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Jacob "James" Gärtner * 1879
Brahmsallee 62 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Jacob, called James Gärtner, b. 1.30.1879 in Drohobycz, expelled [from Germany] in 1938 to Zbaszyn, fled to Holland, deported to Sobibor on 3.31.1943, murdered on 4.2.1943
Friederike Gärtner, née Oberschitzky, b. 4.6.1897 in Altona, expelled in 1938 to Zbaszyn, fled to Holland, deported to Sobibor on 3.31.1943, murdered on 4.2.1943
The 28th of October 1938 was a day of horror for Jacob, called James, and Friederike Gärtner. On that day they were, without explanation and without the possibility of packing even the bare personal necessities, arrested and "shoved off” to Bentschen (Zbaszyn) on the Polish border. They were among the approximately 17,000 Jews – including an estimated 1000 from Hamburg – whose "Polish ancestry” was the pretext for the Nazi regime to remove them by force from Germany to the Polish border on 28–29 October 1938. They were stranded in "no man’s land” between Germany and Poland, because the Polish government prevented their entry into Poland. Their "expulsion” was preceded by a proclamation of the Polish government that Poles – primarily Polish Jews – who lived outside the country longer than five years, as of 1 November 1938, would have their Polish citizenship revoked. This proclamation served as the pretext for the Nazi regime’s "Poland Action,” the first great large-scale expulsion of Jews from National Socialist Germany. It was a "test run” for the organization of later deportations and the immediate cause of the November pogroms in Germany. In Paris, 17-year old Herschel Grynszpan reacted to the news of his parents’ expulsion with an attempted assassination of the secretary of the German legation, Ernst vom Rath, the consequences from which he died. It was this act of despair by a young person that served as the Nazi rationale for the unleashing of the pogroms of November 1938 in Germany.
Jacob, called James, Gärtner’s "Polish descent,” according to present-day views, is not without ambiguity. He was born on 1.30.1879 in Drohobycz, the son of Juda and Breine Gärtner, née Tellermann. Drohobycz in Galicia belonged in those days to the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Thus he was an Austrian. Only after the First World War – when he was already living in Haburg – did Drohobycz become Polish. Twenty years later, as a consequence of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, was it was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939. Today Drohobycz is part of the Ukraine. When James Gärtner was born there, it was a flourishing city, having 19,000 inhabitants, of whom Jews constituted 45 per cent.
We do not know exactly when James Gärtner came to Hamburg. On 1 November 1918, when Drohobycz still belonged to Austria, he married Friederike Oberschitzky. He joined the Jewish Congregation in Hamburg on 29 April 1920. He owned a shoe store at Alten Steinweg 12–13. In 1933, the National Socialist boycott of Jewish businesses caused him to give it up. After 1933, he continued trading in footwear products from his home at Isestrasse 57.
Friederike Gärtner, née Oberschitzky, was born in Altona on 4.6.1897. She was the daughter of Levy, called Louis, and Zerline Oberschitzky, née David. Since 1900, the family lived in Hamburg, and from 1907 in one of the large, elegant dwellings on Hallerstrasse, on the third floor of house no. 8. Her father was a self-employed businessman in Hamburg, where Friederike, the eldest of three sisters, grew up.
James and Friederike Gärtner were childless. They lived at Isestrasse 57 and, before their expulsion, at Brahmsallee 62, subleasing from Braun.
After their expulsion, they succeeded in escaping the no man’s land at the Polish border, reaching Warsaw. From there they fled to the neutral Netherlands, interrupting their flight in Hamburg. At the time of the national census in May 1939, apparently both of them were again in Hamburg. Friederike Gärtner was counted at Haynstrasse, together with her parents and her brother. The place where her husband stayed is not known. On 6 June 1939, she emigrated to the Netherlands, a scant half year before the German occupation on 10 May 1940. Only after the German occupation was she registered in Amsterdam, on 26 June 1940. The persecution of the Jews now also implemented in the Netherlands destroyed her hopes in the previously neutral Holland. A further flight was not possible. She lived for three years in Amsterdam. On 23 March 1943, she was sent to the Westerbork internment camp. Just a week later, on 30 March 1943, Jacob and Friederike (Fryderyke) Gärtner were deported from Westerbork to the Sobibor extermination camp, and, after their arrival on 2 April 1943, murdered.
A few days prior to Friederike’s expulsion, her sister Paula left Hamburg – under quite different circumstancess. She emigrated with her husband and daughter to the USA and was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust. Friederike’s parents Levy (Louis) and Zerline Oberschitzky and her brother Herbert Oberschitzky were deported from Hamburg to Theresienstadt on 27 July 1942. Herbert died in Theresienstadt on 27 July 1942, twelve days after his arrival. Her parents were deported on 21 September 1942 from Theresienstadt to Treblinka and murdered. A stone in front of house no. 8 on Hallerstrasse commemorates them.
Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Jost von Maydell
Quellen: 1; 3; 4; 5; 8; 9; "Drohobycz", Wikipedia vom 27.5.2013; Enzyklopädie des Holocaust, Bd. III, Sp.1333 und 1577ff.; Hamburger Adressbücher, versch. Jahrgänge; Lexikon der jüdischen Gemeinden im deutschen Sprachraum, Bd. 1 u. 2, hrsg. von Alicke; Meyer (Hrsg.), Verfolgung; Auskünfte: Jose Martin vom 3.9.2012; Nico Nicolai M. Zimmermann, Bundesarchiv vom 4.3.2013.
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