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Paula Fraenkel * 1903
Kielortallee 6 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)
Paula Fraenkel, born 5 Mar. 1903 in Hamburg, murdered on 23.9.1940 in the death camp Brandenburg/Havel
Hulda Fraenkel, née Seidel, born 3 Mar. 1872 in Ostrowo, deported 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga
Lotte Fraenkel, born 20 Aug. 1917 in Hamburg, deported 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga
Stumbling Stones Hamburg–Eimsbüttel, Kielortallee 6
Paula Fraenkel was born in Hamburg on 5 Mar. 1903. Her parents, Bernhard and Hulda Fraenkel, belonged to the jewish faith and originated from what is now Ostrow Wielkopolska in Poland but belonged to Prussia under the name of Ostrowo until 1918. Bernhard Fraenkel was born on 22 Jan. 1858 and Hulda on 3 Mar. 1872. Around 1900, the couple settled in Königstrasse 43 (now part of Poststrasse) in Hamburg-Neustadt. They had four children: Edwin Horst born on 12 Feb. 1901, Paula born on 5 Mar. 1903, Walter born 22 Oct. 1904, died on 2 December 1904 and, 12 years later, Lotte born on 20 Aug. 1917.
For a short period the couple ran a billiard ball factory at the former Königstraße 43. In 1903 they opened a manufactured goods shop two houses up the street at number 47. The family moved into an apartment in this building in 1907. Two years later, however, Hulda and Bernhard had to give up the shop and the apartment, when the buildings on Königstraße were torn down during the expansion of the city. They and the children then moved to an apartment at Hartungstraße 18 in Hamburg-Rotherbaum, where Bernhard worked as a free-lance "researcher.” From 1915 he worked as an employee at the Schlump Tax Office. The following year, the family changed their address again and moved to Kielortallee 6. On 1 April 1920, Bernhard Fraenkel switched to the office of the Chief Finance President in Hamburg (Oberfinanzpräsidium, OFD). However, the security he gained from this position was deceptive. On 31 Dec. 1923, he and many other employees were dismissed as a result of the "Decree on Reducing Personnel Costs of the Empire,” or for short, the "Personnel Reduction Decree” which had been passed three months before. As a result, Bernhard Fraenkel tried to earn money to support the family through dealing in bread (so called "Rheinlandklöben”). However, he was not successful and the family was soon dependent on welfare support. The boarding contributions from Erwin and Paul Fraenkel made no difference to this. Erwin Fraenkel worked as an errand boy at the delicatessen Heimerdinger but was dismissed because of too low turnover. Paula Fraenkel had trained as a saleswoman, but she was mostly unemployed and worked only for short periods in various household positions. Lotte Fraenkel was due to be admitted to the Israelite Girls School in Karolinenstrasse. The welfare worker described Bernhard Fraenkel in 1925 as physically "wretched” and Hulda Fraenkel as "invalid”. Her physician, Dr. Kurt Neufeld, treated her without accepting payment. Concerning Paula Fraenkel, it was reported that she was ill and "presently (1925) in the Segeberg Rest Home”. On 12 May 1927 Bernhard Fraenkel died in the Israelite Hospital aged 69. In the meantime, Lotte had received a gratis place in the Israelite Girls School. As a result of extreme poverty, the family received meals from the soup kitchen of the Jewish Community.
After the death of her husband, Hulda Fraenkel continued to live in Kielortallee.
In her desperate situation, Hulda Fraenkel summoned the courage to approach the president of the German Reich, Paul von Hindenburg, on 25 Oct. 1931. The text of the petition was:
"Dear Mr. President of the Reich,
in the current difficult times, esteemed Mr. President of the Reich, you are probably overwhelmed with petitions, nonetheless I dare to do so as a fellow countrywoman since I have heard so much about your accessibility and sympathy. I was born on 3 March 1871 in Ostrowo, Prussian Posen, as the daughter of a well to do business man. My husband, who died four years ago, was also a native of Ostrowo whose parents owned a sawmill there and who were the largest tax payers in the town. My husband’s brother, who was an advisor on commission business, was a recipient of the Crown Medal 2nd class which was awarded to him on 14 Oct. 1900 at the inauguration of the memorial to Kaiser Wilhelm I to which he was the greatest contributor. Coming from such a background and having had such a youth, it is very bad to live from social welfare payments which amount to 13 Marks per month. I have my own apartment for which I pay 56 Marks a month and from which I have rented one room. My eldest son is thirty years old and suffers from chronic asthma, my 28 years old daughter has developed a disease of the nerves as a result of the seriousness of the times we live in and poor jobs and has been in a sanatorium in Langenhorn near Hamburg for three years. My youngest daughter (born under a lucky star) is now leaving school and also does not know what will become of her since she is not very healthy and suffers from anemia. My late husband worked for the tax authority for the last nine years and, if he had worked one more year, I would perhaps have had a small pension. His contributions to the Reichs Insurance program were also short by 16 months so that I have nothing to hope for. Many a mother would have lost her head but my children cannot do without me. My daughter who is ill is waiting for my visit.
With the request to improve my situation, perhaps to arrange to get a small pension for me, I remain
Yours faithfully and obediently
Mrs. Hulda Fraenkel
Hamburg, Kielortallee 6 II r
As gathered from the newspaper, the President of the Reich has celebrated his 84th birthday. My belated heartiest congratulations together with wishes for a very long, healthy und untroubled old age.
The eldest son, Erwin, attended Dr. Joseph Unna’s private school on Wrangelstraße, then went to the Talmud Tora School. When his sister Lotte was born in 1917 he was apprenticing as a waiter at the Heimerdinger company, "Purveyor to the Court, fine foods, and catering service,” on Neuer Wall. After his apprenticeship he was hired by the company, and stayed there until the middle of the 1920s, working at the end as an errand boy as described above.
Since his childhood, however, his greatest wish was to become a magician. Parallel to his work, he taught himself the skill he needed for it – both teaching himself and consistently taking lessons at the János Bartl company, a renowned firm for "magic apparatuses and illusions,” located on Jungfernstieg. By 1930 he had achieved his goal, and he became a professional magician. His specialty were "card manipulations.” Under the pseudonym Erwin Frankoni, he fascinated young and old alike with his conjuring tricks, on the stage, at markets, or in variety shows. He became a member of the "Hamburg Magic Circle,” an association for professional and amateur magicians which still exists today. And he became friends with Clara Benthien, the owner of Benthiens Weinstube, Hamburg’s legendary artists’ tavern on the corner of Brandsende and Raboisen. "Tante Clara” was not only famous for her sandwiches and popular ballads, in the back rooms she helped persecuted Jews flee the country.
The National Socialist seizure of power at the beginning of 1933 ensured that Erwin Fraenkel could not work in his dream job for long. As a "full Jew”, they revoked his performance license almost completely as soon as they came to power. He was only allowed to perform at small markets.
On 14 June 1933, Erwin married Rosina Lindermeier from Derching, near Augsburg. She was three years younger than him and Catholic. Her parents owned a farm, where she had to assist them since she was a child. She did not learn a trade. She had moved to Hamburg in 1926 to live with one of her sisters, and had worked as a buffet and kitchen assistant until her marriage. Since Rosina and Erwin Fraenkel had no children, their marriage was not considered "privileged” after December 1938 according to Nazi racial ideology, which would have offered Erwin better protection. He was thus forced to wear the "Jews’ star” from September 1941 onwards, and was constantly in danger of being deported, although his deportation was postponed for a while. Rosina was called numerous times to the Gestapo offices on Rothenbaumchaussee. She was urged to get divorced, but she refused. Because she was mistakenly listed by the Gestapo as "Rosina Sara Fraenkel”, she finally also received an "evacuation order”, as the deportation notifications were euphemistically called. When she read the letter, she suffered a heart attack.
In 1938 Erwin Fraenkel’s trade license as a travelling salesman was also revoked, which was tantamount to a complete occupational ban. In the following months he worked as a janitor, a waiter, and a cigarette salesman, until he was conscripted to forced labor from October 1939 to August 1941. Willibald Schallert, the head of the office for forced labor at the Hamburg unemployment office, assigned him to various companies and to a private household for excavation, gardening, and construction work. He worked at a generator plant in Borstel, a company in Volksdorf that constructed shooting ranges, the Walter Bibow excavation company on Schäferstraße in Eimsbüttel, the Hechter paintbrush company in Borgfelde, and for the bank director Hermann Huth in Blankenese. At the Bibow company the unemployment office informed the forced laborers one day in advance where they would be working, and they had to gather at 5 or 6 o’clock the next morning at the Schlump subway station to travel, under guard, (often by Schallert personally) to their workplace. There the Gestapo checked again to make sure the men on the list actually have showed up.
From January to July 1942 Erwin Fraenkel received subsidies from the Reich Association of Jews in Germany (Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland). He worked as a substitute waiter at their community center. After that he again had to do forced labor, almost constantly until February 1945. He was once again assigned to construction work at shooting ranges in Volksdorf, and he also had to work for the Gestapo. While the work for companies and private households at least brought a minimal hourly wage of 73 Pfennige an hour minus a 15 percent "Jews’ tax,” the Gestapo paid absolutely nothing. For this he had to do the following work: help the Gestapo move several times, from Beneckestraße to Rothenbaumchaussee, from there to Sievekingplatz and then to the Johannisbollwerk. He had to transport huge quantities of files to safety in the bunker at Heiligengeistfeld, and later to the waste incineration plant in Bahrenfeld to be destroyed there, as they were now incriminating. In addition, after the bombing raids in July and August 1943 Erwin Fraenkel had to help Gestapo employees who had lost their accommodation in the bombing to move and get new furniture for them. He had to help with the deportations, get furniture from the apartments of deported Jews for Gestapo members, and get wood and other materials to build benches for the empty cattle cars used for the deportations. This last job was assigned to him by the Reich Association of Jews in Germany, which was under the control of the Reich Security Main Office and the Gestapo from July 1939 until 1943, when is was dissolved.
1936 Hulda and Lotte Fraenkel had already moved to Kleiner Schäferkamp 32. The building was later declared a "Jews’ house.” Erwin and Rosina Fraenkel were forced to move to the "Jews’ house” at Bornstraße 22 in 1941.
Unlike Erwin Fraenkel, almost nothing is known about his younger sisters Lotte and Paula. Lotte, the youngest, worked as a household help until 1934, after that she had no taxable income.
Paula Fraenkel seems to have suffered from mental illness. She lived for a long time with her family. She was a patient in the State Clinic in Friedrichsberg several times during 1927 and 1928 and was finally transferred to the State Clinic in Langenhorn. On 31 Aug. 1935, the City of Hamburg signed a contract with the Regional Association of the Inner Mission of Schleswig-Holstein for the transfer of Hamburg patients to Rickling, starting with 30 men and 150 women. As a result, on 5 Dec. 1935 Paula Fraenkel arrived at the Lindenhof house in the Holstein Sanatorium for Mental and Alcohol related diseases which had been renamed as the "Ricklinger Anstalten”.
In 1938, the management of the Rickling clinics tried to "exchange” the jewish patients living there for non-Jewish ones. Supposedly, the clinic management was frightened of losing its charitable status and the tax advantages linked to this "if we do not take in exclusively German patients”. As a result, four male patients were transferred to the State Clinic Langenhorn. The reasons why Paula Fraenkel as a Jew was initially left in Rickling are not known.
In spring/summer 1940, the "Euthanasia” Central Office in Berlin Tiergartenstrasse 4 planned a special operation against Jews living in public and private clinics and care homes. They arranged for the Jewish patients living in the clinics to be registered and brought together in so-called Collecting Institutions (Sammelanstalten). The Hamburg Langenhorn clinic was chosen as the northern German Collecting Clinic. All establishments in Hamburg, Schleswig Holstein and Mecklenburg were instructed to transfer the patients in question to Langenhorn by 18 Sept. 1940.
Paula Fraenkel arrived at Langenhorn on 7 Sept. 1940. On 23 Sept. she was transferred together with a further 135 patients to Brandenburg near by the river Havel. The transport reached the city in the State of Brandenburg the same day. A part of the former prison had been converted into a gas extermination center. The patients were herded straight away into the gas chamber and killed with carbon monoxide. Only Ilse Herta Zachmann escaped this fate for the time being (see the entry on her).
It was noted on Paula Fraenkel’s entry in the birth register that her death had been registered by the Registry Office Cholm II under the number 276/41. The people murdered in Brandenburg were never in either Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German). The Polish clinic which had previously been there did no longer exist after SS units murdered nearly all the patients on 12 Jan. 1940. There was also no German Registry Office in Chelm, a city to the east of Lublin. This invention and the use of dates of death later than the real ones served to cover up the murder and at the same time to claim living expenses for a correspondingly longer period of time.
Erwin Fraenkel received his deportation orders in February 1945. He and his wife immediately fled to Wellingsbüttel where they, as Rosina Fraenkel later reported "had to live in a dog kennel for three weeks”.
Erwin Fraenkel survived the Shoah. After the war he and his wife lived in an apartment owned by the Hamburg Jewish Community at Bundesstraße 35b. He tried to return to his profession as a magician but the years of forced labour had taken such a toll on his health that he soon no longer had the energy to perform. He died on 9 August 1965 in Hamburg aged 64.
His mother Hulda and sister Lotte were deported to Riga – Jungfernhof on 6 Dec. 1941. There all trace of them was lost. Stumbling stones at Kielortallee 6, Hamburg- Eimsbüttel commemorate Hulda, Lotte and Paula Fraenkel.
Translator: Amy Lee updated by Steve Robinson
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Frauke Steinhäuser
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; AB; StaH 133-1 III Staatsarchiv III, 3171-2/4 U.A. 4, Liste psychisch kranker jüdischer Patientinnen und Patienten der psychiatrischen Anstalt Langenhorn, die aufgrund nationalsozialistischer "Euthanasie"-Maßnahmen ermordet wurden, zusammengestellt von Peter von Rönn, Hamburg (Projektgruppe zur Erforschung des Schicksals psychisch Kranker in Langenhorn); 332-5 Standesämter 926 Sterberegister Nr. 211/1927 Bernhard Fraenkel, 13558 Geburtsregister Nr. 681/1901 Erwin Horst, 10304 Sterberegister Nr. 751/1977 Rosina Fraenkel, 10172 Sterberegister Nr. 2080/1965 Erwin Fraenkel, 13925 Geburtsregister Nr. 616/1903 Paul Fraenkel, 14232 Geburtsregister Nr. 2419/1904 Walter Fraenkel; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 29086 Rosina Fraenkel, 24373 Erwin Fraenkel-Frankoni; 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge – Sonderakten 1155 Hulda Fraenkel, 1156 Lotte Fraenkel; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26.8.1939 bis 27.1.1941; 352-8-7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 2-1995 16811 (Patientenakte Paula Fraenkel); UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patienten-Karteikarte Paula Fraenkel der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg; JSHD Forschungsgruppe "Juden in Schleswig-Holstein", Datenpool Erich Koch, Schleswig; Landesverein für Innere Mission Rickling, Archiv. Bartl-Engelhardt, Birgit, Aus der Zauberhistorie des Magischen Zirkels Hamburg; Treffpunkt Tante Clara, "Hamburgs Sphinx", Ausstellung von Nele Lipp (KoïnziDance e. V.) in der Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky, 18.1.–3.3.2013, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky, Ausst.-Heft Nr. 2. Guth, Karin, Bornstraße 22. Ein Erinnerungsbuch, Hamburg 2001, S. 99. Littmann, Friederike, Ausländische Zwangsarbeiter in der Hamburger Kriegswirtschaft 1939–1945, Hamburg 2014. Rönn von, Wege in den Tod, 1993, S. 70f. Wunder, Michael, Die Transporte in die Ricklinger Anstalten, in: Rönn von, Wege in den Tod, S. 256ff.
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