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Julius Prag * 1896
Wexstraße 42 (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)
Frieda Prag, née Bleiweiss, born 9 July 1899 in Neumünster, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Julius Prag, born 9 Feb. 1896 in Königsberg, deported 8 Nov. 1942 to Minsk
Hannelore Bezen, born am 22 July 1931 in Hamburg, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Frieda Prag grew up with six siblings in Neumünster where her parents Siegmund Bleiweiss (born 1 Feb. 1869 in Lübeck) and Selma, née Löwenthal (born 21 Sept. 1873 in Wöllmarshausen), ran a furniture store. Her parents moved from Neumünster to Hamburg’s Neustadt, Elbstraße 60 (today Neanderstraße), in 1919 where they opened another furniture store (see the Bleiweiss Family).
Nothing is known about Frieda’s years in school. She may have worked at her parents’ business afterwards. Equally little is known as to whether she received occupational training. On 5 Sept. 1930 she married the Jewish upholsterer and decorator from Romania Aron/Arno Bezen (born 5 Apr. 1899 in Targoviste). He ran a workshop at Elbstraße 60 that likely collaborated with the furniture store of his parents-in-law. On 22 July 1931 their daughter Hannelore was born. She remained their only child since her parents soon separated. They were not officially divorced until Jan. 1935.
After their separation, Frieda Bezen lived alone with her daughter Hannelore at Wexstraße 42 and probably had to rely on income from lodgers to pay for her 4½-room apartment. In Oct. 1935 she took in the lodger Julius Prag, her future second husband.
Julius Prag was born the son of Julius Louis Prag and Johanna, née Levy, in East Prussian Königsberg. His parents ran a store, but it must have been small since their younger son Max Prag (born 4 June 1900) was forced to give up higher education for financial reasons. Both brothers trained in commercial work. Julius Prag moved to Hamburg in 1927 and initially worked as a salesman at various large department stores, like the clothing store of Gebr. Hirschfeld at Neuen Wall 19 and at Rudolf Karstadt AG on Mönckebergstraße. In the beginning he lived at Peterstraße 63 and then moved to a sublet at St. Anscharplatz 2. Julius Prag gave up his job to become self-employed with a tobacco shop in a municipal shopping pavilion in Altona. When the landlord, the City of Altona, gave the space to a disabled veteran instead, Julius Prag moved to Eilbek, Hammersteindamm 22. In June 1935 he was registered at Hufnerstraße 123 in Hamburg-Barmbek as a lodger of Hoffmann, despite the fact that he had been living at Hellkamp 37 in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel since July 1934 and ran a cigar shop out of the building’s basement. The business, however, was not profitable so he had to give up the shop and his apartment at the end of Aug. 1935. Julius Prag became a lodger of Frieda Bezen at Wexstraße 42. The two were married on 17 July 1936.
Julius Prag found work as a sales assistant at the carpet seller Teppich-Juster at Ellerntorsbrücke 5, then he worked as a storekeeper for the company Wolfsohn at Hohe Bleichen 40/42. Both companies were "Aryanized” in 1938.
During the pogrom the night of 9 to 10 Nov. 1938, he was taken into custody for a short time but was not taken to a concentration camp like so many other Jews in "protective custody”. Julius Prag was then called up to do "compulsory work”. In Buxtehude and Tiefstaak (today Tiefstack) on Kruppstraße, he had to do heavy excavation labor which he, according to a report, "did not have the physical build for”. Frieda Prag tried to keep the family above water by taking in ironing work. She had set up a room for it behind the kitchen. Some days she also worked for the laundry Röpper & Vogels.
In Mar. 1938 the Prags moved two buildings up the road to Wexstraße 38, probably to a cheaper apartment. As of Aug. 1937 Julius’ brother Max Prag lived with them along with his non-Jewish wife Margarethe Dora, née Geng (born 7 July 1901). The childless couple had been forced to give up their jobs as carnival workers in East Prussia following "considerable threats” and "rabble-rousing boycott measures”. They had sold off their household in Königsberg and resettled in Hamburg.
In Feb. 1939 they left their apartment on Wexstraße. Frieda and Julius Prag temporarily moved to Frieda’s family at Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße 115 until they were given a small apartment in the rear courtyard of the Lazarus-Samson-Cohen-Eheleute and Levy-Hertz-Eheleute Foundation at Neuen Steinwegs 78 in Mar. 1939. The old oak-frame house still belonged to the former Jewish community. Evidently Frieda Prag also found work there, a note on her religious tax card stated, "domestic worker of Nordheimstift II”.
On 8 Nov. 1942 the Prags were deported along with the 10-year-old Hannelore Bezen to Minsk Ghetto. After their deportation, their household furnishings, which Frieda Prag had received from her parents as a wedding present, were publically auctioned off by the Hamburg auctioneer Huck. The proceeds of 474.48 Reich Marks were paid into the account of the tax office "for the benefit of the German Reich”.
Max and Margarethe Prag found accommodation at Steinwegpassage 1. Later they had to move into the "Jewish house” at Rutschbahn 25a. Max Prag was compelled by the director of the special services department of the labor office, Willibald Schallert, to work at jobs in Heiligenhafen and at a warehouse in Ilienworth near Otterndorf doing excavation work. During the last three years he worked at the hemp spinning plant Hanfspinnerei Steen & Co in Hamburg-Lokstedt. Protected by marriage to his non-Jewish wife, Max Prag survived the end of the war and again worked for a brief time in a carnival. He died on 17 Dec. 1955 in Hamburg-Bergedorf.
Aron Bezen, Frieda’s first husband, was deported to Lodz on 25 Oct. 1941 along with his second wife Erna, née Hecht (born 26 May 1905 in Herford), and their children Leonhard (born 22 July 1938) and Bilha Erna (born 5 Dec. 1939). Erna and her children were deported on to Chelmno (Kulmhof) extermination camp on 29 Sept. 1942 and killed in a gas van. Aron Bezen stayed behind in Lodz Ghetto. His fate is not known.
Stumbling Stones have been laid for the Bezen Family at Winterhuder Weg 86. (see Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Barmbek and Hamburg-Uhlenhorst)
Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: May 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl
Quellen: 1; 9; StaH 351-11 AfW 21972 (Prag, Frieda); StaH 351-11 AfW 24448 (Prag, Margarethe); StaH 351-11 AfW 22285 (Bezen, Aron); 351-11 AfW 29231 (Kanter, Sella); StaH 351-11 AfW 21148 (Bleiweiss, Selig); StaH 351-11 AfW 260015 (Haendler, Caroline) StaH 351-11 AfW 2234 (Bleiweiss, Selma); StaH 314-15 Abl. 1998 P358; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 13431 u 577/1930; USHMM, RG 15.083, 301/103-105, Auskunft von Fritz Neubauer Universität Bielefeld, E-Mail vom 31.1.2010; Auskünfte von Judis Birke-Bleiweiss 2008.
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