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Bonnette Benjamin (née Lyon) * 1886
Ottersbekallee 27 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)
further stumbling stones in Ottersbekallee 27:
Bonnette Benjamin, née Lyon, born on 27 May 1886 in Hamburg, deported to Lodz on 25 Oct. 1941, probably deported to Chelmno on 7 May 1942
Jacob Salomon Benjamin, born on 8 Mar. 1882 in Friedrichshof/East Prussia, deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941
Ottersbekallee 27 / Schlüterstraße 63, Rotherbaum
Stolpersteine are located in front of the house at Ottersbekallee 27 for Bonnette Benjamin, née Lyon, and Jacob Benjamin. Both had lived there, although by the time they were deported and murdered independent of each other, they had already separated, which meant they no longer lived together as a couple.
Bonnette Benjamin was the daughter of the timber merchant Elias (called Emil) Lyon and his wife Hilde (Gilda), née Cronheim. The father was probably a native of Michelstadt in Hessen. A resident of Hamburg as well was Emil Lyon’s sister, Bonnette Goldschmidt, née Lyon, after whom he likely named his first daughter born in 1886. At that time, Bonnette Benjamin’s parents lived at Kieler Straße 75 on the boundary to Altona. One year later, daughter Martha was born (subsequent married name Wagschal), but shortly after her birth, the mother died – presumably in childbirth –, and the father was left by himself with the two little girls. In memory of his wife, he had the additional first name Gilda entered for his daughter Martha. Emil Lyon then entered into a second marriage with Recha (Rahel) Meyer, which produced at least five other children in rapid succession. They were Erika Sara (born in 1890, married name Rülf), Gertrud (born in 1891, married name Nathan), Leo (born in 1893), as well as sisters Erna (born in 1895) and Toni (born in 1898). Initially, the family lived in St. Pauli at Wilhelminenstraße 68 and later, when it had grown, at Hallerstraße 23.
Jacob Benjamin was the son of Moses and Mathilde Benjamin, née Moritz. His place of birth in Masuria is today called Rozogi. He was a resident of Hamburg since 1900.
Bonnette Lyon and Jacob Benjamin were married on 4 Aug. 1911. At the time, Jacob lived at Mendelssohnstraße 8, Bonnette with her parents at Schlüterstraße 84. The witness to the marriage was the merchant James Cronheim, possibly an uncle of the bride. The marriage produced two children, sons Maximilian (born in 1913) and Leonhard (born in 1916). In June 1918, Bonnette and Jacob Benjamin obtained Hamburg citizenship for themselves and for their sons.
Jacob Benjamin had himself registered with "Office for Business Affairs” (Amt für Wirtschaftsordnung) as an independent businessman, more specifically as a merchant and manufacturer of jams and chocolate, on 4 July 1921. From approx. 1930 onward, he worked as an independent commercial agent for furs, fur products, and ready-to-wear fur clothing, representing companies based in Leipzig, Schönau, and Breslau. He had his office at Neuer Wall 72 in the "Ballinhaus,” later on Alte Steinstraße. He went on many business trips abroad, mainly to Scandinavia, and sold or exported, respectively, seal, rabbit fur, and ready-to-wear fur clothing to Stockholm and Copenhagen.
His revenues were probably modest. From 1930 onward, the tax and revenue office no longer assessed him to pay Jewish religious taxes (Kultussteuern). Thus, his earnings were below the taxable income. From mid-1938, he was not allowed to pursue his occupation anymore due to the National Socialist persecution. The foreign currency file on his wife, from whom he had separated, indicates that she contributed 100 RM (reichsmark) a month toward basic living expenses because by Dec. 1938 at the latest, he depended only on a war-disabled pension of 29.60 RM a month. Jacob Benjamin’s last residential address was Schlüterstraße 63. In the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) card file of the Community, further addresses listed after Ottersbekallee 27 are Schäferkampsallee 18 IV and Grindelberg 1. At Schäferkampsallee 18, he had still lived together with his wife Bonnette in about 1933. An entry for this address existed in the telephone directory until 1938. The marriage certificate contains a note referring to the compulsory names dated 19 Dec. 1938. It indicates Klosterallee 78 as an address for the couple. Presumably, however, only Bonnette Benjamin lived there while Jacob Benjamin had his quarters at Schäferkampsallee 18. On 8 Nov. 1941, Jacob Benjamin was deported together with 967 other Hamburg Jews to Minsk on the second Hamburg transport.
Bonnette Benjamin seems to have been more prosperous than her husband. However, being Jewish, she was robbed of her assets by the state. In Dec. 1938, a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) was issued against her. She was compelled to pay the "levy on Jewish assets” (Judenvermögensabgabe) and forced to surrender jewelry and silverware to the public "purchasing point” (Ankaufsstelle) on Gothenstraße. Jointly with four of her five sisters, she owned properties at Schlüterstraße 84 and at Stresowstraße 69/77 on Billwärder Ausschlag. She had no cash assets. Like all persons whose accounts were subject to a "security order,” she had to apply for funds to cover monthly expenses. Even though she was separated from her husband, she supported him financially. In 1942, after her deportation, the remaining assets were confiscated by the state.
In January 1938, Bonnette Benjamin suffered a serious accident. The driver of a cab that had hit her failed to stop after the accident. She sustained a fractured skull and upper arm. She did not lose her courage, however, initiated her emigration to Britain, and learned English. Perhaps she hoped to be able to live with her half-sister Erna in Britain. In a questionnaire dating from Apr. 1940, she indicated that she had number 7,477 on the waiting list. She thought her wait for departure would not be much longer. But it was wartime, and Britain no longer took in any German Jews. The deportation list indicates for Bonnette Benjamin "gluer” as an occupation. Presumably, she had to perform forced labor. Her last residential address was Parkallee 84 I. She lived there as a subtenant of Elisabeth Gorden, née Wolfers. Elisabeth Gorden accommodated several subtenants prior to their deportation. Bonnette Benjamin was among the people deported right away on the first large-scale transport from Hamburg to Lodz. The deportation list indicates her address to be Parkallee 94. However, that may be a typing error.
In Lodz, she received the order for "resettlement,” i.e. deportation to the Chelmno extermination camp, in May 1942, and thereupon submitted an application for deferment. When she wrote this letter, she lived at Zimmerstraße 6, apartment 8. As the stamp ODMOWA [Polish: refusal] makes clear, the application was turned down, probably because she was not able to provide evidence of any proper employment. In her application, she had written, "I am healthy and fit for work and have a work authorization issued by the employment office since I make continual efforts to obtain employment.” One can assume that Bonnette Benjamin was transported, together with most of the other Hamburg occupants in Lodz, to Chelmno on 7 May 1942 and murdered there.
Both sons of Bonnette and Jacob Benjamin survived the persecution. Maximilian emigrated to Palestine after having been on hachshara in the Netherlands for two years. Leonhard lived on the Philippines in the 1960s. However, there is an entry on the marriage certificate of Jacob and Bonnette Benjamin according to which their son Leonhard was declared dead. The date of death indicated is 31 Dec. 1944. Presumably, this detail was based on false information. Leonhard Benjamin is not listed in the Memorial Book.
Of Bonnette Benjamin’s six siblings, perhaps her brother Leo and her sister Erna Lyon survived. There is no trace of Leo. In the register of births, no marginal note with compulsory name exists, which may mean that he had emigrated or passed away. Erna was a psychologist. She had obtained her Ph.D. in Berlin in the 1920s and subsequently lived in Britain. Martha, married name Wagschal, was deported from Hamburg to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941, together with her husband, the timber merchant Louis Wagschal (born in Montabaur in 1882). At that time, the Wagschals lived at Hansastraße 57 II with Wolf. Erika was deported from Cologne to Theresienstadt on 15 June 1942 and died in the Minsk Ghetto. Gertrud and Toni were deported from [the] Westerbork [transit camp] in the Netherlands to Auschwitz and Sobibor. Prior to their flight to the Netherlands, the sister Toni had worked in the Jewish Community at Heimhuderstraße 70 as a kindergarten and school teacher.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Susanne Lohmeyer
Quellen: 1; 2 (R1938/3501; R1940/1011); 4; 5;8; StaH 232-1, D14; StaH 332-5 Standesämter, 2128 und 2605/1886; StaH 332-5,8675 und 238/1911; StaH 332-5, 228 + 3156/1887; StaH 332-5, 2133 und 5171/1886; StaH 332-5, 2262 und 5252/1891; StaH 332-5, 9144 und 1419/1898; StaH 332-7 Staatsangehörigkeitsaufsicht, B III + 142053; StaH 351-11 AfW AZ 080382; StaH 361-2 II, Abl. 2007/1, 171; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 992e2 Deportationsliste; USHMM, 299/281; HAB II 1928, 1937, 1939, 1942; Hamburger Fernsprechbücher; Peter Offenborn, Jüdische Jugend, S. 331, 686.