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Already layed Stumbling Stones
Irma Friedländer (née Lewensohn) * 1889
Sachsentor 38 (Bergedorf, Bergedorf)
1942 Chelmno ermordet
further stumbling stones in Sachsentor 38:
Dr. Naftali (Theodor) Lewensohn
Bertha Lewensohn (Löwensohn), née Michelsohn, born 27 Jan. 1861 in Bauska (Latvia), deported 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, from there 21 Sep. 1942 to the Treblinka Extermination Camp
Dr. Theodor (Naftali) Lewensohn (Löwensohn), born 30 Mar. 1886 in Bergedorf, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Sachsentor 38, formerly Sachsenstraße and Großestraße
Irma Friedländer, née Lewensohn (Löwensohn), born 13 June 1889 in Bergedorf, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, from there 15 May 1942 to the Chelmno Extermination Camp
Brigitte Friedländer, born 30 Apr.1922 in Hamburg, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, from there 15 May 1942 to the Chelmno Extermination Camp
Naftali (*1886), Irma (*1889), and Grete (*1894) Lewensohn were born in Bergedorf near Hamburg. Bergedorf was changing from a rural, farming town to an industry-rich Hamburg suburb, with a glassworks, a rattan furniture factory, a sugar refinery, an enameling works, an ironworks, and an asbestos plant. In addition to the workers’ quarter, there was a well-to-do neighborhood with elegant apartment buildings and impressive townhouses. The population of the small town was about 5000. The 1884 and 1885 address books have no entries for the names Lewensohn or Löwensohn.
There are entries from 1886 to 1892 for "L. R. Löwensohn, manufactured goods, Sachsenstraße 12.” Since the name is comparatively rare, it can be assumed that this was Robert Lewensohn (1859-1923), the father of Theodor (Naftali) and Irma. He and his wife Bertha (Braine), née Michelsohn, had presumably moved to Bergedorf in late 1885. She was born on 27 January 1861 in Bauska in Latvia, about 70 km south of Riga. She and Robert probably married in 1884 or 1885. He was from the town of Jelgava/Mitau, about 50 km away from her hometown. Both towns were in the Duchy of Courland, which had nominally belonged to Imperial Russia since 1795, but in which the German-Baltic nobility largely ruled until 1914.
Bergedorf was an independent community, but lay within the jurisdiction of the Hamburg authorities. It was thus possible for the residents of Bergedorf to become citizens of Hamburg. The registry of citizens shows that Robert Lewensohn was granted Hamburg citizenship on 17 June 1892. His profession was given as "manufactured goods merchant.” A prerequisite for citizenship was secured income over a period of several years. The 1894 Bergedorf Address Book lists "R. Löwensohn, clothing merchant, Großestraße 38.” From 1895 to 1897 the address was Holstenstraße 7. These entries also most likely refer to the father of Theodor and Irma.
By this time Bergedorf’s population had grown to around 9000. Theodor Lewensohn attended the Hansaschule secondary school on Wentorferstraße until the 7th grade. In 1900 the family moved to Hamburg, where Robert Lewensohn ran a shop as he had done in Bergedorf.
The family lived at Sonnenau 3 in Eilbek from 1913 to 1920. Robert Lewensohn’s membership in the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community is documented from 1913 onwards. It is likely that he had a shop for household goods at Wandsbeker Chaussee 1 from 1920 to 1922. Theodor Lewensohn attended the well-respected Wilhelm Gymnasium in Rotherbaum, from which he graduated at Easter 1905. He chose to study law and attended the universities in Freiburg (summer semester 1905), Munich (winter semester 1905-06) and Berlin (from summer semester 1906 onwards). After he passed his law exams he did his compulsory year of military service from 1910 to 1911 in Kiel with the Imperial Navy. Afterwards he studied medicine in Berlin until the outbreak of the First World War.
During the war he was stationed first with the Marine Battalion in Cuxhaven as a medic, and after completing training as a dermatologist, at the Marine Field Hospital as a field surgeon. When he was certified in 1917 as a field auxiliary physician, he served on the Flanders coast with the 1st Marine Regiment.
In January 1916 the youngest sister Gerda registered a business at her parent’s address in Eilbek (Lübeckerstraße 78) as a "merchant for household and kitchen goods, glassware and porcelain.”
After the war, Theodor Lewensohn got his doctorate at the University of Rostock. His 49-page dissertation, "A Case of Tic impulsif after the Parachute Jump of a Balloon Observer, as a Contribution to the Study of War Neuroses,” was published in 1919. The First World War, as a hitherto unknown war of attrition and static warfare, with its new technologies like air reconnaissance in manned balloons and parachute jumps, left behind a host of traumatized soldiers. We can safely assume that Theodor Lewensohn, in his medical analysis of war injuries and traumata, was not among those who patriotically glorified the war.
He probably worked on his dissertation about war neuroses in the Neurological Clinic of the St. Georg/Hamburg General Hospital, under Dr. Alfred Saenger. It was at this time that he likely established good contacts to doctors in the hospital, who would play integral roles in Theodor Lewensohn’s life over the next ten years. Despite his emphasis on war neuroses in his dissertation, he did not specialize in neurology or psychology. Beginnning in 1919, Theodor Lewesohn was listed in the Hamburg telephone book as "Specialist for Skin and Venereal Diseases,” and had a practice in Eilbek. It was first in the same building as his father’s shop at Wandsbeker Chaussee 1 (1919-1920), but then moved to the city center at Gänsemarkt 43 (1921), and once again to Reeperbahn 159 in St. Pauli (1922-1926).
Theodor Lewensohn did not marry, and lived with his parents in Hamburg. In August 1923, his father died in the apartment at Isestraße 50. Two years later Theodor, aged 39, became a member of the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community. It was around this time that his own condition must have become apparent.
In the medical records compiled later by the Langenhorn State Hospital, the beginning stages of Theodor Lewensohn’s illness were described as follows: "In late 1925 his nerves began to deteriorate, he became disoriented, for example couldn’t find his way to the doctor’s office, got lost.” From 1926 to 1928 he admitted himself to the Friedrichsberg Mental Hospital for various treatments (malaria treatment, bismuth-Salvarsan treatment). The treatments with induced malaria and with the organoarsenic compound Salversan indicate a syphilis infection.
Beginning in June 1928 he was "employed in the laboratory at the St. Georg hospital on the recommendation of Dr. Majerus.” The neurologist Karl Majerus had an office from 1920 to 1939 at Wandsbeker Chaussee 1, and thus had probably known Theodor Lewensohn as a colleague for many years. Theodor Lewensohn was let go in late 1929 when jobs had to be cut back. He lived with his mother in Bergedorf at Meldorferstraße 15 until 1933.
On 3 January 1933 he was admitted to the Langenhorn Institution, and ten days later transferred to the nursing ward. His condition is described in the hospital record as "progressive paralysis with very poor remission,” a common description at the time for advanced syphilis.
When the Nazi-led Hamburg Senate was sworn in on 8 March 1933, the National Socialist ideology became the binding principle at the Langenhorn Institution. Special forms were designed for the initiation of "genetic hygiene measures,” in preparation for the effective and widespread execution of the Nazis’ selection system.
Care of mentally ill patients was intentionally degraded, and the admittance capacities at hospitals were raised, all of which led to an increase in the death rate. In May 1937 Theodor Lewensohn’s diagnosis was given as "unchanged euphoric dementia.” Since the strict segregation of "Aryans” and "Jews” was also applied to mental patients, Theodor Lewensohn could no longer remain in the Langenhorn Institution. In September 1940 he was sent to the Israelitic Community School in Hamburg-Altona (Grünestraße 5), which had been designated a "Jews’ house” for the organizational preparations for deportation. He was thus no longer being treated as a mental patient, but had been segregated with the goal of forced deportation from the German Reich.
He was taken from the "Jews’ house” to the collection point for the deportation transport to Minsk on 8 November 1941. In order to make room for Jews deported from the German Reich, the SS had murdered around 12,000 ghetto residents in Minsk on 7 November 1941. When the transport from Hamburg arrived on 10 November, the new ghetto inmates found the bodies of the White Russian Jews who had been shot still lying in the houses. This was a shock for the new arrivals, who had been told they were being relocated to "colonize” the East.
Hunger and disease in the ghetto led to a high rate of death. The last Jews from the 8 November Hamburg transport were murdered on 8 May 1943. The conditions under which Theodor Lewensohn died are unknown.
The spelling of his name varied. He was listed as Lewisohn at the Wilhlem Gymnasium, then as Lewensohn in the registers at the universities in Freiburg and Munich and in his church tax records, and finally as Löwensohn in his hospital record. His given name was also changed from Naftali at the gymnasium and in university registers to Theodor in his church tax records and hospital record. According to a notation on his father’s death certificate, Naftali/Theodor Lewensohn’s name had been changed before 1923, but there is no record of the name change in the records of the Hamburg registry office. It cannot be determined if Theodor Lewensohn changed his name during his studies or if the different spellings were simply a reflection of the pronunciation.
Theodor’s sister Irma Lewensohn married the Hamburg lawyer Dr. Herbert Friedländer (1884-1942) at Christmas of 1912. He had had a law office in Hamburg since 1911. From 1918 to 1928 the family, by that time with two children, lived at Oderfelderstraße 9 in the well-to-do borough of Harvestehude. In 1928 or 1929 they moved down the street to house number 17. After that time both the family and the law office changed addresses frequently; after the Nazis came to power in 1933 they moved every one or two years – Winterhuder Marktplatz 2 (1933), Haynstraße 7 (1935-36), Loogestieg 10 (1937-38) and Haynstraße 7 (August 1938-1940). Between 1929 and 1938, six addresses in the city center can be documented for the law office.
Herbert Friedländer became a member of the Jewish Community in 1935. In the summer of 1938 he gave up his law office. He had begun to make arrangements to emigrate and applied for a passport in April 1938. Thereupon the Foreign Exchange Office summoned him to a hearing on 27 April 1938, during which Herbert Friedländer said, according to the official transcript, that he considered it impossible to emigrate, as he saw no perspective for pursuing a livelihood in a foreign country. It is possible that this formulation was a camouflaged denial of permission to emigrate. Friedländer again applied for a passport in October 1939.
Department R 4 of the Foreign Exchange Office soberly analyzed the possible detriments for the German Reich of Friedländer’s emigration: "Dr. jur. Herbert Friedländer, lawyer until summer 1938, would like to have a passport to travel to Columbia to gather information about professional perspectives. He claims that he will return as soon as his emigration affairs and approbation are settled there. Friedländer is highly in debt. It is therefore hard to believe that he could afford the passage twice. The credibility of all other declarations made by Friedländer is also questionable.” Nevertheless, he was granted a passport and emigrated to New York via Genoa in April 1940.
His son Harald Friedländer (*1917) had already emigrated to England in February 1939. Harald Friedländer adopted a similar-sounding English name, possibly because of the war, and later moved to Canada. The older daughter Ingeborg Friedländer (*1915), a social worker, emigrated to Brazil in 1933 and then moved to the US in 1940.
Irma Friedländer and her younger daughter Brigitte remained at Haynstraße 7 in Eppendorf in a "Jews’ house.” The systematic financial plundering of the family’s assets, euphemized as the "Jewish Property Levy,” "Reich Flight Tax,” and "Consulent Fees” (for Jewish lawyers), turned the members of the family to supplicants of the state and their relatives. Irma and Brigitte Friedländer could no longer procure the desperately needed money for the ship to the US and the proof of personal funds required for a residence permit.
In 1941 Irma Friedländer’s church tax record contained the remark: "No income. No assets, lives in a (…)-household for free room and board.” Until the summer of 1941, Irma and her daughter in the US exchanged letters weekly. Irma’s last communication was a postcard to her husband telling him of her pending deportation.
On 25 October 1941, she and her daughter were deported to the Lodz Ghetto on the first transport that left Hamburg. There they were given a room at Hohensteiner Straße 43/45. Brigitte Friedländer, aged 19, was assigned to work in the gardens and fields. It is questionable whether her 52-year-old mother had a job in the ghetto. Their belongings in Hamburg were confiscated by the Nazi regime and auctioned off.
Ingeborg Friedländer tried to find out what happened to her mother through the American Red Cross. They were only able to determine that Irma and Brigitte Friedländer had been deported from Lodz further east.
On 2 May 1942, Brigitte Friedländer submitted a request for postponement of the upcoming "relocation” for herself and her mother. The prerequisite for remaining in the ghetto was proof of employment. The request was denied. On 15 May 1942 they were both deported to the Chelmno Extermination Camp 70 km north of Lodz. Their exact dates of death are unknown. They were later officially declared dead with the date of death set at 31 December 1945. A Stolperstein is planned for Brigitte Friedländer at Oderfelderstraße 9, where she lived for the first seven years of her life.
Herbert Friedländer’s forced emigration to the US, leaving his wife and daughter behind in Germany, was a source of great emotional stress for him. When he heard of his wife’s and daughter’s deportation he suffered a stroke, of which he died on 19 May 1942 in Boston.
In the summer of 1939, the widow Bertha Lewensohn, the mother of Theodor, Irma, and Grete, moved out of her apartment at Isestraße 50 in Harvestehude to Haynstraße 5 in Eppendorf. There she rented rooms from Kurt van der Walde (see Biography: Rudolf Samson). This building was also later declared a "Jews’ house.” Bertha’s daughter Irma and her husband and children lived next door. The Nazi state placed Bertha Lewenson in the Jewish home for the elderly at Sedanstraße 23, probably in the fall of 1939. Two years later it was also declared a "Jews’ house” and integrated into the deportaion logistics. She was deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 15 July 1942, and then on 21 September 1942 to the Treblinka Extermination Camp, where she was murdered.
Grete Lewensohn (*31 December 1894) married the Berliner physician Dr. Hans Walter Kleinmann (1895-1950). They emigrated to Chile, from whence she returned to Hamburg in 1954.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Björn Eggert
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