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Johanna Fränkel (née Bleier) * 1889
Isestraße 123 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Johanna Fränkel, née Bleier, born 4 May 1889 in Hamburg, deported 11 July 1942 to Auschwitz
In March 1933, Johanna Fränkel, not yet 44 years old, became a widow. Her husband, Dr. Ludwig Fränkel, had a prosperous law office on Große Burstah. He was active in the Jewish Community. In 1930 he ran for the Board of Representatives on the Liberal ticket. Their son Otto was born in April 1914. The family lived at Isestraße 123, in the same building as the renowned civil rights activist and rector of the University of Hamburg, Rudolf Laun.
We were unable to determine how long Johanna Fränkel and her son remained in the Isestraße apartment. An entry from October 1936 in Otto Fränkel’s church tax records says "moved abroad,” but the destination country is not stated. Perhaps it was when Otto left the country that Johanna moved to Harvestehuder Weg 81. This is the address given by her lawyer Morris Samson in correspondence with the Chief Tax Authority in 1939. He was a reliable aid to Johanna in the years of increasing privation and persecution.
Johanna Fränkel was able to sustain her well-to-do lifestyle at her new address, and employ a household servant. She also took care of her sister Helene, who had been declared incompetent due to mental and physical disabilities. In April 1939 a security order was placed on Johanna Fränkel’s assets because she had made plans to emigrate to England. She had all of the necessary documents and an entry visa for Great Britain. We can assume that her son lived there. She ordered a transport company to ship her belongings on 18 July 1939, but apparently the six weeks until the outbreak of the war was not enough to settle her affairs. On 23 September her lawyer informed the Chief Tax Authority "that the emigration process must be temporarily postponed. Frau Fränkel had a permit for England, but it had become invalid with the outbreak of the war.” Her furniture and various packing crates were stored with a moving company in early September.
The sum that Johanna Fränkel was allowed to withdraw from her accounts for her monthly living expenses was reduced to 500 Reichsmarks.
On 31 October 1939, Johanna Fränkel gave up her home and moved back to Isestraße, this time to Number 67, where she rented two rooms with a midday meal. She brought her own furniture and her grand piano with her. She had to let her maid of many years go.
Although her health had worsened in the meantime, she once again prepared to emigrate in June 1941, this time to Cuba. She took Spanish lessons, the fees for which the Chief Tax Authority permitted her to withdraw from her accounts. She also took lessons in typing and cosmetology, so that she would have a profession in her new home.
On 20 October 1941, the Chief Tax Authority remarked in Johanna Fränkel’s emigration file that they had no objections to issuing the necessary clearance certificate, but three days later, on 23 October, all Jews were forbidden to leave the country. She was to report for the transport to Lodz on 25 October, but at the last minute her name was taken off the list.
In March 1942, Johanna Fränkel was forced to move into the "Jews’ house” at Parkallee 75. She could not take her grand piano with her, and donated it to the Jewish Community Center. She was allowed to withdraw an extra 75 RM from her accounts for moving expenses, but her monthly allowance was reduced to 275 RM. Three months later she was deported to Auschwitz. Her name was on the supplementary list, with her profession given as "manual laborer.” The date of her murder in Auschwitz is unknown.
After the war, Johanna Fränkel’s lawyer Morris Samson, who was well-acquainted with her financial circumstances, represented her son in the restitution proceedings. Her considerable fortune was confiscated immediately after she was deported, "for the benefit of the German Reich.”
The records from the restitution proceedings were not available, so that we were not able to learn anything about his mother’s life from her son’s perspective.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Christa Fladhammer
Quellen: 1; 2; StaH, 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden, 992 e 2, Bd.1 und Bd. 4; Gemeindeblatt der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde zu Hamburg, 6. Jg. 1930, Nr. 3, 14. März.
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