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Hilda Boygen (née Levy) * 1904
Neue Straße 56 (Harburg, Harburg)
Hilda Boygen, maiden name Levy, born 27 Jul. 1904 in Filehne, deported to Zbaszyn on 28 Oct. 1938, date of death unknown
Sonja Boygen, born 15 Dec. 1930 in Harburg, deported to Zbaszyn on 28 Oct. 1938, date of death unknown
District of Harburg-Altstadt, Neue Straße 56
The place of birth of Hilda Boygens lies on the Neetze in the once Prussian province of Posen (Poland today). Her husband Isaac Boygeb (born 26 Sep. 1895) was nine years older than her.
When exactly they both left their hometown and became members of the Jewish congregation in Harburg cannot be clarified. In their new habitat (Harburg) Isaac Boygen opened a small men’s outfitters shop in Neuen Straße 56 at the end of the 1920s. The young couple lived in the same house, which was directly next to the Holy Trinity church (Dreifaltigkeitskirche) that had been officially opened in 1652. Their daughter Sonja grew up there.
From the very beginning the businessman Isaac Boygen sensed the consequences of the strong local competition that was soon intensified by the World economic crisis. The fact that his name did not appear on the extensive boycott lists of the Harburg municipal authorities, which included 54 Jewish companies, can be attributed to the fact that he – even if provisionally – had ceased to sell any goods. The final closure of his business took place in 1935, when Isaac Boygen together with his family, like many other members of the German-Israeli community both before and after him, moved to the city of Hamburg. His new address was Grindel Allee 29.
On the 28 Oct. 1938 Isaac, Hilda and Sonja Boygen belonged to a group of about 1000 Hamburg Jews, who within the short time of one day in the course of the "Poland Action” were transported to Neu-Bentschen and there at the break of day of the following day deported over the border to Zbaszyn.
How they fared there over the following days and weeks is not known. It remains unclear where and how they were accommodated in Zbaszyn, if they endeavoured to emigrate from there to another country or if they sought refuge with distant relatives in their old country and where they later in fact got to. As late as the summer of 1939 the remaining exiles, in view of the increasing tension between the German government and Poland, were transported to central Poland.
After the German invasion in Poland in Sep. 1939 most of these people were once again victims of the National Socialists’ Jewish policies. That was particularly the case for Sonja Boygen, who we know was a member of the inhabitants of the Lodz ghetto, which the German occupying authorities set up in the poor quarter of the city in the course of 1940. More than 15400 Polish male and female Jews were herded together in the limited space of four square kilometres. Their systematic murder began in Dec. 1941, which was when the extermination camp of Chelmo went into operation.
Sonja Boygen didn’t know at the time that this murder factory was set up with the significant cooperation of one of her former Harburg neighbours, the former coffee wholesaler Wilhelm Koppe. His office on the western side of the market square Sand (in Harburg) was not even 500 metres distant from the house in which she had spent the first years of her life. Wilhelm Koppe joined the NSDAP in 1930 and became a member of the SS in 1932. This was the start of his rapid NS career, which at first culminated in his appointment as "Senior SS and Police Chief” in the newly built "Warthegau”. From the end of 1929 he was responsible for the deportation, ghettoization and murder of the Jewish population in "Warthegau” as well as the setting up of the ghetto in Lodz and the extermination camp in Chelmno / Kulmhof. In 1943 he moved from his position of "Senior SS and Police Chief” as well as state secretary for security in "Warthegau” to the central government. Wilhelm Koppe returned unscathed to Germany at the end of the war and remained unmolested under a pseudonym until 1975.
It can be proven on the other hand that his former Jewish neighbour Sonja Boygen and her mother Hilda did not survive the holocaust.
Despite repeated efforts all the subsequent research on Isaac Boygen’s further life have produced no results.
Translator: Peter Huggett
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Klaus Möller
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; Heyl (Hrsg.), Harburger Opfer; Heyl, Synagoge.
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