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Hugo Horwitz * 1897

Am Wall 9 (Harburg, Harburg)

JG. 1897
ERMORDET 9.5.1940

Hugo Horwitz, born on 12 Aug. 1897 in Harburg, murdered on 9 May 1940 in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Am Wall 9

Hugo Horwitz was the oldest child of the Jewish livestock dealer Julius Horwitz and his wife Johanna (Hannchen) Horwitz, née Bachenheimer. His two sisters Gertrud and Elfriede were also born in Harburg, on 10 Dec. 1898 and on 29 Aug. 1904.

His parents were not natives of Harburg. They came from Lüneburg and, respectively, Rauischholzhausen near Marburg. Like many others, they had moved to the up-and-coming industrial city of Harburg on the Elbe River in the second half of the nineteenth century, whose population rose sharply during these years. In this brief period, the tranquil small rural town of Harburg transformed into a major industrial site. The more than 100 plants processed above all natural rubber, vegetable oil, metals, and building materials. The new inhabitants arrived from all parts of the German Reich and from Eastern European countries.

While it had been possible around the turn of the century to discern in the lives of Jews and non-Jews in the German Reich and in Harburg, too, an increasing degree of common ground, favored by the general secularization of society, this situation changed abruptly after the appointment of Adolf Hitler to Reich Chancellor. Jews were among those groups against whom the first measures of the Nazi regime were directed. A central element of the terror against all supposed enemies of the new rulers was the so-called "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”), which the Gestapo could impose for an indefinite period and which meant committal to a concentration camp.

One of these concentration camps was the notorious Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg near Berlin. Hugo Horwitz was also among the prisoners in this camp. On 23 June 1938, he was imprisoned there as a "work-shy” Jew and registered under prisoner number 6,175. This detention occurred in connection with the so-called "June operation” (Juni-Aktion) across the German Reich, in the course of which in Hamburg alone 700 persons – including 200 Jews – were arrested and detained as "asocials” ("Asoziale”), "work-shy persons” ("Arbeitsscheue”), and persons previously convicted – even people sentenced for petty crimes. Hugo Horwitz was allowed to leave the camp after ten months, but on 9 Dec. 1939, he was again placed in "protective custody” and transported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. This time, his prisoner number was 10,194, and he was assigned to the Klinkerwerk subcamp, for a long time not only the largest but also the worst external command of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. On the Oder-Havel Canal, the SS’ own "Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerk GmbH” ("German earthwork and stone processing site Ltd.”) had begun in 1938 to set up a major brickyard, intended to be the world’s largest of its kind. In this facility, concentration camp prisoners produced, under dreadful conditions, clinker bricks for the expansion of Berlin to become the Reich capital "Germania.” The raw material came from a nearby clay pit, where the prisoners, driven by blows with sticks, were forced to quarry it using shovels and spades and load it on to tipper wagons, which then had to be pushed to the brickyard on primitive track systems.

Just as dreadful was the extension of the harbor basin on the Oder-Havel Canal, intended to serve for transporting the bricks to Berlin. Without adequate support measures and modern technical equipment, the prisoners had to excavate the facility meter by meter. Several times, the support wall caved in, burying the workers underneath. Among prisoners, the Klinkerwerk external command was regarded as a "death camp.” Countless numbers died there of exhaustion and of the effects of brutal mistreatment, or they were murdered by the SS.

On 9 May 1940, Hugo Horwitz was murdered "on the Klinker.” The cause of death entered in his death certificate was "shot trying to escape.” This represented a non-committal explanation often chosen for the murder of a bothersome person, who was to disappear in the most inconspicuous and quiet way possible.

Also among the victims of the Holocaust are Hugo Horwitz’ mother Johanna (Hannchen) Horwitz, his sisters Elfriede Horwitz and Gertrud Grünfeld with her husband Arthur Grünfeld, as well as the nephews Hans and Ernst Grünfeld and their sister Edith, who spent the last years of their lives in Rheinhessen, before being sent to their deaths at different points of time.

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: October 2016
© Klaus Möller

Quellen: Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Gedenkbuch, Jürgen Sielemann, Paul Flamme (Hrsg.); Hamburg 1995; Gedenkbuch. Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933–1945, Bd. I-IV, Bundesarchiv (Hrsg.), Koblenz 2006; Yad Vashem. The Central Database of Shoa Victims´ Names:; Harburger Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, Bezirksamt und Bezirksversammlung Harburg (Hrsg.), Hamburg-Harburg 2002; Günter Morsch, Astrid Ley (Hrsg.), Das Konzentrationslager Sachsenhausen 1936–1945, Berlin o. J.; Emil Büge, 1470 KZ-Geheimnisse. Heimliche Aufzeichnungen aus der Politischen Abteilung des KZ Sachsenhausen Dezember 1939 bis April 1943, Berlin 2012; Matthias Heyl, Vielleicht steht die Synagoge noch, Norderstedt 2009; Jürgen Ellermeyer, Klaus Richter, Dirk Stegmann (Hrsg.), Harburg. Von der Burg zur Industriestadt, Hamburg 1988.

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