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Lilli Freimann * 1886
Brahmsallee 12 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Lilli Freimann, b. 9.8.1886 in Berlin, on 7.11.1942 deported to Auschwitz
In Hamburg, Lilli Freimann worked as teacher in Jewish schools since 1926. Her activity ended on 30 June 1942, when throughout the Reich all instruction for Jewish children was prohibited. Shortly thereafter the still remaining Jewish faculty, among them also Lilli Freimann, were deported and murdered.
Lilli Freimann grew up in Berlin. She began her studies there and continued at various universities, Leipzig, Würzburg, and Marburg. She passed the examination for teaching posts at high schools "with distinction,” and was then qualified to teach in the fields of philosophy, English, and German. She supported a consciously Jewish education and in 1924 enrolled in an educational seminar in Berlin specifically for that purpose. From 1921 to 1926, she taught at the Jewish college preparatory school "Jawne” in Cologne. During the same time, Naftali Eldod also taught there and, in the spring of 1926, like her, switched to the Israelite Girls’ School on Carolinenstrasse in Hamburg. Lilli Freimann was expected to prepare for the development of the girls’ primary school into a modern high school. The status as "Girls’ School of the German Israelite Congregation (Primary and Modern High School)” was achieved in 1930 and officially recognized. Because under National Socialist rule Jewish students in state schools were often unbearably discriminated against, many parents preferred sending their children to Jewish congregational schools. Thus, initially the number of students at the Carolinenstrasse school grew vigorously, even though many Jewish families emigrated; by 1938, enrollments sank again far below the earlier level. The number of teachers also diminished. Lilli Freimann belonged to those who with great commitment sought to impart to the children a certain sense of order and security. Instead of a curriculum dedicated to "saturation in the spirit of National Socialism,” the Carolinenstrasse school explicitly formulated that "the developing child should be secure in the healthy consciousness of his or her Jewishness.” Nevertheless, instruction continued as before to uphold German cultural values. Alongside this there now entered preparation for life in a foreign land, through the learning of languages and training in technical and agricultural fields, through sport, and manual labor. In 1939, the Carolinenstrasse girls’ school merged with the Talmud Torah School for boys under the designation "Primary and Secondary School for Jews.” In 1941, what remained was now the "Jewish School in Hamburg.” In 1941, Lilli Freimann retired from the faculty for age-related reasons. The teacher shortage was so great, however, that she returned once again in order to take over for her deported colleagues the students from the sixth and fifth forms as well as the primary school in one amalgamated class. The former school building was confiscated. After most of the children had left, the last of them, along with their teachers moved to the orphanage on Papendamm, where Lilli Freimann taught to the end.
Her professional responsibilities filled Lilli Freimann’s life. Aside from colleagues and with her girl students she also had contact to the Congregation. She had an almost intimate relationship with the Perlmann couple from whom she rented her apartment. They were bound by an Orthodox conception of life. The Perlmann’s, like Lilli Freimann and her mother, first lived at Grindelallee 44, than from 1927 to 1935, at Brahmsallee 12, and afterwards at Brahmsallee 25. Since the death of her mother, Lilli Freimann was a renter with full board from Elsa Perlmann. Because her husband Benjamin earned only very little, the family depended on the rent and board income from the people Mrs. Perlmann looked after. In addition to Lilli Freimann, there was another teacher, "Miss Herz,” who also boarded with the Perlmanns, and for a short time, other ladies, sometimes as many as four. When Lilli Freimann traveled for weeks at a time during school vacation, Mrs. Perlmann could, with satisfaction, report in a letter to her son Michael that she had had a guest for two days: "One must do everything even if it only brings in a little.” In another letter, Elsa Perlmann warned her son not to forget the birthday of "Miss Freimann,” as single women were called colloquially in that era. She reciprocated by observing the birthdays of the Perlmann family. For the occasion she gave the head of the house a bottle of Goldwasser liqueur. The relationship of the owners and boarders was marked by polite friendliness. Mr. Perlmann himself described to his son how attentively and with what concern the two ladies greeted him when he once returned home late, and also how thoughtful they were: "the two ladies go out together and operate the elevator by themselves, relieving us of the task.” The wife once complained about how difficult it was to get kosher meat and other groceries, because Jews were no longer allowed to shop in "Aryan” stores. "Without meat, the old ladies will also get impatient. Oh, I can tell you, it is already difficult,” she told her son. Running the boarding house required help which was not always available. Occasionally, the boarders helped out, when the work got to be too much for Mrs. Elsa. In 1939, they prepared the Passover Seder together. Every evening, the Perlmann’s and the boarders gathered for conversation, to listen to records, or play chess or nine men’s morris card games. Lilli Freimann arranged word games and other entertainment. They tried to support each other mutually. However, the departure of good friends grew more frequent. The Perlmann’s three children emigrated. Elsa and Benjamin Perlmann assumed that their boarders would soon emigrate, too. After 1939, "Miss Herz” no longer lived with the Perlmanns. Would Lilli Freimann also "go away”? Just like Benjamin and Elsa Perlmann, she looked in vain for an opportunity to leave the country. Finally, the mail via the Red Cross, so existentially important for them, grew sporadic. A last message to the Perlmann children in 1942 said: "With Lilli sharing a flat.” Their last common address was Rutschbahn 25, the Kalker Foundation, one of the mass quarters for Jews specified by the Gestapo. At the same time the Perlmanns and Lilli Freimann received the order to travel to an unknown destination. On 11 July 1942, the freight train left Hamburg, was joined in Ludwigslust and Berlin to a transport leaving from there via Breslau and Oppeln for the final stop, Auschwitz. There, the newly arrived, following the selection, were murdered in the gas chambers.
Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Inge Grolle/Sonja Zoder
Quellen: 1; 4; Recherche Johann-Hinrich Möller v. 5.7.2007; Randt, Carolinenstraße 35, S. 63–79; dies., Talmud Tora Schule, S. 179, 183, 243; Lorenz, Briefe passim; Sielemann, Zielort, in: Zeitschrift des Vereins für Hamburgische Geschichte, Bd. 95, S. 91–111; ders., "Aber seid alle beruhigt", S. 183f., Anm. 191.
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