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Already layed Stumbling Stones

John Dan Taeger * 1939

Osterstraße 111 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)

1941 Minsk

further stumbling stones in Osterstraße 111:
Kurt Lipinski, Gertrud Taeger, Rudi Taeger

John Dan Taeger, born 20 Jan. 1939 in Hamburg, deported 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk and killed
Gertrud Taeger, née Rosenblum, born 26 Sept. 1916 in Oldenburg, Holstein, deported 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk and killed
Rudi Louis Taeger, born 26 May 1915 in Hamburg, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk and killed

Osterstraße 111

Rudi Louis Taeger was one and a half years younger than his brother Kurt, whose full name was Karl Rudi Kurt Taeger. Like his brother, he attended the elementary school for boys on Schwenckestraße and afterwards moved on to the Talmud Torah School at Grindelhof. Rudi and Kurt’s father, Hermann Karl Louis Taeger, came from Weverlingen in Sachsony-Anhalt and was an Evangelical Christian; their mother Beatrice Betty, née Rittlewski, came from Hamburg and was Jewish. When the couple wed in Hamburg at the end of Apr. 1911, he was 26 and she was 19.

Karl Taeger had been trained as a waiter and a cook and worked as a waiter until 1914 – in Nice, Monte Carlo and in Switzerland, among other places. During World War I he served in the infantry and after losing a ring finger received the Iron Cross, 2nd class, as one of about five million German military members. After the war he first worked six years as a finance employee before once again striking out into the world. In 1924 he left his wife behind with their eleven-year-old son Kurt and their nine-year-old son Rudi in Hamburg and signed on as a bar steward for four years, on the Hamburg-America line, among others. In 1928 he settled down as the managing director of the Alster Pavilion in Hamburg, however he got into such a serious dispute with guests of the establishment that he was dismissed in 1932.

Beatrice Taeger raised her sons according to the traditions of Judaism. Both of them were circumcised after they were born and became a bar mitzvah at the age of 13, after which they were responsible for abiding by Jewish traditions. They finished school at the age of 15. While Rudi went on to train as a metal worker and precision mechanic, Kurt first worked two years as a messenger. Then he completed training as a broadcasting technician and later specialized in building elevated aerial antennas. In his free time he was an enthusiastic motorcyclist.

In July 1929, Rudi and Kurt’s parents were divorced. The boys stayed with their mother. The following year Karl Taeger remarried and had two daughters with his second wife. Yet he stayed in contact with Beatrice and their two sons. After his dismissal from the Alster Pavilion, he worked as a waiter at the Hotel Atlantik. In 1938, he returned to the state agency as a financial clerk.

That same year, both Beatrice Taeger and her son Kurt fell into the clutches of the Gestapo and the National Socialist judicial system. Beatrice was arrested on 1 Mar. 1938 for "extramarital intercourse with a number of German-blooded men” and taken to Lichtenburg concentration camp without a trial because of "racial defilement”. Until then she had worked as a sales clerk and lived on Margarethenstraße. Lichtenburg concentration camp was the only concentration camp for women in the German Reich from 1933 to 1939. When the camp was closed in May 1939, the 947 women imprisoned there were taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp, among them Beatrice Taeger.

The National Socialist judiciary also accused Kurt of "racial defilement” and initiated judicial proceedings. On Pentecost in 1933, he had met a non-Jewish woman at the Hamburg fish market. They fell in love, and a year and a half later, the young woman, who worked as a factory worker at the fountain pen manufacturer Mont Blanc on Schanzenstraße, became pregnant. However she had an abortion during her second month of pregnancy. Kurt Taeger paid for the procedure. In 1936 she became pregnant again. By now they were engaged. Yet once again she did not want to have the child and broke off the engagement shortly after her second abortion. By then the National-Socialist racial laws had come into effect. Two years later, on 28 Apr. 1938, Kurt Taeger was arrested for that relationship with a "German-blooded” woman. The judgment of the Hamburg District Court was reached half a year later. He was sentenced to a year and six months at the Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison for "racial defilement”. His sentence ended on 7 Dec. 1939. Immediately afterwards, he served four additional months at the Hamburg-Glasmoor penitentiary for twice aiding and abetting an abortion. The trial had taken place before a jury of the district court which was responsible for particularly serious crimes. In late March 1940, Kurt Taeger applied to the regional tax office president while still in prison for a "clearance certificate” to immigrate to Palestine. Moreover, he filled out the necessary questionnaire to have his personal belongings shipped. He only wanted to take two suitcases with him. Apart from his clothing and his toiletries, they were to hold his school atlas, a signet (a kind of stamp with a seal engraved in it), a camera and a Waldzither, a guitar-like, plucked string instrument. The authorities immediately informed the Gestapo about his application. They replied succinctly that Kurt Taeger’s release "would not take place in the foreseeable future”. Since 1938 the Gestapo had generally imposed "protective custody” in a concentration camp on males convicted of "racial defilement”, directly after they had served their prison sentence. For Kurt Taeger that meant he was transported directly from Glasmoor to Sachsenhausen concentration camp on 9 May 1940. Four months later he was moved to Dachau concentration camp. Ten months after that, on 5 July 1941, the Gestapo took him to Buchenwald concentration camp.

Kurt and Rudi Taeger were considered Jews by the Gestapo. The young men developed their own notions about their relationship to Judaism. While Kurt left the German-Israelite Community in 1936, married a non-Jewish woman and wanted to sign up voluntarily for service in the air force, Rudi chose a different path. He refused to serve in the Wehrmacht and joined the German-Israelite Community in 1937. The following year, on 22 Nov. 1938, he married the Jewish woman Gertrud Rosenblum. He was 23 years old at the time, his wife a year and a half younger. Gertrud Rosenblum came from Oldenburg in Holstein. Her parents were Siegfried and Minna, née Horwitz, and the couple had ten children.

Before they were married, Gertrud Rosenblum worked as a laborer for the wool manufacturer in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld and was heavily pregnant at the time of their wedding. Almost exactly two months later, on 20 Jan. 1939, their son Dan was born. That same year Rudi Taeger twice had to pay a fine because he had not used the obligatory Jewish name "Israel”. At the time, the family live at Osterstraße 111, House 6, where Gertrud and Rudi Taeger had moved shortly before their wedding. It was to be their last voluntarily chosen residence. On 18 Nov. 1941, Gertrud and Rudi Taeger were deported to Minsk along with their two-and-a-half-year-old son Dan.

Rudi and Kurt Taeger’s father Karl did everything he could from Hamburg to stay in touch with his sons. Every three months, Kurt was allowed to write him a letter from Buchenwald and receive a letter at the same interval. One of his letters has survived. Dated 23 Aug. 1942, in his letter he asked his father to send him clothing and boots for the winter. By then he knew from his father’s previous letter that his mother was no longer alive. Over the course of the "special treatment 14f13” (Sonderbehandlung), approximately 1,400 women were taken from Ravensbrück concentration camp in spring 1942 to the National-Socialist killing center Bernburg on the Saale, including Beatrice Taeger. She was killed in Berburg on 7 May 1942.

Kurt wrote: "I hope that you, dear father, were able to pay Mama your last respects. I thank you all (...) for doing so." Further down in his two-page letter, he added, "I don’t hear anything from Rudi!” A month later, Kurt was dead. On 28 Sept. 1942 he died of a feverish stomach-intestinal disorder, according to a notification from Buchenwald concentration camp addressed to Karl Taeger. In response, Karl Taeger contacted the camp administration in writing, requesting they provide him with the urn of his son’s mortal remains and have it sent to Hamburg. Shortly thereafter, the Hamburg cemetery administration informed him that the urn had been interred in Ohlsdorf and that he had to pay the cost of transportation. Karl Taeger did not find the grave at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery suitable, so he had the urn moved to the Jewish cemetery at Ilandkoppel. He had to pay the Jewish Community 300 Reichsmarks (RM) for the reburial. There is also a grave for Kurt’s mother, Karl Taeger’s first wife Beatrice, at the Jewish cemetery.

In late Oct. 1942, Karl Taeger received a package from Buchenwald concentration camp along with a letter from the camp director, SS-Sturmbannführer Otto Barnewald, "Enclosed we return to you items received here on the 29th of this month which could no longer be passed on to your son: 3 pairs of underwear, 3 shirts, 1 lung guard, 1 wool scarf, 1 scarf, 1 silk scarf, 1 pair of socks, 1 pair of leather gloves, 1 pair of white knitted gloves, 1 pair of suspenders, 2 belts, 1 pair of boots (lace-up) and footwraps (white and blue)." Furthermore, the administrative director requested that he confirm receipt of the items by signing the return confirmation slip. He also received via mail from Buchenwald the 81.43 RM that Kurt had possessed at the time of his death.

Karl Taeger also received a letter from his younger son Rudi, dated "Feb. 1944": "My dear father, your confidence has not left me, even in the most difficult hour, which is why I thank you for your efforts and wish you well. I am healthy and count the hours when I will be liberated from my illness. Please do not forget that I am German. Hope to see you soon and I remain, with the warmest regards for you, your son Rudi". That was his last sign of life. Rudi, Gertrud and Dan Taeger perished in Minsk.

Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: March 2019
© Frauke Steinhäuser

Quellen: 1; 2 (FVg 2199); 4; 5; 8; StaH 351-11, AfW, 241085 Taeger, Karl; KZ-Gedenkstätte Lichtenburg, Informationen per E-Mail von Herrn Sven Langhammer, 11. u. 12.3.2011.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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