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Sophie Blankenstein
© Yad Vashem

Sophie Blankenstein (née Polak) * 1890

Rutschbahn 15 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

1941 Minsk

further stumbling stones in Rutschbahn 15:
Jacob Blankenstein, Heinz Heymann, Elisabeth Silbiger, Hermann Silbiger, Frieda Warneck, Ruth Warneck

Jacob Blankenstein, born 31.7.1884 in Krefeld, deported to Minsk on 8.11.1941
Sophie Blankenstein, née Polak, born 9.12.1890 in Papenburg/East Frisia, deported to Minsk on 8.11.1941

Rutschbahn 15

Moritz Blankenstein, born 16.9.1852 in Krefeld, died 9.11.1935, was the son of the silk weaver Isaac Blankenstein and his wife Hanchen nee Meyer. He himself became a cigar manufacturer and had married Sibilla Blankenstein, née Levy, born 29.4.1856 (registration register) (or 30.5.1854 - marriage certificate) in Krefeld on 22 January 1878. She was the daughter of the silk weaver Joseph and his wife Eva g. Hertz.
The couple had the children:
- Sophie, born 12/22/1878 in Krefeld, tie maker;
- Bertha Betty, born 6.3.1880 in Krefeld, costume seamstress, daughter of the family, living in Krefeld, Marktstraße 89, maid of honor at the marriage of her brother Jacob on 18 December 1922 in Papenburg, deported from Düsseldorf to Riga on 11 December 1941;
- Alexander, born 7.7.1882 in Krefeld, deported from Hamburg on 25 October 1941 to the "Litzmannstadt" (Lodz) ghetto; date of death: 30 June 1944, place of death: Litzmannstadt (Lodz) see;
- Jacob, born 31.7.1884 in Krefeld, married to Sophie, née Polak, Rutschbahn 15;
- Johanna, born Dec. 22, 1886 in Krefeld, store assistant, deported from Düsseldorf to Riga on Dec. 11, 1941;
- Isidor Blankenstein, b.8.3.1888 in Krefeld (Rhine Province), see
- Friedrich (Fritz), born 8.12.1889, married to Frieda Kruse, protestant, emigrated to Shanghai
- Otto, born 18.8.1893 in Krefeld - no traces

Jacob and Sophie Blankenstein, née Polak, both of Jewish origin, did not come from Hamburg. Jacob had moved from Krefeld, Sophie from Papenburg. Sophie's parents had married in Hamburg's Neustadt on September 30, 1880. Her father, Wolf Wilhelm Polak, born 22.6.1844 in Jemgum an der Ems, lived in Papenburg in East Frisia, her mother Dore, née Bernstein, born 22.4.1855 in Putzig in the then district of Bromberg in the Prussian province of Posen, had come to Hamburg at a time unknown to us. Her parents were already deceased at the time of her marriage, as was Wolf Polak's father. He came from families of cattle dealers and butchers on both his father's and mother's sides and had become a butcher himself. After her marriage, Dore Polak moved to Papenburg and gave birth to the five daughters and one son of whom we know: Sophie, born Dec. 9, 1890, was the fourth of her children: Rebekka (1881), Eva Emma (1882), Isaak (1887), Martha (1892) and Hedwig (1896).

Sophie Polak later became a saleswoman and left Papenburg for Hamburg in April 1915. She first took lodging in Löwenthal's girls' home at Grindelberg 42 b. It is not known where she worked. She changed lodgings several times, but remained in the Grindelviertel, with a one-month interruption in 1916 for a visit to Papenburg. On September 1, 1920, she moved to Neuss on the Rhine, where she apparently took a job as a house daughter. Five months later, she returned to Hamburg and lived as a subtenant at Rutschbahn 21 from February 1, 1921. On December 18, 1922, she married Jacob Blankenstein in Papenburg.

Jacob Blankenstein came from Krefeld, a Prussian town on the Lower Rhine that was strongly influenced by textile trade. His grandfathers had been silk weavers, his father had changed the profession and become a cigar manufacturer, Jacob became a merchant without any particular specialization. He came to Hamburg in June 1919, returned temporarily to Krefeld in October 1921, and then settled permanently in Hamburg at a time unknown to us. When he married in December 1922, he lived at Steindamm 146. His sister Bertha Betti, still living in the family home, acted as maid for his family. Apparently she took care of the household there. Sophie Blankenstein's family was represented by her brother Isaak. He too had become a butcher.

After their marriage, Sophie and Jacob Blankenstein lived in Altona at Palmaille 1 and belonged to the Jewish community there. Like many other Jews, Jacob was engaged in business in Hamburg, in the Neustadt in the Wexstraße 32. In addition to him, the brothers Alexander, Isidor and Friedrich and other relatives settled in Hamburg.

In 1923, at the end of the inflationary period, Jacob changed from the Altona’s to the Hamburg Jewish community, and in 1924 also Sophie joined it as a tax-paying member. They chose the Neue Dammtorsynagoge as their religious community. On March 24, 1924, their only child, Werner, was born. Sophie supported the family with her wages as a cleaning saleswoman and branch manager at the company "Hammerschlag am Schulterblatt", Schulterblatt 145/147. Her salary was 150 RM.

The move to Hamburg was not associated with any significant improvement in the economic situation of the couple. They initially lived at Beneckestraße 28, then as subtenants at Heinrich-Barthstraße 13. Jacob Blankenstein applied for a trade license as a traveling salesman (agent) in the textile industry. He was not very successful in this activity, but at least achieved a taxable income in 1925 and 1926. Sophie Blankenstein's municipal contributions were in the amount of the "bounty" (minimum contribution) of 1 Reichsmark per month. Even this amount was waived for her in 1930 and then again in 1934.

The family moved to Roonstraße 6 (Hoheluft-West) in 1929. When Werner became of school age in 1930, his parents sent him to the Talmud Torah School at Grindelhof. On September 5, 1930, Jacob Blankenstein registered with the employment office as unemployed, but did not receive unemployment benefits because his wife was employed. When Sophie also became unemployed in September 1932, he applied for welfare benefits. Before the application was granted, however, Sophie found new employment. From October to December 1932, she was employed as a temporary saleswoman at the Stern and Karstadt companies, and on February 1, 1933, she even got a permanent job again as a cleaning saleswoman, now at the "Haus der Hüte" (House of Hats) in Altona. Her monthly salary was now 160 RM net.

With the "Aryanization" of the company, however, this employment ended almost five years later on June 30, 1938. Jacob Blankenstein again applied for welfare support and was called up for compulsory work for welfare recipients on August 23, 1938. His place of employment was the company F. Schmidt in Harsefeld. For health reasons, he gave up this work after only two weeks. Sophie Blankenstein was hired at a low wage as a kitchen help in Hellmann's restaurants in the Jewish Community House in Hartungstraße.

On September 16, 1938, Jacob and Sophie Blankenstein moved into Rutschbahn 15 with their son, now fourteen years old, as subtenants. Werner wanted to become an engineer. When it became clear to his parents that he would not be able to graduate from the Talmud Tora Realschule with an appropriate degree, he began an apprenticeship as a locksmith in the Jewish apprentice workshop in Weidenallee 10 in Eimsbüttel in April 1939. In June 1939, they received a visit for a few days: before emigrating to Shanghai, Jacob Blankenstein's brother Friedrich and his non-Jewish wife Frieda stayed with him for a few days.
Jacob Blankenstein was placed in May or June 1939 in Südtondern with a building contractor, Sophie Blankenstein in the wool combing factory in Wilhelmsburg. In September 1939 Werner broke off his apprenticeship and went to Rissen to prepare for emigration to Palestine. This preparation ended as early as October 4, 1939, when he was sent to Denmark for further training, as a stopover on the way to Palestine. At the age of 15 he was separated from his parents without ever seeing them again. When thousands of Jews were rescued to Sweden in early October 1943, he got there too.

Jacob Blankenstein became unemployed again on March 8, 1940, while Sophie had a job as a "Morgenfrau" (household help) at a weekly wage of 11 RM. In August, Jacob Blankenstein again managed to find a job with a taxable income, and in November of that year the couple was assessed jointly for the first time on municipal taxes.

After Jacob's father Moritz Blankenstein had already died on November 9, 1935, his mother Sibille died on November 7, 1940. Only a few details are known about the contacts between the Blankenstein siblings and their families. Two years after Friedrich had been in Hamburg on his way to Shanghai, Isidor joined them on July 24, 1941. His wife Helene and son Ralph were already in the Netherlands. Isidor did not stay long. He was deported with the first transport of Hamburg Jews to "rebuilt in the East” – as it was called - on October 25, 1941, to Litzmannstadt/Lodz, where he perished on April 5, 1942.

This first transport from Hamburg was followed by two to the Minsk ghetto. Jacob and Sophie Blankenstein were assigned to the one that left Hamburg on November 8, 1941, as were their neighbors Silbiger, who lived on the first floor of the house Rutschbahn 15. Two days later, another transport to Minsk left Düsseldorf. With it, Sophie's sisters Eva Emma and Hedwig Polak were deported there. It cannot be ruled out that the sisters met there again.

Jacob and Sophie Blankenstein did not survive the deportation.

Bertha and Johanna Blankenstein, Jacob's unmarried sisters, were deported from Krefeld to Riga on a transport that left Düsseldorf on December 11, 1941. Sophie Blankenstein's brother Isaak Polak, who was the only one of the siblings to remain in Papenburg, was also deported to Riga on December 13, 1941, together with his second wife Lina, née Meyer, and their son Wilhelm. From there he went to the nearby Kaiserwald concentration camp in Riga, from where he was transferred to the Stutthof concentration camp on August 9, 1944, and from there to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where he died on January 3, 1945.
His son Wilhelm survived and was the only one to return to Papenburg after the end of the war, where he died in 2015.

Translation Beate Meyer

Stand: February 2023
© Hildegard Thevs

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; 9; AB; StaH 332-5, 2615-1074/1880; 332-8 Melderegister; 351-11, 46753; 552-1, 992 e 2 Band 2; Landkreisarchiv Emsland, Meppen, Personenstandsunterlagen Polak; Stadtarchiv Krefeld, Personenstands- und Meldeunterlagen Blankenstein;; Zugriff am 16.11.2016.
Der Archivbestand des Oberfinanzpräsidenten konnte leider nicht eingesehen werden.
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