Search for Names, Places and Biographies

Already layed Stumbling Stones

Herbert Gustav Specht * 1923

Maria-Louisen-Straße 2 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

JG. 1923
ERMORDET 3.9.1943

further stumbling stones in Maria-Louisen-Straße 2:
Clara Nordheim, Moritz Nordheim, Walther Henry Specht

Herbert Specht, born on 3 Sept. 1923 in Hamburg, deported on 31 Aug. 1943 from the Westerbork camp to Auschwitz

Maria-Louisen-Strasse 2 (Winterhude)

Herbert Gustav Specht was born on 3 Sept. 1923 in Hamburg-Eppendorf as the first child of the Hamburg merchant Walther Specht (1884–1943) and Gertrud "Trude,” née Franck (born on 10 July 1900 in Berlin). His parents had married in Hamburg on 25 Feb. 1922. His mother had graduated from a secondary school (Realschule) in 1919 and worked briefly at the Springer publishing house in Berlin.

Herbert Specht attended Bertram’s Preparatory School School for Boys (at Esplanade 42) starting in spring of 1930, a type of primary school that the pupils left after four years to transfer to a high school. Jewish and non-Jewish students from wealthy Hamburg families studied there. After Herbert, his brother Edgar was born in Hamburg on 2 Oct. 1926; he too attended Bertram’s Preparatory School for Boys from April 1933.

The family lived in solid middle-class neighborhoods, the residential addresses being Eppendorfer Landstrasse 44 on the raised ground floor/ Eppendorf (1922–1932) and Maria-Louisen-Strasse 2 on the second floor/ Winterhude (1933–1935). Two "domestic helpers” were employed for the latter home. The residential addresses indicate spacious apartments with upscale furnishings, which included paintings. This standard of living was possible because Herbert’s father Walther Specht had been the sole owner of the Hermann Hamberg banking business (Gutruf-Haus, Neuer Wall 10, fourth floor) since Aug. 1923.

The measures taken by the Nazi government since 1933 had the goal of ousting all Jews in Germany from all areas of social life; on 1 Apr. 1933, the Nazi party (NSDAP) organized nationwide boycotts against Jewish businesses. The banker Walther Specht reacted relatively quickly to this development in his home country: In 1935, he left the banking business with his investment of around 400,000 RM (reichsmark) and emigrated with his wife and sons to the Netherlands on 29 Dec. 1935. The state authorities of Nazi Germany plundered him, with the outward appearance of legitimacy, by means of laws in such a way that the family forfeited more than half of its assets (Reich flight tax [Reichsfluchtsteuer] of 100,000 RM; transfer losses to the Netherlands amounting to 102,000 RM; levy on Jewish assets ("Judenvermögensabgabe”) amounting to 14,500 RM).

At the time of the Specht family’s entry, a visa-free entry was in effect for the neutral Netherlands; however, the Amsterdam aliens branch of police tightened asylum practices and issued only temporary residence permits starting in 1935. The Spechts sent their household goods to the Netherlands in a large shipping container. They moved into a house in Heemstede (Franz Schubertlaan 50) west of Amsterdam. Edgar attended the "Dreefschool (Lagere School)” in Heemstede and in 1939, after passing the entrance examination, transferred to the Kennemer Lyzeum in neighboring Overveen (Bloemendaal), which Herbert also attended until Sept. 1940.

Herbert’s father also opened his own banking business in the Netherlands in 1936. At the end of 1938, all immigrants in the Netherlands were required to obtain new residence documents; the "illegal immigrants” identified as a result were interned in the Westerbork camp. Since the Specht family had entered the Netherlands legally and had also imported a large sum of capital, they were not affected by this tightening of the law. Alarmed by Nazi Germany’s aggressive expansionist policies, Herbert’s father made efforts to emigrate to the United States with his family; however, the attempts were unsuccessful.

With the invasion of the German Wehrmacht in the Netherlands in May 1940, the persecution of the Jews began there as well. The Specht family had to leave their house in Heemstede in mid-Sept. 1940, as they were not allowed to live in the coastal area as German Jews, according to the orders of the German occupiers. They moved to Hilversum about 40 kilometers (some 25 miles) east of their previous place of residence. However, the occupiers expelled them from there as well – in mid-March 1942, they had to move to Amsterdam. There they lived at Noorder Amstellaan 129 on the third floor (renamed Churchill-Laan 129 in May 1946).

By order of the occupying forces, son Edgar was only allowed to attend the Jewish School in Amsterdam starting in Feb. 1942. The older son Herbert attended the "Institute for Car Dealers” (founded in 1930, today IVA Driebergen) in Driebergen until the beginning of 1942. After the German Reich had revoked their German citizenship on 11 Nov. 1941, they were stateless, making legal emigration impossible. Visas already applied for on their German passports had then suddenly become uncertain again. Only from the few unoccupied European ports with overseas traffic, such as Marseille, Barcelona or Lisbon, passage by ship was conceivable with the passports invalid by then.

On 2 May 1942, the German occupation forces also introduced the wearing of the "Jews’ star” in the Netherlands. Through raids and denunciation, Jews were arrested and interned in the Westerbork transit camp, which was taken over by the SS in early July 1942. The Spechts decided to escape to the still unoccupied French southern zone with the help of smugglers. In order to meet the costs of the escape, Herbert’s father had to sell a painting by Maurice Utrillo for 8,000 guilders (about 5,850 RM).

The Specht family of four fled illegally through occupied Belgium to occupied France in July 1942 with false papers and paid "passeurs” (people smugglers). "We could use the railroad only occasionally and only for short distances, never when crossing the country’s borders, since our forged papers would not have held up in a border check. We covered long distances on foot and crossed the border at night, which was often only possible after days of waiting and many futile attempts,” reported Gertrud Specht in the 1950s in the course of the restitution proceedings. They intended to flee from Paris to Vichy France, which had not yet been occupied.

"Shortly after crossing the demarcation line, we were stopped by a patrol,” Gertrud Specht recalled. They were arrested and taken to the Gurs camp near the Pyrenees for a few weeks on 3 Sept. 1942. From there, Walther Specht wrote to his emigrant nephew William H. Philip (born in 1915) in San Francisco that they did have a visa for Guatemala, but "it is a rather disastrous story, since we have been intending to move our domicile there for more than three years now (it has almost been four years by now) and have been prevented from doing so again and again.” The wife and sons Herbert and Edgar also wrote a few sentences on the letter, one of which was blacked out by the camp censor. After an interim transfer to the Rivesaltes camp (near the Pyrenees, near the Mediterranean Sea), some 45 kilometers (nearly 30 miles) from the Spanish border, which had been under a German commander since the German occupation in Nov. 1942, they were again sent to the Gurs camp in Nov. 1942. On this occasion, the parents managed to hide their sons Herbert and Edgar illegally in the village of Chambon. At the end of Feb. 1943, Walther Specht was deported in the direction of Paris; Gertrud Specht (1900–1981) escaped from the Gurs camp in June 1943 through the efforts of the priest Alexander Glasberg (1902–1981) and she was smuggled on to Switzerland in March 1944, where the younger son Edgar had already been taken to safety in June 1943.

Herbert Specht also escaped from the French camp. He had been taken from Rivesaltes to Cambon together with other young people. In Dec. 1942, together with a young man, he returned with forged papers to the Netherlands, where he was able to remain in hiding until 1943. On 26 Aug. 1943, he was tracked down by the SS Security Service (SD) and taken to the Westerbork camp. There he met his cousin Gerhard Friedberger (born in 1921 in Hamburg), who later recalled that Herbert Specht was still "in full possession of his physical and mental powers” even after four months in the camp and eight months in hiding.

From Westerbork, the SS deported Herbert Specht to the Auschwitz death camp on 31 Aug. 1943, where he arrived on 3 Sept. 1943; no information about his death has been preserved.

His father Walther Specht was transferred from the Gurs camp to the Drancy transit camp near Paris at the end of Feb. 1943. From there, he was deported to one of the extermination camps established in occupied Poland, Majdanek or Sobibor, in early Mar. 1943 and murdered. (The Federal Archives in Koblenz also mention both places in their Memorial Book).

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

Stand: May 2021
© Björn Eggert

Quellen: Staatsarchiv Hamburg (StaH) 213-13 (Landgericht Hamburg, Wiedergutmachung), 10777 (Henry Walther Specht); StaH 213-13 (Landgericht Hamburg, Wiedergutmachung), 25206 (Walther Specht); StaH 231-7 (Handelsregister) A 1 Band 60 (Hermann Hamberg, HR A 14476); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), F 2139 (Walther Specht); StaH 342-2 (Militärersatzbehörden), D II 115 Band 7 (Walther Specht); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 7468 (Gertrud Specht); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 7469 (Edgar Specht); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 23305 (Gertrud Specht); StaH 351-11 (Amt für Wiedergutmachung), 45721 (Herbert Gustav Specht); StaH 522-1 (Jüdische Gemeinden), 992b (Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburg), Walther Specht; Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Archiefkaarten van Persoonskaarten, Walther Specht, Gertrud Specht; Yad Vashem, Page of Testimony (Walther Specht 1999, ohne Foto); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1910, S. 241 (Hermann Hamberg, Fondsmakler u. Vertr. v. Londoner Stockbrokers, Börsenplatz: Pfeiler 63 Sitz a, eingetragen 1890, Inhaber: Hermann Hamberg u. August Specht, Prokurist: Walther Henry Specht, Neuer Wall 16-18); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1926, S. 375 (Hermann Hamberg, Bankgeschäft, gegr. 1885, Inhaber: Walther Henry Specht, Prokurist: Julius Philip, Neuer Wall 16-18); Hamburger Börsenfirmen, Hamburg 1935, S. 306 (Hermann Hamberg, Bankgeschäft, gegr. 1885, Inhaber: Walther Henry Specht, Prokurist: Otto Hertmann, Neuer Wall 10 III. Stock); Frank Bajohr, "Arisierung" in Hamburg. Die Verdrängung der jüdischen Unternehmer 1933-1945, Hamburg 1998, S. 358 (Hermann Hamberg); Maike Bruhns, Geflohen aus Deutschland. Hamburger Künstler im Exil 1933-1945, Bremen 2007, S. 167-168 (Niederlande); Claus-Dieter Krohn/ Patrick von zur Mühlen/ Gerhard Paul/ Lutz Winckler (Hrsg.), Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration 1933-1945, 2008, S. 321-333 (Niederlande); Frank Kuitenbrouwer, Raubkunst aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in den Niederlanden, in: Inka Bertz/ Michael Dorrmann, Raub und Restitution. Kulturgut aus jüdischem Besitz von 1933 bis heute, Göttingen 2008, S. 259-265; Adressbuch Hamburg (Walther Specht) 1924, 1926, 1927, 1932-1934; (mit Foto, eingesehen 25.09.2019).

print preview  / top of page