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Elisabeth Kassel * 1891

Grindelallee 21/23 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)

1942 Auschwitz

Elisabeth Kassel, born 28 Sept. 1891, deported 11 July 1942 to Auschwitz

The trained teacher Elisabeth Kassel was single and childless – as the professional ethics for female teachers demanded. Her final residence was with her younger sister Margarethe at Grindelallee 21/23. The sisters had to move there on 8 Nov. 1941.

Margarethe Kassel, born on 9 Apr. 1893, had likewise attended a teacher training program and completed training as a home economics teacher. When the sisters moved to Grindelallee, Margarethe was not working so she kept house for her sister.

The women owned assets which came in part from their mother’s inheritance. During the NS period, the authority of the regional finance director ordered them to be placed under safeguard. That meant the owners were no longer able to dispose of their own money as they saw fit. These measures were generally justified with the suspicion that the Jews wanted to emigrate and move their assets abroad. This was true of Elisabeth Kassel, she actually did plan to emigrate and was attending a Spanish language class for that reason.

Accessing such frozen (secured) accounts was only possible upon authorization by the regional finance director. While the state was allowed to withdraw taxes and contributions directly from the accounts, the Jews affected had to provide a detailed accounting of regular costs for their maintenance and have a monthly allowance approved. Special expenditures, like those which arose for Elisabeth Kassel due to her mandated move to Grindelallee, had to be applied for separately. The officials granted the teacher who supported her sister a monthly allowance of 350 Reichsmark. "My sister keeps house but does not receive a salary for it or have any other income. As remuneration, I meet all expenses for the two of us from my income. Since I feel morally obligated to provide my sister with a home befitting her social status and to look after her needs, she gives me her full labor and time in return", Elisabeth Kassel thus made her financial plight clear.

Years before, Elisabeth Kassel had been dismissed as a teacher from state service in the wake of the law for the Restoration of Civil Service. She received a monthly pension of about 135 RM. From 1 Jan. 1936, she taught eleven hours per week at the Israelite Daughters School (Israelitische Töchterschule), earning an additional 226 RM. While this provided her once again with (part-time) work and an income, she still shared the fate of her Jewish colleagues, for instance when the entire faculty was imprisoned the night of the Reich pogrom in Nov. 1938.

The girls’ school where Elisabeth Kassel taught was combined with the Talmud Torah School in Apr. 1939. From then on the teachers taught co-ed classes in the building at Grindelhof. From 15 Nov. 1938, Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend public schools, which resulted in the school filling up with non-confessional or Christian children whose background was regarded as Jewish according to the criteria of the Nuremberg Laws. The school administration decided to accept all of these children and to exempt them from religion class upon request. In 1940 the graduation examination was administered for the last time for two students at the then last school for Jews in Hamburg – they passed. Elisabeth Kassel herself taught there until Dec. 1941 and afterwards was assigned to work in a Jewish nursing home. Already in Nov. 1941 she feared she and her sister would be deported, so she applied for 300 RM for herself and her sister each to make purchases for the "evacuation" and have travel money to take along. Like many Jews, the sisters too expected to be settled in eastern regions due to the euphemistic term "evacuation" and prepared themselves for their "new home" with appropriate purchases (such as warm winter clothing, among other items). All the more shocked they much have been upon their arrival at the ghetto.

On 11 July 1942 Elisabeth and Margarethe Kassel were then deported to Auschwitz and killed.

We can only speculate as to the fate of the other family members – the teacher had six siblings after all. Her father owned a business where her two older brothers Reinold (*4 July 1885) and Walter (*5 July 1882) also worked. The latter was deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. and perished there. Reinhold, on the other hand, married the Christian Hertha Leutz (*13 Apr. 1888). It is very likely that he survived through his mixed marriage outside of Hamburg. Her older sister Anita also moved after her wedding. Her fate is unknown. Her sister Rosa moved too and either managed to emigrate early on or survived by other means. Her brother Ernst fell in the First World War.

A Stolperstein was laid for Elisabeth at Grindelallee 21/23, donated anonymously. A further stone will follow for Margarethe.

Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: October 2016
© Pia Hilger

Quellen: StaHH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, 992b, Kultussteuerkartei der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde Hamburgs; StaHH, 314-15, Oberfinanzpräsident 1940/388; Ursula Randt: Carolinenstraße 35. Geschichte der Mädchenschule der Deutsch Israelitischen Gemeinde in Hamburg 1884-1942, Hamburg 1984, Seite 79 – 98; Gedenkbuch: Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933 – 1945. 2., wesentlich erweiterte Auflage. Band II (G-K). Koblenz 2006. Seite 1640; Tel. Auskunft Peter Hess.

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