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Heinz Wittkowsky * 1930

Rutschbahn 25 a (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

1943 Theresienstadt
weiterdeportiert nach Auschwitz

further stumbling stones in Rutschbahn 25 a:
Pauline Bachrach, Leopold Belzinger, Minna Belzinger, Lea Erna Belzinger, Pinkus Paul Möller, Johanna Schack, Max Schack

Gerda Wittkowsky, born on 29 May 1933 in Harburg, deported to Theresienstadt on 24 Feb. 1943, deported further to Auschwitz on 23 Oct. 1944
Heinz Wittkowsky, born on 18 June 1930 in Hamburg, deported to Theresienstadt on 24 Feb. 1943, deported further to Auschwitz on 23 Oct. 1944
Richard Wittkowsky, born on 3 June 1889 in Neutomischel, deported to Theresienstadt on 24 Feb. 1943, died on 29 Feb. 1944

District of Harburg-Altstadt, Marienstrasse 38

We know very little about the life of the pianist and piano teacher Richard Wittkowsky and that of his two children who suffered and died as Jews during the Nazi era.

Richard Wittkowsky’s birthplace, Neutomischel (today Nowy Tomysl in Poland) in the once Prussian province of Posen became Polish after the First World War. When and why he left it could not be clarified, nor could the date of his civil marriage to Emmi Stein, a Lutheran Christian. Richard Wittkowsky joined the Hamburg Jewish Community in 1928, while his wife remained faithful to her denomination. First, their daughter Gerda was born in the metropolis of Hamburg, followed by her brother Heinz three years later. At this time, the family already lived in Harburg, initially on the second floor of a house at Marienstrasse 38, then in an apartment at Karlstrasse 1 (today: Kroosweg).

The comprehensive restructuring of state and society also changed the entire cultural life after 1933. Artists not admitted to the newly formed Reich Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturkammer) because of their Jewish descent were automatically banned from working. Due to this new regulation, Richard Wittkowsky also lost the basis of his professional activity. When he moved back to Hamburg with his family in 1934 and rejoined the Jewish Community there, he was exempt from paying the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) because he was unemployed.

He went on to receive welfare support. As a Jewish musician, he was no longer allowed to perform in the German public, but had to work in the "Jewish Cultural Federation” ("Jüdischer Kulturbund”). However, its members were only permitted to play works by Jewish composers and only in front of a Jewish audience. State censorship in the area of programming, declining visitor numbers in view of increased emigration, and the growing impoverishment of those left behind made the work of the Jewish Cultural Association increasingly difficult.

The Wittkowsky family’s situation became even more difficult when their parents separated and divorced. We are not aware of the reasons. The Nazis put severe pressure on both Jewish and non-Jewish partners of such "racial mixed marriages.” For some, they reinforced the sense that they had brought disaster upon the "non-Aryan” members of the family, while for others they raised the hope of being able to easily return to the fold of the "German national community” ("Volksgemeinschaft”) in the event of a change of heart. With the divorce, Richard Wittkowsky and the two children lost the last protection that had saved them from the worst consequences of Nazi Jewish policies. After the dissolution of the marriage, the two children stayed with their father.

On 24 Feb. 1943, Richard, Heinz, and Gerda Wittkowsky and 47 other Hamburg Jews were deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto in the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.” Like many other old people, Richard Wittkowsky was increasingly unable to cope with the inhuman living conditions that prevailed in this place. At the age of 55, one year after his arrival in Theresienstadt, he closed his eyes forever.

Many transports to Auschwitz departed the ghetto in the fall of 1944, and Heinz and Gerda Wittkowsky were among the 1,715 men and women who left the place on a transport to the East on 23 Oct. 1944, arriving in Auschwitz two days later. After the "selection” according to their ability to work, 219 men and 215 women were taken into the camp as prisoners. The two children, aged 14 and eleven, respectively, were probably not among those considered fit for work, but instead among the others sent directly to the gas chambers. Eight days later, the killing with Cyclone B in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp ended, and on 25 Nov. 1944, the dismantling of the killing facilities began, aimed at covering up the traces of the mass murder.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: May 2019
© Klaus Möller

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 7; 8; Heyl (Hrsg.), Harburger Opfer; Heyl, Synagoge, S. 228; Meyer, "Jüdische Mischlin­ge", 2. Auflage, S. 29ff.; Czech, Kalendarium, 2. Auflage, S. 915ff.; Gottwaldt/Schulle, "Judendeportationen", S. 351.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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