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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Therese Braun (née Nissensohn) * 1897
Kirchenstraße 21 Ecke Königstraße (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)
further stumbling stones in Kirchenstraße 21 Ecke Königstraße:
Daniel Braun, born on 3 Jan. 1893 in Hamburg, deported on 8 Nov.1941 to Minsk, murdered
Therese Braun, née Nissensohn, born on 21 May 1897 in Hamburg, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, murdered
Intersection of Kirchenstrasse 21 (Grüne Strasse) and Königstrasse
"All we could do was kiss each other good-bye one last time at the station platform. We were not allowed to stand by the window, not allowed to wave. The train departed.” That is the last memory Martha Wild has of her parents Daniel and Therese Braun. She and her sister Margot managed to escape on one of the "children transports” (Kindertransporte) to Britain on 21 May 1939. Daniel Braun was born on 3 Jan. 1893 in Hamburg as the son of Joachim and Minna Braun. He was the youngest of eight children and his siblings were Morris, Isidor, Max, Leo, Sally, Sofie, and Emilia. His wife, Therese Braun, was a native of Hamburg as well. She was born on 21 May 1897, growing up as the youngest of six children. She had three sisters: Selma, born on 6 Aug. 1890, Mathilde, born on 19 June 1894, and Paula, born on 11 Oct. 1895, as well as two brothers: Bruno, born on 27 July 1891, and Arthur, born on 16 Sept. 1892. Her parents were the Jewish owner of a printing company, Siegmund Nissensohn, and his wife Martha, née Tannenberg. In about 1900, the Nissensohns lived at Neuer Steinweg 76 in Hamburg; the Nissensohn German-Hebrew lithographic and book printing company was located at Brüderstrasse 2 near today’s Grossneumarkt. Siegmund Nissensohn, the son of David and Röschen Nissensohn, née Meyer, preferred to print books for the German-Israelitic Community, e.g., in 1905 the commemorative publication for the centenary celebrations of the Talmud Tora Realschule. Daniel Braun, an upholsterer and decorator by trade, served in the army from 1914 until 1918, returning from the war with the Iron Cross and initially working as a decorator employed by the municipality. At the beginning of the 1920s, he got a position as a cabinetmaker and foreman at the Otto Nagel Company, a furniture manufacturer located in St. Pauli at what was then Reichenstrasse 20–22. The couple had two daughters. On 19 July 1926, Martha was born, named after her grandmother on the mother’s side who had passed away one year before; on 18 Dec. 1927, Margot was born. The family lived as tenants in the ground-floor apartment of the house at Grüne Strasse 21. Moreover, until his death in the mid-1920s, the household was also home to Daniel Braun’s father, Joachim or, respectively, Chaim, Braun, born in Austria in 1847. The old town center around the Protestant main church, Trinitatis Church, was the hub of Jewish life in Altona, featuring the "Great Synagogue” ("Grosse Synagoge”) and many institutions of the Jewish Community. Located opposite Grüne Strasse, alongside Königstrasse, was the Altona Jewish Cemetery. Martha Wild vividly remembers her childhood, which was carefree at first. In the garden, there was a swing and a sandbox for the children. She attended the Jewish daycare center at Grüne Strasse 5 and from 1932 onward the nearby Jewish Community School on Palmaille. Grüne Strasse was the location of many shops, including that of a Jewish butcher. Her mother cooked kosher food according to the Jewish dietary laws. The parents were members of the Community, though they did not go to the synagogue on a regular basis, only on Jewish holidays. From Grüne Strasse, it was only a short distance to the Elbe River. In the summer, the family sometimes rode by boat from the landing bridges (Landungsbrücken) to the other side of the Elbe, where a riverside pool was located on the sandy western bank of Köhlbrand until the 1930s. The mother would then prepare a picnic. Before the daughters were born, the father had rescued two children in danger of drowning in the Elbe at that location. Therefore, his own children were supposed to learn how to swim as early as possible. He regularly took four-year-old Martha along to the Bismarckbad pool and had her take swimming lessons. Daniel Braun was a very talented craftsman, and he even tailored clothing for the family. He loved music and sang in a choir. "He was a very good father, buying us whatever was available in terms of toys at the time. He produced furniture and designed dollhouses for us. In the gateway to the house, he built a swing for us to play. We had everything, a sled, a doll’s carriage, simply everything.” The parents got along very well, according to their daughter: "The two never quarreled.” When the Nazis came to power, the first shadows were cast on the life of the Jewish family. Martha recalls: "One Sunday in July, two weeks before my birthday, the Nazis marched along Grüne Strasse and yelled, ‘Jews, we will come and get you.’ They hammered on the front door. I was in great terror and cried, and I wanted to hide underneath the couch. But my father held me back because he had hidden a pedal scooter, dolls, and books for my birthday.” Two years later, Daniel Braun lost his job at the Otto Nagel furniture factory due to "racial reasons.” In 1935 or 1936, the family had to move in with Siegmund Nissensohn, Daniel Braun’s father-in-law, into a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of Dillstrasse 15 in Hamburg’s Grindel quarter. The "Mathilde und Simon Hesse Stiftung,” a charitable foundation in the building at Dillstrasse 15, had been built in 1908 as a residence for needy members of the Jewish Community. As early as 1924, Siegmund Nissensohn had been dependent on financial support from his children. His wife, Martha Nissensohn, had passed away in 1925. A devout Jew, he would frequently go to a small synagogue nearby. The granddaughters sometimes accompanied him to the celebration of the Simchat Torah ("Rejoicing of Torah”) holiday. Martha and Margot increasingly suffered as a result of the anti-Semitic terror. They stayed in the garden to play: "We were not able to play outside on the street, as they pelted us with rocks, and they knew we were Jews; we were not allowed to play outside, we were afraid to play outside.” By that time, both of them attended the Israelite Girls’ School on Karolinenstrasse. Since about 1930, Therese Braun’s sister, Selma Birman, also lived at Dillstrasse 15 with her Polish husband Josef Birman and the children Ruth, Werner, and Marion. Therese Braun’s brother, Arthur Nissensohn, found shelter there with his family as well. Martha recalls, "We were a very close extended family.” (From the spring of 1942 onward, the house at Dillstrasse 15 was considered a "Jews’ house” ["Judenhaus”] where Jews were quartered by force.) Therese Braun was athletic; she did gymnastics and enjoyed ice skating. Martha Wild remembers that once a week the sisters went to gymnastics with their mother at the gym of the Talmud Tora School in the afternoon. Outside of Jewish institutions, they were no longer welcome. "I wanted to do ice skating at a venue very close to Karolinenstrasse. My mother went along with me. However, we were told that this was prohibited. ‘Mrs. Braun, we are sorry, you cannot skate here with your daughter, as you are Jewish.’ That was it then!” Daniel Braun tried to provide for his family with short-term jobs and casual work. Eventually, on the orders of the Gestapo, he had to perform forced labor: He was enlisted for compulsory labor duty as a sewage worker. The Braun couple was searching for opportunities to leave Germany with their daughters. Daniel Braun’s brothers Morris, Isidor, and Leo had emigrated to Britain even before the Nazis’ assumption of power. Morris Braun lived in Manchester, where he operated a cabinetmaker’s and an upholsterer’s workshop in which he intended to employ his brother Daniel. However, in Sept. 1938, he died unexpectedly of a heart attack. In Oct. 1938, the Brauns were forced to witness how Therese Braun’s sister, Selma Birman, and her family were expelled to Poland. Martha Wild remembers: "The Gestapo came to the school on Karolinenstrasse and asked for Marion; I think she was eight years old. They took her away on a truck.” Finally, the Brauns decided to send their daughters to Britain on one of the "children transports” (Kindertransporte) at first. After the November Pogrom of 1938, the British government took in Jewish children to save them from National Socialist persecution. Jewish communities and relief organizations carried out the operation. Martha and her sister did not want to leave on their own but the mother said, "You have to!” Therese Braun was friends with Lotte Carlebach, the wife of the former Altona Chief Rabbi, Joseph Carlebach, because Martha went to school with their daughter Ruth. The Carlebach family assisted them in filing the application for the children transport. Only five days before the ship put to sea, the "tax clearance certificate” ("Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung”) was issued – a prerequisite of the departure. Each child was allowed to take along a suitcase with clothes and a few photographs. Therese Braun hid silver spoons with engraved names in the suitcase. "Our suitcases were packed with clothes, photos, and silver cutlery. The pieces of baggage were heavy and thus my mother went to the Gestapo … Mom asked the Gestapo officer to seal the suitcase for if it had been opened, we children would not have been able to close the fully packed piece again. In this way, my sister and I were the only ones whose suitcase was not checked.” On 21 May 1939, Therese Braun had to bid farewell to her two daughters. Martha Wild will never forget this day: "This was on 21 May, my mother’s birthday. My mother asked me, ‘What would you like to have for your last breakfast here?’ I said, ‘If you have eggs, I would like to have a boiled egg.’ And later she asked, ‘Which streetcar line should we take to the train station?’ I said, ‘Couldn’t we take a cab, as I have never ridden in a car before?’ I always wanted to ride in a car. And so we went by car. Before we headed for the train station, we saw our grandfather for the last time. He only opened the kitchen door to see us, he was not able to bid farewell, only saying, ‘How can you send the children off on their own!’ and slamming the door quickly; he was incapable of saying anything else. That was it, the last time. We went to the train station, it was a Sunday morning, and we had to be there at 11 a.m.” After having bid farewell to their daughters, Daniel and Therese Braun could not get themselves to return to the family home. They stayed for a week with friends, the childless couple Karl and Henni Küchenmeister residing in the basement apartment at Schauenburgerstrasse 84 (today Schomburgerstrasse). With a name badge around their necks, the girls traveled to London and from there onward to Manchester where their uncle Isidor Braun, a brother of their father, waited for them. Martha found accommodation in the family of one of her uncle’s three daughters born in Britain; her younger sister lived with another cousin. Margot went to school but the shock of separation from her parents had taken its toll on her; she suffered from a speech disorder and had a stutter since then. Martha was taken out of school after only six weeks of classes. She was very keen on learning English but had to work as a maid and nanny for the family. On 22 Oct. 1941, she wrote to her mother via the Red Cross, "Please write to me how to make potato salad.” She was also to help sell blankets and carpets at market stands. To her mind, the family treated her harshly and unfairly. Isidor Braun, who had fetched his nieces to Britain, was no longer able to protect them, as he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The Dublon family, friends of the Brauns from the fourth floor on Dillstrasse, had managed to flee to Britain together. Kurt and Ilse Dublon wished to visit Martha and Margot with their twins. However, Martha’s foster parents forbid any visits. Martha Braun continued to correspond with her parents until Nov. 1941, at first in the hope that they would be able to follow and join them. In a letter, her mother had written, "Daddy will take care of you; he will be in Britain soon, bringing along the shoes,” for in the suitcase Margot had taken along shoes that were too small. However, after the outbreak of war in Sept. 1939, emigration was hardly possible anymore. "My mother told me – as young as I was: ‘Martha, read between the lines when we write to you.’” The last letter Martha received via the Red Cross was not to exceed 25 typed words. "It read, ‘Dear Children, we are moving to Aunt Selma.’ It did not say when but I knew exactly where she was. I knew they had to go to Poland.” At the swimming pool, the 15-year-old girl had met and confided in a Jewish woman who talked to her about the deportations. On 8 Nov. 1941, Therese and Daniel Braun were deported to the ghetto in Minsk, the capital of Belarus occupied by the Germans. In Minsk, the ghetto inmates were forced to perform labor for the German Wehrmacht or the SS in workshops and camp branches. Many did not survive the hunger, the cold, and the infectious diseases. In the course of the massacres on 8 May 1943 and during the dissolution of the ghetto on 14 Sept. 1943, most of the remaining Jews were murdered. Therese and Daniel Braun, too, perished in this context. Their household furnishings and effects were auctioned off to the benefit of the German Reich in the halls of the court bailiff’s office. Martha Braun stayed with the British host family for 19 years until she found a job as a domestic help with another family. Then she met her future husband, Ken Wild, and converted to Christianity. To this day, the couple and sister Margot live near Manchester. Therese Braun’s father, Siegmund Nissensohn, born on 3 June 1863, was committed to the "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Laufgraben 37 in Mar. 1942, at the age of 78. Four months later, on 19 July 1942, he was deported from there to Theresienstadt and, two months after that, on 21 Sept. 1941, further to the Treblinka extermination camp in occupied Poland. He was murdered there. For Siegmund Nissensohn, a Stolperstein is located at Dillstrasse 15. Therese Braun’s sister Mathilde Rajsfus, née Nissensohn, was expelled with her Polish husband to the Polish town of Zbaszyn in Oct. 1938. Initially, she was able to return to Hamburg but on 6 Dec. 1941, she was deported to Riga-Jungfernhof, reached the Stutthof concentration camp as a forced laborer in 1944, and perished there. For Mathilde and Max Rajsfus, Stolpersteine are located at Eppendorfer Weg 7. Her sister Selma Birman, née Nissensohn, was also expelled with her husband and their three children to Zbaszyn: the family remained interned there until the summer of 1939, and was later deported to Lodz and murdered in the Chelmno extermination camp. For the Birman family, Stolpersteine are located at Fruchtallee 89. Therese Braun’s brother Arthur Nissensohn was probably detained since the November Pogrom of 1938, from 9 Nov. until 23 Dec. 1938 in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He and his wife Sorka Nissensohn, née Halpern, were deported on 8 Nov. 1941 along with their 17-year-old son Joachim to Minsk, and they never came back. For them, Stolpersteine were laid at Hallerplatz 10. Therese Braun’s brother Bruno Nissensohn managed to emigrate to the USA. In 1939, their sister Paula Friedberg, née Nissensohn, succeeded together with her 16-year-old daughter Carmen in fleeing to the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, where Paula’s husband, Herbert Friedberg, was already expecting them. He had previously been imprisoned in Hamburg. Daughter Carmen had worked for a lawyer that managed to get her father out of the concentration camp and enable the family to depart for Brazil before the war. In Brazil, Carmen married Gerd Jonas; their two sons Sergio and Claudio were born in Sao Paulo, where they live to this day. Gerd Jonas also came from a Jewish family. He had emigrated from Berlin to Brazil with his parents. Adele Friedberg, née Goldschmidt, the mother of Herbert and Hugo Friedberg and great grandmother of Sergio Friedberg and Michael Hansen, was deported to Theresienstadt in 1942, where she perished in 1943.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 14829 (Braun, Daniel); StaH 214-1 Gerichtsvollzieherwesen, 179 (Daniel Braun 1941–1942); StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 e 2 Band 2 (Deportationsliste Minsk, 8.11.1941); Cordes, Stolpersteine, 2009, S. 34 f.; FZH/WdE 1500, Martha Wild, 20.6.2011; Gespräch mit Martha Wild am 8. und 9.6.2013, Gespräch mit Sergio Jonas und Michael Hansen am 9.6.2013, Korrespondenz mit Martha Wild im Oktober 2013.
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