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Willy Fürst * 1874

Gehölzweg 8 (Wandsbek, Marienthal)

JG. 1874
TOT 19.10.1943

Willy Fürst, born on 28 Nov. 1874, deported on 24 Mar. 1943 to Theresienstadt, died there on 19 Oct. 1943

Gehölzweg 8 (Waldstraße 8)

Located in a quiet street in Marienthal in front of a detached house is a Stolperstein that commemorates Willy Fürst. He was born as the son of the married couple Salomon Lipmann Fürst and Hanna, née Wolfsohn, in Hamburg.

He lived at various Hamburg addresses, such as Roonstrasse 13 or Winterhuder Marktplatz until moving to Waldstrasse 8 in Marienthal in Oct. 1919. At the end of the 1920s, he bought the house. Fürst earned his living as a merchant and sales representative; the exact line of business is unknown. He was married to Hulda, née Hoferichter, who was born in 1887. She was a Protestant and came from a non-Jewish family.

In the years of the First World War, Willy Fürst fell behind with his dues to the German-Israelitic Community, which suggests difficult economic circumstances. Possibly, he belonged to the Wandsbek community in 1920 but according to the tax and revenue office he was, from 1924/25 onward, deleted as a communal taxpayer, i.e. he had left the Jewish Community.

Since 1934, the couple lived in the Grindel quarter, at Beneckestrasse 22, second floor, where they also rented out rooms. After the new telephone directory had been published in 1940, Willy Fürst received a summons by the Criminal Investigation Department. Like a number of other Jews, he was also accused of not having entered the additional compulsory first name – "Sara” for women and "Israel” for men. On 27 Feb. 1941, the President of the Reich Postal Administration (Reichspostdirektion), located at Stephansplatz, turned to the public prosecutor’s office at the Hamburg Regional Court (Landgericht). A total of seven Jewish men and women had failed "to indicate to the Telephone Office 2 [Fernsprechamt 2] their Jewish descent in time by providing the Jewish first name.” Yet prior to the new edition for 1940, the telephone office – according to its own information – had sent notifications to that effect to all subscribers. Accordingly, as the document went on, the Jewish subscribers could not have been left in any doubt about their obligation to apply on their own for a correction of their entry in the telephone directory.

In early March, the chief public prosecutor’s office handed the case of Willy Fürst over to the Criminal Investigation Department "with the request to interrogate the accused responsible with respect to the matter.” In addition, an order was issued as well to record the economic circumstances of the accused.

After Willy Fürst had received the summons, he sent a handwritten postcard to the responsible police station at Feldbrunnenstrasse 18.

"Unfortunately I am unable to come by today in response to your summons concerning telephone because I have an intestinal condition. I would like to note that since … July 1940, I do not have a phone any longer as it was instead signed over to my wife’s name. Since 28 Feb., the telephone has been taken away from my wife because the phone service was cancelled by the telephone office … as of 28 Feb. 1941. Should you have any further questions to put to me, I would ask you to send an officer to come by mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. My wife went to your station this morning but the officer in charge was not present.
Yours most humbly, Willy Israel Fürst, Beneckestrasse 22 Hamburg, 7 Apr. 1941.”

Already on the following day, police sergeant (Polizeimeister) Müller showed up. He put down in the record of interrogation that Fürst was not a war veteran and had been unemployed for years due to his illness and was supported by his wife "who had money.” The couple was childless; they had not had passports issued for them. Quite obviously, they entertained no plans to emigrate. Concerning the matter at hand, Fürst declared, "I did not give notice to the telephone office regarding my additional first name because I was not aware of the regulations. I did not receive any written notice … in question. My wife is also unable to recall any notification by mail. Certainly, there is no malicious intent on my part, for I have no interest in keeping my additional first name secret.”

In May 1941, an order of summary punishment in the form of a fine amounting to 50 RM (reichsmark) was issued against Willy Fürst. The court justified the verdict by stating "because you … as a Jew of German citizenship negligently did not list your first name Israel in the public telephone directory even though it is common both in legal and business transactions to provide the name.” In addition, he was to bear the costs of the legal proceedings.

Willy Fürst filed an appeal. He provided as a reason the fact that he had not been aware of any wrongdoing and that he had not received any notification. He added, "The matter is also caused by the fact that my name was assumed by the telephone office to be Aryan. Moreover, it was common every year that I, before the new directory was printed, would receive a postcard asking whether any changes ought to be made to the address, etc.; however, I did not receive that either. Thus, I am also not aware of having acted negligently. Having been unemployed for ten years already, I earn my living by renting out rooms, and I held on to the phone only for my subtenants. I would also like to note that as of 1 July 1940, the phone was transferred to the name of my wife Hulda, who is Aryan. I ask for acquittal, especially since I am in my sixty-seventh year and have no previous conviction either. Yours very faithfully, Willy Israel Fürst”

The month of June saw a public hearing at the Hamburg District Court (Amtsgericht) presided over by regional court judge (Landgerichtsrat) Dr. Voigt. Regarding his income level, Fürst indicated that he received 50 RM in rental income.

In the grounds for the judgment, the fine was reduced to 20 RM because of these "limited financial circumstances” and because he admitted the deed. Fürst then asked for payment in installments, which was granted to him. The file contains the payment receipts to the court cashier’s office; Willy Fürst paid his penalty and the court costs on time. His last address was Beneckestrasse 2–6. By then, the buildings of the Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband) were used as so-called "Jews’ houses” ("Judenhäuser”) accommodating above all elderly Jews until they were ordered to report to a transport to Theresienstadt. On 24 Mar. 1943, Willy Fürst was also deported there. Perhaps his non-Jewish wife had died by that time, or perhaps she had separated from him. Probably, however, both scenarios did not apply, since according to Nazi terminology, the marriage was deemed a "non-privileged mixed marriage” whose respective Jewish spouse was not protected from deportation in any case.

Willy Fürst was registered in the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 26 Mar. He died there close to 69 years of age on 19 Oct. 1943.

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Astrid Louven

Quellen: 1; 7; 213-11 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen 98/1942; ebd. 332-8 Meldewesen K 4429; AB 1929 II, 1933 VI, 1936 II; RGBl. Teil 1 Nr.130/1938, S. 1044: Verstöße jüdischer Fernsprechteilnehmer gegen die 2. VO zur Durchführung des Gesetzes über die Änderung v. Familiennamen u. Vornamen vom 17.8.1938; Beate Meyer, Fragwürdiger Schutz, in: dies. (Hrsg.), Verfolgung, S. 79–88, hier: S. 79–82.

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