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Frieda Laura Frank (née Schmits) * 1911
Agathenstraße 3 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)
Frieda Laura Frank, née Schmits, born 27 Dec. 1911 in Rotterdam, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, died there
Herbert Frank, born 21 Jan. 1899 in Hamburg, deported 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, died there
Frieda and Herbert Frank married in Hamburg on 2 August 1940 – at a time when countless anti-Jewish laws and regulations were already in place, new forms of harassment and violence were an everyday experience, and rumors about deportation caused panic and dread. A few days before their wedding, the couple moved into a small apartment on the third floor of the Nanny Jonas Trust at Agathenstraße 3. Frieda’s mother, Bertha Schmits, had lived in this building for many years, possibly even it that very apartment. The Nazis had designated the building, which was on the corner of Weidenallee, a "Jews’ house” in 1941.
When they married, Frieda Frank was 28, her husband Herbert 41 years old. He was from Hamburg, but Frieda had been born in Rotterdam. Her mother Bertha had been born in Hamburg on 29 April 1883 to the restaurant-owner Louis Meyer and his wife Charlotte, née Goldmann. She married the ship’s officer Alfred August Schmits in Hamburg on 12 July 1909. He was Protestant and the son of the businessman Carl Friedrich Schmits and his wife Bertha Clara, née Mondt. He was born on 1 November 1879 in Düren. At the time of their marriage he lived in Rotterdam, and Bertha went to live with him there. Bertha and Alfred Schmits had two children: Alice, born on 14 December 1910, and Frieda Laura, born on 27 December 1911. But Bertha Schmits was widowed only four years after she married. The Hamburg District Court declared Alfred Schmits legally dead, and gave the date of death as 19 September 1913. It is possible that he was the victim of a shipwreck and was missing. After the death of her husband, Bertha Schmits returned to Hamburg with her two young daughters. Their first address was Sophienallee 33, then they moved to the Nanny Jonas Trust at Agathenstraße 3 in 1917, where they remained for many years.
Herbert Frank’s parents were the butcher Isidor "Sally” Frank and the housemaid Julie, née Weinberg. His mother was born on 28 January 1874 in Freren near Hannover, his father on 9 October in Hamburg. They married in Hamburg on 9 September 1895. The family lived in the Neustadt, where many butchers, most of them Jewish, worked on Schlachterstraße, between Großneumarkt and Englische Planke. The street no longer exists The butchers’ guild hall was also on this street. Herbert had five siblings, two older brothers and three younger sisters: Max, born on 6 Nov. 1895, died on 27 Sep. 1916 as an infantryman in the First World War; Arthur Joseph, born 28 Dec. 1896; Gertrud, born 13 Oct. 1902; Helene, born 12 July 1907; and Edith, born 30 Dec. 1909.
Herbert began school at the age of six at the Talmud Tora School. It combined traditional Jewish studies with modern school subjects and teaching methods, and at the time accepted children from poor families. Herbert finished his schooling at age 14 and entered a commercial apprenticeship in wholesaling. At the end of his apprenticeship, not yet 18, he did his mandatory military service in the First World War, just like his brother. He became a member of the Jewish Community in 1921. He worked in the offices of the Heckscher & Levy leather goods company in St. Pauli. When he was let go in 1931 he worked for a few months at another company. By early 1933, aged 33, he could find no work at all. His wife Frieda had also learned a trade, but it is unknown what it was. Herbert Frank’s surviving siblings also worked. Arthur was a sales representative, Edith a sales clerk, Gertrud as an office clerk, and Helene also had a salaried position.
Herbert Frank’s father Isidor had died on 12 November 1932, aged 63, of cancer. His mother Julie remained in the family apartment at Durchschnitt 8. Four of the children, Herbert, Gertrud, Helene, and Edith, lived with her until Herbert and Edith moved out when they married. The building was declared a "Jews’ house” in 1941.
Herbert’s brother Arthur and a partner 1938 had founded the wholesale company Hämmerling & Frank in Hamburg. They sold bicycles and bicycles accessories. In 1921, he and a partner had founded the wholesale company Hämmerling & Frank, which sold bicycles and bicycle accessories. In 1926 he and his non-Jewish wife Ilse-Johanna, née Spangenberg, left Hamburg for Barchfeld in Thuringia. The town had become a center for the manufacture of bicycle accessories when the Reurm & Börner-Sachs company’s Pallas plant was opened there. Arthur Frank was the plant’s sales and travel director. But the company was "Aryanized” in 1937, and Herbert Frank, as a "non-Aryan,” was fired without compensation after working there for more than 12 years. The couple returned to Hamburg, where Arthur unsuccessfully tried to find work as a salesman. After the war, on 25 March 1947, Arthur Frank sent a letter to his former employer Rudolf Börner-Sachs in Barchfeld. Refering to his dismissal 1937 he wrote: "[…] I gladly think back to all the years when we worked together & I will never forget that you resisted against my dismissal the Nazis demanded until in 1937 the pressure got so strong that my dismissal could not be prevented."
Both left Germany in 1938, without knowing if they would ever see their families again. They emigrated to Bombay where they had friends who could vouch for them and ensure their living expenses. The British-Indian government did not make it easy for the approximately 2,000 Jewish refugees from Europe to get visas for India. The Franks, like most of the other refugees in India, received aid form various Jewish relief agencies.
Arthur Frank was interned immediately after the outbreak of World War II. The British colonial authorities released him three months later, when they realized that the Germans and Austrians who had fled to India could hardly be considered "enemy aliens.” Nevertheless, a second wave arrests occurred in the first half of 1940. This time Arthur Frank’s wife Ilse was also interned, and this time the interment lasted more than two years. Both were held in a camp from 21 June 1940 to 18 August 1942. After he was released, Arthur Frank tried to find work in Bombay. He was hired as a foreman in a bicycle factory, and was later promoted to supervisor.
Herbert Frank’s sister Edith was also able to leave Germany before the deportations began. She fled to England in 1939.
Frieda Frank’s sister Alice had left Hamburg in 1933 for Herne in the Ruhr Region. Her mother Bertha gave up her apartment on Agathenstraße in 1939 and moved to Heinrich-Barth-Straße 17, a building which was designated a "Jews’ house” in 1941. She died on 27 Feb. 1943, aged 60, in the Jewish home for the elderly at Schäferkampsallee 29.
Herbert and Frieda Frank were deported to the Minsk Ghetto on 8 November 1941; Herbert’s mother Julie and his sisters Gertrud and Helene on 18 November 1941. None of them survived.
His brother Arthur and his wife Ilse returned to Hamburg in 1964.
The youngest of the Frank children, Edith, escaped the Shoah. She later lived in Sydney, Australia.
Frieda Frank’s sister Alice Schmits survived the Shoah and lived in Leverkusen after the war.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2020
© Frauke Steinhäuser
Quellen: 1; 5; Hamburger Adressbücher; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 22445; Meyer (Hrsg.), Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden; Ursula Randt, "Talmud Tora Schule (TTR)", www.dasjuedischehamburg.de/inhalt/Talmud Tora Schule-ttr (Zugriff 5.11.2012); Gedenkbuch des Reichsbunds jüdischer Frontsoldaten (RjF), Liste der im 1. Weltkrieg gefallenen Soldaten jüdischen Glaubens aus Hamburg, www.denkmalprojekt.org/Verlustlisten/rjf_hh_a-k_wk1.htm (Zugriff 12.12.2012); Schreiben von Arthur Frank an Rudolf Börner-Sachs, LATh-StA MGN, Bezirkstag/Rat des Bezirkes Suhl, H 123; Joachim Oesterheld, Exil in Indien, www2.hu-berlin.de/presse/zeitung/archiv/95/nummer9/6-indien.html (Zugriff 12.12.2012).