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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Johanna Schack (née Simon) * 1873

Rutschbahn 25 a (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

1942 Theresienstadt
1942 weiterdeportiert nach Minsk

further stumbling stones in Rutschbahn 25 a:
Pauline Bachrach, Leopold Belzinger, Minna Belzinger, Lea Erna Belzinger, Max Schack, Heinz Wittkowsky

Max Schack, born on 3 June 1871 in Hamburg, deported on 19 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, deported on 21 Sept. 1942 to the Treblinka extermination camp
Johanna Schack, née Simon, born on 13 Sept. 1873 in Hadmersleben, deported on 19 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, deported on 21 Sept. 1942 to the Treblinka extermination camp

Rutschbahn 25a

Max Schack was born on 3 June 1871 as the son of the tradesman Hermann Moses and his wife Jette Schack, née Worms, in Hamburg. Since 1896 at the latest, Max worked as a typesetter. At this time, he lived with his parents in Hamburg-Neustadt, the traditional Jewish residential quarter in Hamburg, at the address of Bei den Hütten 86. In the course of his career as a typesetter, he was also employed by the Neue Hamburger Zeitung (The non-partisan newspaper of the National Liberal publisher Wilhelm Girardet appeared from 1896 until 1922). In May 1897, he married in the Hanseatic City Johanna Simon, a native of Hadmersleben. Johanna had been born in that small Saxon town on 13 Sept. 1873.
On 5 Mar. 1898, the couple’s first daughter was born, Hertha. Only one year later, on 21 November, the second daughter, Irma, was born. While the family grew, the Schacks moved within Hamburg-Neustadt; in 1898, they resided at Zeughausmarkt 9. Two years later, they moved to Kampstrasse 11 in the Sternschanze quarter. On 14 Sept. 1902, the third daughter, Rosa, was born. That same year, the family moved back to Hamburg-Neustadt, into the Stiftshaus at Schlachterstrassse 42. The building of the Marcus-Nordheim Stiftung, a charitable foundation, at Schlachterstrasse 40–42, had been completed in 1883. The front part of the house accommodated apartments for rent, and the back part was occupied by two wings with 27 rent-free or very low-rent apartments (Freiwohnungen). We do not know in which part the family had its residential quarters.

In the immediate vicinity of the Schack family’s home was the Israelite Girls’ School. Construction of the school building located at Karolinenstrasse 35 had also been financed by Marcus Nordheim and the school was designated for the daughters of "unpropertied members of the Community.” Hertha Schack started school there in 1904. Parents whose daughters attended that school did not have to pay any or very modest school fees. The financial situation of the Schack family remained tight in the following years as well.
In 1907, Max and Johanna moved with their children to the Grindel quarter, which at the time was developing into a central location of Jewish life in Hamburg. The family lived at Rutschbahn 25a in house no. 3, the building of a charitable foundation bequeathed by Salomon David Kalker. The building complex consisted of four houses overall, two of which were rented out, and two with 12 apartments each were put at the disposal of Community members for free.

After Hertha had left the Israelite Girls’ School in 1912, she started training in the fields of stenography, typing, and accounting at the Grone Business School in Hamburg. Afterward, she worked as an office employee, since 1916 at the S. Cassel fish cannery. Her sister Rosa set out on a similar career and since age 15, after completing the appropriate training, she worked for different employers in Hamburg and Kiel as a stenographer.

In those years, the family continued to live together on Rutschbahn. In 1925, Max Schack found a job as a representative of the fish cannery mentioned earlier. Hertha was married since 1923 to the subsequent owner of the plant, Arthur Cassel. She later estimated her father’s monthly wages to have been 300 RM (reichsmark). The operation had its headquarters in Stralsund, with branches located in Hamburg and Cuxhaven. During the canning season, the staff numbered about 150 employees. Max’ income, however, did not suffice to alleviate the family’s financial woes. In July 1928, he turned to the Jewish Community for the first time to get the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) waived, since due to "poor business” he was unable to pay the amount of 11 RM a month. In the years following, May repeatedly appealed to the Community for deferment of payment, pointing to the "poor state of business” and the decline of his earnings because of this. He tried to increase his extremely meager income somewhat by trading in lottery tickets.
On 11 June 1933, he wrote again to the German-Israelitic Community: "Since I am suffering very much under the current circumstances and business is very poor, I kindly ask that the amount of tax be reduced […].” Though the Jewish Community refused his request, it did allow Max to pay the Jewish religious tax in installments.

From July 1935 onward, the anti-Jewish atmosphere made it impossible for him to continue his job as a sales representative, as customers did not wish to buy anything from him as a Jew. Thus, henceforth Max Schack was no longer able to practice any professional activity; due to his Jewish descent, he did not find any employment in the occupation for which he was trained, a typesetter. Starting in July 1936, he received a monthly retirement pension of 72.40 RM.

In May 1935, after the death of her husband, Hertha had taken over the management of the fish cannery. In September of that same year, she entered a lease agreement with her subsequent second husband, Walter Lehmann, to feign an "Aryanization.” She continued to receive revenues from renting and leasing out the company. By that time, Hertha resided at Isestrasse 23. Max and Johanna Schack visited her every day during this period. They were able to have free meals there, thus saving expenses for food.

In June 1937, each of the two had a passport card issued for themselves, and apparently, the couple contemplated emigrating. However, the intention never came to anything, as only Max picked up his passport, which was valid until the end of the year. Why Johanna remained without a passport is unclear. At this point, they lived at Rutschbahn 25a, house no. 3, on the ground floor.

A short time afterward, the family was hit by the full brunt of anti-Semitic policy. On 22 Sept. 1937, the second oldest daughter, Irma, was arrested by the Gestapo on charges of "racial defilement” ("Rassenschande”). She had been engaged to an "Aryan” for quite some time already. Initially, Irma Schack was detained in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, later in the Moringen and Lichtenberg concentration camps. In Lichtenberg, she sustained a serious back ailment, as she was forced to carry ten sacks with coal weighing 50 kilograms (110 lbs) every day. From there, she was released on 1 Feb. 1939, on condition that she depart Germany immediately. On 28 February, Irma emigrated to Britain, thus following her two sisters who had fled there already.

Irma’s arrest caused a great deal of uncertainty and anxieties among the Schacks. In particular, the youngest daughter Rosa feared that her employer might find out that she was Jewish, which she had kept a secret until then. In Aug. 1933, she had converted to the Lutheran faith. On 19 May 1939, she eventually exited Germany via Cuxhaven, reaching Britain one day later. Her entry had been approved due to a "domestic permit,” but in return, she obligated herself to work as a domestic help.

Because of her work at the fish cannery, Hertha was particularly in the focus of the German authorities. On 6 July 1938, the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) initiated "security proceedings” ("Sicherungsverfahren”) against her, resulting in the blocking of her account. She was suspected of "capital flight” and was under surveillance by the Gestapo with respect to "aspects relating to foreign currency law.” During this time, she also pushed ahead with her plans to emigrate. She was already staying in Denmark with her seven-year-old son Gert Oscar (called Peter; born on 8 Aug. 1931) when her passport expired and she failed to obtain a residence permit. She returned to Hamburg without her son to have her passport renewed. From the passport authority in the Hamburg Stadthaus, she was referred straight to the floor accommodating the Gestapo and had to subject herself to a four-hour interrogation.

After her application was turned down initially, her passport was renewed for one more four-week period after all. On the next day, she departed to Denmark again. On 15 Nov. 1938, she reached Britain together with Walter and her son.

Despite her own persecution, Hertha continued to assist her parents financially. At the end of Aug. 1938, her lawyer and authorized representative asked, among other things, to be allowed to withdraw 150 RM from her blocked account toward "supporting the parents.” In September, the issue was "securing the maintenance of Mrs. Cassel’s parents.” The sum of 10,000 RM had been earmarked for this purpose. The authorizations for these transactions were issued. The deposit of such a large sum, though, in Max Schack’s nearly empty account resulted in a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) to be imposed against him. Max, "however,” had "voluntarily agreed to” withdraw no more than 400 RM a month from his account. In this way, he avoided the blocking of his account balance.

Starting in Nov. 1938, Max Schack served as the authorized representative on behalf of his daughter Hertha, also arranging in correspondence with the foreign currency office of the Chief Finance Administrator any transfers from her account. At the same time, he maintained phone contact with Hertha. Thus, Max took on an important organizational task on location in Hamburg for his already emigrated daughter. He settled financial questions and organized the shipment of pieces of clothing to Britain. Hertha’s moving goods, stored and later shipped by the Berthold Jacoby Company, included, among other things, several boxes containing books, family photographs, a Dante figure, notes and a music stand, a black grand piano, a piano bench, a record rack, as well as a newly purchased men’s touring bike.

In Nov. 1938, Max transferred 4,600 RM back to Hertha. In March of the following year, however, his financial situation was once again very serious. Max strove toward a retransfer of the remaining portion of the 4,600 RM, which he "in part needed urgently.” He obtained approval for this in May 1939. The economic marginalization hit the Schack family hard, and repeatedly they saw their livelihood threatened on a fundamental level. The repressive measures also affected the children already emigrated. Thus, Hertha complained in a letter to the foreign currency office of the Chief Finance Administrator about the free delivery of the moving goods to London being denied to her, emphasizing her grave situation: "On the other hand, I am in extremely dire straits here in London.” Her pleas were not answered.

After the start of the war, Max and Johanna Schack were only able to contact their daughters in Britain by letters forwarded by the Red Cross.

In Hamburg, the Schack couple found themselves exposed to increasing deterioration of their housing conditions. With the revocation of tenant protection for Jews in Apr. 1939, the development toward the "Jews’ houses” ("Judenhäuser”) could be seen to emerge. The building of the foundation at Rutschbahn 25 was also converted into one of these. In addition to that, the Jewish tenants had to pay mounting rents. In the fourth quarter of 1941, Max and Johanna had to pay a fixed monthly rent of 54 RM. Just before their deportation, the two had to share a one-bedroom apartment with the Rosenblum family. To this end, they had moved to the second floor of house no. 3.

On 19 July 1942, Max and Johanna Schack were deported along with 800 other persons, mostly aged 65 and older, to the "ghetto for the elderly” ("Altersgetto”) in Theresienstadt, among them also the Rosenblum couple. Transport VI/2 reached the ghetto one day later.

Two months afterward, on 21 Sept. 1942, Max and Johanna were deported further to the Treblinka extermination camp. This transport, bearing the designation of "Bp,” consisted of 2,020 people overall. They were probably murdered immediately upon arrival.

The previous view held by researchers according to which this transport went to Minsk instead of to Treblinka has been revised by now. Unfortunately, this incorrect information is found not only in the older Memorial Books but also on the Stolpersteine of Max and Johanna Schack.

Their three daughters survived the German policy of extermination; all three of them lived in London, at least some of the time. Irma sustained severe physical damage from her concentration camp detention. She died on 13 Aug. 1953. Her older sister Hertha had initially not received a work permit in London. Doing "illicit work,” she made purses and gloves. After the war, she opened a watchmaker’s store with her second husband in Romsey, where her son worked as an employee as well. When she learned of her parents’ fate – she assumed they had died in Theresienstadt – her state of health deteriorated rapidly. Hertha passed away on 5 Jan. 1967. The youngest of the three sisters, Rosa, at first worked as a domestic help in London, later as a cook and seamstress. She died in the Woodlands House retirement home in London on 1 June 1987.

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

Stand: April 2018
© Adrian Stumpp

Quellen: StaHH, 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992b, Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde zu Hamburg, Kultussteuerkarte Max Schack; StaHH, 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 20512, 22368 u. 26080; StaHH, 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 d, Steuerakte Max Schack; StaHH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident, R 1938/1013; StaHH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident, F 253; StaHH, 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 q 61, Rutschbahn 25a, Wohngrundstück; StaHH, 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 9920, Bd. 4, Vermietung und Kündigung von Unterkünften in den sog. Judenhäusern 1942, 1943, Rutschbahn 25a, Haus 1–3; StaHH, 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 m, Bd. 2, Ankunftslisten der von Hamburg in das KZ Theresienstadt deportierten Juden (Photokopien der im Archiv des Yad Vashem in Jerusalem verwalteten Original-Listen); Angela Schwarz, Von den Wohnstiften zu den "Judenhäusern", in: Ebbinghaus, Angelika/Linne, Karsten (Hrsg.), Kein abgeschlossenes Kapitel: Hamburg im "Dritten Reich", Hamburg 1997, S. 232–247; Hamburger Adressbuch für 1896, 1900, 1902, 21.2.14; Gerstein, Barbara, Girardet, Wilhelm, in: Neue Deutsche Biographie 6 (1964), S. 408 f. [Onlinefassung],, 21.2.14; Vgl. Hamburger Tages- und Wochenzeitungen im Besitz der Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (Auswahlverzeichnis),, 21.2.14;, 23.2.14; Stein, Irmgard, Jüdische Baudenkmäler in Hamburg, Hamburg 1984; Salomon, Sielke, Grindelviertel,, 24.2.14;
. Institut Theresienstädter Initiative (Hrsg.): Theresienstädter Gedenkbuch. Die Opfer der Judentransporte aus Deutschland nach Theresienstadt 1942–1945, Prag 2000; Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Gedenkbuch, Hamburg 1995;, 24.2.14;, 24.2.14.

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