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Alice Berju * 1895
Loogestieg 13 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)
Käthe Alice Berju, née Goldenberg, b. 12.11.1895 in Hamburg, murdered on 9.23.1940 in the Brandenburg on the Havel River killing facility
A commemorative stone in Hamburg-Eppendorf, at Loogestieg 13
Käthe Alice Berju, née Goldenberg, came into the world on 11 December 1895 in Hamburg- Rotherbaum, at Grindelhof 97. Her mother, Selly Fries (b. 1872) was married to Koppel Julius Goldenberg (b. 1858, d. 1929). Both adhered to the Jewish faith. This marriage produced three other children: Edwin Goldenberg, b. 1892, who as an adult worked as businessman and lived at Isestrasse 47, in the Harvestehude quarter; Fanny Ella Sostheim, née Goldenberg, b. 1894, lived with her husband Paul in Mannheim; a second brother, Erwin Hans Goldenberg, b. 16 July 1898, died at 18 years of age in 1916, while playing with a friend, apparently hit by a bullet from a small caliber pistol (a Tesching).
Käthe Alice Berju attended a girl’s high school for ten years. To compensate for her "slight gifts” - her father later said - she received tutoring, so that, thanks to her diligence, she was able to finish school successfully. Following school in 1912, she had a stay in a pension in Brussels.
In Brussels, her brother Erwin observed her as follows: "My sister Alice was, before her marriage, a nice, a dear girl, idolized at home and the focal point of a circle of girlfriends. All the relatives were charmed by her. In the Brussels pension in 1912, too, she was much beloved and participated in many social events in my boss’ home. When the anti-German feeling set in, of course, she had to leave the pension and was naturally sad because she felt comfortable there. When her sister Ella got engaged to Mr. Sostheim, Alice was as happy as if she herself were the bride.”
When brother Edwin returned from the front in 1918, physically ill and depressed about the way the war ended, it was Käthe Alice especially, who understood how to restore him spiritually. After her return from Brussels, Käthe Alice completed three years of training in a photographic studio and then produced her own artistic photographs. Until her marriage, she lived with her parents at Loogestieg 13.
On 8 June 1920, Käthe Alice Goldenberg married the Berlin Jewish merchant Erwin Berju, who was born on 27 April 1890, the offspring of a Berlin commercial family. The two had been introduced in 1919 by Alice’s brother Edwin. Before their marriage, according to the testimony in divorce proceedings, given by Hermann Erwin Berju, they had seen each other only fourteen times. Käthe Alice seemed to him then to be "orderly, calm, girlishly reserved." He described the period of their engagement, during the divorce proceedings, as "full of happiness, and never would I have noticed the symptoms which have now emerged in my wife!”
Käthe Alice’s sister Ella Sostheim expressed herself in the same way in 1931. She had known Käthe Alice before her wedding to be only a sunny, life-loving creature, who everywhere won the sympathies of her surroundings. She would have been able to entrust her own children to the care of Käthe Alice.
After the marriage, the Berju couple lived initially in Berlin, on Frankfurter Allee. Very soon after the wedding, according to the report of her husband, she began to manifest "moods of excitation,” followed by groundless expressions of jealousy. Käthe Alice wrote letters to her sister Ella, in which she also expressed her jealousy and maintained that her husband had given her sleeping pills. During her pregnancy, Käthe Alice returned temporarily to Hamburg. Around a year after the marriage, on 28 September 1921, Käthe Alice bore a daughter Ingeborg in the Hamburg Dorotheen Clinic.
Hermann Erwin Berju dealt in household goods in Berlin, however with only little success. After two years he gave up the business. In 1922, Hermann Erwin and Käthe Alice settled in Hamburg. Hermann Erwin had received a position in the Goldenberg Bank at Heuberg 5-7; the bank belonged to Alice’s father Julius and his brother Elieser. Here, too, Hermann Erwin was unable to find a secure footing. After a year and a half, he went back to Berlin in 1924 and got a position in the Tietz Department Store in which his father held a directorial position. Hermann Erwin became a department director in 1931.
Shortly after the Berju couple settled in Hamburg, Käthe Alice Berju, accompanied by her mother and their doctor, was taken to the "Eichenhain Sanitarium for Nervous Disorders,’ on Weiher 5, in Eimsbüttel.
Upon arrival, she seemed fully oriented, but weak, while in the later treatment she became anxiously aroused. She said that her husband threatened her and her parents with harm. During her stay at the clinic, she injured herself seriously with the glass from a wristwatch, threatened to slam doors and windows, and once attempted to climb over the railing of a balcony. After seven months in this clinic, she broke her femur by jumping over the stair railing. After treatment in the surgical clinic of the Eppendorf Hospital, she was transferred on 9 October 1922 to the neurological clinic of Professor Max Nonne in the same hospital. (Max Nonne, even in the 1920s, advocated so-called racial hygiene and later the "euthanasia” measures of the Nazi regime.) Two months later, on 14 December 1922, on the suggestion of Max Nonne she was sent home on a trial basis.
There were good phases, during which she was friendly and took part in her environment, played chess with her husband, and went with him on walks, that alternated with periods in which she totally turned away from her family. In early 1923, she behaved so violently that she was committed to the psychiatric department of the Altona Hospital. During this hospital stay, Käthe Alice was sterilized. It is not known who initiated this intervention. The hospital stay lasted until 17 May 1924. On 30 January 1925, she was once again a patient in the department for nervous disorders of the Altona Hospital. Two months later, on 7 March 1925, she came to the Friedrichsberg Asylum for the Mentally Ill. During the next four years at Friedrichsberg her condition scarcely changed. She more and more withdrew into herself or tried to destroy objects within her reach. Even after her transfer to the Langenhorn State Hospital on 12 January 1929, Käthe Alice’s condition persisted. She furrowed her brows, was very agitated, aggressive, and needed constant care in all things.
The doctors were convinced that no future improvement was likely. Therefore, Hermann Erwin Berju took steps for a divorce which was granted on 20 November 1931.
Alice Berju was transferred on 29 July 1931 from Langenhorn to the Neustadt District Mental Hospital in Holstein. She was among the people, who were brought from there to the Langenhorn Psychiatric Hospital and Sanitarium, as it in the meantime had been renamed.
This transfer was the result of the following: In the spring and summer of 1940, the "Euthanasia” Center in Berlin, at Tiergartenstrasse 4, planned a special action against Jews held in public and private mental institutions. The plan called for Jews living in those institutions to be collected in holding centers. The Langenhorn mental hospital in Hamburg was the designated such place for northern Germany. All the establishments in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg received the directive to transfer the Jews in their institutions to Langenhorn by 18 September 1940.
After all the Jewish patients in north German institutions arrived in Langenhorn, on 23 September 1940, they, together with the patients previously living there, among the Alice Berju, were put on a transport totaling 136 people and brought to Brandenburg on the Havel River. On that very day they were killed by carbon monoxide gas in a repurposed room of the former prison. Only Ilse Herta Zachmann initially escaped this fate (see her biographical entry).
On the birth registration for Alice Berju, it was noted that the registry office Chelm II recorded her alleged death on 4. Dezember 1940, under number 565/1940. However, those murdered in Brandenburg were never in Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German). The Polish mental hospital, that existed there formerly, no longer existed after SS units on 12 January 1940 murdered almost all its patients. Moreover, there was no registry office in Chelm. The invention of these offices was later used to concoct dates of death, which disguised the murder action and also justified the claims for the costs of extended care.
Her brother Edwin Goldenberg emigrated to Chile in 1936, together with his wife Ilse Jeanette and their children Hermann and Lilly.
The fate of her sister, Fanny Ella Sostheim, remains shrouded in darkness. It is not known whether her marriage to Paul Sostheim, born in Neuss in 1885, produced any children, or whether she emigrated with her husband to Belgium. It is known that Paul Sostheim had to spend two weeks in the Bruchsal jail. At the end of October 1939, he emigrated to Belgium and was arrested for six weeks there on 10 May 1940. Thereafter he was deported to the Le Vigeant and Saint Cyprien internment camps in France. After his transfer to the Drancy holding camp outside Paris, he was shipped off to Auschwitz on 10 August 1942. Following the war, he was declared dead.
Ingeborg Berju, Käthe Alice's daughter, fled to Palestine in 1939. There she changed her first name to Judith (Jehudith), married Meir Elasari and had three children with him.
Hermann Erwin Berju entered into two more marriages after divorcing Alice Berju. In 1932 he married Ella Manasse, born on 18. Sep 1905 in Schwersenz/district Posen-Ost. This marriage was divorced in 1936. Ella Berju was able to leave Germany in time. She first lived in Manchester in Great Britain and travelled on from there to New York in 1938.
Hermann Erwin Berju married ub 1939 Stephanie Steinitz, born on 21. July 1892 in Berlin. She had already been married once before her marriage to Hermann Erwin Berju, namely to Kurt Herzberg, born on 7. May 1877 in Ratibor. This marriage, which took place in 1913 and was divorced in 1937, produced their son Thomas, born on 19. Jan 1914 in Berlin, who was able to flee to Palestine in 1934. In 1939, Thomas Herzberg married Karla Laser, born on 16. Nov 1920 in Gevelsberg near Wuppertal, who had fled Germany in 1936 at the age of fifteen. In 1942, their daughter Jael was born in Haifa. Their son Ruben, who was also born there in 1951, came to Germany (with his parents) at the age of seven. Ruben Herzberg was director of the Klosterschule grammar school in Hamburg's St. Georg district from 1994 to 2018 and chairman of the Jewish Community in Hamburg from 2007 to 2011.
Stephanie and Hermann Erwin Berju perished in the Holocaust. They were deported from Berlin to the Riga ghetto on 13 January 1942. Their further fate is not known; they were declared dead after the war.
Translator: Richard Levy, updated by Ingo Wille
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: February 2021
© Ingo Wille
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 9; AB; StaH 133-1 III Staatsarchiv III, 3171-2/4 U.A. 4, Liste psychisch kranker jüdischer Patientinnen und Patienten der psychiatrischen Anstalt Langenhorn, die aufgrund nationalsozialistischer "Euthanasie"-Maßnahmen ermordet wurden, zusammengestellt von Peter von Rönn, Hamburg (Projektgruppe zur Erforschung des Schicksals psychisch Kranker in Langenhorn); 332-3 Zivilstandsaufsicht A_293 Nr. 170/1872 Selly Fries; 332-5 Standesämter 8697 Heiratsregister Nr. 180/1914 Fanny Elly Goldenberg, 9082 Nr. Geburtsregister 2173/1892 Edwin Goldenberg, 9112 Nr. Geburtsregister 2220/1895 Käthe Alice Goldenberg, 9578 Heiratsregister Nr. 569/1920 Käthe Alice Goldenberg; 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26. 1. 1939-27. 1. 1940; 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 373 Bd. 20 Erwin Hermann Berju; Landesarchiv Berlin, P Rep. 806 Nr. 755 Sta. Berlin IX Nr. 933/1890 Geburtsregister Hermann Erwin Berju; Landesarchiv Schleswig LAS Abt. 377 Nr. 759; Berliner Adressbuch; UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patienten-Karteikarte Alice Berju der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg; UKE/IGEM, Archiv, Patientenakte Alice Berju der Staatskrankenanstalt Friedrichsberg; schriftliche Auskunft des pensionierten Arztes des Landesheilanstalt Neustadt Dr. F. E. Struwe, vom 31. 1. 2017; Auskünfte von Ruben Herzberg Januar 2021.
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