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Thekla Abrahamssohn (née Abel) * 1890
Eppendorfer Landstraße 84 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)
Thekla Abrahamssohn, neé Abel, born on 29 June 1890 in Hamburg, deported to Lodz on 25 Oct. 1941, died there on 11 Apr. 1943
Heinz (Henry) Adolf Abrahamssohn, born on 10 Feb. 1923 in Hamburg, deported to Lodz on 25 Oct. 1941, died there on 23 Mar. 1943
Eppendorfer Landstraße 84
When the National Socialists gained power in 1933, Thekla Abrahamssohn was 42 years old. She had been a widow for five years and had two children: Hilde – who had just turned eleven – and Heinz who was not yet ten years old. Thekla´s difficult situation was slightly eased since she – daughter of Hirsch (Hermann/ Hyman) Abel and Regina Abel (neé Kessler) from Hamburg – always stayed in close contact to her five brothers Alphons (born in 1866), Max (born in 1879), Leon (born in 1880), Theodor (born in 1883), and John (born in 1886).They lived in Hamburg and always supported her. Three of the brothers were successful in watch-trade, one was a dentist. One brother – John – was director of the Warburg-Bank. Also financially, Thekla´s situation seems to have not been too bad. Her husband Moritz – born in Esens/ Eastern Friesland in 1883 – had been employed at the chemical factory Leopold Bachner at Eiffestraße and had equeathed a sizeable frotune to his family, consisting amongst others of securities.
Since 1928, daughter Hilde went to the girls school of the German-Israelitic Community Hamburg (Deutsch-Israelitische Gemeinde Hamburg). Her school certificates testify that she was always a good student, especially in mathematics and sciences. In Mar. 1938 she received the secondary school certificate which – had Germany still been a constitutional state – would have enabled her to attend senior classes at high school. Her dream to finish high school and to study science, however, was never to become true under National Socialist rule. College education and an academic career were prohibited for Jews.
Hilde decided to leave Germany as soon as possible. She decided to go to England, but she did not want to go there empty-handed. She managed to begin a course for child care and household arts at the district of Altona from 1 Apr. 1938. Considering the racist persecution at the time, she was very lucky. She finished the course successfully in late January 1939. She gained additional experience working for some months as a second nursery nurse at the Paulinenstift, the girls´ orphanage of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany (Jüdischer Religionsverband). Due to that, she took private English classes.
In 1939 – at the age of 17 – she escaped to London, and later to Southampton where she arrived nearly pennilessly. As a result of the "Security Order" (Sicherungsanordnung) of the German government her mother´ s bank account was blocked since 2 Feb. 1939 and there was no way to receive special permission to support her stay abroad. It was impossible to think of making a high school degree, let alone to attend university. Being completely on her own, Hilde contiued going her way; under very difficult financial conditions and by patience and hard work she found a way to qualify as a children´s nurse and as a midwife.
This is how Hilde Abrahamssohn survived the Holocaust.
Her mother and her younger brother Heinz remained in Hamburg. Heinz was particularly hit by the racist measures implemented in the educational system. Having started primary school in 1930 he had to leave in 1935 because he was Jewish. He continued at the Jewish school for boys which he finished in 1939. There were no opportunities for further education for the 16 year old boy, also no chance to start an apprenticeship. The prospect of starting an apprenticeship as a carpeneter foundered. He tried to keep himself over water with occasional labour and was supported by his mother.
The situation worsened, which is reflected in the faact that mother and children moved appartments several times between 1933 and 1941 – the year of the deportation – to cheaper and gradually more modest places, from Eppendorfer Landstraße 84 to Novalisweg 15 at Jarrestadt and from there to Haynstraße 36. We can learn more about them from the then obligatory and highly detailed reports Jews had to give to the fiscal authority about their financial situation. Jews were forced to give such a report when they wanted to ask for a special permission from the Chief Finance President of the department for foreign exchange (Oberfinanzpräsidenten) to take from their own account an amount of money exceeding the accepted monthly sum; an example is the request for permission to withdraw 46,40 RM on 16 July 1941 "to pay for glasses for my son Heinz Israel with reference to the attached bill from Ocularium, Hamburg 36, Dammtorstraße". The Chief Finance President gave his permission. No permission was given to the request for 392 RM monthly allowance for overall costs including rent, lively costs, health insurance etc. for mother and son. The civil servant calculated that 180 RM sufficed.
This request from 8 Sep. 1939 is interesting for a second reason: Point "e" for aditional information states "lessons ins foreign languages". Hilde, however, had already left the country in July. Who took these lessons and why? Another interesting fact: On Thekla´s card of tax for the religious community (Kultussteuerkarte) the line "withrawn because of..." a hand-written note says "England", but is crossed out. Whether this was a mistake that was quickly discovered or whether an escape to England had been planned an then failed, or whether this hint means something entirely different, we do not know.
Thekla Abrahamssohn´s final request – dated at 23 Oct. 1941 – asks to enable her to withdraw 250 RM. In clear handwriting it says under the category "payee and reference": "to be paid in cash to me! RM 200 for my son and me to take with us on evacuation from Greater Hamburg; RM 50 to pay for different pieces of equipment". The request was granted the same day with the additional statement:"This permission is valid for one month". Already two days later – on 25 Oct. 1941 – Thekla and her son Heinz were deported to Lodz on the first deportation train leaving Hamburg. Heinz´ name had initially not been on the list. He volunteered to go in order to stay together with his mother.
Mother and son died in the Lodz ghetto. He died on 23 Mar. 1943 of a "weak heart" (deregistration form). She died 19 days later on 11 Apr. of "heart failure". He had just turned 20 and she was 52 years old.
Also four of Thekla Abrahamssohn´s, neé Abel´s five brothers, and other relatives were arrested, deported, and killed; Alphons in Theresienstadt, Max in Sobibor, John in Auschwitz, Leon in Neuengamme. Only brother Theodor managed to escape, he fled to Shanghai in 1939. A stumbling stone was laid in memory of Heinz Abrahamssohn at Haynstraße 36.
Translator: Paula Antonella Oppermann
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Johannes Grossmann
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5; 8; AfW 021121 Hilde Hillmann; StaH 314-15 OFP, R 1939/281; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen A 51/1 (Abrahamssohn, Thekla); Archiwum Panstwowe, Lodz (Getto-Archiv); USHMM, RG 15083,M 301/106-107, Fritz Neubauer, Universität Bielefeld, E-Mail vom 1.5.2010; Howard Wolfers, E-Mails an Björn Eggert vom 3.8.2010 und 11.8.2010.
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