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Heinrich Otto Hesse * 1873

Höxterstraße 14 (Eimsbüttel, Lokstedt)

JG. 1873

Otto Heinrich Hesse, born on 12.9.1873 in Hamburg, escaped to his death on 4.12.1938 in Hamburg

Höxterstraße 14
(formerly: Werderstraße 14 Lokstedt)

The Hamburg Speicherstadt, built between 1883 and 1927, was Otto Hesse's business center for more than thirty years. His coffee agency, founded in 1906, operated under the address Sandthorquai 20 (Sandtorkai).

Otto Hesse's father David, who was born in Stade, had settled in Hamburg at the end of the 1850s and founded a grain trade, which his brother Sally, who had moved from Stade, joined a few years later. From then on, the brothers ran the business together. Over the years, they expanded their activities, and their company also served as a warehouse for the Stade salt works. The first wells were drilled there in 1870. It took three years before the first bag of salt could be filled. The Export Association of German Salt Works settled in Stade in 1919.

The Hesse brothers had founded families or married. Sally Hesse married at an unknown date Alwine Emilie Olga Issleiber, David Hesse Rachel Rosalia, née Lion. Their daughter Henriette Gertrud was born on March 17, 1867, and six years later, on Dec. 9, 1873, her younger brother Otto was born. The former Jewish parents had their children baptized. The families lived where they worked, on Pinnasberg in St. Pauli, right on the border with Altona.

Even at a young age, Otto and his sister suffered severe blows of fate: Their mother Rachel died in 1876, when the children were just three and nine years old. Only seven years later, in 1883, their father David met his death. After that, Henriette and Otto presumably grew up in the home of their uncle and aunt. But a few years later, in 1889, Uncle Sally died. Earlier, Henriette chose her uncle as best man at her 1886 wedding to merchant Paul Eichenberg (1859-1927). It is possible that Otto Hesse lived in his sister's home.

Otto Hesse completed his schooling at a Realgymnasium, from which he graduated with the "Einjährige" (intermediate school leaving certificate). After a commercial apprenticeship, he went to Bordeaux, France, for two years for further training and then to England for three years. At the beginning of the 1900s, Otto Hesse returned to Hamburg and lived in St. Georg. He found a first job in the company of his brother-in-law Paul Eichenberg & Co. at Sandthorquai 1, which imported animal feed and coffee. The coffee department was to be built up and Otto Hesse seemed to be the most profiled person for this. From this demanding work, perhaps the decision matured in him to take the step into independence.

So in 1906 he founded his own import company for coffee and settled at Sandthorquai 20. At that time, Hamburg was considered the largest coffee market in the "Old World" and Sandthorquai was the center. In the warehouses there were the best storage possibilities, with constant temperatures. Next door at number 14 was the Coffee Exchange, where buying and selling took place, as well as the premises of the "Verein der am Kaffeehandel beteiligten Firmen" (Association of coffee traders), of which Otto Hesse was a member. This was because only members of the "Verein", founded in 1886, were allowed to trade at the coffee exchange. This institution brought together the interests of many of those involved in the coffee trade.

Business went well, so Otto Hesse moved from St. Georg to Winterhude and a few years later to Rothenbaumchaussee. By this time he was married to Elisabeth Syamken, a Christian, and their son Eberhard Werner Erich Otto was born on July 3, 1916. No information was found about Elisabeth Hesse's further life.

In addition to his business life, Otto Hesse volunteered as a commercial judge. He held this elective office from 1917 to 1922.

In the early 1920s, a new woman entered Otto Hesse's life. Erika Helene Vogler, who had been born on October 19, 1900 in Hamburg as the daughter of Otto Rudolf (1873-1957) and Olga (1878), née Stockfleth. The wedding took place at the end of December 1922 in Lokstedt, which was not yet part of Hamburg. His good income enabled him to purchase a plot of land in Lokstedt's Werderstraße, on which he had a house built for his family. Two years later, on December 2, 1924, daughter Karin Vera saw the light of day.

In the 19th century Lokstedt was still rural. The number of inhabitants amounted to approx. 4300 as well as cattle and horses. As early as 1891 Lokstedt was the first village to receive street lighting and one year later the Hamburg streetcar stopped in Lokstedt. Many well-to-do city dwellers settled there, had country houses built and enjoyed the suburban life. Everything needed for daily life was available. Various craft businesses were also attracted to the village. The good news had spread as far as the city of Altona, and before Lokstedt could be incorporated there, the municipalities of Niendorf and Schnelsen merged in 1927 to form the large municipality of Lokstedt. The population had grown, livestock was no longer counted.

Otto Hesse knew how to provide well for his family. Thus, he acquired various share packages of well-known companies, bonds of H.E.W. (today Vattenfall) and small-scale financial investments, so that the world economic crisis in the 1920s hardly affected the life of the family. In addition, he owned the property Gravensteiner Straße (Curveystraße), where his parents-in-law lived in a two-family house. His wife Erika owned a piece of building land in Klein Flottbek. In the meantime, the two children attended school, Eberhard went to the Heinrich-Hertz-Gymnasium on Bundesstraße and Karin to the Oberrealschule Niendorf.

After the National Socialists came to power in 1933, the family's life was to change decisively for the worse. The previously elected municipal council consisting of the KPD, SPD and others no longer existed. This also applied to the commercial judges elected in 1932 and 1933, including Ludwig Delbanco and Simon Arendt, who resigned from their offices at the end of June 1933.

Thus, the National Socialists gradually pushed Jews out of economic and social life by tightening laws, orders and decrees. Karin Hesse's school attendance became a gauntlet, so that she dropped out of school in 1938 and her parents sent her to Switzerland for further education. She returned in September 1939 and attended further education schools for some time, later working as a stenotypist. Her dream of graduating from high school and studying music was shattered.

Before that, however, Otto Hesse's business was also targeted by the "aryanization". Eberhard Hesse, defined by the National Socialists as a "Mischling of the first degree", was allowed to continue the coffee trade from November 1, 1937, but with the restriction that in future an "Aryan" partner would run the business. This was found in the merchant Otto Partenheimer. (Details about him are not known. In September 1945, the British military government imprisoned Otto Partenheimer for an indefinite period.) At the same time Erika Hesse joined the company as a limited partner. But Otto Hesse remained forward-looking, so in May 1938 he gave his son 4000 RM, his daughter Karin a month later 30,000 RM, from which the tax office Hamburg-Altstadt constructed a transfer of assets. A few months later he transferred his real estate to his wife.

Along with the pogrom of November 9/10, 1938, Kripobeamte arrested Otto Hesse, according to the testimony of an eyewitness (and with him Reich-wide about 30,000 male Jews). Otto Hesse spent the next few weeks in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. What he experienced there has not been handed down. He returned home at the beginning of December 1938.

From his file "Unnatural Deaths" we learned the sequence of events on December 3, 1938: "His wife Erika went to the bedroom on the second floor around 10 p.m. and went to sleep. Otto Hesse remained on the first floor in the kitchen and prepared his suicide. He opened the gas taps and sat down on a chair in front of the stove. Thus he was found dead the next morning at about 9:30. Death probably occurred during the night at about 2 o'clock." The alarmed parents-in-law found themselves at their daughter's house to offer assistance. The gas poisoning did not remain without consequences for the widow; over the years it almost led to total blindness.

Erika Hesse not only bore the loss of her husband, but she also lost her home. This also applied to the property in Gravensteiner Straße where her parents lived, both had to be sold. Together they found a new home at Haynstraße 27 in Eppendorf. A few years later, Erika Hesse moved to Mittelweg 20, where she lived until her death in 1969.

After 1945, Erika Hesse filed an application for compensation, among other things. In these proceedings, which ended with a positive decision in June 1956, the authorities stated: "There is no doubt that he (Otto Hesse) sought death out of fear of further persecution. His death must therefore be attributed causally to National Socialist violent measures."

Eberhard Hesse, who as a "Mischling of the first degree" was only allowed to serve in the Wehrmacht with exceptional permission due to special bravery, was last stationed in Italy as a non-commissioned officer. During the Second World War - at the end of 1942 to the beginning of 1943 - American planes bombed the southern Italian city of Naples and the surrounding area. It is possible that Eberhard Hesse died during these attacks; his date of death is dated December 15, 1942. The family did not learn of this until 1946.

From 1941 to 1945, Karin Hesse completed the compulsory year of service in agriculture or home economics (Reichsarbeitsdienst) introduced by the Nazi rulers. This affected all women under the age of 25. It was intended to prepare women for their future role as housewives and mothers. After the liberation from National Socialism, Karin Hesse found a job in the health department of the British Military Government. For health reasons, she went to Switzerland again in 1947. There she met her future husband Arnold Gilbert. They married, had two children and later lived in Portugal.

What traces were found of the further life of Otto Hesse's sisters?
Henriette Gertrud Eichenberg, the mother of six lived with her family in Groß Flottbek. Her children were born between 1886 and 1894. The father, Paul Eichenberg, died of stomach cancer in 1927. Five of the children were able to emigrate in time to different countries.

Henriette Gertrud Eichenberg first moved from Groß Flottbek to Rothenbaumchaussee, and later found new accommodation with Hertz in Winterhude's Agnesstraße. Henriette Eichenberg was also forced to sign a so-called home purchase contract for Theresienstadt (Heimeinkaufsvertrag) and to pay for supposedly good accommodation and food.

On July 19, 1942, Henriette Gertrud Eichenberg was deported to Theresienstadt together with her landlady Anna Hertz and her son Artur. The collection point for this transport was the elementary school in Schanzenstraße. Henriette Gertrud Eichenberg survived, because as part of the intervention of the Swiss Federal Council, she was able to reach Switzerland on February 5, 1945, together with 1199 prisoners, through a transport organized by the Red Cross. There she initially remained in a hotel in quarantine and under medical supervision. Her youngest son Kurth, who was married in Sweden, took over her care and on October 7, 1945, Henriette Gertrud Eichenberg left for Stockholm.

Auguste Elisabeth, called Tüt, married Heymann, born in 1891, put an end to her life. She died in the hospital on October 26, 1941. In her memory, a Stolperstein (see is located in front of her last address in Nienstedten.

Translation by Beate Meyer
Stand: February 2022
© Sonja Zoder

Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5; 9; StaH 241-1 I 2276 Justizverwaltung 1816-1950, Verzeichnisse der Handelsrichter; 332-5 Standesämter 8522-74/1886 (Heiraten); 332-5 Standesämter 13283-2343/1900 (Geburten); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 1142, 11682, 23490, 46466; div. Hamburger und Altonaer (Lokstedt) Adressbücher; Bürgerhaus Lokstedt "Lokstedter Abende 1991–2015", Hamburg 2015; Bajohr, "Arisierung in Hamburg", S. 360, Hamburg 1997; Lorenz, "Die Hamburger Juden im NS-Staat 1933–1939, Bd. IV Dokumente", S. 66, Göttingen 2016; Gewehr, Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Altona, S. 401–405; URL:;;;; jeweils am 1.6.2017; am 19.6.2017; am 27.6.2017.

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