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Gustav Falkenstein * 1866
Trostbrücke 2–6 (Hamburg-Mitte, Hamburg-Altstadt)
further stumbling stones in Trostbrücke 2–6:
Richard Abraham, Julius Adam, Julius Asch, Georg Blankenstein, Ivan Fontheim, Henry Friedenheim, Albert Holländer, Max Israel, Gustav Heinrich Leo, Heinrich Mayer, Moritz Nordheim, Kurt Perels, Ernst Moritz Rappolt, Ferdinand Rosenstern, Walter Ludwig Samuel, Salomon Siegmund Schlomer, Ernst Werner, Heinrich Wohlwill, Alfred Wolff
Gustav Falkenstein, born on 29 Dec. 1866 in Holzminden, deported on 24 Feb. 1943 to Theresienstadt, died on 2 Apr. 1943 in Theresienstadt
The life of a successful merchant
Gustav Falkenstein grew up with his siblings Felix and Regina as the son of a respected vegetable tanner in Holzminden. After completing grade 11 (Obersekunda), he left high school to begin a commercial apprenticeship. He then probably worked in Holzminden for some time – in Hamburg, he is mentioned for the first time in the 1891 directory in connection with "Saulmann & Falkenstein – Agency and Commission.” The company took on important representations, for instance, the representation of the "Saturn” Portland cement plant, the German general agency for the London-based "Star Life Assurance Society,” and the export agency for the "Consortium für die elektrotechnische Industrie Nürnberg (Calcium Carbid).”
From the changing addresses of the Saulmann & Falkenstein Company, expanded as early as 1903 ("Saulmann & Falkenstein Lagerhäuser”), one can gather the increasing economic success of the company and, in addition, the middle-class security of the Falkenstein family: The business moved from Alte Gröninger Strasse to Hermannstrasse and in 1895 to Mönckedamm (opposite the Chamber of Commerce) and finally to Brandstwiete 4 (in 1903), at this address into a new office building of the Wechslerbank financial institution designed by Martin Haller. The building made it through World War II intact. In 1924, Falkenstein’s partner, Louis Saulmann, passed away; from then on, Gustav Falkenstein managed the company on his own.
The Saulmann & Falkenstein Company continues to be listed in the Hamburg directory at Brandstwiete 4 until 1940. The reference to Gustav Falkenstein being a member of the "Association of the Honorable Merchant,” appears there for the last time in 1938. As of 1942, the company disappears from the directory, and Gustav Falkenstein’s private address shows up there for the last time in 1942 – incidentally always without the added compulsory first name of "Israel.” In 1900, the agency business was supplemented with entering another business field, the manufacturing industry. In 1900, the old distillery in Tornesch, called "De Sprit” in the vernacular, was taken over by a Hamburg consortium to which Louis Saulmann and Gustav Falkenstein belonged as well ("Brennerei-und Presshefefabrik Tornesch GmbH” ["Tornesch distillery and press yeast plant Ltd.”]). This plant quickly became a flourishing enterprise (processing chemical and pharmaceutical products); in 1919, the plant employed 50 workers, hired on terms speaking to a high social standard (as early as 1914, paid vacations were introduced). In 1924, Gustav Falkenstein resigned from this company as general manager.
Until the beginning of the Nazi dictatorship, Gustav Falkenstein led the life of an established Hamburg merchant, who had his firm place at the stock market, by pillar 18 B, stock pit b. The stock pits, assigned for a modest fee, were arranged around the pillar. This is where businesspeople met between 12 and 1 p.m., allowing them to file away mail there as well. Gustav Falkenstein was also a member of the Overseas Association (Überseeclub), the "Association of the Honorable Merchant in Hamburg,” the Chamber of Commerce, the Harvestehude Citizens’ Association, and the Patriotic Society (Patriotische Gesellschaft), which he had joined on 21 Nov. 1911. Throughout, he and his wife were members of the Jewish Community as well; one can gather from the regular payments noted on the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card his success and eventually, the deterioration of his economic situation.
The marriage with Caroline Friedländer (born in Hamburg in 1870), whom he married in Hamburg in 1893, produced three children: Hermann (in 1894), Marianne (in 1897), and Kurt (in 1906).
The private citizen leaves behind hardly any traces
The changing residential addresses, too, point to the family’s growing affluence. The first known apartment was located on Mittelweg, followed by the address on Klosterallee. Eventually, the family moved to Innocentiastrasse (nos. 14, 74, 64) in 1903. Starting in 1931, they lived at Greflinger Strasse 2 (intersection to Sierichstrasse).
From the available sources, we cannot gather what role Gustav Falkenstein’s family played in this first life, to what extent art, or cultural events in general were important at all to the family.
Gustav Falkenstein’s brother, Felix, must have been adventurous: Ten years after leaving school in Holzminden Felix Falkenstein – he too was a merchant – received a passport for Spain and Morocco, being released from German citizenship in 1888. No contacts are documented to his brother Gustav. To the Holzminden City Archive we owe the information that Felix Falkenstein worked in Madrid as a general agent of the important Nederlandse Instrumenten Compagnie (Nedinsco – optical devices). The album of the Oberrealschule [a secondary school without Latin] in Madrid indicated him to be a member of the executive board of that enterprise in 1927. As late as the 1930s, he is still listed as a joint heir of the common family property in Holzminden, and the same is true in 1941 in connection with his brother Gustav’s attempt to sell this property. Afterward, the traces of Felix Falkenstein disappear, and so do those of sister Regine, who after the marriage with her Belgian husband moved to Belgium and had two children there. These children are also mentioned as joint heirs to the property. All traces also disappear of the youngest son Kurt, who is named only once in a letter of his imprisoned brother: according to this information, he must have lived in Spain.
The daughter of the Falkenstein couple, Marianne Feilmann, née Falkenstein, lived together with her parents after her divorce and up to the deportation. The oldest son Hermann lived with his parents until 1922. Apparently, tensions occurred within the family after that. Before court (see below) Hermann Falkenstein testified that at the end of his legal training he left his father’s company because his father did not wish to permit his engagement to an "Aryan” woman. The Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card for Hermann Falkenstein (covering the period from 1928 until 1941) reveals that all of the relatively low assessments were quashed, and he did not pay anything.
Harassment by the Nazi administration
After the First World War and the period of inflation, the company in Tornesch, and probably the agency business as well, experienced a noticeable decline, which becomes apparent in the decreasing contributions listed in the Jewish religious card file. With the invention of the economically significant wood saccharification in 1925, the company was able to re-consolidate. However, Gustav Falkenstein ultimately did not share in this success. In 1931, the Falkenstein Family moved – apparently under financial pressure – to Greflinger Strasse, where daughter Marianne eventually resided as well.
From the very start of the Nazi dictatorship, the Falkenstein family was exposed to all measures degrading Jewish citizens. These included the "Ordinance on the Use of Jewish Assets" ("Verordnung zum Einsatz jüdischen Vermögens”) in 1938, according to which Jews were compelled to surrender jewelry, precious stones, objets d’art and cult objects made of gold, silver, and platinum. From a letter by Hermann Falkenstein, one can gather that the Falkenstein couple also took their valuables to a municipal pawnshop. Just how much the mounting deterioration of the financial situation pressured the Falkenstein family emerges from two official proceedings in 1940/41:
In May 1940, Gustav Falkenstein’s financial straits were so great that only money given to him as a present (1,921.30 RM [reichsmark]) could help him. However, he was not even allowed to dispose freely of this money. The donor, Mrs. Anna Sara Lyon (we did not find out anything about her), had stipulated that the money could be disposed of only in agreement with Walter Rudolphi, a retired associate judge at the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgerichtsrat). This could have been a measure to safeguard the money from external seizure – besides, Gustav Falkenstein was not allowed to access the money anyway without consent by the foreign currency office of the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident). In his application to the foreign currency office, Gustav Falkenstein explained his desperate situation: "We need this sum urgently since additional expenses have emerged during this period of bitter cold, causing us to be short of a sum of 130 RM to cover the incurred obligations.”
Within a week, he had to answer "fully and correctly” a detailed questionnaire on pain of severe penalties. The answers reveal that he earned only modest revenues from a small insurance brokerage, after the authorities had stopped his main commercial representations. He was unable to generate any profits from his 25-percent share in his parents’ property in Holzminden amounting to 4,000 RM, since his share was already encumbered with a cautionary mortgage held by the Commerzbank. According to this, Gustav Falkenstein had active assets of 27 RM and a surplus from professional work amounting to 20 RM.
Eventually, with consent by Dr. Rudolphi and approval from the foreign currency office, he was allowed to dispose of 130 RM. This process shows in what humiliating ways the authorities proceeded against a Jewish merchant forced to plead for permission to withdraw his own money in a difficult situation. In accordance with an ordinance dated 17 Aug. 1938, Gustav Falkenstein, like all Jewish phone customers, had to apply for correcting his entry in the phone directory to include the additional first name of "Israel,” introduced to designate all male German Jews. He had neglected to do so and had thus committed a criminal offense, even though his phone book and phone had been taken away already in late 1940.
The order of summary punishment dated Feb. 1941 struck Gustav Falkenstein in the middle of a desperate situation: On 1 Jan. 1941, he had faced "having his business closed after operating for 57 years” (statement at the trial), he had 200 RM a month at his disposal, and he was trying to get a source of income by subletting. His wife was seriously ill, and his son had been convicted (see below).
In this situation, Gustav Falkenstein lodged several appeals against the order of summary punishment and eventually accepted it, though asking for permission to pay the penalty, amounting to 20 RM, in installments of 5 RM. The file contains three receipts for payment of 5 RM each until 4 Feb. 1942; after that, Gustav Falkenstein, his wife, and his daughter were probably relocated by force.
In desperate ways, Gustav Falkenstein fought against the constriction of his life – it remains unclear whether he actually hoped for a decision in his favor or whether the financial pressures forced him to undertake his appeals. The files show how publicly the Nazi authorities kept up the appearance of proceedings based on the rule of law on the one hand and on the other hand humiliated those who tried to fight the official measures, through ignoring procedures in accordance with the rule of law.
During the time these events took place, the Nazi dictatorship had a devastating effect on the Falkenstein family: Due to an anonymous report to the Secret State Police (Gestapo), Hermann Falkenstein was arrested on charges of alleged "racial defilement” ("Rassenschande”) in 1938 (the numerous denunciations in the "consensual dictatorship” ["Zustimmungsdiktatur”] of the Nazis were mostly related to "racial defilement” and "friendliness toward Jews”). In court proceedings that involved 12 women, Hermann Falkenstein was sentenced to an overall penalty of nine years in prison in May 1939. After his transfer to the Fuhlsbüttel penitentiary, he was initially taken to Bremen-Oslebshausen and from there to the Bützow-Dreibergen penitentiary, and he was murdered in Auschwitz on 30 Jan. 1943.
Hermann Falkenstein’s relationship to his family is difficult to determine: According to what he stated himself, he moved out from his parents’ home in 1922 due to differences, subsequently changing residential addresses and the addresses of his law firm very frequently. In the course of the second trial and even after the verdict, there are comments that suggest a clear distancing from Judaism. For instance, during the examination on 22 Aug. 1938, he pointed out "that apart from my descent, I had no connection to the Jews.” However, it remains open whether these statements were a strategic element of his defense.
From the letters Hermann Falkenstein wrote from prison, we can gather details regarding the situation of the Falkenstein family. Most of these letters – marked by officials with many lines – he was not allowed to send ("impertinent”), as a result of which they are still included in the court records. In the requests for permissions for his parents and his sister to visit, Hermann Falkenstein points to the frailty of his mother and the oppressive financial situation of the parents ("Mathäi am Letzten,” German for "It’s curtains.”). Once he addresses his parents’ ideas to emigrate: "... hopefully, you will go and see friendlier parts before the year is out, as even you slowly begin to understand …”
It is entirely unclear how Hermann Falkenstein arrived at this notion: Neither his mother’s state of health nor the financial situation of the family allowed any plans to emigrate. Hermann Falkenstein’s letters contain clues that he too wished to emigrate (to the USA), once someone "liberated” him from the concentration camp.
The court records against Hermann Falkenstein include a letter by Gustav Falkenstein to his son (dated 2 Feb. 1939) in which Gustav Falkenstein elaborates on the financial situation of the couple: "I sold a large part of my furniture, and thus I have a bit of money again. It looks rather comfortable nevertheless, for I am using your furniture, sleep on grandfather’s bed, and I have your closet. It all works after all.” Gustav Falkenstein leaves it to his son to draw conclusions from this account of one detail in his everyday life. At the end of the letter, too, the complaint about the situation is left in a balance: "We are at home all day long, I go to town sometimes, where things are extremely busy these days … household purchases for Saturday and Sunday a difficult matter. Mother is very pleased that provisions are so good, and this does contribute to her wellbeing.”
Deportation and death
In 1941, Marianne Feilmann was on the deportation lists three times, and every time, her name was crossed out, probably because her ill mother needed care. Caroline Falkenstein passed away in hospital in July 1942 (diagnosis: arteriosclerosis, arteriosclerotic dementia). At this time, after their compulsory relocation, all three lived in the "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Kielortallee 22. After Caroline’s death, Gustav Falkenstein and his daughter were forced to move once again, this time into the "Jews’ house” at Beneckestrasse 6, where Jews had to live that were no longer able to support themselves. With the first smaller and thus less conspicuous transport, both were deported to Theresienstadt on 24 Feb. 1943, where Gustav Falkenstein died two months later, on 2 Apr. 1943.
Marianne Feilmann was deported to Auschwitz in May 1943.
On 17 Sept. 1942, the household effects of the Falkenstein couple were auctioned off by the Chief Finance Administration (Oberfinanzdirektion), and the remaining assets were confiscated.
After 1945, no traces of this family can be found, and there is no restitution file (Wiedergutmachungsakte). In 1962, an "administrator for absent heirs” ("Abwesenheitspfleger”) was appointed for the heirs of the property in Holzminden – including Gustav Falkenstein.
The deportation and death of Gustav Falkenstein represent the end of a lengthy process of extinction: Gustav Falkenstein was excluded from all organizations whose member he was as an honorable merchant. Since 1935, he was also no longer allowed to be a member of the Patriotic Society. He had to endure the humiliations through the Nuremberg laws [on race] and, particularly after the Pogrom of November 1938, all of the ensuing instances of harassment and persecution.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Marlis Roß und Hartmut Roß
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5; 8; StaH 213 – 11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht Strafsachen 1514/42 (Nichtannahme jüd. Vorname); StaH 213 – 11 Staatsanwaltschaft 566139 Landgericht (Strafsachen Hermann Falkenstein); StaH 241 – 1 Gerichtsvollzieherwesen; StaH 241 – 2 Landesjustizverwaltung Senatskommission für die Justizverwaltung (Personalakte Hermann Falkenstein); StaH 314 –15 Oberfinanzpräsident R 1940 / 742 (Bitte um Geld); StaH 332 – 5 Standesämter; StaH 522 – 1, 992e2 Deportationslisten; Hamburger Adressbücher und Telefonbücher; Benz 2013, S. 68–72, S. 205f.; Gottwaldt/ Schulle 2005, S.262ff.; Beate Meyer 2006, S. 70–73; Morisse 2013, S. 84f.; Robinsohn 1977, S. 10– 21, S. 59
Zur "Brennerei- und Presshefefabrik Tornesch GmbH": Veröffentlichung der Kulturgemeinschaft Tornesch/ Gemeinschaft zur Erhaltung von Kulturgut in Tornesch, "Strassen in Tornesch", Folge 13, Tornesch 12.1.2000 Hierzu auch freundliche Auskünfte per E-Mail von Frau Annette Schlapkohl in Tornesch, wofür wir sehr danken.
Auskünfte per Brief und E-Mail vom Stadtarchiv Holzminden: Der Leiter des Stadtarchivs Holzminden hat den Kontakt zu Herrn Klaus Kieckbusch hergestellt, Autor von "Von Juden und Christen in Holzminden 1557–1754. Ein Geschichts- und Gedenkbuch". Holzminden 1998. Herr Kieckbusch hat uns in mehreren e-Mails äußerst ausführlich über die Herkunft und Familie Gustav Falkensteins informiert, wofür wir ihm sehr herzlich danken. Dank geht auch an die "Deutsche Schule Madrid" und Herrn Herwig Nolte, der den Kontakt zu ihr hergestellt hat. Per Mail haben wir Auskünfte zum Leben und zum Verbleib des Bruders Felix von Gustav Falkenstein erhalten.
Wir danken Frau Dr. Karin Thomsen für ihre Hilfe bei der Entzifferung des einzig erhaltenen Briefes von Gustav Falkenstein an Hermann Falkenstein im Gefängnis.; Wolfgang Benz. Theresienstadt. Eine Geschichte der Täuschung und Vernichtung, München 2013. Alfred Gottwaldt, Diana Schulle, Die "Judendeportationen" aus dem Deutschen Reich, 1941–1945, Wiesbaden 2005. Beate Meyer (Hrsg.), Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden, 1933–1945, Hamburg 2006. Heiko Morisse, Jüdische Rechtsanwälte in Hamburg: Ausgrenzung und Verfolgung im NS-Staat, 2. Auflage Hamburg 2013. Hans Robinsohn, Justiz als politische Verfolgung. Die Rechtsprechung in "Rassenschandefällen" beim Landgericht in Hamburg 1936–1943, Schriftenreihe der Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Nr. 35, Stuttgart 1977. Hamburger Adressbücher und Telefonbücher.
Diese Dateizugriffe wurden dankenswerterweise ermöglicht durch die finanzielle Unterstützung der GEN Gesellschaft für Erbenermittlung mbH.
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