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Berta Franken * 1936
Breite Straße 56 (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)
Thorwald Meyer, born on 24 Oct. 1919 in Hamburg, murdered on 23 Sept. 1940 in the Brandenburg/Havel euthanasia killing center
Caecilie Meyer, née Haase, born on 12 May 1884 in Znin (Poland), deported on 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Ursel Meyer, born on 24 Oct. 1919 in Hamburg, deported on 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Berta Franken, born 19 Sept. 1936 in Hamburg, deported on 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Joachim Franken, born 4 Aug. 1932 in Hamburg, deported on 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Isidora Franken, born 21 June 1910 in Hamburg, deported on 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Stolperstein in Hamburg-Altona-Altstadt, at Breite Strasse 56
The merchant Max Meyer, born on 7 Jan. 1888 in Hamburg, son of a decorative painter, and Caecilie Haase, born on 12 May 1884 in Znin near Posen (today Poznan in Poland), had married in Dec. 1906 in London. Both spouses were of the Jewish faith. Caecilie Haase, married name Meyer, had already lived in Hamburg before her marriage, having given birth there on 30 Oct. 1903 to her son Martin, whose father we do not know.
The Meyer couple settled in Hamburg and had five children together: Margot, born on 13 Aug. 1907; Isidora, born on 8 Mar. 1910; Sophie, born on 13 Jan. 1913; Ursel, born on 24 Oct. 1919; and Thorwald, born on 24 Oct. 1919.
In 1917, Max Meyer agreed that his stepson Martin Haase could bear his family name. This possibility had been opened due to Sec. 1706 Par. 2 of the Civil Code in order to "hide the stigma of illegitimate birth.”
The Meyer family was initially able to lead a "good middle-class” life and afford summer trips. Max Meyer worked for several years as an independent traveling salesman and co-owner of the Bernfeld & Meyer Company. The family lived in a three-bedroom apartment at Grindelberg 5/7, since 1913 at Vereinsstrasse 5 in the St. Pauli quarter. This changed when the company was liquidated in 1924. After that, Max Meyer was no longer able to gain a professional foothold despite numerous applications. From then on, the family increasingly depended on public welfare and donations from the Jewish Community.
Martin, the eldest son, lived with the family until he left Hamburg in 1926 for an unknown destination. The other children attended schools providing general education; Thorwald is known to have attended a "special school class” of the Talmud Tora School.
In 1930/1931, Max Meyer was employed briefly one last time as a clerk at the State Statistical Office of the City of Hamburg. In 1931, the family moved from Vereinsstrasse 5, where they had lived for 18 years, to a three-bedroom apartment at Fruchtallee 121. The rent far exceeded their financial means, so that in Mar. 1932 the owner, Mayor Carl Petersen, sued for payment of the rent arrears and cancellation of the tenancy.
Max Meyer was still unemployed and the family’s financial situation deteriorated so that they had to move from the expensive apartment on Fruchtallee to Eidelstedter Weg 62.
The economic plight was compounded by a further strain. In Max Meyer’s social welfare file, a note indicates that Thorwald was weak-sighted and that he squinted, which made an eye operation necessary. However, there is no indication of an actual operation. Thorwald probably had to live with this disability. However, due to this condition, he had come under the scrutiny of the public health administration. The 17-year-old, who still lived with his parents, was admitted to the Eppendorf University Hospital on 14 Oct. 1936, where he was sterilized based on the so-called Hereditary Health Law (Erbgesundheitsgesetz). The detailed reasons and circumstances of this coercive measure have not been handed down. Max Meyer’s welfare file only contains Thorwald’s admission form of Eppendorf University Hospital for the purpose of sterilization.
From mid-1937, Max Meyer had been compulsorily assigned to perform so-called "welfare work” ("Unterstützungsarbeit”) in Waltershof and at various other places. Welfare or compulsory work was imposed on unemployed men and women who received unemployment and welfare benefits. Jews were used for the hardest excavation work. In Waltershof, the men had to build sports fields and playgrounds on a mud field for the local children’s daycare branch and for the site of an allotment garden.
In Feb. 1939, the Meyer family had to move again. The new address was Lutterothstrasse 6; two months later, on 24 Apr. 1939, another move took place, to Breite Strasse 56 in Altona. Max Meyer tried to find a way out of the discrimination and economic plight and applied for an exit permit to Alexandrette in Syria in June 1939. Although for his wife Caecilie and for his son Thorwald, the tax clearance certificate (Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung) of the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) was available, the flight did not materialize. In 1940, Max Meyer made a second attempt to emigrate, this time to Shanghai. In this instance, he was successful, but he could only leave Germany by himself and lived there after his departure in July 1940 under miserable conditions until Aug. 1945.
At the time of his father’s departure, Thorwald Meyer was in the Farmsen care home (Versorgungsheim Farmsen) after being taken from his family in mid-1939 and admitted there. Nothing is known about the reasons for this measure.
In the spring/summer of 1940, the "euthanasia” headquarters in Berlin, located at Tiergartenstrasse 4, planned a special operation aimed against Jews in public and private sanatoriums and nursing homes. It had the Jewish persons living in the institutions registered and moved together in what were officially so-called collection institutions. The Hamburg-Langenhorn "sanatorium and nursing home” ("Heil- und Pflegeanstalt” Hamburg-Langenhorn) was designated the North German collection institution. All institutions in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg were ordered to move the Jews living in their facilities there by 18 Sept. 1940.
Thorwald Meyer arrived in Langenhorn on 18 Sept. 1940. On 23 Sept. 1940, he was transported to Brandenburg/Havel with a further 135 patients from North German institutions. The transport reached the city in the Mark (March) on the same day. In the part of the former penitentiary that had been converted into a gas-killing facility, the patients were immediately driven into the gas chamber and murdered with carbon monoxide. Only Ilse Herta Zachmann escaped this fate at first (see corresponding entry).
It is not known whether, and if so, when relatives became aware of Thorwald Meyer’s death. In all documented death notices, it was claimed that the person concerned had died in Chelm (Polish) or Cholm (German), a town east of Lublin. Those murdered in Brandenburg, however, were never in Chelm/Cholm. The former Polish sanatorium there no longer existed after SS units had murdered almost all patients on 12 Jan. 1940. Also, there was no German records office in Chelm. Its fabrication and the use of postdated dates of death served to disguise the killing operation and at the same time enabled the authorities to claim higher care expenses for periods extended accordingly.
Only a few members of the Meyer family survived the Holocaust.
Thorwald Meyer’s mother Caecilie, together with her daughters Ursel and Isidora, married name Franken, and her children Joachim, born on 4 Aug. 1932, and Berta, born on 19 Sept. 1936, was deported to Minsk on 18 Nov. 1941 and murdered. Isidora Franken’s husband, the butcher Salomon Franken, born on 21 June 1903 in Hackenbroich (today Dormagen administrative district), was deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941. The Franken family had lived for several years at Scheideweg 35, house no. 2, in the Hoheluft-West quarter, and at Treskowstrasse 10 in Eimsbüttel. They had hardly any income of their own and had to live on welfare assistance in the 1930s. Salomon Franken was called in for compulsory work. Their last address was Breite Strasse 56 with Meyer in Altona-Altstadt. At that location, Stolpersteine are to commemorate Salomon, Isidora, Berta, and Joachim Franken.
Sophie Meyer, her husband Werner Behrens and her two sons Alfred, born on 7 Sept. 1935 in Hamburg, and Uri, born on 22 Nov. 1938 also in Hamburg, died after being deported from Hamburg to "Litzmannstadt” (Lodz) on 25 Oct. 1941. For Sophie, Werner, Uri, and Alfred Behrens there are Stolpersteine at Rappstrasse 10 in Hamburg-Rotherbaum.
Margot Meyer had married Siegbert Salomon Wehl, born on 24 May 1905 in Hamburg. They emigrated with their two sons Heinz, born on 29 July 1933, and Hans-Ulrich, born on 17 Feb. 1938, to the Netherlands in Jan. 1939. We have no information about their fate. Siegbert Salomon Wehl was the son of Lina Wehl, who was also transported from Langenhorn to Brandenburg on 23 Sept. 1940 and murdered there (see corresponding entry).
Nothing is known about the fate of Martin Meyer, the oldest son of the Meyer couple, who had left Hamburg in 1926.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: March 2020
© Ingo Wille
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 6; 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); 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen 1749-37 Salomon Franken; 332-5 Standesämter 1038 Sterberegister Nr. 221/1935 Joseph Meyer, 14010 Geburtsregister Nr. 2804/1903 Martin Meyer; 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident FVg 8726 Max Meyer; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 10300 Max Meyer; 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge – Sonderakten 1170 Salomon Franken, 1560 Max Meyer; 351-15 Sozialverwaltung – Personalakte 1560 Thorwald Meyer, 352-8/7 Staatskrankenanstalt Langenhorn Abl. 1/1995 Aufnahme-/Abgangsbuch Langenhorn 26.8.1939 bis 27.1.1941; 424-111 Amtsgericht Altona 64389 Todeserklärungen. Baumgarten, Steffen, Die Entstehung des Unehelichenrechts im Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuch, Köln 2007, S. 101. Lohalm, Uwe, Fürsorge und Verfolgung. Öffentliche Wohlfahrtsverwaltung und nationalsozialistische Judenpolitik in Hamburg 1933 bis 1942, Hamburg 1998, S. 35, 52.
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