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Siegmund Libis * 1878
Industriestraße 160 (Harburg, Wilhelmsburg)
Siegmund Libis, born on 11 Apr. 1878, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, date of death unknown
Frida Libis, née Bluman, born on 9 Aug. 1878, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, date of death unknown
Edith Eggers, née Libis, born on 16 Nov. 1908, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, date of death unknown
In an interview at the Wilhelmsburg History Workshop in the 1990s, the former neighbor Leo Kunkolewski remembered the Libis family: "The Liebis [sic] couple had two children, Edith and Harry. He was a raw products dealer (Rohproduktenhändler), we always said "Plünnhöker” in Low German. He collected scraps but did very well. He owned several houses on Kanalstrasse leading down to Ernst-August-Kanal. The family lived in one of these houses. He did not have business premises, just a storage site and a shed. This was where he collected and sorted all of the items, having them picked up by other wholesale traders. I always saw him going around with the cart, in those days you had your Scotch cart with the two big wheels, and he always pushed it about, wandering around the neighborhood. His wife operated a preserves store. The daughter first went to high school (Gymnasium), then helped out in the store. As far as I know, Liebis [sic] was a religious Jew.” The recollection went on, "He was also a very helpful person. Other neighbors can remember how he supported them with his commercial knowledge in correspondence with the authorities. He wrote for these people. When Liebis [sic] was no longer allowed to practice his occupation, there were neighbors who supplied him and his family: We always brought him food. One day, we were denounced for that. As a result, the Gestapo came and threatened my father with shooting. Shortly afterward, they took Liebis away, and he did not come back.”
Siegmund Libis was born as the second child of the merchant Moses Libis and his wife Johanne, née Meyer, in Hamburg. He had five siblings. In subsequent years, he went to the "Foundation School of 1815” (Stiftungsschule von 1815). It had been established in 1815 as an Israelite free school in Hamburg "to educate poor Jewish boys in a freer fashion.” Enrollment rose quickly. Under its principal Anton Rée (in office from 1848 to 1891), Christian boys were admitted as well from 1852 onward. Anton Rée took the view that the Yiddish language above all isolated the city’s Jews and disadvantaged them in occupational and social life. Thus, the school focused particularly on teaching German and preparing the boys for a job (in the crafts). On 12 Apr. 1882, the "secondary school for the middle classes without Latin and with nine yearly courses” was attended by a total of 709 students, including 253 Jewish, 450 Christian, and six students without any denomination. Probably two or three years later, Siegmund Libis was enrolled in the school at Zeughausmarkt no. 32.
Afterward, he began his apprenticeship with the secondary raw materials dealer (Produktenhändler) Kupferstein in Lüneburg, which he quit because "his boss wanted to get him married to his daughter.” A Rohproduktenhändler collected waste and secondary raw materials, e.g. waste paper, rags, metals, leather, animal waste from private households and businesses, reselling them. In Jan 1904, Siegmund Libis set himself up in Harburg as a secondary raw materials dealer.
This was where he met Frida Bluman, who was born as the daughter of the livestock dealer Siegmund Bluman and his wife Karoline, née Grünewald, in Harburg. Siegmund Libis and Frida got married on 31 July 1904. She had worked as a sales assistant before. Initially, the couple lived at Bremerstrasse 129 in Harburg.
On 28 Aug. 1904, their son Harry was born in Harburg. On 1 Nov. 1904, the family moved to Wilstorfer Strasse 10 and in Mar. 1908 to Fährstrasse 34 in Wilhelmsburg, where their daughter Edith was born in 1908.
In Wilhelmsburg, Frida Libis operated, in 1909/10, a trade in batch goods from Veringstrasse 24 and Siegmund Libis, in 1913/14, his trade in secondary raw materials at Am kleinen Kanal 21. In May 1912, the family of the rag dealer Siegmund Libis moved from Wilhelmsburg to Schlachterstrasse 7 in Hamburg. Already shortly after the beginning of the First World War, Siegmund Libis was drafted as a soldier of the reserve forces (Landsturmmann) for coastal protection to Westerland (Island of Sylt), later being deployed as an infantryman to the front in France. In the course of the war, he was injured. After his discharge in Nov. 1918, he returned to Hamburg. In the meantime, Frida Libis had opened an official bone purchasing point (Knochenankaufstelle) near the "grosse Michaeliskirche,” the main St. Michael’s Church, supporting the family with the revenues. She and her two children lived in Hamburg.
After the father’s return, the family moved to Ahrensburg. There, Siegmund Libis had bought an estate and leased some land. The following years were marked for the family by many moves. As early as 1919/20, the family lived in Hamburg again, in the house at Rappstrasse 3 in the Grindel quarter and a few years later at Beim Schlump 23.
In 1929, they moved to Kaltenkirchen, where Siegmund Libis had acquired a property at Friedenstrasse 13, which he already sold again the following year. Eventually, on 3 Aug. 1931, the family settled down in Wilhelmsburg in the house at Kanalstrasse 160. For some years already, Siegmund Libis had been managing his business from his office in Wilhelmsburg at Kanalstrasse 160 (today: Karl-Kunert-Strasse). By then, he owned several houses there at Schulstrasse (later: Kanalstrasse, today: Karl-Kunert-Strasse). In 1926, these buildings, probably featuring the apartment sizes of one to two rooms common at that time, were occupied for the most part by workers, but also by craftsmen, with their families.
As of Apr. 1933, Siegmund Libis ran, together with his son Harry, a cleaning cloth factory and laundry, whose company site was also at Kanalstrasse 160. At his location, four to seven female laborers operated three large washing machines and a steam boiler.
Siegmund Libis was arrested in connection with the so-called "June Operation” (Juni-Aktion) in 1938. The criminal investigation department (Kriminalpolizei) arrested more than 10,000 people and forcibly transported them to concentration camps. In addition to vagrants, prostitutes, and beggars, it "also apprehended all male Jews who” had been "punished for petty offenses, i.e. with a prison term [often dating back a long time] of more than one month.” Those arrested in Hamburg were taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Siegmund Libis had a criminal record since the 1910s for dealing in stolen goods and was probably arrested because of it. The morning of 16 June 1938 between 5 and 6 a.m., the criminal investigation department arrested him, committing him to the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp ("Kola-Fu”). From the so-called "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”), he was transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on 23 June 1938 and released from there on 6 Sept. 1938. Libis was forced to sell his company, which was subsequently "Aryanized.” On 15 Oct. 1938, he de-registered "his business washing rags and manufacturing cleaning cloths.”
On 28 Oct. 1938, son Harry emigrated to Paraguay.
In the course of the November Pogrom of 1938, Siegmund Libis was imprisoned again in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on 9 Nov. 1938. He came back to Wilhelmsburg on 23 Nov. 1938 and then had to perform forced labor doing road construction. Due to a heart condition, the medical officer eventually exempted him from this hard work. The Libis couple continued to prepare for emigration to South America, failing, however, because of Siegmund Libis’ poor health.
On 20 Apr. 1939, Frida and Siegmund Libis moved to Fehlandtstrasse 35 in Hamburg and soon, on 26 May 1939, back from there again to Wilhelmsburg, into the house at Kanalstrasse 160. They had made this house over to their daughter Edith in 1935, and they could live there without paying rent. At the beginning of 1940, Frida and Siegmund Libis performed "compulsory labor duties” ("Pflichtarbeit”) at the Wilhelmsburg wool-carding shop. The couple received weekly wages amounting to 50 RM (reichsmark).
Siegmund Libis eventually sold the properties at Kanalstrasse 159/161 and 163/165 in Apr. 1940. Siegmund Libis estimated the sales value of the properties at 100,000 RM, and they were encumbered with a mortgage of 90,000 RM. After concluding the sale, Siegmund Libis indicated on 7 May 1940 that his mortgage amounted to 3,050 RM and that he did not own any landed property anymore, though certainly receiving 60 RM from his reserved property (the property of his daughter Edith Eggers) and a free apartment. The sum of his cash assets was 50 RM. On 30 Oct. 1940, the foreign currency office imposed a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) on Siegmund Libis’ account. The couple was permitted to dispose of 150 RM a month to cover living expenses.
The couple had to leave Wilhelmsburg for good on 14 Jan. 1941, moving to Grindelberg 7a. In Oct. 1941, the family’s funds were used up. Frida and the nearly blind Siegmund Libis lived together with their daughter on a monthly support payment of 39 RM.
At the age of 63, Frida and Siegmund Libis, together with their daughter, were deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941.
Edith, strictly speaking, Franziska Johanne Edith, had been born as the second child of Frida and Siegmund Libis in Wilhelmsburg on 16 Nov. 1908. At the age of 18, she became a mother, having a daughter she named Maud. Maud was born in Altona on 10 Jan. 1927. From 1 July 1930 onward, Edith and Maud Libis lived in Wilhelmsburg at Kanalstrasse 160.
On 20 May 1933, Edith Libis got married to the non-Jewish car mechanic Johann Eggers from Wilhelmsburg, but the marriage was already divorced again on 12 Dec. 1933.
Maud was probably able, at the age of 12, to leave Wilhelmsburg on a "children transport” (Kindertransport) for then still neutral Belgium in Jan. 1939. She lived in Arlon (Belgium) until she was persecuted even there following the occupation of Belgium by the German Wehrmacht. She was deported via the Mechelen camp to Auschwitz, and from there to Ravensbrück on 16 Sept. 1943. In the women’s concentration camp, the 16-year old was given prisoner number 23,179. Maud Libis survived the imprisonment and camp, returning to Belgium in 1945. All traces of her disappear there.
After the emigration of her daughter, Edith Eggers continued to live in Wilhelmsburg. From 1939 onward, she worked as a nurse in the nursing and retirement home of the Jewish Community in Altona, at Grünestrasse 5. She lived there since 19 Apr. 1939, receiving 40 RM in wages and "free room and board.”
However, in Jan. 1940 Edith Eggers already lived together with her parents in Wilhelmsburg again, for by then she was ill and unemployed. In Sept. 1940, she received 9 RM a week in unemployment benefits. Eventually, she was forced to sell the house at Kanalstrasse 160 in Wilhelmsburg in 1940. After that, the Chief Finance Administration (Oberfinanzbehörde) issued a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) against Edith Eggers. By that time, she already lived with her parents in Hamburg at Grindelberg 7a.
On 8 Nov. 1941, they were deported together to Minsk.
The Stolpersteine for Edith Eggers and her parents, Frida and Siegmund Libis, are located at the intersection of Karl-Kunert-Strasse and Kunertweg in the park. This is probably where the former house at Kanalstrasse 160 was located.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Barbara Günther
Quellen: 1; 5; 2 (Fvg7498,R 1940/455); StaH, 332-8 Meldewesen, K 7565; StaH,,430-61 Amt und Landratsamt Harburg, II 10-142; Recherche und Auskunft des Archivs der Stadt Kaltenkirchen vom 4.11.2011; Recherche und Auskunft des Archivs der Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen vom 18.11.2011; Adressbuch 1883; StaH, Adressbuch Harburg 1908; StaH, Wilhelmsburger Adressbücher; Stein, Baudenkmäler, S. 63–65; Geschichtswerkstatt Wilhelmsburg (Hrsg.), Zerbrochene Zeit, S. 130; Berth, Kindertransporte, S. 7; Baumbach, Freischule; Lohalm, Judenverfolgung, S. 28.
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