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Erzählerin: Christine Jensen

Woo Lie Kien * 1885

Schmuckstraße 7 (Hamburg-Mitte, St. Pauli)

JG. 1885
TOT 23.11.1944

Woo Lie Kien, born 8 Sep. 1885 in Kaiping, China, imprisoned at the Fuhlsbüttel jail in June, 1944, died on 13 Nov. 1944 as a result of the severe physical abuse by the Gestapo

Schmuckstrasse 7

Woo Lie Kien was born on September 8th, 1885 in Kaiping (Hoiping) district near Guangzhou (Canton); like most Chinese seamen, he originated from the Delta of the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River) Like many of his Cantonese compatriots, Woo Lie Kien worked as a stoker on European steamers and thus regularly landed at Western Europe’s large port cities. Settling in Germany in 1926, he lived at Schmuckstrasse 7 in the early 1930s, in the heart of St Pauli’s "Chinatown”. At the beginning of 1936, he took over the Chinese restaurant at Schmuckstrasse 9, which he ran with help of alternating Chinese kitchen hands and German housekeepers. His place was a meeting point for Chinese seamen as well as a venue for Cantonese people living in Hamburg.

In June, 1938, the Hamburg Gestapo accused Woo Lie Kien of running "a large currency smuggling operation” and systematically buying currencies at elevated exchange rates in Hamburg and buying German Reich Marks in the Netherlands (so-called "flight Marks”) at very favorable rates via intermediaries. Chinese sailors allegedly transported the money in both directions, enabling him to make substantial profits. However, in spite of intensive inquiries, neither the customs investigators nor the Gestapo were able to prove this.

As Woo Lie Kien had acquired a good knowledge of German during his years in Hamburg, he was working as an official interpreter for Hamburg authorities in spite of the charges raised against him; at these activities, however, he did also incur mistrust ("The Chinaman Woo Lie Kien cannot be considered as a reliable interpreter, as he sticks to his countrymen.”)

During the war, Gestapo and Police Gestapo intensified their raids on Chinese meeting points, of course including Woo Lie Kien’s restaurant. Wo remained unmolested by the Gestapo’s "Chinese operation” in May, 1944 as he was lying in the Altona hospital on account of heart trouble at the time. In June, however, he too was arrested and detained at the Fuhlsbüttel Gestapo jail and the "Work Education Camp Wilhelmsburg.”
Gestapo agent Erich Hanisch repeatedly interrogated and mistreated Woo Lie Kien, still trying to prove the alleged illegal currency dealings. Regarding this, Woo declared: "A lot of countrymen used to come to my place, sailors who paid their bills with foreign money. I intended to go back to China and collected the foreign currencies.”

Annemarie B., who had worked at Woo’s place since 1937 and became his partner in 1939, after the war stated that Erich Hanisch had "literally beaten Woo, who was already in ill health, to death.”
Following the severe physical abuse by the Gestapo in Fuhlsbüttel, Woo Lie Kien was taken directly to the General Hospital in Barmbek, where he died on November 24th, 1944. Annemarie B. was also persecuted by the Gestapo; Erich Hanisch told her she had "forfeited” her life by her association with a Chinese man. She was taken into "protective custody” – she later remembered that the "Order of Protective Custody” handed to her said she "jeopardized the security of the German people by her relationship to hostile and dissimilar aliens.” Annemarie was then taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was liberated on April 27th, 1945.

Translated by Peter Hubschmid

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: October 2016
© Lars Amenda

Quellen: StAH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 9224/39, StaH 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 4150/39; StaH314-15 OFP, Str 517; StaH314-15 OFP Str 1186; StaH 314-15 OFP Str 1454; Bundesarchiv Koblenz Z 42 III/1870.

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