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Dr. Felix Julian Löwenthal * 1899
Olshausenstraße 15 (Altona, Othmarschen)
further stumbling stones in Olshausenstraße 15:
Olga Rosa Löwenthal
Dr. Felix Julian Ulrich Löwenthal, born 29 Apr. 1899, arrested several times, deported 25 Oct. 1941 to Lodz, died there 18 July 1942
The Jewish lawyer Felix Löwenthal had close non-Jewish friends who remained loyal to him and thus found themselves in danger. He was deported to Lodz with the first large transport in October 1941.
Felix Julian Ulrich Löwenthal was born on 29 April 1899 in Altona. His parents were Otto and Olga Rosa Löwenthal. Otto Löwenthal (*1862 in Schwerin) was a lawyer and notary. During the Weimarer Republic he was Counsellor of Justice and represented the Liberal Party in the Altona city council. Felix Löwenthal’s mother, Olga Rosa, was the eldest daughter of the Jewish barrister, lawyer, and Hamburg parliamentarian Dr. Salomon Abendana Belmonte and his wife Julia, née Liepmann. Otto Löwenthal’s law offices were in Altona at Große Bergstraße 266. The family’s home was at Kaiserstraße 23 (present-day Museumstraße), near the Altona train station.
Felix Löwenthal attended secondary school at the Altonaer Städtische Reformrealgymnasium from 1906 to 1910, and the Gemelinsche Nordseepädagogikum in Wyk auf Föhr from 1911 to 1914. He then returned to the Altona school to take his final exams early, as he had been drafted into military service. He was released from his service in the Army’s communications and intelligence division in early 1919. He then studied law in Hamburg, Freiburg, Munich, and Kiel. After clerking at the Hamburg State’s Attorney’s office, he received his certification in December 1924 and opened a practice at Neuer Wall 75 in Hamburg.
Beginning in October 1927, he worked for the Schwerin city administration. In November 1928 he began working in the legal offices of the Altona city administration, and five months later was given the title Magistratsassessor. At that time he was living in Groß-Flottbeck at Bellmannstraße 12. In 1929 his parents moved to Walderseestraße 54 in Othmarschen. His father died in 1931, while the family was building a new house at Olshausenstraße 15 in Othmarschen. Felix Löwenthal and his mother moved into the house in 1932.
In mid-March 1933, a few weeks after the Nazis came to power, Felix Löwenthal was fired from his job as Magistratsassessor because of his Jewish heritage. He became a partner in a business that made and sold workwear, run by Wilhelm Beerman and located on Admiralitätsstraße in Hamburg. He withdrew from the company in 1938, when Jews were prohibited from working. From then on he apparently lived from his investments in stocks and bonds.
After the death of his mother, he became the owner of the house and property at Olshausentraße 15. From 1933 onwards, a married couple with whom he was friends, the accountant Wilhelm Hofmeister and his wife Margarethe, née Girnth, lived in the house with him.
Around 1932, at the home of Helene Bonfort at Beselerstraße 8 in Othmarschen, Felix Löwenthal met Margaretha Steffensen, who was ten years his junior. She worked for the elderly Frau Bonfort, a retired teacher, as a housekeeper and companion. Felix Löwenthal was Frau Bonfort’s financial advisor and later executor of her will. Helene Bonfort, who was also of Jewish heritage, had founded the Hamburg chapter of the Allgemeine Deutsche Frauenverein (the General German Women’s Association, the oldest German women’s rights organization) together with her life partner Anna Meinertz. She led the chapter until 1916. She dedicated her entire life to promoting education for girls and women, and was the headmistress of a girls’ school.
Margarethe Steffensen was a kindergarten teacher, well-versed in literature, and had a great love for theater. From 1934 to 1936 she attended the public girls’ trade school on Treskow-Allee in Hamburg, and trained as a home economist. Her great-niece Ulrike Steffensen found indications in her papers that she and Felix Löwenthal were secretly engaged. Marriage between Jews and non-Jews was prohibited by the Nuremberg Laws, issued in 1935. "My great aunt Margarethe Steffensen never married. She always remembered Felix Löwenthal, felt very bound to him her entire life. A photo of him stood on her nightstand until her death in 2008. She apparently met him in 1932, and was in contact with him until 1940. On the inside of the book cover of a copy of the book Seven Legends by Gottfried Keller that he had given her, she wrote: "given to me between 1932 and 1940, FL.” A piece of the first page of the book is cut out – it is possible that Friedrich Löwenthal had written a dedication there, and she felt she had to hide any evidence of their friendship. They may have separated after 1940 because it had become too dangerous – relationships between Jews and non-Jews were illegal.
After the November Pogrom in 1938, many Jewish men in Hamburg were arrested and sent to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Felix Löwenthal was one of these men, as was Alfred Rheinheimer, who was later murdered in Auschwitz. Felix Löwenthal and Alfred Rheinheimer and his wife Helene were friends.
In reparation hearings after the war, Margarethe Hofmeister testified: "I know for a fact that Dr. Felix Löwenthal was arrested on 10 November 1938, after Kristallnacht, in his apartment and in the presence of my husband and myself.” On the next day she was called to the police precinct on Herderstraße to pick up Felix Löwenthal’s keys, wallet, and some small possessions. "On 21 December 1938, Dr. Löwenthal suddenly appeared again at our apartment. … He said that he had been at Sachsenhausen, but had been released. He said that he came directly from Sachsenhausen. His head was shaved.”
The Chief Tax Authority gradually confiscated everything Felix Löwenthal owned. He was forced to pay very high Reich flight taxes and Jews’ property levies. He was denied access to his stocks and his bank account, and his car and all gold and silver possessions were confiscated. In late 1938 or early 1939 he was forced to sell the property his house was located on. He and the Hofmeisters were evicted from the house at Olshausenstraße 15, where they had lived for nine years, and everything in the house was confiscated. Felix Löwenthal then lived for a time at Beselerstraße 8. The Hofmeisters found an apartment in Hamburg-Niendorf on Adolf-Hitler-Straße (present-day Friedrich-Ebert-Straße), and Felix Löwenthal then moved in with them. Wilhelm Hofmeister was then called to serve in the military.
In October 1940, the Gestapo arrested Felix Löwenthal and Margarethe Hofmeister. "In late October, Dr. Löwenthal and I were arrested in our apartment. Someone had accused us of ‘racial defilement.’ We were both taken to Fuhlsbüttel.” Margarethe Hofmeister was released later the same day, but arrested again one week later. At the reparations hearings she testified to "abuses while in prison: beaten and starved.”
Two weeks later, she and Felix Löwenthal were released from prison. The suspicion of ‘racial defilement,’ sexual relations between a Jew and non-Jew, was proven groundless. Nevertheless, Margarethe Hofmeister claimed that she was "repeatedly harassed by the authorities in the following years.”
Felix Löwenthal’s last residence was on the second floor at Oderfelderstraße 21, where he had rented a room from a Frau Schwarz. It was at this address that he received his "evacuation orders” on 21 October 1941. He was ordered to appear at the Masonic Lodge on Moorweidenstraße, which the Gestapo had confiscated and was using as a collection point for deportations, on 24 October 1931. Margarethe Hofmeister testified that "he disappeared from Hamburg on that day.”
On 25 October 1941, he was deported to Lodz in German-occupied Poland. The Hofmeisters twice received letters from him from the Ghetto.
Felix Löwenthal’s confiscated property – furniture, household items, and clothing – was sold at auction at the Repossession Office’s auction hall at Drehbahn 36. The auction was announced in the Hamburger Fremdenblatt and the Hamburger Anzeiger. The inventory was listed as: 405 books, including books on art and world history, Goethe’s complete works and other classics, some in foreign languages; a music stand; a camera; a film camera and projector; paintings; Japanese silk paintings; three bronze sculptures; one Japanese ceramic box. The Gestapo had confiscated about 60 books that were on the index of prohibited literature. More than 70 people participated in the auction. The proceeds went to the Hamburg Chief Tax Authority.
Felix Löwenthal’s address in the Lodz Ghetto was Zimmerstraße 6, Apt. 18. In May 1942, half of the 21,000 German-speaking Jews who had been deported to Lodz in the autumn of 1941 were to be "resettled.” Felix Löwenthal, who was a member of the Jewish Police Service in the Ghetto, submitted a petition to remain in Lodz on 9 May 1942. His plea was successful. Perhaps he suspected that the "resettlement” was actually a transfer to the Chelmno Extermination Camp, or perhaps he simply thought his chances of survival were better in Lodz than in another unknown location. But he survived only two more months. His death, of "intestinal catarrh,” was registered on 18 July 1942.
After the war, his friend Wilhelm Hofmeister discovered that Felix Löwenthal, in his capacity as a member of the Jewish Police Service, had intervened in a fight and had been shot.
Felix Löwenthal designated the Hofmeisters as his heir in his will. After the war, the Hamburg Board of Restitution Claims declared that the Hofmeisters were to be considered as victims of political persecution. They therefore had the right to restitution of the Reich flight tax and the Jews’ property levy that Felix Löwenthal had been forced to pay.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr, auch auf Grundlage der Recherchen von Ulrike Steffensen
Quellen: 1; 2 (R 1939/547, ohne Inhalt, 1984 an Beamten weitergereicht); 4; 5; AB Hamburg und Altona; StaH 214-1 Gerichtsvollzieherwesen, 464 (Felix Löwenthal 1941); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 22807 (Hofmeister, geb. Girnth, Margarethe) und 22808 (Hofmeister, Wilhelm); StaH 241-2 Justizverwaltung – Personalakten, A 954 (Felix Löwenthal); StaH 424-4 Personalakten Altona, L 304 (Löwenthal, Felix); USHMM, RG 15.883, 302/127-129, Last Letters from Lodz (Löwenthal); Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten, Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen, D 1 A/1020, Bl. 537; Gespräch mit Ulrike Steffensen, Großnichte von Margarethe Steffensen, 26.11.2012; Auskunft ITS, Bad Arolsen, Mai 2013.
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