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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Gerda Link (née Levy) * 1911
Heinrich-Barth-Straße 21 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
further stumbling stones in Heinrich-Barth-Straße 21:
Hedwig Eisemann, Jenny Jastrow, Felix Levy, Amalie Levy
Gerda Link, née Levy, born 12/16/1911 in Hamburg, deported from Bratislava to Auschwitz on 10/18/1944
Gerda (Rivka) Link, née Levy was born as the second youngest daughter of the merchant Felix (Uri) Levy (*10/09/18784 in Hamburg) and his wife Amalie (Mali) Leny, née Jastrow (*02/06/1880 in Hamburg).
The Stumbling Stone was laid in 2009 at the request of her younger sister Hannah Flusser, née Levy in 2009 together with those for her parents and her grandmother Jenny Jastrow, née Michael, who also fell victim to the Holocaust. The address is the home where Gerda Levy spent her childhood and youth with her parents and her siblings. Thus, the Stumbling Stone for Gerda is a symbol that reunites the closest members of the family at the place of which Hannah Flusser had fond memories.
Both of Gerda’s parents as well as many relatives fell victim to the Nazis. In spite of financial setbacks, the blocking of German and foreign bank accounts and the experience of being ostracized from life in German society, Felix Levy saw no reason to initiate emigration for himself and his wife; his emotional ties to Germany were too close. He had fought in the First World War and was a proud German citizen. Felix and Amalie Levy were deported to Auschwitz and murdered there. On July 29th, 1953, they were declared dead by the district court of Hamburg effective the end of the year 1945. In contrast, Gerda Link’s sisters Ruth Therese Rosettenstein, née Levy (*08/31/1909 in Hamburg) and Ella Hannah Flusser, née Levy (*07/02/1920 in Hamburg) survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Palestine. Ruth Therese Rosettenstein was the first to leave on October 3rd, 1937; Ella Hannah, youngest of the sisters, followed after the Shoa.
Little is known of Gerda Link’s childhood and youth, here professional training and marriage. She and her sisters led a sheltered life in a well-to-do modern Jewish household in a 5 ½ room apartment in Hamburg’s Grindel quarter. A Christian maid did the housework, the family observed the Jewish religious holidays and the kosher food laws – at their home in Heinrich-Barth-Strasse 21, they had two separate kitchens, one for meat, the other for dairy products. After the Nazis’ rise to power and the ensuing change in German society, the family moved even closer to their Jewish religion.
Accordingly, the family now mainly socialized with other Jews; Felix Levy only did business with non-Jews. He was a merchant, cigar manufacturer and partner in the company of Albrecht & Schmidt. When Jewish business people were banned from markets and fairs in January of 1936, Felix Levy was forced to cede his factory. From then on, the family also had to economize in the household. Nonetheless, Felix Levy tried to continue to support his three daughters, e.g. in their education and training, or in emigrating to Palestine. Qualified training of his daughters always had priority for him. According to her sister Hannah, Gerda was very orthodox. She attended the religious school for girls in Bieberstrasse. She preferred clothes of a simple style, in line with the traditional Jewish dress code for women. She always wore long skirts and kept her hair covered whenever she left the house.
At the beginning of the 1930s, she went to Cologne to train as a religion teacher at the Jewish Teachers’ Seminar, which was considered as very orthodox. Initially, elementary school teachers and religion teachers had been trained there. After 1933, only the training of religion teachers was allowed; Gerda was one of them and graduated in 1935. She then got a job at the "Molrlijah” private elementary school in Cologne.
Gerda married Zikmund Link, born 06/08 1890 in Topolčany in western Czechoslovakia. According to Gerda’s sister Hanna, the marriage was in 1937, and at the end of the thirties, Gerda and her husband moved to Pressburg, now Bratislava and capital of the re-established Slovak Republic. The exact address of their last residence and the reason for moving to Pressburg are unknown. Most likely the Slovak origin of Zikmund Link was the decisive factor for emigrating to eastern Europe.
Gerda and Zikmund Link had two children, the daughter Rakhel Link and the son Tzvi Link. In spite of the distance and the unfavorable circumstances for Jews in Germany, Gerda’s parents visited their daughter and her family in Pressburg in 1938, while their youngest daughter Hannah was taking a re-training course in Berlin. Felix Levy had to take a number of bureaucratic hurdles before the trip, which he described in a letter to Gerda dated July 29th, 1938: "We have requested the passport office to issue us passports so that we can visit our daughters in Pressburg in the month of August, and now we are supposed to submit a tax clearance certificate from the Currency Bureau and from our Tax Authority.”
The Link family obviously led a happy life in Bratislva up to their deportation. Eastern Europe became the new home of Gerda Link, ay native of Hamburg. She maintained close contact with her family in Germany. A letter of October 13th, 1940 to her sister is preserved, in which she gives a vivid and detailed account of her little daughter Rakhel.
But things had turned for the worse for the Jewish population when the Slovak Republic was established on March 14th, 1939 [as a satellite state of Germany]; Jews were now subject to a wave of discrimination. The Hlika Party ruling the new state for the first time raised the so-called "Jewish issue” – anti-Jewish propaganda featured in the party’s core policy. Nonetheless, Jewish survivors have described their relations to the ethnic majority o the Slovaks as harmonious. Anti-Semitism is said to have been rare, especially in Bratislava, the capital.
Under massive German influence, around two thirds of the Jewish population of Slovakia were deported to German concentration camps and murdered there already in 1942. The Links, however, at first remained untouched. No further transports were made until 1944. But the deportation transports to the extermination camps were resumed after German troops had occupied the country. Gerda Link, her husband and their children were probably deported to Auschwitz and killed on October 18th, 1944. According to Gerda Link’s nephew Gad Roznai, Bratislava is mentioned as their last residence in the Memorial Page of Yad Vashem.
Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: March 2017
© Özlem Alagöz
Quellen: Kultussteuerkartei, StaH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinde, 992b, Kultussteuerkarte Felix Levy; Telefonat Özlem Alagöz mit Alexandra Blöcker, am 23.2.2014; Blöcker, Alexandra: Adressen bisher nur über Angabe Hannah Flusser (E-Mail s. u.), unveröffentlicht , S. 1, [E-Mail Blöcker, A. vom 23.2.2014 (a)]; Blöcker, Alexandra: Angehörigenliste [E-Mail Blöcker, A. vom 23.2.2014 (b)]; StaH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident (Devisenstelle und Vermögenswertungsstelle), R 1938/1173; StaH 351-11_33453 Wiedergutmachungsakte, Jenny Jastrow (geb. Michael); StaH 314-15 Auswanderungsakte F 1479; Privatbesitz B. Meyer, Interview mit Hannah Flusser, geführt am 16.2.2001 von Beate Meyer; Privatbesitz Brief von Jenny Jastrow (geb. Michael) an Fanny, Hamburg 30.7.1935. Bundesarchiv, Liste der jüd. Einwohner des Deutschen Reiches 1933–1945, Zikmund Link: Yad Vashem, Zentrale Datenbank der Namen der Holocaustopfer; Gerda Link (Gedenkblatt): Yad Vashem, Zentrale Datenbank der Namen der Holocaustopfer; Rakhel Link (Gedenkblatt): Yad Vashem, Zentrale Datenbank der Namen der Holocaustopfer; Tzvi Link (Gedenkblatt): Yad Vashem, Zentrale Datenbank der Namen der Holocaustopfer; USHMM/JT5; Brief von Gerda Link (geb. Levy) an Ruth Rosettenstein (geb. Levy), 13.10.1940. Original im Privatbesitz Johanan Flusser. [E-Mail Anhang Johanan Flusser an Özlem Alagöz, 18.2.2014]. Corbach, Dieter: Die Jawne zu Köln. Zur Geschichte des ersten jüdischen Gymnasiums im Rheinland und zum Gedächtnis an Erich Klibansky. Gedenkbuch zur Ausstellung in Köln vom 12.–26.11.1990, Köln 1990. Tönsmeyer, Tatjana: Vom Desinteresse zur Hilfsbereitschaft Solidarität und Hilfe für verfolgte Juden in der Slowakei, in: Benz, Wolfgang/Wetzel, Juliane (Hrsg.): Solidarität und Hilfe für Juden während der NS-Zeit, Regionalstudien 4 Slowakei, Bulgarien, Serbien, Kroatien mit Bosnien und Herzegowina, Belgien, Italien, Berlin 2004, S. 15–60; Information Alexandra Blöcker v. 27.12.2017 u. Aug. 2018.