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Hedwig und Walter Alexander
© Verein zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Juden in Blankenese

Hedwig Alexander (née Grundmann) * 1877

Erik-Blumenfeld-Platz 15 (Altona, Blankenese)

1942 Theresienstadt
ermordet am 15.2.1943

further stumbling stones in Erik-Blumenfeld-Platz 15:
Dr. Walter Bismarck Alexander

Hedwig Alexander, born 4 Nov. 1877 in Vienna, deported 19 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, date of death 15 Feb. 1943
Dr. Walter Alexander, born 16 Sep. 1871 in Brooklyn, New York, deported 19 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, date of death 6 Dec. 1942

My grandfather Walter Alexander was born in Brooklyn. His parents, Albert Alexander and Ernestine, née Gumpert, had immigrated to the USA for financial reasons, and they and their children had become American citizens. However, the American intermezzo did not last long. A few years after the birth of my grandfather, they returned to Germany, to Berlin, and reassumed German citizenship. My great-grandfather was such a patriot that he had given Walter, the oldest of his children, the middle name Bismark. After graduation, my grandfather studied chemistry as well as philosophy and literature, and became a well-respected chemist, both in Germany and in other countries. In 1902 he married Hedwig Grundmann, the daughter of Jonathan and Rosalie Grundmann, née Taussig, from Vienna. Like him, his wife was of Jewish heritage, but had converted to Christianity. Their son Gerhard, my father, was born in 1903. He was also baptized.

Hedwig Alexander had earned a teaching degree with honors, but never pursued this profession, as far as I know. She was an excellent piano player and wrote very colorful accounts of her and her husband‘s travels. I still remember how I loved her reading fairy tales to me.

My grandfather, together with a cousin, founded a chemical plant in Köpenick, but after the First World War he left it and moved to Hamburg, where he became a partner at the German oil refinery Dr. Grandel & Co. My grandfather was very well-to-do. He and his family lived in Blankenese, a posh Hamburg suburb, in a large villa. They had several servants, an automobile and chauffeur, and many good friends and acquaintances. In 1917, at the age of only 40, my grandmother had a stroke from which she never fully recovered. It caused a severe loss of hearing, and when she went shopping in downtown Hamburg (I’m told she was a very elegant lady right up to the day she was deported), she sometimes lost her orientation and no longer knew who she was or where she lived. For this reason, she always carried a card with her address. She was also often forgetful at home, and I can remember her holding her basket of keys and calling "Walter, Walter!”

After his college graduation, my father married the daughter of a pastor. When I was born in 1935, my grandfather had a small house built for the three of us on the southern portion of his property.

In March 1939, Walter Alexander spent more than 14 days in Gestapo detention at the Stadthaus (Gestapo headquarters) and in the Fuhlsbüttel prison on charges of political dissidence.
In that same year, my grandparents had to sell their house. They moved into our house (we found another place to live). In July 1942, one week after my seventh birthday, they received their deportation papers. My mother sorrowfully asked him how he felt. He answered, "I think I’m going on a long journey.”

It was a journey of no return. Both grandparents were deported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942. My grandfather died there on 6 Dec. 1942. Did he die of starvation? Was he murdered? The death notice lists blood poisoning and degeneration of the heart muscle as the cause of death. My grandmother died on 15 Feb. 1943 – according to the death notice she suffered from erysipelas and diarrhea.

Her son Gerhard Alexander, who had been protected by his "privileged” mixed marriage, was also deported to Theresienstadt on 14 Feb. 1945. He was liberated on 8 May 1945. He died in Hamburg in 1988.

Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Ulrike Bork

Quellen: 1; 3; 4; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 1730 (Dr. Alexander, Walter Bismarck).
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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