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Etla Finkelstein (née Rosenscherr) * 1888
Max-Brauer-Allee 247 (Altona, Altona-Nord)
Aron Finkelstein, born 10/15/1883, expelled to Zbaszyn, Poland on 10/28/1938
Etla Mania Finkelstein, née Rosenscherr, born 9/13/1888, expelled to Zbaszyn, Poland on 10/28/1938
Rosa Finkelstein, born 5/31/1925, expelled to Zbaszyn, Poland on 10/28/1938, flight to France, deported to Auschwitz on 7/27/192, murdered
Max-Brauer-Allee 247 (Hamburgerstrasse 36)
"Relocation to Poland on 10/28/38.” This seemingly harmless entry on Aron Finkelstein’s culture tax card at the Jewish Community stands for the "Polish Operation”, the forced eviction of all Hamburg Jews of Polish nationality from the Altona railroad station to the Polish border. In 1987, a stone erected by the Altona District Parliament at the stations entrance towards Museumstrasse commemorates this first mass deportation. Around 1900, the Jewish population of Altona had increased due to the immigration of Jewish families from Eastern Europe. According to the census of 1890, only about ten percent of the Jews in Altona were "eastern Jews.” Most of them belonged to the middle class, worked in shops, were craftspeople or owned their own business.
We do not know when Aron and Etla Mania Finkelstein came to Altona. Aron, born October 15th, 1883, came from Lositz (Losice) in Poland, Etla, née Rosenscherr was born in Warsaw on September 13th, 1988 (according to the entry on her husband’s culture tax card). The Finkelsteins had two daughters; Regine was born February 5th, 1915 in Altona. That is also the year when the name Finkelstein first appeared in the Altona address book: Finkelstein, A., worker, Lerchenstrasse 67. From 1922 to 1930, the Finkelsteins lived at Hamburgerstrasse 36 (now the north section of Max-Brauer-Allee). Aron Finkelstein made his living as a shoemaker. His wages were meager; from 1923 on, he was registered with the Jewish Community, where he paid only very slight culture taxes, and from 1924 on, he was completely exempt from payments. On May 31st, 1925, their daughter Rosa was born. In 1931/32 the family moved to Parallelstrasse 30 (today: Eifflerstrasse). Aron Finkelstein now worked as a painter for the company of Ivan Levy at Kippingstrasse 25 in Hamburg. In 1933, the family lived at Adolphstrasse 160 (now Bernstorffstrasse). In 1934/35 Aron Finkelstein again had to pay slight amounts of culture tax. From 1936, the Finkelsteins lived at Gerritstrasse 41 in Hamburg-St. Pauli, and shortly before their eviction to Poland, they moved to Grosse Gärtnerstrasse 6 (now Thadenstrasse).
The forced "Anschluss” of Austria to the German Reich on March 12th, 1938 induced many European countries to expect an even larger influx of Jewish emigrants After the Nazi government of the Reich had exerted pressure on Jews of foreign nationality, the Polish government feared the return of great numbers of Polish citizens living abroad. It announced it was going to denationalize all Polish citizens who had lived abroad for more than five years effective October 30th, 1938.
The German Reich took the occasion to evict approximately 17,000 Polish Jews in the "Polish Operation.” The regional police headquarters ordered railroad cars and special trains from the railway directorates for "collective transports.” On October 28th, 1938, approx. 1,000 Jews of Polish origin were arrested and transported from the Altona railway station to Zbaszyn (Bentschen) on the Polish frontier. Etla and Aron Finkelstein and their 13-year-old daughter Rosa were forcibly evicted. Policemen dragged the Polish families from their homes early in the morning of October 28th. Hundreds of people were detained in a gym and finally taken to the Altona station on trucks. The Jewish Community quickly organized the distribution of food packages on the platform and helped those who already had visas for Palestine to escape the eviction.
Cantor Joseph Cysner, who was among those who finally were taken away on board a passenger train that evening, described the atmosphere: "Any hope of being released disappeared as darkness fell and we were crammed into police trucks and speeded through the streets of Altona to the station, where we were unloaded, ordered to queue, given four slices of dry bread and then pushed into the compartments of the train… We didn’t know where we were going, we only had an idea: to Poland, to the border! Our train passed countless other trains, all going the same direction. I shed tears when I saw the anxious faces of the people pressed against the compartment windows.” At the German-Polish frontier, the people were driven across the border by German soldiers. They strayed through the no-man’s-land or stayed at the station until they found accommodation with people in Zbaszyn or in stables or sheds. Persons with relatives in Poland were allowed to proceed toward destinations within the country. On October 31st, 1938, the Polish police began to close off the town and set up a camp in Zbaszyn. It was only possible to leave it on certain conditions. Aron and Etla Finkelstein were among those detained at the internment camp until its dissolution in the summer of 1939.
Many of the people forcibly expelled to Poland perished in the turmoils of the war following the invasion by the German Wehrmacht in September, 1939 or were transported to the ghettos and extermination camps set up by the Germans, Etla and Aron Finkelstein were abducted to an unknown place and never returned, Their daughter Rosa, who was thirteen at the time of their expulsion from Hamburg, succeeded in leaving Poland for France. After the German occupation of France, however, she was caught, interned at the detainment camp in Drancy near Paris and deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp on July 27th, 1942.
The Finkelsteins’ elder daughter Regine, a clerk, had married the Jew Egon Emil Kargauer on September 8th, 1938, a couple of weeks before her threatened eviction. After the couple had been unable to realize their plans for n emigration to Shanghai, they were deported to Lodz on October 25th, 1941 together with their two small children Judis and Denny and murdered. Stumbling Stones for them lie in Breite Strasse at the corner of Pepermölenbek.
At Hamburgerstrasse 36, two relatives from Warsaw had shared the apartment with the Finkelsteins: the typesetter Petsack Finkelstein, born 1910, who in 1935 succeeded in emigrating to Palestine, and the dressmaker Chana Finkelstein, born 1908, whose fate is unknown.
Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; AB Altona; Michelsen, Gedenkraum Wohlers Allee; Stadtteilarchiv Ottensen, Bericht von Kantor Joseph Cysner.
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