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Emil Specht * 1866
Uhlandstraße 4 (Hamburg-Nord, Hohenfelde)
ERMORDET DEZ. 1942
Emil Specht, born 27 Mar. 1866 in Werschetz, Hungary, arrested in 1941, incarcerated 1942 at Hanover Penitentiary and Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison, deported 10 Dec. 1942 to Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp where he was killed
Emil Specht moved to Hamburg in 1890. He had already spent time there as a young person for occupational training but then returned to Vienna where his family lived. They originally came from the small town Werschetz, which at the time lay within the borders of the Hungarian part of the Habsburg Monarchy and today belongs to Serbia. That was also where Emil was born, hence he was a Hungarian citizen. His parents were Josef and Rosa Specht, née Deutsch, he had an older brother, three older sisters and a younger one.
Josef and Rosa Specht were of the Jewish faith, and Emil was circumcised according to Jewish rite. And yet as a child he attended school at a Catholic monastery. When he was 12 years old, his family moved to Vienna where he attended middle school for four more years. After leaving school in 1882, his parents sent him to Hamburg where he completed a two-year commercial apprenticeship at a tea company. Afterwards he returned to Vienna and began training at a military prep school. He wanted to become a professional soldier, but then his father died in 1888 at the age of 66 and Emil had to give up his career as a soldier for financial reasons. The next two years he was able to work in his brother’s company and gather more work experience. Through family contacts, he found a new job in 1890, back in Hamburg at an export and warehouse company. At that time, his four older siblings were no longer living, and his mother moved in with her youngest daughter in Pressburg (today Bratislava, Slovakia). She lived there until her death in 1907.
On 6 June 1891, Emil Specht was sentenced in Hamburg to five days in jail and a 25-Mark fine for illegal sale of spirits. He remained in employment until 1892 when he became self-employed and continued to run the previously prosecuted sale of spirits but in a legal manner: He established a wine wholesale business on Catharinenstraße (today Katharinenstraße) in Neustadt.
Early the following year, he married Agnes Hesslein, a native of Hamburg born on 22 Jan. 1871. She too was Jewish. She gave birth to a girl on 23 Nov. 1893 whom they named Lilly. At the time, the family was living on Grindelallee. Two and a half years later, on 26 Apr. 1896, the couple had their second daughter, and they named her Ilka Leonie.
Since Emil Specht was a Hungarian citizen, his wife also became a Hungarian citizen when they were married, as were their daughters from birth. They saw their own future as well as that of their daughters in Hamburg however. As a consequence, in late 1899 Emil Specht applied for his family and himself to be released from the Hungarian State in order to immigrate to Germany. That was necessary to be naturalized in Hamburg, which happened nearly immediately in Feb. 1900. From then on, Emil, Agnes, Lilly and Ilka Specht were citizens of Hamburg.
Emil Specht ran his wine wholesale business for about five years. Afterwards he ran the former Koopmann’sche Spirits Manufacture on Annenstraße in St. Pauli for a time and in 1902 opened another wine and spirits wholesale business on Mercurstraße (formerly the corner of Lagerstraße and Karolinenstraße). In 1906 he moved his business to the rear courtyard building at Bartelsstraße 65 in today’s Schanzen District. About four years later Emil Specht sold his company. Paul Menzel was the new owner, but he kept the company name E. Specht & Co. as it was well established in the industry. Emil Specht for his part chose a new career path, becoming a real estate agent. To set himself up, he first rented an office at Jungfernstieg, then from 1912 on am Neuen Wall. He lived with his wife Agnes and their two daughters Lilly and Ilka, who by now were nine and six, at Hansastraße 70 where they had moved in 1908.
On 3 Oct. 1917 – World War I had already been underway for three years – Emil Specht became a father-in-law for the first time. Lilly Specht married the Berlin businessman Walter Jacob Kalisch and moved to Berlin with him. Three years later in 1920, they had a son whom they named Carlheinz. That same year, at the age of 54, Emil Specht gave up his office and worked from then on from his home on Hansastraße. Three years later in 1923, he again became a father-in-law and his younger daughter Ilka also left Hamburg following her wedding. Her husband Alfred Dittmann who came from Bayreuth was the director of the Danish branch of the German Concentra Enterprise and lived in Copenhagen. Ilka followed him there and took on Danish citizenship after their wedding. The previous year, she and her parents had joined the Jewish community.
At the start of the worldwide economic crisis in 1929, Emil Specht’s income dropped so low that he fell behind on his dues to the Jewish community time and again. Eventually the Jewish community even considered having his bank account garnished through the tax office. As a self-employed person, he was also obligated to pay into social security. Since he no longer complied by making payments on a regular basis, he was fined 25 Reich Marks in Nov. 1931 for "deliberately withholding obligatory social security payments and failure to make payment within 3 days of establishing insolvency”.
By now he was 65 years old and hardly had any income even though he still worked as a real estate agent. In 1933 he and his wife Agnes moved out of their home on Hansastraße where they had lived for nearly 30 years to Uhlandstraße 6 in Hohenfelde, presumably for financial reasons. Unlike her husband, Agnes Specht was relatively well off, but the couple had agreed on separation of their property at the time of their wedding and had abided by it ever since. She and her daughter Ilka had inherited several developed properties in Hamburg, one on Wilhelminenstraße (today Hein-Hoyer-Straße) and three others on Kampstraße. Agnes Specht’s share of the rent income enabled the couple initially to continue to afford a relatively good middle-class lifestyle despite Emil Specht’s small income – although they both suffered under the growing measures directed against Jews. Emil and Agnes Specht also had to carry their ID cards with them which bore the additional names "Israel” and "Sara” that they were forced to adopt. When Emil Specht was stripped of the right to work as a real estate agent in 1938 because he was Jewish, that was not a heavy blow to the couple under the circumstance.
However, their living situation changed dramatically in 1939. The Chief Tax Authority forced the sale of all four properties in March. All transactions were approved by the Hamburg Reich Governor Karl Kaufmann, and the prices were set at the going market rates. Yet hardly any of the proceeds were left for Agnes Specht and her daughter Ilka. First, high taxes and processing fees were deducted. Afterwards Ilka Dittmann’s share was paid directly into a frozen account at Dresdner Bank – this was how the National Socialist government wanted to keep her from moving the money out of the country since she continued to live in Copenhagen. From her proceeds, Agnes Specht was forced to pay a "levy on Jewish assets” and the "Reich flight tax” to the Hamburg tax office. A further portion of her share was also paid into a frozen account at Dresdner Bank. She was granted a monthly allowance of 470 Reich Marks from which she and her husband Emil lived. Anything beyond that amount had to be applied for on an individual basis, explaining the purpose of the expenditure.
The additional costs she had to apply for included the monthly sum of about 280 Reich Marks which Agnes Specht wanted to support her grandson Carlheinz Kalisch in Berlin with. By now he was 19 years old and had started a training program in Rotterdam. After the pogrom in Nov. 1938, his parents had evidently sent him to the Netherlands which they believed safe to protect him from the harassment and persecution measures of the National Socialist regime. They themselves had also emigrated. However the Chief Tax Authority only approved 125 Reich Marks a month.
More serious was the fact that Agnes Specht fell gravely ill in June 1939. She became bedridden, high doctor’s fees and bills for medication piled up. They had to submit every bill to the Chief Tax Authority and request that they be allowed to withdraw they sum from their seized account. As of Oct. 1939 they were no longer able to do this themselves because they were too weak. Hence their daughter had to take care of it for them. Ilka was now often in Hamburg caring for her mother. Due to her illness, Agnes Specht repeatedly had to call on medical help. Above all she frequently called her daughter, who mostly lived abroad, for comfort regarding the "severe, critical episodes of her illness”, as she informed the Chief Tax Authority. Since she was only able to cover the relatively large phone bill with her monthly allowance if she went without food or fell behind on rent, she found herself in a precarious situation. Moreover, she had to pay the nurse who had moved in with them in late summer to look after Agnes. Even when she was allowed to pay the additional expenditures from her frozen account, her allowance did not cover their actual costs. As a result, she and Emil took out a line of credit with her former property administrator. That was not allowed, however, and they had to pay a high fine.
Agnes Specht died on 20 Jan. 1941. She had made her daughter Ilka her sole heir. Her husband Emil received the amount to which he was entitled. He wanted to forego that amount and have it all go to Ilka, but the Chief Tax Authority denied his request because that would have meant that the money would have gone abroad. Ilka Dittmann paid off her father’s debt and continued to pay his living expenses. Emil Specht had moved away from Hohenfelde with his wife in 1937 to Goernestraße in Eppendorf, yet he could no longer afford that apartment. So in Mar. 1940 he temporarily moved into a sublet on Rothenbaumchaussee and four months later to the small pension run by the Widow Zahm located on An der Alster. He lived there for about a year. In May 1941 once again he looked for a room to sublet which he found on Haynstraße in Eppendorf.
On 9 Aug. 1941 Emil Specht was taken in to "protective custody” and detained at Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison. By now he was 75 years old. The reason for his arrest: suspicion of "racial defilement”. An informer is said to have reported to the police that he "entertained three German-blooded women” at Pension Zahm. Besides, he was said to have also gone out with them to restaurants "where Jews were not wanted” – and done that sometime until late into the night, despite the curfew in place for Jews. On 20 Aug. he was taken to town hall for interrogation by the Gestapo. Afterwards he was taken to Hamburg’s remand prison on Holstenglacis.
On 23 Apr. 1942, eight months following his arrest, charges were pressed against him. The main proceedings began on 28 May. Emil Specht, now 76 years old, had already suffered from a severe heart condition for a long time which got worse during his time in prison. He was also plagued by angina pectoris. The court rejected his lawyer’s petition that he be officially examined by a prison doctor. His application for release from prison for health reasons was also denied – on the grounds that the prison had its own infirmary. The regional court pronounced its judgment on 11 June 1942: Emil Specht was sentenced to two years in prison for "racial defilement”, moreover he had to pay the court costs. His time in police custody and remand prison was counted as time served so he would be imprisoned until 8 Aug. 1943. His having hidden from the women the fact that he was Jewish aggravated his crime, according to the regional court. For that reason he had to serve his sentence in Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison, not in the jail of the courthouse. The guards at Fuhlsbüttel were members of the SA and the SS. Terror and brutal maltreatment were a part of daily life for the prisoners.
Four weeks after Emil Specht was taken there, he was transferred to the Hanover Courthouse Prison – common practice at Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison whereby prisoners, soon after starting their sentence, were moved to a different facility. Three months later he was moved to the central infirmary of Hamburg prison system for medical treatment. Evidently his state of health had further deteriorated. From there he was returned to Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison. On 5 Nov. 1942, a telegram from the Reich Main Security Office reached all state police headquarters. It held the order of the Reichführer SS and Head of the German Police Heinrich Himmler "to make all concentration camps throughout the Reich free of Jews and to transfer all Jews to Auschwitz concentration camp and the Lublin prisoner of war camp.” That order also applied to Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison.
On 10 Dec. 1942 Emil Specht was deported to Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. Since he was no longer considered fit for work at the age of 76, he was probably killed directly following his arrival.
Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: December 2019
© Frauke Steinhäuser
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5; 8; 9; StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen 6230/42; StaH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident R1939/2480; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 8716 u. 213/1917; StaH 332-7 Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht B III 58797; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden 390 Wählerliste 1930; StaH 552-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 992 d Steuerakten, Bd. 29; Berliner Adressbücher; Diercks, Dokumentation Stadthaus, S. 26f.; Bundesarchiv Abteilungen Potsdam, R 58 Reichssicherheitshauptamt, 276, Fernschreiben RSHA an alle Staatspolizei(leit)stellen u.a. vom 5.11.1942, online: www.holocaust-chronologie.de/chronologie/1942/november/01-07.html (letzter Zugriff 20.2.2015); Kraks Vejvisere, Person-Register for Kobenhavn, 1923 u. 1933, online: http://user-9y8ca5x.cld.bz/Merged-PDF-1923-personregister#87/z u. http://cld.bz/zL3srse#135/z (letzter Zugriff 20.8.2015); Danmarks Statistik, Folketælling 1925, Kobenhavn, online unter: www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/billedviser?bsid=93969#93969,15595187 (letzter Zugriff 20.8.2015); Naturalisation Certificate: Carl Heinz Kalisch, online unter: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C12186256 (letzter Zugriff 20.8.2015).
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