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Erich Koppel, 1939
Erich Koppel, 1939
© Nationalarchiv Belgien (NAB)

Erich Koppel * 1914

Krohnskamp 72 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

JG. 1914

Erich Koppel, born on 14 June 1914 in Hamburg, deported on 13 Sept. 1942 from Drancy/France to Auschwitz

Krohnskamp 72 (Winterhude)

According to the files of the Belgian Ministry of Justice, Erich Koppel was born on 14 June 1914, but according to the Hamburg Memorial Book and Camp Rivesaltes (Pyrenees), he was born in Hamburg on 12 June 1914. He was the youngest child of the merchant Max Hirsch Koppel (1863–1938) and the seamstress (for undyed fabrics) Amalie "Malchen” Koppel, née Heilbut (1871–1959). In 1893, his parents had married in Hamburg where both had been born. Erich’s grandfathers were the merchant and Hamburg citizen Hirsch Koppel (1831–1919) and the cigar maker Jacob Heilbut (born in 1841).

Erich’s six siblings, considerably older, were also born in Hamburg: Mathilde Wulf, née Koppel (1894–1942?); John Koppel (1896–1978); Herbert Koppel (1897–after 1970); Gertrud Gumpel, née Koppel (1898–1942?); Paul Koppel (1900–1901); and Edith Stoppelmann, née Koppel (1904–1942?).

A few weeks after Erich’s birth, the First World War began. The mobilization also affected the two oldest sons of the Koppel family, who received their draft notices in 1915 and 1916, respectively, and had to fight as soldiers for "emperor and fatherland.”

His father was too old for this at the age of 51; he had done his military service with Infantry Regiment 26 starting in 1883. He was a partner in the "M. & R. Koppel Kaufleute” company (1885–1889), which also sold "Putz- und Modewaren” [fashion accessories and goods] (1890) at 2nd Elbstrasse 1 for a short time. He then ran his own ready-to-wear lingerie shop under his name at Wexstrasse 18/Hamburg-Neustadt (1891–1893), then again an accessories and fashion goods store at 2nd Elbstrasse 1 (1894–1896) and 2nd Elbstrasse 15 (1897–1899), and he finally converted it into a shop for job lots, where outdated or slightly damaged goods were offered at a reduced price. This store was located at 2nd Elbstrasse 15 (1900), Elbstrasse 86 (1901–1911), and for about three to four years simultaneously at Thielbeck 10 on the ground floor/Hamburg-Neustadt (among others, 1907–1929). Temporarily his brother Leo Koppel (born on 8 Aug. 1870) was also active in the business. Max Koppel indicated "trader” as his job designation on the birth certificates of his children. The business was lucrative, enabling Max Koppel to acquire Hamburg citizenship in 1903, for which an annual income of at least 1,200 marks had to be proven for five consecutive years.

The frequently changing apartments of the Koppel family were located at Marienstrasse 76/St. Pauli (1894), Reeperbahn 48/St. Pauli (1894), Marienstrasse 64/St. Pauli (1895–1897), Neuer Steinweg 66/Neustadt (1898–1899), Seilerstrasse 13/St. Pauli (1900–1902), Brüderstrasse 26/Neustadt (1903–1908), Rentzelstrasse 14/Rotherbaum (1909–1911), Grindelhof 53 on the third floor (1912–1915), Grindelhof 62/Rotherbaum (1916–1930), Winterhuder Marktplatz 6-7/Winterhude (1931), and Grasweg 15/Winterhude (1932–1933).

In 1916, the 85-year-old grandfather Hirsch Koppel moved in with Max and Amalie Koppel after the death of his wife Esther Koppel, née Jacob (1833–1916); he died three years later in the Israelite Hospital.

Unlike his two older brothers, Erich Koppel attended the Thaer Oberrealschule [a secondary school without Latin] for boys just outside the Holstentor (now the Albrecht-Thaer-Gymnasium) in Hamburg-St. Pauli (Holstenglacis) up to the Untersekunda (10th grade) in Mar. 1931 (thus going to school for two years longer than his brothers). He then completed an apprenticeship, working as a shipping agent at Schenker & Co. in Hamburg (Spitalerstrasse 10) from 1 Apr. 1931 to 31 Mar. 1934. Because of the experiences of marginalization in Nazi Germany, he emigrated to Spain in Apr. 1934, and from Jan. 1935, he is said to have stayed in Madrid. The Residents’ Registration Office in Hamburg had received notice of deregistration for Madrid dated 14 Jan. 1935. He was probably the first member of the Koppel family to emigrate.

His brother Herbert Koppel (born on 14 Sept. 1897) worked in his father’s company after attending the Talmud Tora Realschule [a practice-oriented secondary school up to grade 10] (1904–1912), completing an apprenticeship with Gebr. Robinsohn "Spezialhaus für Seidenstoffe und Damenmoden” (Robinsohn Bros. "Special silk fabrics and women’s fashion house”) at Neuer Wall (1912–1915) and participating in the war as a "musketeer” (1916–1919), until the company was liquidated in 1926. He lived with his wife Rosa and daughter Marion at Goldbekufer 42 (1931–1932) and Ulmenstrasse 5a (1932–1933). He emigrated with his family on a workers’ immigration certificate via Trieste to Palestine in Sept. 1933.

The Hamburg directory listed a merchant M. Koppel as the main tenant at Krohnskamp 72 on the fourth floor (Winterhude) starting in 1934; this was his father Max Koppel. It was common at that time for unmarried men, even at the age of 30 or 40, to continue living with their parents – this was also true of Erich Koppel. The apartment building at Krohnskamp 72, built between 1926 and 1928, belonged to the Gemeinnützige Deutsche Wohnungsbau-Gesellschaft m.b.H., a housing cooperative, which had its administrative headquarters at the rear of the building at Heidberg 58. From 1936 to 1938, the residential address was Krohnskamp 84 on the third floor, the renting company had remained the same, but by this time, its administrative headquarters were located at Holstenwall 8. Max Koppel died in Jan. 1938 in the Jewish Hospital in Hamburg.

During Erich Koppel’s exile in Spain, where he apparently worked as a shipping agent, the civil war began there in mid-1936, ending in Mar. 1939 with the invasion of the right-wing putschist general Franco in Madrid. On 16 Jan. 1939, Erich Koppel had a Spanish passport for stateless persons (without indication of nationality) issued by the Governor of Madrid, valid for three months, and four days later, he received a two-day visa from the Belgian Vice-Consul in Madrid, valid from his arrival in Belgium. Erich Koppel took the train to Brussels via Paris on 14 Feb. 1939.

The "Gendarmerie Nationale, Brigade d’Information” noted in a short "report” his arrival and his temporary residence status in Belgium. Erich Koppel’s destination was Antwerp, where his sister Edith, ten years his senior, and brother-in-law Gerhard Stoppelmann, who had been living in exile since 1935, had owned a trading company for animal hair and wool since 1936. On his Belgian company stationery – and with reference to his Dutch citizenship – Gerhard Stoppelmann applied for a Belgian residence permit for Erich Koppel. A lawyer was also enlisted.

At the same time, Erich Koppel tried, from Mar. to June 1939, to get a visa for Mexico. Although he was in poor health, he went to consulates to continue his journey because Belgium would not grant him a permanent right of residence. In Apr. 1939, the Belgian Ministry of Justice/Office for Public Security ("Openbare Veiligheid”) in Brussels denied Koppel’s status as a refugee, since he had not entered Belgium directly from Germany, but via Spain.

In Antwerp, he lived together with his mother Amalie Koppel, who had emigrated to the neutral neighboring country on 10 Aug. 1938, first with the Stoppelmanns at Rembrandtstraat 6 (Feb. 1939–July 1939) and then at Peter Benoit Straat 6 (starting on 10 Sept. 1939). In the meantime, he stayed from 24 July to 10 Sept. 1939 on the Belgian coast in Zeebrugge and Heyst on the border to the Netherlands. This is probably due to his expired Belgian residence status ("Reiswijzer”) and the request to leave Belgium within 48 hours.

Probably Erich Koppel also made efforts along the coast to arrange for a crossing to Britain; there was a steamer connection from the outer harbor of Bruges (Zeebrugge) to Harwich. However, at the latest with the declaration of war by Great Britain on Nazi Germany on 3 Sept. 1939, this was completely unrealistic. A German immigrant on the Belgian coast at the beginning of the Second World War is also likely to have aroused fears of espionage. On 25 Sept. 1939, he registered again in Antwerp.

Erich Koppel reportedly earned a living for himself and his mother through his commercial activities in Belgium, but in the Belgian files of the Office of Public Security (Sȗreté Publique) and in the "Inlichtingsbulletijn betreffende Vreemdelingen” [Information bulletin concerning foreign nationals] of the city of Antwerp dated 25 Sept. 1939, he was described as unemployed. The "Vreemdelingenbureel” in Antwerp noted at the end of Nov. 1939: Employee of a Spanish company. To the extent he pursued a professional activity, he had to leave his home regularly, which posed a risk for a foreigner with expired residence status. An internal memorandum of 8 Nov. 1939 for the Foreigners’ Commission (Commission des Etrangers) of the Office for Public Security (Sȗreté Publique or Openbare Veiligheid) ended with the conclusion: "The Office proposes his internment,” as deportation across the border was not possible at present.

Since Jan. 1940, a formal application by the Hamburg State Police Headquarters for the deprivation of his German citizenship had been in progress; on 21 May 1940, Erich Koppel’s expatriation was published in Reichsanzeiger No. 121, and henceforth he was officially considered stateless.

A few days after the invasion of Belgium by the German Wehrmacht, Erich Koppel was arrested by the Belgian authorities between 11 and 15 May 1940 on behalf of the Nazi occupying forces in Antwerp. He was then deported to the officially unoccupied Vichy France ("southern zone”). The deportation of "unwanted aliens” to France was also practiced by the Belgian police before the German occupation. With the decree for the internment of foreign Jews dated 4 Oct. 1940 in Vichy-France, Erich Koppel ran the risk of being arrested in a raid, if he had not already been interned there as well.

Exactly when he was arrested is not known; the French authorities took him to the Gurs internment camp on the French-Spanish border. From there, French police and militia had already carried out deportations to occupied France after raids since Aug. 1942, even before the German occupation of Vichy France in Nov. 1942. On 1 Sept. 1942, Erich Koppel was transferred from the Gurs camp to the Rivesaltes camp about 350 kilometers (some 218 miles) from there, which was also located on the Pyrenees, and further to the Drancy collection camp near Paris. From there he, 28 years old at the time, was deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp on 13 Sept. 1942. In 1955, the Hamburg District Court (Amtsgericht) declared him dead as of 9 May 1945.

His brother John Koppel (born on 6 Apr. 1896) had founded his own company after attending the Hamburg Talmud Tora Realschule (1903–1911), a commercial apprenticeship at the Gebr. Achenbach (Achenbach Bros.) fashion wholesale company at Neuer Wall (1911–1914), and his enlistment in the German Imperial Army (1915–1919).

John Koppel & Co., corset components wholesale, founded in Dec. 1920 with the business addresses at Brüderstrasse 26/Hamburg-Neustadt (1921), Dammtorstrasse 7 (1922–1928), Heuberg 5/7 (1929–1934), Plan 5 (1935), and finally the residential address at Brahmsallee 27 (1936–1939), was jointly operated by John Koppel and Gustav Gumpel from 1921. After a compulsory settlement in Apr. 1926, John Koppel left the company in Dec. 1927, which Gustav Gumpel continued to run on his own under its old name until his emigration in Apr. 1939 (to Ecuador). From 1928 onward, John Koppel was an independent sales representative in the corset and bandage industry. After various companies terminated their cooperation with him in 1933, he was offered a job in the Bela Partos Bandagist Company and Belpa Corset Factory (at Schulterblatt 88) of his brother-in-law Laszlo Partos (1897–1971). After boycott campaigns by the SA and the removal of the company from the list of suppliers of health insurance companies and the bandage makers’ guild, the business was eventually "Aryanized” at the end of Nov. 1938 and continued as a bandage house by Ernst Robert Seiffert. In Oct. 1939, Laszlo Partos traveled with his wife and children to Budapest (District V), where the pressure of persecution against Jews was not yet as extreme as in Nazi Germany.

At the time of the German national census (May 1939) John Koppel was still living in Hamburg (at Am Weiher 19) and was listed in the directories from 1923 to 1939 as a merchant based at Klosterallee 26 (Harvestehude). In May 1939, at the time of the census, other Jewish tenants lived in the house at Am Weiher 19 (Hamburg-Eimsbüttel): Auguste Freudenberg (1867–1943), Johanna Partos, née Braun (born on 4 May 1898 in Miloslaw/Wreschen), Laszlo Partos (born on 17 June 1897 in Budapest), and Riza Partos, née Weiszmann (born on 4 Feb. 1871 in Budapest), the Hamburg sisters Ricke Welterhahn (born in 1865) and Minna Welterhahn (born in 1876), as well as Max Wittmaack (born on 9 Mar. 1875 in Bordesholm).

No other Koppel siblings were registered in Hamburg in the 1939 census. John Koppel also fled to Antwerp in Nov. 1939 and he was first detained in a prison and then in an internment camp in Belgium for crossing the border illegally. After the invasion of the Wehrmacht, he was able to go into hiding with his children thanks to the support of local residents. A Belgian resistance group got him the identity card of a deceased Belgian, into which his passport photo was pasted. In 1946, he emigrated to Ecuador and later to the USA.

His sister Mathilde Wulf, née Koppel (born on 18 Aug. 1894 in Hamburg), fled illegally to Belgium in Jan. 1939 with her husband and her two sons. They crossed the border on foot at Aachen; there were no passports in their luggage, only their birth and marriage certificates to prove their identity. In Antwerp, they lived at Wambachstraat 36 (among others, from July 1939 to Nov. 1939), Teichmann Straat 6 (Jan. 1939–Jan. 1941), Square Brugman 5 (from 14 Jan. 1941), and Rue des Cottages 6 (1941–1942). At the behest of the German occupying forces, Mathilde Wulf was deported from the Mechelen (Malines) camp to the Auschwitz extermination camp on 24 Oct. 1942. Her husband Pau Jean Wulf (born on 16 Sept. 1892 in Hamburg) had been deported to the Saint Cyprien internment camp in May 1940, to the Drancy collection camp in 1942, and from there to the Auschwitz extermination camp on 12 Aug. 1942. Paul Wulf, to whom she had been married since 1919, has been commemorated since 2015 by a Stolperstein at Oberstrasse 16-18 (Harvestehude), as the apartment building at Klosterallee 20, where Mr. and Mrs. Wulf lived from 1920 to 1933, was destroyed in the war and this part of Klosterallee was set aside for the new construction of the Grindel high-rise buildings.

His sister Gertrud Gumpel, née Koppel (born on 8 Nov. 1898 in Hamburg), had been married since 1920 to Berthold Gumpel (1896–1985), a brother of Gustav Gumpel (1894–1978). Her husband emigrated to Antwerp, Belgium, in early 1937; Gertrud followed in Aug. 1937 with her three children. After the invasion of the German Wehrmacht, she fled further toward Portugal. She was arrested and interned in the Drancy and Angers camps, and from there she was deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp on 20 July 1942. In 1953, the Hamburg District Court declared her dead as of the end of 1945. Stolpersteine at Loehsweg 2 (Eppendorf) commemorate her and her three children.

His sister Edith Stoppelmann, née Koppel (born on 28 Mar. 1904 in Hamburg), was married to the Dutch merchant Gerhard Stoppelmann (born on 21 Nov. 1904 in Hamburg). In Jan. 1932, he and the merchant Gustav Leers (1902–1944) founded the Gerhard Stoppelmann & Co. import and export company for animal hair (at Hopsack 19). Mr. and Mrs. Stoppelmann fled Germany in 1935 and stayed first in Madrid and from 1936 in Antwerp (Rue Rembrandt 6). In the second largest Belgian city, Gerhard Stoppelmann operated a trading business for animal hair and wool (Rue de Tanneurs 21), as he had done in Hamburg and Madrid. It can be assumed that the Stoppelmann couple was deported from Belgium to France. In occupied France, they were deported from the Drancy camp to the Auschwitz extermination camp on 26 Aug. 1942. Stolpersteine at Blumenstrasse 46 (Winterhude) commemorate them.

Uncle Henry Koppel (born on 19 Sept. 1876 in Hamburg) had worked as a street trader in textiles. On 19 July 1942, he was deported from the retirement home at Schlachterstrasse 40/42 (Hamburg-Neustadt), which had been declared a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) by the Nazi state, to the Theresienstadt Ghetto and two months later, on 21 Sept. 1942, to the Treblinka extermination camp. A Stolperstein at Steinwegpassage 28 (Hamburg-Neustadt) commemorates him.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: July 2020
© Björn Eggert

Quellen: Staatsarchiv Hamburg (StaH) 231-7 (Handelsregister), A1 Band 108 (John Koppel & Co. HR A 24803); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), FVg 8172 (Erich Koppel, wegen Ausbürgerung); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), FVg 7744 (Laszlo Partos); StaH332-5 (Standesämter), 2815 u. 1022/1893 (Heiratsregister 1893, Max Koppel u. Amalie Heilbut); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2345 u. 2996/1894 (Geburtsregister 1894, Mathilde Koppel); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2401 u. 1232/1896 (Geburtsregister 1896, John Koppel); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2433 u. 3175/1897 (Geburtsregister 1897, Herbert Koppel); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 2462 u. 3596/1898 (Geburtsregister 1898, Gertrud Koppel); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 13405 u. 2309/1900 (Geburtsregister 1900, Paul Koppel); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 486 u. 566/1901 (Sterberegister 1901, Paul Koppel); StaH 332-5(Standesämter), 8728 u. 204/1919 (Heiratsregister 1919, Paul Wulf u. Mathilde Koppel); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 809 u. 456/1919 (Sterberegister 1919, Hirsch Koppel); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 1088 u. 15/1938 (Sterberegister 1938, Max Koppel); StaH 332-7 (Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht), A I e 40 Band 9 (Bürgerregister 1876-1896 A-K), Hirsch Koppel (18.7.1879 Nr. 8335); StaH 332-7 (Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht), A I e 40 Band 14 (Bürgerregister 1899–1905, I-P), Max Hirsch Koppel (13.3.1903 Nr. 194); StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), K 6415 (Alte Einwohnermeldekartei 1892–1925), Hirsch Koppel; StaH 342-2 (Militär-Ersatzbehörden) DII 31 Band 1 (Max Koppel); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 1677 (Amalie Koppel); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 18245 (John Koppel); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 19857 (Herbert Koppel); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 44956 (Heinz Wulf); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 17011 (Gustav Gumpel); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 19749 (Laszlo Partos); Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Gedenkbuch, Hamburg 1995, S. 219 (Koppel, Erich, geb. 12.6.1914 Hamburg); Nationalarchiv of Belgium (NAB), Justizministerium/Verwaltung für öffentliche Sicherheit/Ausländerpolizei, Akte Nr. A 339.555 (Erich Koppel, mit Foto) und Akte Nr. A 339.905 (Mathilde Wulf geb. Koppel, mit Foto); Archives Departement des Pyrénées Orientales, Lager Rivesaltes (Erich Koppel); Jüdischer Friedhof Hamburg-Ohlsdorf, Gräberverzeichnis, Hirsch Koppel (ZX 11-68), Ester Koppel geb. Hertz alias Jacob (ZX 11-68); Handelskammer Hamburg, Handelsregisterinformationen, John Koppel & Co. (HR A 24803); Handelskammer Hamburg, Handelsregisterinformationen, Gerhard Stoppelmann & Co.; Adressbuch Hamburg (Koppel) 1885, 1888–1905, 1907–1917, 1920–1924, 1928–1939; Adressbuch Hamburg (Herbert Koppel), Goldbekufer 42 (1931–1932), Ulmenstraße 5a (1933, 1934); Adressbuch Hamburg (P. Wulf) 1920, 1923, 1927, 1932, 1933; Adressbuch Hamburg (Krohnskamp 72) 1934; Telefonbuch Hamburg (Gebr. Achenbach, Gebr. Robinsohn) 1914; Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1910, S. 2 (Gebr. Achenbach, gegr. 1872, Inh. Carl Walter Ernst Vogel u. Andreas Wilh. Otto Rob. Haage, Neuer Wall 38, Seidenband u. Modewaren en gros u. Export); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1926, S. 571 (John Koppel & Co.), S. 905 (Schenker & Co. Hanseatisches Transport-Kontor); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1935, S. 469 (John Koppel & Co.), S. 826 (Gerhard Stoppelmann & Co, Inh. Gerhard Stoppelmann u. Gustav Leers, Im- u. Export Tierhaare); Claus-Dieter Krohn/Patrik von zur Mühlen/Gerhard Paul/Lutz Winckler (Hrsg.), Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration 1933–1945, 2008, S. 171 (Belgien), S. 235, 238, 239 (Frankreich); Meyers Lexikon, Band 12, Leipzig 1930, S. 1707 (Zeebrugge); (Volkszählung Mai 1939) John Koppel (Wohnadresse Am Weiher 19); (eingesehen 19.4.2018); (mit Foto, eingesehen 19.4.2018); (Gustav Leers, geb. 30.11.1902, Emigration 1937 nach Rotterdam, Verhaftung im franz. Zug Richtung Schweiz, Deportation über Drancy nach Auschwitz); (Card index of Relico, the Relief Committee of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in Geneva: Jews who were inmates of the Gurs camp); (Gertrud Gumpel geb. Koppel, Henry Koppel, Edith Stoppelmann geb. Koppel und Gerhard Stoppelmann, Auguste Freudenberg).

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