commerce, Shipping, and Industry.
A few days later, the Gestapo summoned Leonhard Weinberg and arrested him. On 12 August, "legal adviser” Bachur turned to the Jewish Religious Organization on Beneckestrasse in the hope that someone there might have information about Leonhard Weinberg’s whereabouts and offered his help in clarifying the allegations. Feedback from the Religious Organization to Bachur’s request has not been handed down and leaves room for speculation. Did Leonhard Weinberg complain once too often? Were his marriage plans taken as an attempt to deceive to keep his apartment? Or was it a purely arbitrary act of the Gestapo? The few documents preserved do not answer these questions.
A list of prisoners shows Leonhard Weinberg as a prisoner of Section II B 2, i.e., the "Jewish Section” of the Gestapo. On 11 Sept. 1941, he was transferred from the Fuhlsbüttel police prison to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he was assigned prisoner number 06053. One can assume that Leonhard Weinberg, like most other Jewish inmates, was assigned to a work detachment to excavate the Dove Elbe after his arrival, and that he had to perform extremely strenuous forced labor. With great certainty, he eventually became a victim of the "euthanasia” operation "14 f 13” in mid-1942. In the spring of 1942, a delegation of doctors traveled throughout the Reich to various concentration camps to determine the ability of the prisoners to work, in order to subsequently segregate and murder those who were unsuitable for the work duties. Delayed by a typhoid epidemic raging in the camp, the doctors did not start their work in the Neuengamme concentration camp until Apr. 1942. The preserved laboratory examination books of the infirmary show a urine examination for Leonhard Weinberg on 23 April, which was noted without any findings though. In most cases, the physicians made their decisions based on the files, although an above-average number of Jews were selected.
The prisoners affected, 295 in total, were then placed in a separate block and in the first days of June 1942, they were transported to Bernburg/Saale, taken to the local euthanasia killing center, and murdered using gas.
The additions to the death register of the concentration camp records office made by SS-Unterscharführer [an SS rank equivalent to sergeant] Wilhelm Brake on 5 June were done in alphabetical order with two persons per day each. On 26 June, Brake finally arrived at the name of Weinberg.The date of death, which is also engraved in the Stolperstein for Leonhard Weinberg, does not correspond to reality according to the extensive research that has taken place in the meantime – nor did presumably the cause of death, "failure of heart and circulation after chronic gastroenteritis.”
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Thomas Rost
Quellen: 1; 3; 4; 7; Hamburger Adressbücher 1890–1941; StaH 213–8 451a E 1, 1c; StaH 231–7 B 1955–290; StaH 232–3 H 18868; StaH 331–3 Ablieferung 15 Band 2; StaH 332-5 47035 und 47037; StaH 351-11 52826; StAH 621–1/82 8 und 9; Garbe: Jüdische Häftlinge, S.163–166; Römmer: "Sonderbehandlung 14f13", S. 209–211; Schreiben der KZ–Gedenkstätte Neuengamme vom 16. und 23.12.2015 und vom 18.2.2016; Schreiben der KZ-Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen von 20.1.2016.
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