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Rita Ehrlich * 1938
Schanzenstraße 14 (Altona, Sternschanze)
BENTSCHEN / ZBASZYN
Benno (Bentzion) Ehrlich, born on 29 Sept. 1931 in Hamburg, expelled on 28 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn
Rita Ehrlich, born on 7 Jan. 1938 in Hamburg, expelled on 28 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn
Sabina (Sali) Ehrlich, née Goldenberg, born on 31 Oct. 1908 in Buczacz, expelled on 28 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn
Siegmund (Zigmund) Ehrlich, born on 5 Feb. 1908 in Buczacz, expelled on 28 Oct. 1938 to Zbaszyn
"It seemed to come from the room where, in daytime, people waited to be sent away … all those people with white, hopeful faces who wanted to go away because they were afraid and because they still thought the world was round. Impossible to explain to them that the rule was an exception and the exception no rule. Impossible to make clear to them the difference between God and a consular official. They never stopped hoping, pondering the imponderable and calculating the incalculable. They simply did not stop.”* Ilse Aichinger, Herod’s Children (Die grössere Hoffnung)
*Translation from Ilse Aichinger, Herod’s Children. New York: Atheneum, 1963, p. 6.
Sabina Ehrlich was one of six children of the married couple Jakob Israel and Regina (Rachel) Goldenberg, née Hekelmacher. Her brother Bernhard wrote about her education: "She completed about six grades of middle school [Mittelschule – a practice-oriented secondary school up to grade 10], then systematically devoted herself to piano training, which she had already pursued on the side before. She was very talented and since our family was well off, she took music lessons with, among others, a blind professor of the Vienna Conservatory who had moved to Cracow. … Overall, she probably trained for about ten years. A qualified pianist, she gave …, both before and after getting married, piano lessons that were very much appreciated and well paid.” Until her marriage with Siegmund Ehrlich in 1930, she lived in Cracow, then in Hamburg. At the end of Jan. 1931, she moved in with her husband to Stresemannstrasse 68.
Siegmund was a son of Karl Ehrlich, born in Buczacz in 1878. His mother was born in Komarno in 1881, a town located near what was then Lemberg – today Lviv in Ukraine – in Austrian Galicia and Lodomeria. He was born in Buczacz in 1908. On 10 Feb. 1910, his brother Leiser was born in Potok Zloty, Province of Lwow. The sons subsequently lived in Hamburg with their parents, Siegmund from Apr. 1919 onward at Altonaer Amselstrasse 11 – today Bei der Schilleroper – and afterward at nearby Stresemannstrasse 68. As of 1928/29, he was taxed as a member of the Jewish Community. Siegmund worked as a sales representative.
In the year following the marriage of Sabina and Siegmund, their son Benno was born. In the summer of 1935, the Ehrlichs were registered with the authorities in Hoisdorf near Trittau for six weeks. In Oct. of that same year, the family left Hamburg once again, this time for Flensburg. Eight months later, they returned to Stresemannstrasse to live with Siegmund’s parents. At the end of Mar. 1937, they moved into an apartment of their own at Schanzenstrasse 14. The home, measuring approx. 120 square meters (1291 sq. ft.), featured five living quarters and bedrooms.
This was also the place of residence of Siegmund’s brother Leiser with his wife Elsa, née Ströhlein, until their emigration to Buenos Aires in Argentina on 12 Jan. 1938. Only a few days before, on 7 Jan., Siegmund’s and Sabina’s daughter Rita had been born. In the year 1938, Siegmund was employed with Saemann & Co. in Frankfurt/Main at Schöne Aussicht 6, and from June 1938, he once again worked as a salaried employee in Hamburg. Sabina (also called Sali) gave piano lessons – but the number of those taking private lessons with her had declined starting approx. in 1935 since – as her brother later explained – "her students were Jews for the most part.”
From July to Sept. 1938, the family lived at Heinrich-Barth-Strasse 10. According to information in a letter by Sabina to her brother, they had again moved in with Siegmund’s parents in order to save rent. In Sept., they returned to Schanzenstrasse 14. At the latest by the time Siegmund had been given notice of termination, Sabina knew that they could not stay in Germany. However, due to altered immigration regulations in Argentina, Siegmund’s brother Leiser was unable to contribute anything toward Siegmund’s family obtaining an entry visa. Thus, in early Sept. 1938, Sabina wrote a desperate letter to her brother Bernhard, who had emigrated from Cracow to Palestine in 1935, asking him to "send a [immigration] certificate.” The letter shows just how certain she was that Jews would not be able to stay. However, she had no time left to emigrate.
"Dear Brother! Hamburg, 5 Sept. 1938
Two weeks ago, I wrote you a letter but so far I have not received a reply. Hopefully, you are well and in good health. Surely, you will wonder about the fact that I am already writing to you again, but I have a great favor to ask of you if you can manage. So, I would like to ask you to send us a certificate. For as I have already written to you in the previous letter, we must get out of here. We had hoped that Siegmund’s brother Leiser could request us. However, by now, new laws have been issued in Buenos Aires, and you can only request parents after a period of two years and parents their children. According to that, we would have to wait for four more years, and that we cannot do because dear Siegmund has been given notice of termination as of 1 Oct., which means we are at a loss what to do. Therefore, we moved in with our parents, at least that does not cost as much. Believe me, my dear brother, that we are so desperate for we cannot stay here and we also do not know where to emigrate. It is outright dreadful. Therefore, I would like to ask you to use anything in your power to send us a certificate. A great number of people are going from here to Erez these days because you have to get out, after all, and take along everything, the main thing is to get out. As you know, dear Siegmund is, knock on wood, a healthy man and able to tackle anything. The main thing, however, is that he ought to be the breadwinner of his family. I hope you will succeed in sending us a certificate. I will be forever thankful to you and you, too, will have a home, won’t you?
I hope to receive word from you soon and that you will write to me in detail whether we have cause to hope at all. I hope that you will be successful and that we will be together some day. Thank God, everyone is healthy around here and I hope to hear the same about you. Dear Rita, knock on wood, is coming along very beautifully and dear Benno, too, goes to school and learns quite nicely.
I beg you to write me an answer immediately!
Everyone here sends greetings and wishes you all the best.
Your faithful sister Sali
The dear parents-in-law also send their greetings”
Sabina was initially – like her younger brother Bernhard – stateless and obtained Polish citizenship only through her marriage with Siegmund Ehrlich. When on 28 Oct. 1938 approx. 4,800 Polish Jews were expelled to Zbaszyn, Siegmund, his parents Karl and Fajga, Sabina, their son Benno and Rita, only a few months old, were among them. From that day on, Benno no longer attended teacher Mayer’s grade V 1 at the Talmud Tora School, where he had been enrolled in Apr. of that year.
Bernhard reported that after the expulsion, the family "dwelt in no-man’s-land for some eight months.” In the summer of 1939, Sabina and "her family got permission to enter Poland, where they were surprised by the war in Buczacz. Since the outbreak of the German-Russian war, I have not heard anything anymore (1942) of my entire family (parents, siblings, brother-in-law, nephew, and niece), and I have to assume that they perished in the course of the well-known persecution of Jews.”
Siegmund’s brother Leiser became terminally ill in Buenos Aires. He regarded as the reasons for his illness, in addition to the change in diet after the emigration, the mental strain caused by the murder of all of his family members. He died in Sept. 1955.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Christiane Jungblut
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; StaH 351-11 AfW, Abl. 2008/1, 100210 Ehrlich, Leiser; StaH 351-11 AfW, Abl. 2008/1, 311008 Ehrlich, Sabine; StaH 362-6/10 Talmud-Tora-Schule, TT 21, TT 26.
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