Search for Names, Places and Biographies

Already layed Stumbling Stones

back to select list

Herbert Asser
Herbert Asser
© Privatbesitz

Herbert Asser * 1905

Stammannstraße 12 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

JG. 1905

further stumbling stones in Stammannstraße 12:
Bertha Eckelmann

Herbert Asser, born on 20.8.1905 in Hamburg, forced labor from 1938, died by suicide on 1.8.1947

Stammannstraße 12

Herbert Asser was the first of two sons of the Jewish couple Julius and Emma Asser (née Rudolph). He and his younger brother Kurt attended - like their father Julius Asser (see - the Talmud Tora Realschule in the Grindel erea.

After school, he began an apprenticeship and completed his journeyman's examination as a painter and decorator with a very good grade.

He converted to the Evangelical Lutheran faith and married Gertrud Wilk, a Protestant, on November 7, 1931.

The couple initially lived in Berlin, Torfstraße 28a. On October 9, 1932, their daughter Silvia was born. The family moved to Hamburg in July 1934. In the newly built Jarrestadt, they found an apartment at Stammannstraße 12. Their neighbor was Berta Eckelmann (see

Herbert Asser actually planned to take his master's examination in Hamburg and become self-employed as a painter and decorator with a starting capital of 3500 Reichsmark. However, because of his Jewish origin, he was not admitted to the master craftsman's examination. From 1938 he received a general ban from the profession.

The couple was now considered a mixed marriage (regardless of their conversion to Christianity), and because there was a minor, non-Jewish educated daughter, a "privileged mixed marriage."

Herbert Asser received medical treatment for depression. Then he was called up for "compulsory work" ("Pflichtarbeit”) at the Ohlsdorf cemetery, which welfare recipients had to perform. There he had to cut down trees, chop wood and dig graves. In 1939, he was temporarily employed as a messenger and warehouse helper in a paint and varnish store.

Herbert Asser kept his SIEMENS radio, which he would have had to turn in, and listened regularly to the BBC news with headphones, which was forbidden. Like other Jews living in "privileged mixed marriages," he was spared deportation, which could have changed at the slightest provocation.

From Jan 15, 1940 to Nov 24, 1944, Herbert Asser was a camp administrator at the Gäbler company, and then a forced laborer at the Paul C. Ziemcke company. He had to perform hard physical and often dangerous work in "Judenkolonnen" (like his half-Jewish neighbor August Eckelmann). During the bombing of Hamburg, he was deployed together with Russian prisoners of war to clear rubble.

On November 12, 1942, their daughter Roswitha Asser was born.

After liberation in 1945, Herbert Asser was able to work as an interpreter for the British Military Government.

In the post-war years his depression worsened.
He died in his apartment at Stammannstraße 12 by suicide on Aug. 1, 1947.

Private afterthought:
Herbert's widow, my grandmother Gertrud Asser, reported several times that her husband had been warned of raids by a "Nazi" named Palatz who had moved into the Eckelmann apartment - as August Eckelmann later confirmed - and had even hidden in his apartment.
According to my research in the Hamburg address books of the war years, the name Palatz only existed three times: It could most likely have been Just.-Insp. W. Palatz. He lived at Schwalbenplatz 17 and was bombed out there in July 1942.

In the forced labor columns, Herbert Asser got to know Willi Elsner, who later became a senior government official at the Hamburg Social Welfare Authority. In 1949, Elsner posthumously attested to my grandfather's political persecution as an anti-fascist, in addition to "racial" persecution.

The SIEMENS radio that Herbert Asser had acquired while still in Berlin is one of the few heirlooms I have from him.

Translation Beate Meyer

Stand: February 2023
© Wolfgang Ram (Enkel)

Quellen: StaH 351-11_30282, div. Schriftstücke, Hamburger Adressbücher.

print preview  / top of page