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Alfred Norden * 1897

Lippmannstraße 69 (Altona, Sternschanze)

JG. 1897

further stumbling stones in Lippmannstraße 69:
Amandus Karges

Alfred David Norden, born 03/05/1897, deported to Auschwitz 02/12/1943, murdered.

Lippmannstrasse 69 (Friedenstrasse)

A few weeks after the "mixed marriage” of Alfred Norden to his non-Jewish wife Frieda Norden had been divorced, Alfred Norden had to embark for Auschwitz. On July 25th, 1948, Frieda Norden testified at the hearing of the compensation office that she "as the Aryan wife of my Jewish husband, driven by the persecution by the Gestapo that amounted to mental torture, had agreed to a formal separation” from her husband. "Our marriage was annulled at the beginning of 1943”, she stated, my husband was deported to Poland in February, 1943, and I never heard from him again. He was murdered at the concentration camp.”

Alfred David Norden was born March 5th, 1897 in Hamburg, the son of Hermann und Esther Emilie Norden, née Levisohn from Copenhagen. He had two elder siblings, his sister Lea, called Lieschen, born 1890, and his brother Siegfried, born 1892. After graduating from junior high school, he absolved a commercial apprenticeship with the real estate broker Hermann A. Cohn in Altona. The trained accountant until it was sold at the end of September, 1916. Military service followed. Alfred Norden fought with infantry until the end of the Great War in November, 1918. Back in Hamburg, he got a job as a warehouse clerk with Heckscher and Levy in Hamburg, a wholesaler of leather goods. From March, 1921, he worked for Alfred Friedheim Nachfolger in Altona, a wholesale store for upholstery material, where he was in charge of sales from stock, the bookkeeping, correspondence and telephone contacts to customers. In April, 1929, the company went bankrupt, and Alfred Norden lost his job in the liquidation.

The same year, he was diagnosed with "neurosis of the heart”, a mental disorder characterized by constant fear of a heart attack without organic symptoms. During the world economic crisis and mass unemployment, he was unable to find a new steady job. His references were good, he was considered "ambitious”, "diligent, honest and conscientious” and had also "proved himself as an absolutely sure accountant.” In spite of this, he only got short-term jobs in the following years, e.g. at the office of the Holsatia furniture factory in Altona”, a company with Jewish ownership, in November and December of 1929, and from June, 1930 until the end of the year with the real estate agent Hugo Hirsch. After that, he received unemployment payment plus additional "crisis support” on account of his special health problems, as he was still suffering from "heart neurosis and feeble health.” In March, 1932, the allowance period expired, and Alfred Norden was no longer eligible for unemployment payment. He applied for welfare support, and the agency granted him five reichsmarks per week.

At that time, he was living with his ailing 71-year-old mother requiring care in her flat at the Levy Stift, a retirement home at Bundesstrasse 35, House C, ground floor. His mother, too, was receiving welfare payments since 1931. After the death of Alfred Norden’s father, her three children had supported her, but in the economic crisis they all had lost their jobs. On March 15th, 1932, Alfred Norden applied for higher payments from the welfare agency: "Yes, I am living with my mother in her free apartment”, he wrote, "but the two of us cannot survive from her welfare support payments, which had been reduced considering my income at the time (i.e. the "crisis support” of 8 RM per week) […] I must account for my living on my own and am of feeble physical constitution.” His application was rejected, and Allred Norden continued the struggle to assure his livelihood. For some time, he was granted a "meal ticket for ritual food.” In April, 1933, the welfare agency notified him that "A higher support payment than 4 RM per week cannot be granted in addition to the meal ticket.” He replied: "There must be a misunderstanding, as my meal ticket for the Israelitic kitchen has been withdrawn.” Finally, he expressed his desire to rent a small room where he would live together with his fiancée Frieda Exner, mentioning the fact that she suffered from a nervous ailment as an additional burden. Alfred Norden work odd jobs such as typing addresses or as a bagman to make a little money besides his scant welfare payments. For a time, he did "earthwork” and nonskilled labor for very meager wages at work camps outside of Hamburg. In August, 1933, he was able to sign off at the employment and welfare agencies because he had found a job, "at 70 RM per month”, and was now able "to rent a small room on my own.” On October 24th, 1933, ten months after the Nazis’ rise to power, Alfred Norden and Frieda Exner got married. Frieda, born September 1st, 1899, was a clerk and came from Altona. She was not of Jewish descent. In December, 1933, the couple moved to the fifth floor of Friedenstrasse 69 (now Lippmanstrasse). They avoided getting children, as Frieda had been treated for a nervous ailment for several years and twice taken an "opium cure.”

At their home in a working-class section of town, the Nordens still lived barely above the subsistence level, and suffered from the increasing anti-Semitism of their environment, as Frieda Norden later described their situation: "Already in 1933, the laws hit us at full force, because we were very poor. Ma husband lost his job already two days after our wedding. He only had had a small salary and was unable to make any savings, as he had to support his aged mother. All those years were a time of bitter need for both of us; I was Aryan in theory, but, being married to a Jew, I was practically considered Jewish, with continuous humiliation everywhere and only being just tolerated in apartments, etc.” The employment agency did not get Frieda Norden a job, "I was always rejected because I was married to a Jew. […] Later my husband got extremely hard excavation work at a minimal wage that we could not live from. And I was in bed with my nervous attacks. […] We went hungry and often shivered in our unheated room when it was five degrees below zero outside. […] We didn’t even have light, because we could not afford the electricity, nor the blackout blinds.”

In good time, Alfred Norden had turned to his brother Siegfried, who had gone from Berlin to Palestine, to help him emigrate, because he himself was penniless. But such plans failed. On June 26th, 1935, he left the Jewish Community. In 1936, his mother died. In August, 1938, the Nordens moved to Rebhuhnstieg in Hamburg-Stellingen. At the end of September, 1938, the employment agency sent Alfred Norden to the welfare agency, which assigned him, as a Jewish recipient of welfare payments, to obligatory work, called "supportive work” for the Tiefstack construction company in Kruppstrasse. He seems to have worked as an unskilled hand at road-building sites, because he was too feeble to do "heavy earth work.”On October 25th, 1941, he had to experience that his sister Lea Norden, who had been a nurse at the Israelitic Hospital in Eckernförderstrasse (now Simon-von-Utrecht-Strasse), was deported to Lodz.

Due to his non-privileged "mixed marriage” with an "Aryan” (non-privileged because they had no children), he was not exempt from having to wear the "Jew’s star”, but was, for the time being, exempt from the massive deportations that had begun. But he was affected by the measures to concentrate the Jewish population in ghettos. On September 21st, 1942, Alfred Norden was forcibly admitted to a room in a three-room apartment in a "Jews’ house” at Rutschbahn 25. The Nordens were thus separated, and the Gestapo increased the pressure on Alfred’s wife to get divorced. Frieda was unable to bear the stress. "There is a limit to what you can stand. When it came to the worst, the continuous summons to the Gestapo, I was already a nervous wreck”, she testified. That my husband and I got divorced was only due to the pressure from the Gestapo officers.” She was told she would be "left alone” after the divorce. "When I asked my husband how he could bear living in Germany as a persecutee, he replied that he belonged to a people that had been persecuted for thousands of years. We only decided to separate when we both had to fear he would be annihilated here in Germany. That he would be murdered at the concentration camp in Poland was the result that we both had been deceived and were totally ignorant of the Nazi extermination plans.[…] We had agreed to the formal separation of our marriage because we had to fear that my husband would be killed here in Germany. and we assumed that he would be working abroad in work camps, like those here in Mecklenburg, and return after the end of the Nazi rule.”

On December 14th, 1942, the Nordens were divorced by mutual agreement. After that, the couple could only meet secretly. "He was quartered in a ghetto apartment in the Grindel quarter”, Frieda recalled, "We made an appointment to meet on the street on Christmas day of 1942.” At this meeting, Alfred Norden gave her a letter, asking her to burn it after reading: "Yes, my beloved […] even if the people say a thousand times that you are no longer mine. […] Just like you, I am lonely and have been abandoned and am so sad that I want to cry all the time. […] All the futile plans I made to send you a sign of life to wake you from your possible fear that your Boschy might have forgotten you. […] So, deep inside, I will always remain faithful to you, and you are my New Testament. As true as Jesus lived, so true do you live in me. […]Today is Sunday, and I am sitting in my room completely orphaned. […] You always said I was better off because it’s not hard for me to find the physical connection to my environment. That may be so, but it makes the cognition of the inner void and cold of the people around you all the crueler. The warm feeling, the comfort in my beloved woman, all the cordiality, the spirituality and ideality that joined the two of us and toughened us even against the bitterest poverty, are gone. Oh, you, too, should believe in resurrection! […] My room is ample and newly decorated, there is electric light, a blackout blind, and it is warm. There is a bed, and I have food and drink. So, shouldn’t I be content? […] The soul is missing! […] I feel as if I am sitting in a waiting-room, and it is a fact that my deportation may start at any moment. I heard that transports are leaving Berlin all the time. And it will suddenly start again in Hamburg. Then it will be seen if I can prove myself, if my faith is strong enough to, in happier times, carry me back to where I was happy, to you. […] Amen to that! I must drink the chalice, as did his son. In deepest love, your Boschy.”

Alfred Norden’s last message to his wife read: "I have to emigrate on Friday at 9 a.m. Because I want so much to see you one more time, please come to the spot where we last met at Christmas. Forever yours, […]” It was the last time Frieda Norden saw her husband. "On 02/12, he was deported to the east. We met a last time the day before his departure. I have heard nothing from him since then.” By order of the Gestapo, Alfred Norden was deported from Hamburg to Berlin on February 12th, 1943, and one week later from the central assembling camp in Berlin on to Auschwitz, where he was murdered. Frieda Norden had always expected her husband to return. Only in 1945 did she realize that that would not happen. On July 2nd, 1956, the validity of the marriage of Alfred and Frieda Norden was restored following protracted efforts by the widow. Frieda Norden suffered from depressions and migraine for the rest of her life. "We humans are all inadequate”, she said, "and if I am guilty, then because my nerves failed under the extrinsically veiled sadistic mental torments by the Gestapo, I am now atoning for it by my merely vegetating existence and sleepless nights ever since.” She died in 1967.

A Stumbling Stone for Alfred’s sister Lea Norden (cf. lays at Simon-von-Utrecht-Strasse 4 before the former building of the Hamburg Israelitic Hospital, where she worked as a nurse for twenty years.

Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; AB Altona; StaH 424-111 Amtsgericht Altona, 5800 (Todeserklärung Alfred Norden); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 21766 (Norden, Frieda, auch Fürsorgeakte); StaH 351-14 Arbeits- und Sozialfürsorge – Sonderakten, 1635 (Norden, Julius); StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 e 2 Band 5 (Deportationsliste Auschwitz via Berlin, 12.2.1943); Biographie für Lea Norden siehe Jungbluth/ Ohl-Hinz, Stolpersteine in Hamburg-St. Pauli, S. 149 f.
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