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© Privatbesitz Inge Flehmig, geb. Feiner
Josef Feiner * 1863
Kahlkamp 1a (Altona, Blankenese)
Freitod 11.3.1938 Hamburg
Josef Feiner, born 24 Oct. 1863 in Wittlich, death by suicide 11 Mar. 1938
Kahlkamp 1a (Altona, Blankenese)
Josef Feiner was the eldest of Simon Feiner, a butcher, and his wife Karoline. After his secondary schooling, he attended the Jewish teaching academy in Münster. He then studied at the university and at the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin. Feiner began his teaching career in 1884, first in Sonsbeck on the Lower Rhein and then in Finsterwalde. In the 1920s he moved to Hamburg as headmaster of the Anton Rée School on the Zeughausmarkt. The school had formerly been the Israelitische Stiftungsschule von 1815, a charity school for Jewish children. He had applied to work at this school because of its modern concept of co-educating Jewish and non-Jewish children, and which, under the leadership of Anton Rée, had become one of the most highly respected and popular schools in Hamburg. Josef Feiner was the last teacher at this school who taught classes in Jewish Studies. The school had been integrated into the Hamburg public school system in 1915, and its name changed to the Anton Rée School. In 1933 it was closed due to lack of enrollment. Today the building houses the Anna Siemsen School. Josef Feiner worked at the school until he retired in 1928.
He was very active in the Jewish Community. He was elected to its Board of Representatives on the liberal ticket. For many years he was the chair of the Mendelssohn Teachers Association and the Union of Jewish Teachers Associations in the German Reich. He was an editor of the Israelitische Familienblatt and also published several works, including Gabriel Riessers Leben und Wirken in 1911 and Anton Rée, ein Kämpfer für Fortschritt und Recht in 1916.
Feiner’s first wife Fanny, née Fröhlich, was from a wealthy Rhenish merchant family. With her he had three children: Hermann in 1894, Hertha in 1896, and Erich in 1899. Fanny died in 1917. Josef Feiner was apparently very involved in his children’s lives. He was highly influential in his daughter Hertha’s education. She also became a teacher.
Josef Feiner re-married, but his second wife Hetti Hausmann, née Salomon, died before him. In the last years of his life he lived in Blankenese, in rooms he rented from the Kohn family at Am Kahlkamp 1a.
In the face of the increasing Nazi terror, Josef Feiner took his life on 11 March 1938. Inge Flehmig, his granddaughter, reported that the event that triggered his suicide was a denunciation. He had had the temerity to speak to a former non-Jewish pupil in public, and was accused of "racial defilement.” This was the final straw in a long line of harassment, ostracism, and specific measures taken against him personally. The 75-year-old widower was no longer able to cope.
His youngest son Erich fled Germany that same year. His eldest son Hermann Feiner had been a judge at the Hamburg Regional Court since 1921. After his forced retirement in 1934, and in light of the increasing social ostracism of Jews, he took his life in 1935. Josef’s daughter Hertha taught in a Jewish school in Berlin until 1941. She was deported to Auschwitz in March 1943. She took her life with a cyanide capsule during the transport. The letters to her daughters at a boarding school in Switzerland document the persecution she experienced and her desperate attempts to prevent her inevitable fate.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Birgit Gewehr/Frauke Steinhäuser
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, 9580 u. 1107/1920; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen, A 50/1 (= 741-4 Fotoarchiv, K 5005); StaH 731-8 Zeitungsausschnittssammlung, A756 (Feiner, Josef); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 864 (Henriette Hausmann verwitwete Feiner); Willers-Inselmann, Zur Erinnerung an Josef Feiner, (zugrunde liegt auch ein Gespräch mit der Enkelin Inge Flehmig); Franz-Josef Schmit, Josef Feiner. Ein jüdischer Lehrer aus Wittlich, Trier 2011; E-Mail-Korrespondenz im Oktober 2009; Bake, Wer steckt dahinter?; Feiner, Vor der Deportation; Friedländer, Die Jahre der Vernichtung, S. 122 f., 169, 348, 398, 454, 546 u. 691; Fehrs, Josef Feiner; Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden, Hamburg (Hrsg.), Das Jüdische Hamburg, S. 74 f.; Sparr, Stolpersteine, S. 80 ff.; zu Hermann Feiner siehe www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de; Baumbach, Israelitische Freischule in: Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden, Hamburg (Hrsg.), Das Jüdische Hamburg, S. 125.
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