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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Irmgard und Karl Posner
© Archiv KZ Gedenkstätte Neuengamme

Karl Posner * 1904

Rappstraße 13 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

1941 Minsk
weiterdeportiert KZ Flossenbürg ???

further stumbling stones in Rappstraße 13:
Ruth Bieber, Hans-Adolf Frankenthal, Siegfried Frankenthal, Hans Hoffmann, Frieda Hoffmann, Walter Hoffmann, Heimann Horwitz, Minna Lazarus, Hanna Offenburg, Nathan Hirsch Offenburg, Irmgard Posner

Irmgard Posner, née Ditze, born on 22 Mar. 1904 in Hamburg, deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941, murdered there

Karl Posner, born on 6 Mar. 1904 in Hamburg, deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941, further deported to the Flossenbürg concentration camp on 4 Aug. 1944, murdered there

Ismar Posner, born on 20 Nov. 1870 in Breslau (today Wroclaw in Poland), deported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942, died there on 10 Oct. 1942 (Stolperstein planned)

Rappstrasse 13 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

"Dear Mama! ... I am writing to you today in a state of great anxiety. We are about to leave for our forced evacuation to Russia. Originally, it was planned that my husband and father-in-law would be transported tomorrow. I cannot describe to you the hell of upsets we have gone through in the last 48 hours. At the last minute, the deadline for departure was extended by eight days, so that I will now be able, thank God, to procure the most essential equipment and to liquidate the household properly. Theo and I sincerely ask you both to move to Hamburg, to take over the management of the household and the care for Michael and Peter. Dear Mama, I especially ask you for this service, because the care for our child is the heaviest part of the whole misfortune. ... I send you my warmest regards. I will hardly be granted seeing you again myself. I thank you for all the good you have done for us and wish that you may live happily and contentedly. Yours, Irmgard.”

Irmgard Amanda Posner wrote these pleading words to Martha Rosenberg, the mother of Theo Rosenberg, Irmgard’s first husband, on 30 Oct. 1941, a few days before her deportation from Hamburg to Minsk (8 Nov. 1941). She had been divorced from him for two years. The Michael mentioned in the letter, for whose care "Mama” was asked, came from this marriage. Born on 29 Oct. 1934, he was one day after his seventh birthday. In her second marriage Irmgard Amanda was married since 2 June 1940 to Karl Posner, who is addressed as "my husband” in the first lines of the letter. He too was deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941. The person referred to as "father-in-law” is Ismar Posner, Karl’s father.

Peter, whose last name was Glück and who was entrusted to "Mama” as well in the letter, was the illegitimate child (born on 14 Nov. 1925 in Hamburg) of the Jewish woman Erna Glück (born in 1898 in Berlin). He was considered a "full Jew” ("Volljude”) in the Nazi terminology. Irmgard Posner had met the young man in the Jewish Community, recognized his difficult situation, and taken him under her wing. He as well as his sister Ellen Glück (born in 1924 in Hamburg), were deported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942, then further to Auschwitz. There they were murdered on 28 Sept. 1942 and 6 Oct. 1944, respectively. (Peter Glück, see, has been commemorated by a Stolperstein at Kielortallee 24).

"Mama” Martha Rosenberg responded immediately to Irmgard’s pleas. She liquidated the apartment in Frankfurt and arrived at the Dammtor train station at 5 a.m. on 5 November. As Irmgard had requested, she took over the household and mothering duties in Theo Rosenberg’s apartment at Rappstrasse 13 on the fourth floor.

Irmgard Amanda Posner, née Ditze, was born in Hamburg on 22 Mar. 1904. Her father was the merchant Oswald Josef Ditze, who had been born on 5 Jan. 1866 in Guttwitz/Upper Silesia (today Godkowice in Poland). His father was a farmer and the family was Catholic. Oswald Ditze’s wife Rebecca, née Tuerk, Irmgard’s mother, was born in Berlin on 14 Aug. 1871. Her parents were both Jewish. The father, Heimann Tuerk, was a cantor; the maiden name of the mother, Ernestine, was Schapiro.

Rebecca, Irmgard’s mother, had lived at 2nd Marienstrasse in Hamburg-Neustadt at the time of the wedding (15 Apr. 1896) and worked as an accountant. Oswald, still referred to as "Commis” in the marriage certificate, i.e., office worker, had lived on Brockmannsweg in the Rotherbaum quarter. He soon became self-employed trading jute sacks, which were still indispensable in a trading and port city at that time. Later, he joined as a partner J. C. Gustav Schmidt, retail and wholesale trade for sacks, burlap, and jute articles. From 1930 until his death on 13 Mar. 1933, he owned this company. Business does not seem to have been bad, because around 1910, he acquired a stately house at Löwenstrasse 9a (today Rantzowstrasse) in Wandsbek-Marienthal. (The house no longer exists).

At that home, the four children grew up: Paula (born on 8 Mar. 1897), Irmgard (born on 22 Mar. 1904), Karl Heinz (born on 28 Aug. 1906), and Eva (born on 8 Jan. 1915). All four were baptized Protestants. They completed a good education and advanced professionally: Irmgard became a paralegal, Paula a chemical laboratory technician, Karl Heinz a very successful businessman, and Eva pursued an academic career after the end of the war.

Irmgard Ditze’s first marriage was in 1934 to Theodor Heinz Rosenberg (29 Nov. 1907 to 3 Nov. 1976), a lathe operator and machine builder. Their son Michael Rosenberg was born on 29 Oct. 1934. Theodor was the son of the Hamburg actress and choir singer Martha Petersen (1877–1968), the daughter of a goldsmith, and the merchant Carl Rosenberg, a German Jew, who worked in Hamburg and in Lodz/Poland. The two had met in Lodz during a guest performance of the Hamburg State Opera. Carl Rosenberg had become wealthy in the wool trade.

When the Nazis came to power and elevated their racial ideology to state doctrine, Theodor Rosenberg as well as his wife Irmgard were considered "Jewish crossbreeds of the first degree” ("Mischlinge ersten Grades”) and from then on, they always had to reckon with difficulties.

The young family lived in a two-and-a-half-bedroom apartment at Rappstrasse 13, on the fourth floor, i.e. in the middle of the Grindelviertel quarter, very close to the Talmud Tora School, the synagogue on Bornplatz, and the center of the Hamburg German-Israelitic Community on Beneckestrasse.

The marriage of Theodor and Irmgard Rosenberg did not last long. Irmgard left her husband and the marriage was divorced on 25 Dec. 1939. She moved with four-year-old Michael first to Ophagen Strasse, a side street of Kieler Strasse in Altona-Nord, then to her mother at Droopweg 16 in the Hamm-Mitte quarter. However, Irmgard kept up the friendly relationship with Theodor, the father of her child, and especially with "Mama” Martha. Thus, as agreed, Michael lived at times with her, at times with his father.

These good contacts were to prove very helpful.

Irmgard had meanwhile found a new partner, Karl Posner.

Karl Posner was born in Hamburg on 6 Mar. 1904, had attended the Oberrealschule [a secondary school without Latin] on Holstentor, studied law and worked as an authorized signatory at the Norddeutsche Metallwerke/ Manufactur von Fahrrädern von Goldschmidt und Mindus, a metal-processing and bicycle manufacturer with administrative headquarters at Hohe Bleichen 32). Karl was Jewish and had been a member of the Jewish Community since 1926. He earned a very good income, as the entries in his Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card show, and always paid the amount assessed: In the 1930s, this was around 120 RM (reichsmark) per year, in 1940 even 144 RM. At that time, he lived together with his father Ismar Posner (born on 20 Nov. 1870 in Breslau [today Wroclaw in Poland]), a commercial agent, at Heimhuder Strasse 66 in the Rotherbaum quarter. His mother, Emilie Posner, née Halberstadt (born on 25 Mar. 1872 in Hamburg), had already passed away in 1927. She came from an old Hamburg Jewish family. Her father was the merchant Wolff Levin, called Halberstadt; her mother was Bela, called Bertha, née Nussbaum. The family lived at Neuer Steinweg 57 in Hamburg-Neustadt, one of those streets that represented the main residential area of Hamburg Jews until the end of the nineteenth century, before the more upscale neighborhood of Rotherbaum, especially the Grindelviertel, took first place.

The anti-Semitic policies that became radicalized after the Nazi takeover also increasingly harassed Karl and Ismar Posner. The latter gradually lost his customers. An entry in his Jewish religious tax file card already for 1935 reads, "Is maintained by his son Karl."

On 31 Oct. 1938, however, the Goldschmidt and Mindus metal-processing company was "Aryanized” and Karl was dismissed. The family could no longer keep the spacious apartment on Heimhuder Strasse. Father and son moved in with the Jewish Wertheimer family at Wagnerstrasse 1b on the third floor in Bahrenfeld (today Von-Sauer-Strasse). Karl Posner supported himself and his father first from his wages as a worker in a shipping company, then as a painter’s assistant. He also seems to have earned some extra money in the Jewish Community.

On 7 June 1940, Irmgard Rosenberg and Karl Posner were married according to Jewish rite in the New Synagogue on Dammtor. (This was the last synagogue in Hamburg still usable during the Nazi era. It was located a few steps away from the main synagogue on Bornplatz, which had already been damaged in 1938/39 and was then demolished, located on what is now the university campus).

According to the implementing regulations of the "Nuremberg Laws on race” dating from 1935, Irmgard’s "racial classification” changed from one minute to the next: If a "Jewish crossbreed of the first degree” like her married a "full Jew” like her fiancé, this was considered a Jewish marriage. She was subsequently treated as Jewish, had to bear the additional first name of Sara (civil registration entry dated 15 July 1940), and henceforth, she was subject to all the provisions of anti-Semitic persecution. She seems to have had a job at least until the fall of 1940, because in one of her letters at that time she wrote about "racing home to bed every day immediately after the office closes, because I am always very worn down.” An established fact is that she did volunteer social work in the Jewish Community.

Finding an apartment was impossible for the Jewish couple. The good relationship with ex-husband Theo helped out of the predicament: He had space in the large apartment, and he overcame his misgivings and took in the two of them and Michael at Rappstrasse 13. At the same time, Karl’s father Ismar Posner moved in.

Irmgard Posner must have been a courageous and hands-on woman. For example, when she enrolled her son Michael in the Jahnschule on Bogenstrasse in the summer of 1940, "I immediately spoke to the principal clearly and without mincing words. He is a fabulously nice older man who was absolutely sympathetic to my concerns and assured me that nothing would happen to the child and that I had the right to complain to him at any time if he was ever teased, baited, or even attacked in any way.” This passage is an excerpt from a letter she wrote in Oct. 1940 to Peter Glück, her protégé from the Jewish Community mentioned at the beginning of this piece.

In addition, she turned to her son’s homeroom teacher and implored her to somehow get her son on the list for the Nazi evacuation scheme for children (Kinderlandverschickung – KLV) if the time came again, precisely because she knew that Michael, as the child of a Jewish woman, was basically excluded from it. The teacher, "Frl. [Miss]” Brüllau, had not forgotten about Irmgard’s request even after two years. In the summer of 1942 – Irmgard had already been deported for months and was perhaps no longer alive – a KLV group was again formed at the school and "Frl.” Brüllau added a handwritten name to the end of the list – certainly in consultation with the principal G. Grimmelmann: Michael Rosenberg. When at the destination of the journey in Techow in the East Prignitz (Brandenburg) the waiting host parents were entrusted their charges, Michael was left over. As a student smuggled in, he was not scheduled for placement with a family. This was perhaps his good fortune: A woman who had watched the distribution shouted, "Then I’ll take him! Pfennig family, Richard and Anna Pfennig!”

The Pfennigs were "poor people, but rich in heart,” as Michael Rosenberg still says today. They were day laborers and seasonal farm workers; he additionally worked in a sawmill and she cleaned in the nearby Stift zum Heiligengrabe convent, a distinguished women’s convent. She was friends with the abbess Armgard von Alvensleben and the convent lady Frau von Witzleben, the sister of General Field Marshall Erwin von Witzleben (14 Dec. 1881–8 Aug. 1944), the later co-conspirator of the assassination attempt on Hitler on 20 July 1944. Pfennig’s son Bruno Erwin (born on 15 Jan. 1923) had already been drafted into the army as an adolescent and was stationed in Italy.

Michael was given his little room and for the next two years, until the children were transferred to the Scharbeutz region on the Baltic Sea in the winter of 1944/45, he was looked after like their own child, with birthday parties, Christmas presents, excursions, and lots of everyday attention. Moreover, even if they did not talk about it, the Pfennigs of course knew how things were with the boy and his mother. They were Nazi opponents. This became apparent through a denunciation. The Gestapo summoned Richard Pfennig to Berlin for interrogation in early Nov. 1944; he probably panicked and hanged himself during the train ride.

A few days later, Anna Pfennig was conveyed the next piece of terrible news: Bruno Erwin, her only child, had been killed in Italy. Posthumously, he was awarded the EK I (Iron Cross First Class).

Meanwhile, in Hamburg, Irmgard and Karl Posner had received the deportation order for the transport to the Minsk Ghetto on 8 Nov. 1941, which they had to obey.

Michael Rosenberg remembers: One day there was a strange commotion in the home, people came and went, more than usual, but nothing was explained to him. Then, when it got dark, his mother sent him to bed. He could not sleep, finally got up looking for his mother, looking for Karl, in vain. His father, Theo Rosenberg, finally confessed to him that his mother and Karl had departed, and then, after much pleading and begging, they went to the [former] Masonic Lodge on Moorweidenstrasse, the collection point, and he searched and called for his mother among the many people who stood there waiting silently; however, he did not find her, one could hardly see anything, since there was no street lighting and it was darkest night.
We do not know for sure how Irmgard and Karl Posner lived in the Minsk Ghetto. In a letter to "Mama” Martha Rosenberg dated 4 June 1941, still from Hamburg, Irmgard wrote that she was looking forward "to the birth of a child at the beginning of the coming year.” This means that the child would have to have been born in Minsk. Perhaps the Minsk survivor Karl Löwenstein was referring to that circumstance when he later reported that in January, a Hamburg woman had given birth to a child, but she had not been able to feed the baby and the infant had died. "The whole camp mourned with her,” he recalled.

According to other testimony, Irmgard apparently worked in an infirmary. According to this, she had been killed by the SS with a shot to the neck. The official date of her death is 31 July 1942.

Documentation indicates that Karl was sent to the Flossenbürg concentration camp (Upper Palatinate) on 4 Aug. 1944 as "preventive custody” prisoner ("Vorbeugehäftling”) no. 15 809. On 15 October, he was allowed to send just under 20 censored lines to relatives on prepared letterhead. Karl wrote to Theo, his new wife, and to Michael. This letter, written in pencil, states, among other things, "I have been here since the beginning of August and am happy to be able to write to you now after a long time. I am relatively well and the hope of seeing you again keeps me going. About a package with food – bread etc. – I would be terribly happy. Best thanks in advance. Many greetings and kisses, your Karl.”

It is the last sign of Karl’s life. How he perished, starving to death, destroyed by work in the quarry (Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke/DEST) or for the armaments industry (Messerschmidt airplanes), collapsed like thousands of others on the death march from Flossenbürg in Apr. 1945, shot by SS men, murdered on a whim – we do not know. The official date of his death is 8 May 1945.

Karl’s father Ismar Posner did not survive the Nazi persecution either. On 27 May 1942, he was ordered by the police authorities to leave Rappstrasse 13 and move into the so-called "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Kielortallee 22, the overcrowded forced accommodation for Jews whose deportation was already being planned. There he was granted to spend barely two months. His Jewish religious tax file card euphemistically notes, "Emigration 15 July 1942.” On this day, 925 Hamburg Jews who had been forced to assemble in the elementary school at Sternschanze were deported to Theresienstadt. Number 711 was Ismar Posner. He lived for another quarter of a year. The death notice gives the date of death as 10 Nov. [19]42, and the Jewish doctors there indicated "pneumonia” as the cause of death.

Irmgard’s mother Rebecca Ditze survived. After the heavy bombing raids on Hamburg in July 1943, her apartment in Hamm-Mitte was also destroyed. Rebecca recognized her chance and went into hiding. She found a hiding place in Uetersen with her daughter Paula and her husband Georg Bolte, a respected and unsuspicious general practitioner. They managed to get Rebecca through the war, fed, cared for. When the Jewish Community in Hamburg was re-established, she returned to Hamburg, became a member again on 10 Oct. 1947, and moved into the young Community’s nursing and retirement home at Sedanstrasse 23 in the Grindelviertel. She died on 19 Mar. 1958 in the Israelite Hospital of circulatory disorders and elephantiasis (enlargement of body parts).

Criminal deeds were also inflicted on Irmgard’s sister Eva (born on 8 Jan. 1915): In the delusion of keeping the "Aryan race” pure, the Nazis forcibly sterilized Eva. She survived the Nazi era, married the American officer Stanley Miller after the end of the war, and moved with him to the USA.

Irmgard’s brother Karl Ditze (28 Aug. 1906–9 Jan. 1993) astonishingly made a successful career as an internationally active merchant with stays in Britain and Australia already during the Nazi era, without being harassed. After the war, he became head of the Rotring Group, the Hamburg stationery manufacturer. He left behind the K. H. Ditze Foundation, which still supports various Hamburg universities and charitable institutions with considerable sums. Among other things, he was an honorary senator of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and a recipient of the Grand Cross of Merit of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Karl Posner had a sister, Ellen, born in Hamburg on 22 Aug. 1907. She attended the Emilie-Wüstenfeld-Lyzeum, a girls’ high school, between 1918 and 1924, always with good and very good grades, then the Grone Handelsschule, a business college, and became a stenographer and accountant. From 1933 to 1936, she worked as an accountant for the Hamburg Zionist Association. In 1937, she did agricultural training, with the plan to emigrate to Palestine (hachshara). She was at the same time very active in the organization and management of the Bar Kochba Jewish sports club. Still in 1937, she left Germany and arrived via the Netherlands in Kenya (1939), which was then still a British colony. She got married there in 1946 to B. Switzer, a Jew who had fled from Austria. Life in Kenya was extremely hard, as regular employment was forbidden by the colonial authorities. In 1947, the two emigrated to Canada and finally to Britain (in 1954). Ellen had escaped the Nazi terror, but she had become very ill. She suffered from anxiety throughout the rest of her life, being tormented "by the bad conscience from having left her father.”

Michael Rosenberg (born in 1934), Irmgard’s son, managed to get through the difficult postwar years on his own, without familial support, by working various jobs, completing an apprenticeship as a merchant, and eventually attaining a senior post in IT development at Lufthansa. He lives in Hamburg.

Among his mother’s legacies was a suitcase, which Michael Rosenberg opened and sifted through after much hesitation. It revealed photo albums and documents as well as a collection of Irmgard’s correspondence. She had written her letters on a typewriter and filed the carbon copies. Michael Rosenberg donated this treasure to the Neuengamme Memorial in 2015, where it has been kept in the archive. This suitcase provided essential information toward this text.

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

Stand: May 2021
© Johannes Grossmann

Quellen: StaH 351-11 AfW 28792 (Irmgard Amanda Posner); StaH 213-13 AfW 13557 (Karl Posner/Ellen Switzer-Posner); StaH 351-11 AfW 32464 (Ellen Switzer); StaH 314-15 OFP R 1941/0210 (Karl Posner); StaH 213-13 AfW 13558 (Ismar Posner); StaH 213-13 AfW 25459 (Irmgard Posner); 351-11 AfW 1810 (Rebecca Ditze); StaH 351-11 AfW 53612 (Karl Ditze); StaH 332-5 Standesämter 14224/588 (1904); StaH 332-5_2867 (1896); StaH 332-5_8120 (1933); 332-5_6196; 332-5_8073 (1872); StaH 332-5_2033 (1882); StaH 332-5_9131 (1897); StaH 332-5_8059; StaH 332-5_8073 (1923); 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992b Kultussteuerkarten Rebecca Ditze, Ismar Posner, Karl Posner; StaH 522-1 Deportationslisten 992e1 Band 6 Theresienstadt 15.7.1942 sowie 992e1 Band 2, Minsk 11.8.1941; Todesanzeigen Hamburger Abendblatt vom 15.1.1993 (Karl Ditze); Ditze-Stiftung, Link:; Adressbücher Hamburg 1923 – 1943; Adressbücher Wandsbek 1896 – 1930; Amtliches Fernsprechbuch der Oberpostdirektion Kiel, 1941 Bereich Uetersen; Auskunft Standesamt Heiligengrabe (zu Bruno Pfennig), 17.9.2020; Archiv KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, Exponatesammlung, F.079; KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme: Interviews von Sandra Wachtel mit Michael Rosenberg am 7.4.2015 und 19.5.2015; Claims Conference/ Vladimir Bokun Studio/Minsk, belarussischer Videofilm über Deportationen aus Deutschland und Österreich nach Minsk (in englischer Sprache), D0%A2%D0%A2%D0%9E%2B%20engl%20R%202019.mp4?dl=0; KZ Flossenbürg, Link:; Hörspielstolpersteine: Link:; https://; Link Bericht über den Koffer:; Peter Petersen, Durchgemogelt/Die Memoiren von Peter Petersen, Hamburg 2012; Heinz Rosenberg, Jahre des Schreckens/…und ich blieb übrig, dass ich Dir’s ansage, Göttingen 1992; Beate Meyer (Hrsg.), Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933-1945, Hamburg 2006; Beate Meyer, "Jüdische Mischlinge", Rassenpolitik und Verfolgungserfahrung 1933-1945, Hamburg 1999; Beate Meyer, Bremer und Hamburger Juden im Ghetto Minsk, Vortrag, 2017; Johannes Grossmann, Gespräche mit Michael Rosenberg am 2.3.2020 und 10.8.2020 sowie weitere telefonische und Mail-Kontakte.

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