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Mina Pels (née Fürther) * 1866
Isestraße 39 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Mina Pels, née Fürther, born 8/1/1866 in Scheinfeld, Central Franconia, deported from the Netherlands to Sobibor on 4/27/1943, murdered there on 4/30/1943
Moritz Fürther (1832–1913), the father of Mina Pels, née Fürther, came from Central Franconia. In 1861, he married Anna Bing (1838–1911), who was also Jewish, in Nuremberg. The couple moved to Anna’s native town of Würzburg, where Moritz Fürther settled as a tanner and leather trader.
The Fürthers had four children: Isidor (1862–1931), Bernhard (1865–1933), Mina (born 1866) and Clothilde (born 1868). In 1892, Moritz Fürther gave up tanning and founded the leather store Bing & Fürther, most likely in partnership with Salomon Bing, jr. (1839–1903), a cousin of his wife Mina. The shop had a prime address, Kaiserplatz 1, directly opposite the main station. Moritz Fürther, trained as a tanner, had become a merchant. His sons Isidor and Bernhard absolved commercial apprenticeships and later joined their father’s company, which they eventually took over.
In 1901, Bernhard Fürther and his wife moved to Munich, where he ran the Bayerische Korkfabrik München, a cork factory. Moritz Fürther’s younger daughter Clothilde married Dr. chir. dent. J. Seligmann, a Berlin dental surgeon. In 1888, Clothilde’s elder sister married Mathias Pels from Hamburg, joining him in his hometown. Pels, ten years her senior, was a partner in a Hamburg private bank since 1876 (from around 1903 together with Emil Lippstadt) and had joined the city’s Jewish Community latest in 1913, and also belonged to the Versammlung eines Ehrbaren Kaufmanns zu Hamburg, an ethical association of merchants founded in 1517.
Several persons with the family name Pels lived in Hamburg from 1842 at the latest; they were of Jewish faith and came from the town of Emden, Presumably, they were related through several generations. In the Hamburg address book for 1842, there is only one entry for Pels: Adolph Pels, Rauhwaarenhandl. u. Mützenfabrik, Neuerwall no. 116 – "Fur Trader and Hatter.” When he received his Letter of Hamburg Citizenship in 1849, Adolph Pels’ (born around 1813) his trade was given as "furrier and hatter.”
In 1845, Mathias Pels, born in Emden, opened the Manufactur Waaren=Geschäft en gros M. Pels & Co., a wholesale store for manufactured goods. When the company closed in 1871, Mathias Jacob Pels (1817–1885) and Simon Jacob Pels (1819–1883) were listed in the company register as co-proprietors. In 1871, the latter opened his own business in the same sector, Firma Simon Pels. Due to lacking documents, an exact association of the persons and their relationship to each other is not possible. However, we may assume that the husband of Mina Pels, née Fürther, was related to the owners of M. Pels & Co., who came from Emden, where Abraham Jacob Pels was born.
Mina and Mathias Pels had three daughters: Henriette, called Henny, and Hedwig, born at Eichenallee 23 in Eimsbüttel (in 1891 and 1894), and Else, the youngest, born 1898 at Hallerstrasse 45 / corner of Parkallee in Harvestehude. World War I and its aftermath brought severe changes to the bank sector in Germany: ruptured foreign relations, war bonds, illiquidity, decline of investments, losses of capital from credit defaults and gambling on the stock exchange required a great degree of flexibility from banks. And you needed a bit of luck in the world of finance. We do not know exactly what economic troubles the Pels private bank had to cope with.
The bank Mathias Pels & Co., whose last office address was Grosse Bäckerstrasse 2 in Hamburg’s Old Town, was liquidated by a chartered accountant in October 1919. The same year, the family had moved from the third floor of the four-story house at Hansastrasse 64 in to Isestrasse 39 (both in Harvestehude). Their eldest daughter had moved to join her husband after marrying in 1918, and her younger sister left the parents’ home in 1923 when she married Leo Steingut, a Hamburg commercial advisor. In 1923, Mathias Pels retired from business life.
We may assume that the German hyperinflation of 1923 at east partly destroyed the family’s savings. Without employed members of the family, their income must have been meager. This was presumably the reason for them moving to Grindelberg 36. In August 1933, Mathias Pels died at the Israelitic Hospital at Eckernförderstrasse 4 in Altona-Nord; he was buried at the Jewish Cemetery in Ohlsdorf.
In the following, Schäferkampsallee 39 and, from September 1936, Clärchenstrasse 16, 2nd floor with Jonas are recorded as residential addresses for Mina Pels. From October 1937, she and her unmarried daughter Else lived as subtenants at Gryphiusstrasse 12, ground floor left with Porges. From 1937, the tax register of the Jewish Community recorded very slight payments for Else Pels, who then worked as a housemaid.
In quick succession, mother and daughter emigrated to Amsterdam, where their married elder daughter and sister Henny (Henriette) Jochems lived at Michelangelostraat 105 in July 1918. Henny Jochems, née Pels, had acquired Dutch citizenship by marriage to the Dutch citizen Isidorus Jochems, a widowed importer of watches.
Mina Pels left Hamburg in January 1939 with two suitcases of clothing and two "household crates” with china, glassware and ordinary cutlery. Else Pels moved to Willistrasse 1, where she worked as a housemaid for the Robinsohn family, owners of the Robinsohn clothing store in the center of town. Having initially intended to emigrate together with her mother, she finally followed her in May 1939. Mina Pels’ youngest daughter had already emigrated to the USA with her husband, a Berlin dentist. And it seemed that Mina and her two other daughters had reached safety in Holland.
Presumably on recommendation by her sister, Else Pels had been promised a job in Amsterdam from May 1939, and found accommodations at Tintorettostraat 39 in the south of the city – her eldest sister lived around the corner together with their mother in Michelangelostraat. However, after Germany seized and occupied the Netherlands a year later, the Jewish immigrants were again subject to German rule. A police decree issued by the Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Netherlands of May 2, 1942, ordered all Jews to wear the yellow "Jews’ star” in public. Henny Jochems, her husband and their two daughters temporarily went into hiding. On April 17th, 1943, 77-year-old Mina Pels was arrested in her apartment at Michelangelostraat 105, taken to the Dutch transit camp in Westerbork and deported to the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland ten days later. The Netherlands Red Cross dated her death at April 30th, 1943.
On June 8th, 1943, Else Pels was also deported to Sobibor and murdered in the gas chamber there. The Sobibor extermination camp had been established in 1942 after the Wannsee conference. According to the inheritance certificate of the Hamburg district court, Else Pels died on June 11th, 1943 in Sobibor. A Stumbling Stone before her last Hamburg residence in Willistrasse 1 commemorates her.
On Jan 20th, 1944, Else’s sister Henny/Henriette Jochems, née Pels, (born 9/18/1891) was taken to the Westerbork camp together with her husband Isidorus (born 1/19/1874 in Antwerp and their daughter Jenny Lucy (born 7/29/1915 in Amsterdam). On February 8th, 1944, the family was deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp, where they were murdered in the gas chamber on February 11th, 1944. Their daughter Marion, born in 1920, had been in hiding separated from her parents and survived the holocaust.
Isaak Pels (born 1878 in Emden), presumably a nephew of Mathias Pels (1856–1933), committed suicide on November 10th, 1941 to escape the imminent deportation to Minsk. Isaak’s brother Ludwig (= Liepmann) Pels, (born 1874 in Emden) succeeded in emigrating to Copenhagen in 1940 together with his wife Cäcilie, née Cohn, to join their children there. In his baggage, he carried several religious items, e.g. a "Thora scroll – ritual”, two metal candlesticks plus various "ritualia” and books. Clothilde Seligmann, née Fürther (born 9/24/1868), Mina Pels’ younger sister, lived in Berlin since her marriage, where her husband ran a dental surgery. From 1920 to 1934, the couple lived at Uhlandstrasse 28 (Berlin W 15), and then moved to Alexanderplatz 1. In the Berlin address book of 1939, there is no entry for the Seligmanns, meaning that they were no longer main tenants of an apartment and that they either lived as subtenants or had already been admitted to a "Jews’ house.” Clothilde Seligmann was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto on November 19th, 1942, where she died on February 9th, 1943.
Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: February 2018
© Björn Eggert
Quellen: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; StaHH 351-11 (AfW), 010865 (Minna Pels); StaHH 351-11 (AfW), 100320 (M.L. geb. J.); StaHH 231-3 (Handelsregister), B 3299 (M.Pels & Co., 1845–1871); StaHH 231-3 (Handelsregister), B 12938 (Simon Pels, 1871–1896); StaHH 314-15, FVg 2926 (Minna Pels); StaHH 314-15, FVg 4439 (Else Pels); StaHH 314-15, FVg 7952 (Liepmann/Ludwig Pels); Generalregister der Hamburger Standesämter, Sterbeurkunden 1885 (Mathias Jacob Pels), 1924 (Jacob Pels), 1933 (Mathias Pels); StaHH (Lesesaal), General-Trau-Register 1847–1850 und 1851–1854; StaHH (Lesesaal), Bürger-Register von 1845–1875, L-R; AB 1842, 1893, 1896, 1898, 1904, 1913, 1920, 1928, 1931, 1934; AB Berlin 1890, 1900, 1920, 1932–1935, 1939 (Dr. J. Seligmann); Amtl. Fernsprechbücher Hamburg 1895, 1901, 1909, 1914, 1920–1922; Gräber-Kartei des Jüdischen Friedhofs Ohlsdorf; Jürgen Sielemann, Aber seid alle beruhigt, Hamburg 2005, S. 115 (Fußnote 115: Ludwig Pels), S. 177, 180; www.joodsmonument.nl (eingesehen am 8.2.2007 u. 17.9.2008); Niederländisches Generalkonsulat, telefonische Auskunft zum Staatsangehörigkeits-Gesetz von 1892 (Artikel 15), 9.12.2008; Stadtarchiv Würzburg, Reiner Strätz, Biografisches Handbuch Würzburger Juden 1900–1945, 1989, S. 92–93, 186 (Familie Fürther); Stadtarchiv München (Hrsg.), Biografisches Gedenkbuch der Münchner Juden 1933–1945, Band 1, S. 398–399 (Bernhard Fürther); Stadtarchiv Emden, Informationen zu Mitgliedern der Familie Pels per E-Mail, 2008; Gilbert, Martin, Endlösung – Die Vertreibung und Vernichtung der Juden. Ein Atlas, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1982, S. 90, 160f.; Handelskammer Hamburg: Firmenarchiv (Mathias Pels & Co.); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, 11. Auflage, Hamburg 1910, S. 501; Hamburger Abendblatt 30.12.2006 (Der Ehrbare Kaufmann: Tradition seit fast 500 Jahren).
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