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Rosalie Arendt * 1867

Geffckenstraße 23 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)

1942 Theresienstadt
10. März 1945 verstorben an Haftfolgen

Rosalie Arendt, née Kuznitzki, born March 3, 1869, was deported to Theresienstadt on July 19, 1942, died in Switzerland in 1945.

Geffckenstraße 23

Rosalie Kuznitzki, also called Rosa, hailed from Nikolai, now Mikolow, in Upper Silesia. She was married to Siegfried (Simon) Arendt who was born on December 24, 1871. The date of their marriage is not known, but their daughter Edith was born in 1900, and their son Edgar was born in 1902. At the time the family lived in the Heinrich Barth-Straβe.

On August 1915 the Arendts became members of the Hamburg Jewish Community. In those days they already owned a fashion house at Neuer Wall 35. One can recognize, because of their steadily rising taxation, as recorded in the official tax records, that they acquired a substantial fortune after starting out in modest circumstances. In addition to the business at Neuer Wall, they later acquired the building at Geffckenstraße 23 as their home. Together they put both of their major energies into the expansion of the fashion house. Their grandson Frank remembered his grandmother as a strict, self-disciplined woman who, along with her husband, untiringly managed the fashion house with a firm hand. Success depended on that. Their employees respected the energetic, small-sized, boss, even though they did not always like ("love” in the original) her. Grandfather Simon was responsible for the external publicity, advertising, and the collaboration with fashion designers of the Haute Couture. He used to travel by air and train to Paris, in order to inform himself of the latest fashions and to make contracts while his wife ran the business in Hamburg.

In 1938, as Rosalie and Siegfried were forced to sell the business under the governmental demand to Aryanize it, "Arendt” became "Horn,” and eventually became "Unger” many years after the war.

And, at the home of the grandparents things were done in a strict manner. Frequently the children and grandchildren came to Sunday dinner at the house in the Geffckenstraße, not too far from the Hagedornstraße, and later from Rehagen (later renamed Gustav-Leo-Straße) where they lived. The dinner was served in the magnificent dining room, in which valuable paintings hung below the ceiling from gold-covered cords hooked to a decorative molding strip. Grandmother Rosa insisted that both grandsons greet her with a formal bow ("Diener”). And, to train them in good manners, they also learned to kiss the hand of the grandmother.

In the afternoon they had to listen quietly in the music room to old-fashioned phonograph recordings, mostly from Beethoven and Brahms.

But the boys were also permitted to go into the garden with white gravel paths bordered by boxwood hedges. Rosa and "Grandfather Opi” had a big orchard of apple and pear trees as well as gooseberry and currant bushes. "We boys were prohibited from picking and snacking on any of the fruits. We were told that they were unripe and would cause us indigestion. Grandson Frank remembered that he was permitted to go to grandfather’s library upstairs and leaf through his large collection of "Simplicissimus” magazines. [Simplicissimus was a satirical German weekly magazine started by Albert Langen in April 1896 and published through 1967, with a hiatus from 1944-1954.]

After we sent an actual photo of the house in the Geffckenstraße to Frank, new childhood memories were raised, this time about the steeply downward sloped garage driveway.

"That is where Opi kept his Mercedes which his chauffeur Probst drove. We boys nicknamed him ‘Probi.’ The bay window fronted the guest room. I wonder if the current residents know his story.”
Grandmother wanted the boys to be good students and to grow up to be competent, ambitious, and productive citizens. "This was the way in which she loved us.

The great-granddaughter Linda found it important to mention that her great-grandparents recognized and furthered her own grandmother’s, their daughter Edith’s, musical talent. She [Edith] became a successful concert-pianist and piano teacher.

Son Edgar left early in 1933 for Paris. He married there and was able to be saved by a "Thousand Efforts” into the USA by his sister. Edith, who was married to the ophthalmologist Gerhart Peltesohn, immigrated with her husband and the two boys into the US.

So, since 1938 it was silent in the house in the Geffckenstraße — and the business on the Neuer Wall that had determined the life of Rosalie and Siegfried Arendt no longer existed.

On June, 1940 Siegfried Arendt died. Who might have accompanied Rosa Arendt in her last years in her loneliness? It was the father-in-law of her daughter, Nathan Peltesohn, who lived not far away in the Isestraße, until he was forced to move away into a "Judenhaus” [house of old Jews]. Rosa Arendt was one of the few fellow sufferers who could still live in her home. Four days after Nathan Peltesohn, on the 19th of July, she was deported to Theresienstadt. Whereas Nathan Peltesohn died there already after a few weeks, Rosalie Arendt was counted among the survivors.

She was already 73 years old when she arrived in Theresienstadt. It speaks highly of her strong personality [character] that she survived the misery there for two and a half years. On February 2, 1945, she was among the 1,200 persons who, due to the actions of the International Red Cross, were allowed to train-travel away in real, comfortable railroad cars.

She was, admittedly, saved, but completely weakened. The wish to find out whether her children in the USA were safely preserved and found their way of life there, kept her alive.

She arrived in the reception camp Les Avants. After her arrival there, she wrote with amazing energy about her difficult time in Theresienstadt, her rescue, and her hope to hear from her daughter. She already had news from her son Edgar. "Since 19 July, 1942, I had no resting place any more, no bed, no table, no chair, and my whole possessions were robbed, and I stand there and have nothing other than the clothes on my back. How merciful was my fate that my dear, sensitive husband would not experience this with me, but how painful for me, that I am alone.” This part sounds as if they were old written remarks that she had saved—she reports therein, too, about having a severe illness in May/June 1943 or 1944. Then she continues, "What I have endured in this time cannot be described: the disappointments, the anxieties, the deprivations, and not least the hunger— no peaceful hour, day, or night. A merciful fate has led me here [into Switzerland]. May God praise this land! I must collect myself; all is just like a dream…” Visibly weakened she interrupted her manuscript and continued her thread of thought on February 22: "…How we have been received here is without compare. In the moment we stepped into this land, we all wept over so much fortune…”

Less than three weeks later, on March 10, 1945, Rosa Arendt died in Hospital Montreux, well after her comforting news that her daughter and the grandchildren were well off, but without once more seeing the childrenand grandchildren, and for these it was a relief that the mother had peacefully passed away.

Also, for the couple Sara and Moritz Weis (see elsewhere) the house in the Geffckenstraße was the last station in Hamburg on the way to Theresienstadt. All emigration attempts had failed. After several moves the couple Weis lived as tenants at Rosalie Arendt and were deported on the same date as she.

Translation: Frank M. Pelteson
© Christa Fladhammer

Quellen: 1; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 e2 Band 5; E-Mail von Frank Pelteson und Linda Wehrli, geb. Pelteson am 9.5.2008; dgl. am 25.1.2009; privater Briefwechsel mit Edith Pelteson 1956 bis 1960; ITS/-ARCH /F-18-49 Ordner 25; Auskunft Peter Landé USHMM 17.11.2008; Adler, Theresienstadt, 1955; Englische Übersetzung des Berichts von Rosa Arendt im Februar 1945, Privatbesitz Linda Wehrli.
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