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Wilhelm Frank
© Yad Vashem

Wilhelm Frank * 1882

Beim Andreasbrunnen 9 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)

1941 Lodz
ermordet am 11.4.1942

further stumbling stones in Beim Andreasbrunnen 9:
Heinz Becher, Gertrud Becher, Emmy Frank, Heinz Frank, Erika Hesse

Wilhelm Frank, born 1 January 1882 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 11 Apr. 1942
Emmy Frank, née Stern, born 11 Aug. 1888 in Frankfurt am Main, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 5 Apr. 1944
Heinz Frank, born 12 Nov. 1920 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 22 Jan. 1942

Beim Andreasbrunnen 9

Wilhelm Frank was from a Jewish merchant family in Hamburg. His father was Jakob Frank, his mother Sara Spiro. The father died when Wilhelm was five years old. The mother and her family made sure that Wilhelm had a good education. He was first in his graduating class in 1900, served his compulsory one-year military service, then entered a commercial apprenticeship at the Emil Behr company in Hamburg, an import-export firm. He apparently enjoyed learning foreign languages, and in his spare time perfected his knowledge of English and French. He also learned Spanish, Italian, Russian, and, later in life, Hebrew.

The company recognized Frank’s abilities and assigned the young man, who had finished his apprenticeship and was now an employee at Behr, to head their Moscow subsidiary in 1908. Wilhelm Frank didn’t leave it at that. He opened his own import-export company in Russia. But waves of anti-Semitism, which washed over the land in regular intervals in Czarist Russia, prompted Frank to return to Germany. His brother Victor, a banker in Hamburg (Große Bleichen 31), was waiting for him and make him a general manager at his bank in 1913.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Wilhelm Frank was called to serve and sent to the Eastern Front. He fought in the bloody Battle of Tannenberg in Eastern Prussia (1914), but then was assigned to less dangerous duties. He was promoted to Russian translator with the 11th Landwehr division. He was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class and, after his return home, with the Hanseatic Cross. Back in Hamburg he became a partner in his brother’s bank.

At 38, an experienced and wealthy man, he married the 22-year-old Johanna Hertha Krohn from Hamburg-Rotherbaum (*22 October 1898, Jewish). The couple moved into a large apartment at Woldsenweg 3. Their son Heinz-Joachim was born on 12 November 1920. But the family’s happiness was short-lived. Johanna died suddenly on 21 December 1921. Her son inherited a large fortune in securities, which were administered by his father.

Wilhelm Frank remarried on 5 October 1923. His second wife was Emmy Stern (*1888) from Frankfurt. She was a secretary and stenographer. Their daughter, Ingeborg Ruth, was born on 16 March 1926.

Successful in his profession as a bank manager and with a respectable private fortune, Wilhelm Frank ventured a new step in his career. After a few years of preparation, he resigned from the Victor and Wilhelm Frank Bank and opened his own financial institution. He ran the business himself, at first from an office in the family’s new, large apartment at Loogestieg 11, then moved it to Am Andreasbrunnen 9 II. The company was entered in the Hamburg commercial registry on 27 April 1933 under the number HR A 38020.

Frank was in the last stages of preparation in January 1933 when the National Socialists came to power in Germany and began to spread their terror over the land. Frank’s company was doomed. He incurred losses year after year. The family lived from the income from their securities, until the Nazis froze them. On 19 July 1938, Wilhelm Frank had to relinquish his license to trade currency because he was a Jew. Then he was forbidden from trading on the stock exchange and his discount as a certified dealer was revoked. It was thus impossible for him to run his banking business, and he gave up. An entry in the commercial registry from 24 March 1939 reads: "Company defunct.”

March 1939. The children Heinz-Joachim and Ingeborg Ruth were 19 and 13 years old. Heinz apparently had difficulties in school and in his personal life, especially when he found out, by coincidence, that his biological mother had died shortly after his birth and that his father’s wife was actually his step-mother. He attended private schools throughout his education. He applied to the Heinrich-Hertz Gymnasium in Hamburg at the end of 1930, but the application was withdrawn in January 1931. Instead he went first to a boarding school in Mannheim, and then to Dr. Müller’s Private Educational Institute in Marburg, where he remained until 1935. His father called him back to Hamburg when it became clear that he would not be able to pursue a higher education under the Nazi regime. Heinz-Joachim began a commercial apprenticeship on 1 January 1936, but he quit two years later, on 4 January 1938.

Why? The family had decided to get the children to safety outside of Germany. Heinz completed the hachshara, a training program that prepared young adults for emigration to Palestine. He trained in carpentry and learned basic agricultural skills.

Ingeborg Ruth had no difficulties in school, and always had good grades. She attended the Breitenfelder Straße public school until Jews were banned from public schools. She then attended the Israelite Girls’ School on Carolinenstraße. She was first in her class (except in physical education, where she received poor marks), but left school in March 1939. On 29 March, four days after her father’s company was struck from the commercial register, the 13-year-old boarded a children’s transport to Bristol in England. She was saved.

A seemingly insignificant incident shows the inhumanity of the Nazi bureaucracy. On 8 June 1939, Wilhelm Frank requested permission from the Foreign Exchange Office to send his daughter a packet with some of her personal belongings – a dark blue handbag, a box of paints, two small postcard frames and a few other small items. The Exchange Office F 36 answered on 19 June: "Denied, too many items.”

Ingeborg Ruth’s intelligence, diligence and perseverance brought her far in her new world. She received a scholarship to study history, international law, and economics at London University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1946, aged only 20.

She worked first as a free-lance journalist, and was then an editor at a publishing house for technical publications. She was not able to fulfil her wish to study medicine, because the program would have taken too long and she had to earn a living.

Heinz’s attempt to flee Germany for Palestine did not go so smoothly. The formalities were accomplished, Heinz was finally on his way and in June 1939 had reached the port in Spain where the young emigrants were to board the ship for Palestine. There he contracted appendicitis. The authorities there either couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with a sick passenger, and sent him back to Hamburg.

Wilhelm, Emmy, and Heinz Frank were deported to the Lodz Gehtto on 25 October 1941. They and three others were quartered in one room with no kitchen. Heinz-Joachim Frank died on 22 January 1942, aged 21. His father Wilhelm Frank died on 11 April 1942, aged 60. Emmy Frank, who, in addition to the all-encompassing misery of the ghetto, also suffered from a weak heart, edema, and skin conditions, died on 5 April 1944, aged 55.

Translator: Amy Lee

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Johannes Grossmann

Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5; 8; AfW 160326 Hingston, Ingeborg; AfW 010182 Frank, Wilhelm; AfW 121120 Frank, Heinz; Archivum Panstwowe, Lodz (Getto-Archiv), Melderegister Nr. PL 39-278-1011-831,-832,-6069,-6070,-6091,- 6092; USHMM, RG 15083, M 301/701-708, Fritz Neubauer, Universität Bielefeld, E-Mail vom 10.5.2010; Lohalm, Die nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung, 1999, S. 38; Ueckert-Hilbert, Fremd in der eigenen Stadt, 1989, S.170.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Recherche und Quellen.

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