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Berthold Elias * 1898

Jan-Valkenburg-Straße 11 vor Rudolf-Roß-Gesamtschule (Hamburg-Mitte, Neustadt)

JG. 1898

further stumbling stones in Jan-Valkenburg-Straße 11 vor Rudolf-Roß-Gesamtschule:
Willy Kreuzer

Berthold Elias, born 8/3/1898 in Hamburg, deported to Theresienstadt on 7/19/1942, deported on to Auschwitz on 9/28/1944

Jan-Valkenburg-Strasse 11 (Marienstrasse 15)

Until 1940, Jan-Valkenburg-Strasse was called Marienstrasse, it led from the street called Kohlhöfen to the street called Hütten. The buildings there were largely destroyed during the Allied bombings in the summer of 1943. Only part of the street was rebuilt with tenement houses after the war. The Stumbling Stone commemorating Berthold Elias lies before the loop at the end of the street.

Berthold Elias grew up at Grossneumarkt. His parents David and Theresia Elias, née Levor, had nine children. Three of his siblings succeeded in emigrating to the USA and to Shanghai in time: three survived until they were liberated in the Netherlands. Berthold, his brother Erwin and his sister Louise as well as their parents did not survive the Holocaust.

On January 6, 1928, Berthold Elias, a commercial clerk, married Elisabeth Paisach, born July 3, 1905 in Altona; the following April, they set up their own business, an egg and poultry shop at Osterbekstrasse 31 in Hamburg-Winterhude.

Berthold’s father-in-law Victor Paisach, also known as Wigdor Zeiger (born 9/1/1973 in Sniatyniez), had a whole-sale business in the same trade at Grosse Prinzenstrasse 36 in Altona. Elisabeth’s parents, Victor Paisach and Rosa/Reisel, née Sperling (born 6/13/1872 in Żydaczów in then Austrian Galicia – now Żydaczów, Ukraine). The couple had married in a civil ceremony in Żydaczów on 1903, and their first son Moritz was born there on November 2 of that year. The Paisachs left Galicia and settled in Altona when Moritz was one year old.

Elisabeth and Berthold Elias had two children. Ruth was born on March 6, 1929, her brother Günther Ruben on August 9, 1932, when the family lived at Mansteinstrasse 21 in the "Generals’ Quarter” of Hamburg-Eimsbüttel. In 1933, they moved their shop to Eiffestrasse 493 in Borgfelde. There they were boycotted as Jewish shopkeepers. In 1934, the Elias’ saw no choice than to give up their business. The family moved to the neighborhood of Berthold’s parents, to Marienstrasse 15 (from 1940: Jan-Valkenburg-Strasse). Temporarily, Berthold Elias got work as a bookkeeper at the company of Heinrich Dicker. In 1935, he was a salesman for the Schlütern soap company.

During the pogrom of November 9/10, 1938, David Elias, like many Jewish men, was arrested and first taken to the Fuhlsbüttel Police Prison. His son Berthold tried to get his father released, only to be detained himself. He was taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg near Berlin 1938, where he was discharged at the end of 1938 or the beginning of 1939.

In March 1939, the Israelitic Support Association offered Berthold Elias a job as janitor of the Daniel Wormser House in Westerstrasse 27 in the southern section of St. Georg. The institution, founded in 1884 as transitory home for needy Jews from eastern Europe on their way to America, now served as a retirement home for the Community. Elisabeth, Berthold’s wife, became head of the kitchen. In April 1939, the Elias’ managed to send their kids, 5-year old Günther and his sister Ruth, not quite ten, to safety in Sweden via a Jewish organization.

Their parents, it seems, had made no preparations to emigrate. On July 13, 1942, Elisabeth and Berthold Elias as well as the remaining 23 residents of the retirement home received orders from the Hamburg Gestapo to prepare for their "evacuation” to Theresienstadt on July 19, 1942. At the same time, the Elias were informed that their remaining assets were being confiscated.

Rosa Paisach, Elisabeth’s 70-year-old widowed mother who lived at Sonnienstrasse 12, also received the order to prepare for deportation on that day. In August 1939, she and her husband had made preparations to leave Germany – their plan, however, was foiled by the outbreak of the war. Elisabeth’s father, weakened by repeated "protective custody”, suffered a heart attack in the street and died on April 8, 1940 at the Jewish hospital in Johnsallee.

In the ghetto, the Elias’ were quartered at Neue Gasse 27. They tried to keep in contact with friends and relatives in Hamburg. Censored communication by letter was allowed. Receiving food packages was essential to survive. Appeals for help had to be encrypted:

"Theresienstadt 6. Juli 1944
Katz, my dear colleague!
With these few lines, we want to thank you for having thought of us so kindly before Easter. Since then, regretfully, we have not heard from you. In the meantime, we had written to our friend Golenser and asked him to contact our sister-on-law Gertrud Paisach and our cousins, from whom we hear nothing at all and give them our best regards, but we have received no answer. We hope that you are well and would be happy to hear from you all soon. We are in good health. I work at an office, and my wife is now starting to work again after a lengthy illness. We live quite nicely with cooking facilities. We remain with best regards to all our friends and cousin Siegmund. Berthold and Elisabeth Elias."

Not quite two months later, on September 28, 1944, Berthold Elias was deported on to Auschwitz-Birkenau. His mother-in-law Rosa had already been assigned to a transport with the same destination on December 18, 1943, It is unlikely that Berthold Elias was among the prisoners fit for work after the "selection” in Auschwitz, as the 40th year of life, which he had passed, was considered the limit of fitness to work. Berthold Elias was declared dead after the war, effective May 8, 1945.

Elisabeth Elias was liberated by Soviet Troops on May 8, 1945. She had survived in spite of miserable living conditions and working on the cleaning squad of the typhoid fever barrack. Six years after the separation from her small children, she succeeded in finding them. For a time, she lived with both of them in Sweden, and in 1957 she then followed her married daughter Ruth Adler to Canada. Elisabeth Elias died in Toronto on August 29, 1964.

After several arrests and severe mistreatment, Elisabeth’s brother Moritz Paisach was released in the beginning of 1941
from the sick bay of Neuengamme concentration camp with a fractured skull and the order "to leave the country within ten days.” Travelling through Yugoslavia illegally and circuitously, he managed to reach Italy. Again repeatedly arrested and detained at the camp in Polenza, Macerata Province, he succeeded in evading deportation to Auschwitz by jumping out of a window in April 1943. In September 1944, he met with British troops in Sicily and stayed in their service as an interpreter until the end of the war. Returning to Hamburg in British uniform, he rejoined his non-Jewish wife Gertrud, née Radtke (born 8/25/1909) ant their daughters Eva (born 1/18/1936), Gitta (born 5/23/1938) and Chana (born 8/25/1939). The family emigrated to the United States in 1949. Moritz Paisach changed his name to Maurice Passiah and in 1981 described his imprisonment at in Neuengamme as "hell itself, not the naïve inferno of Dante, but hell transposed to the 20th century, where the art of cruelty was practiced in perfection and every diabolic modern psychologic achievement was practiced with perfection to mentally and physically destroy human beings." In 1970, Maurice Passiah deposited a memorial page for his mother at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. He died on November 29, 1984 in Houston, Texas.

Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: May 2020
© Susanne Rosendahl

Quelle: 1; 4; 8; 9; StaH 351-11 AfW 1500 (Elias, Theresia); StaH 351-11 AfW 11305 (Elias, Elisabeth); StaH 351-11 AfW 11304 (Elias, Berthold); StaH 351-11 AfW 1694 (Elias, David); StaH 351-11 AfW 26788 (Passiah, Maurice, früher Paisach, Moritz); StaH 314-15 FVg 9523; StaH 213-13_Z27677; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden Abl. 1993/01 Ordner 15; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinde Nr. 992 e 2 Band 5; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 2459 u 2439/1898; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 3575 u 12/1928; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 8168 u 217/1940; (Zugriff 5.5.2013); Page of Testimony Reisel Paisach (Zugriff 5.5.2013).
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