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Bruno Grünewald * 1905

Borgfelder Straße 66 (Hamburg-Mitte, Borgfelde)

JG. 1905

Bruno Grünewald, born on 10 Mar. 1905 in Plauen, in 1938 interned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, flight to Brussels in 1939, interned in Gironde in 1941/1942, interned in the Drancy collection camp, deported on 7 Sept. 1942 to Auschwitz, murdered

Borgfelder Strasse 66

Bruno Grünewald was the only child of the merchant Abraham (called Alfred) Grünewald, born on 26 Dec. 1865 in Haaren, District of Paderborn, and his wife Erna, née Meyer, 20 years his junior, born on 14 Dec. 1885 in Hannover. They married in 1904, and on 10 Mar. 1905, Bruno, their only son, was born in Plauen. In Plauen and Zeulenroda in the Vogtland Region and in Cambrai in Northern France, Alfred Grünewald successfully traded Plauen and Brussels lace. Erna Grünewald’s father ran an equally successful department store in Hannover.

After the First World War, Alfred Grünewald sold his property in the Vogtland and settled with his family in Hamburg in 1919. He moved to Mittelweg 143 in Rotherbaum, but did not join the German-Israelitic Community. Erna Grünewald’s father transferred to her the thriving "Alfi” store in Hannover, which she and her husband expanded by adding a branch, so that they employed up to 30 people.

When the Grünewalds moved to Hamburg, Bruno had just completed his compulsory education, but subsequently, he attended secondary schools. He became an advertising manager and continued his education in Hannover, Bremen, and New York. After his return to Hamburg, on 5 June 1929, he joined the H. Schnigge & Co. general partnership (offene Handelsgesellschaft – OHG), whose partners were Willi Rudolf August Schnigge and Friedrich Wilhelm Emil Kramer. Willi Schnigge left the company, which as of 18 Oct. 1929 was renamed "DUX-Reklame [advertising] Grünewald & Kramer,” with headquarters at Mönckebergstrasse 17.

During the time of the new beginning in Hamburg, Bruno Grünewald’s wedding with the non-Jewish Käte Grauer, born on 21 Jan. 1909 in Hamburg, also took place on 6 Sept. 1929. She was the daughter of the waiter Ferdinand Grauer and his wife Henni, née Schmelia. Their only child, son Wolfgang, was born on 7 June 1930. They moved to Horner Landstrasse 136 in Hamburg-Horn.

Despite the world economic crisis, "DUX-Reklame” opened a branch office in Berlin in Nov. 1930. On 28 Apr. 1932, Bruno Grünewald took over the company as sole partner and transferred it to his wife Käte as sole owner on 12 Aug. 1932, without assuming any liabilities. All claims remained with Bruno Grünewald, who subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

Bruno Grünewald joined the Jewish Community with his wife and son Wolfgang. Despite the economic crisis, his income had been high thanks to some major customers. On this basis, he was assessed to pay a community contribution of 149.55 RM (reichsmark) for 1932/33, which he was not able to pay due to the bankruptcy.

However, Käte Grünewald lost all major customers with one exception and gave up the branch office in Berlin in July 1933. Nevertheless, the family moved into a spacious, expensive apartment at Agnesstrasse 62. Despite the support of Bruno Grünewald’s parents, after only one year they moved to Eiffestrasse 241 in Hamburg-Hamm and from there to Borgfelder Strasse 66 in Borgfelde, where the apartments were cheaper. Two years later, on 12 July 1935, the "DUX” business was deleted from the company register by official order.

Through Alfred Grünewald’s activity as a self-employed industrialist and the transfer of his father’s business in Hannover to Erna Grünewald, they had achieved considerable prosperity. Their assets included real estate in Hamburg and Hannover and a particularly valuable one in Belgian Antwerp. They lived from the revenues of these properties, and Alfred also worked for Alsfeld Bros. (Gebrüder Alsfeld) in Hamburg. In 1935, they moved to Heilwigstrasse 17. They had appointed both of their Hamburg apartments with upper middle-class furniture and filled them with valuable art collections, especially medieval religious sculptures.

Bruno Grünewald tried to regain a foothold as a commercial clerk and as a freelance advertising consultant, but never again achieved an income for which he had to pay taxes to the Jewish Community. On the night of the November Pogrom of 9/10 Nov. 1938, he was arrested and held in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp until Jan. 1939. His release was conditional on his immediate departure from the German Reich.

He initiated his emigration to Trinidad with a letter dated Jan. 31 to the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident). For 7 Feb. 1939, he already had in his possession a ship’s ticket from Amsterdam and therefore asked for the release of his luggage and for the tax clearance certificate (Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung – UB). He had received 1000 RM from his father as emigration funds.

Although the inspection report of the customs investigation office was available on 7 February, the tax clearance certificate of the finance department was not issued until 13 February. The issuance of the UB of the Chief Finance Administrator to obtain the passport was postponed until Alfred Grünewald’s emigration proceedings had been concluded.

In the meantime, Alfred Grünewald and his wife had fled to Belgium, without having gone through the prescribed emigration procedure and leaving all their belongings behind. Through their helpers, they sent their daughter-in-law the key to their apartment, so that she could send them whatever possible of their apartment furnishings, and store the rest.

A property administrator appointed by Alfred Grünewald corresponded with the Chief Finance Administrator, to whom rumors had percolated that Alfred Grünewald owned considerable assets in Belgium. Bruno, as his sole heir, could therefore acquire foreign property and, in the event of its sale, withdraw the monetary value from the German Reich – a foreign currency offense punishable by law for father and son alike.

Alfred and Erna Grünewald had intended the proceeds from the Antwerp property as a security for their old age, which is why, by fleeing to Belgium, they withdrew them from the grasp of the German Reich. They did not overlook the consequences for their son, whose emigration was postponed at this point. On 24 Feb. 1939, their reliable asset administrator of many years informed the Chief Finance Administrator that Bruno Grünewald was abroad and that his wife wished to divorce him and stay in Hamburg.

On 8 Mar. 1939, the marriage of Käte and Bruno Grünewald was divorced "on racial grounds,” which meant Bruno Grünewald shouldered the entire blame. What was intended to protect his wife and child took away all protection from him.

As a result of their flight, Bruno Grünewald and his parents were expatriated on 15 Feb. 1940. They maintained postal contact with Käte Grünewald through business friends.

On 31 Oct. 1939, the Jewish Community in Hamburg noted Bruno Grünewald’s resignation from the Community by moving to Brussels. Käte and Wolfgang Grünewald remained largely undisturbed. Their parents-in-law had given them the property at Grosser Burstah 30, from whose revenues they lived until the bombing in 1943.

With the occupation of Belgium in May 1940, the arm of Nazi Germany also reached there. Alfred, Erna, and Bruno Grünewald fled to southern France, where Erna Grünewald was interned in Gurs. Five months later, friends brought her back from there to Brussels, where she went into hiding with her husband and they experienced the liberation together two years later. Alfred Grünewald died in Brussels on 6 Mar. 1955.

Bruno Grünewald was interned at Les Milles on the Gironde in southern France and transferred to the Drancy transit camp. From there he was deported to Auschwitz on 7 Sept. 1942, where all traces of him disappear. In 1958, he was declared dead as of 31 Dec. 1945.

His widow Käte Grünewald applied for recognition of her free marriage, i.e., in this case, the retroactive annulment of the divorce. Since she was able to prove, thanks to some letters, that a loving contact still existed after the divorce, her marriage was recognized as having been concluded on 9 Apr. 1939.

Wolfgang Grünewald emigrated to New York after the war.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: September 2020
© Hildegard Thevs

Quellen: 1; 2 F 813, 814; 5; Hamburger Adressbücher; StaHH 231-7 Handelsregister, A 1 Band 153; 213-13 Wiedergutmachung Amtsgericht, 29241; 332-5 Personenstandsregister; 351-11 Wiedergutmachung 795, 997, 29492; 332-4 Anerkennung der freien Ehe, 795. Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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