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Agnes Friederike Götz (née Falk) * 1869

Agnesstraße 55 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

1942 Theresienstadt
ermordet 11.6.1944 Theresienstadt

further stumbling stones in Agnesstraße 55:
Elsbet Flora Götz

Agnes Friederike Götz, née Falk, born on 27 May 1869 in Hamburg, deported on 19 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died there on 11 June 1944
Elsbet Flora Götz, born on 25 Dec. 1901 in Hamburg, deported on 19 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, deported further to Auschwitz on 19 Oct. 1944, murdered there

Agnes Falk probably married her husband Oscar Götz at the end of the nineteenth century; Robert, a younger brother of her husband, got married to her sister Dorothea in 1896 and became the father of Elsbet Götz (see corresponding section). The Jewish couple had three sons: Werner, who was killed in action toward the end of World War I; Hans Leopold (born on 8 Oct. 1896 in Hamburg), and Reinold (born on 14 Dec. 1905). Oscar Götz already died in Apr. 1918. The well-to-do family lived at Leinpfad 22a, and the children were baptized as Protestants. The sons attended the Realgymnasium of the Johanneum [a high school focused on the sciences, math, and modern languages], which was located on Armgartstrasse since 1905. After fighting in the First World War, Hans Leopold initially enrolled in the Technical University in Munich, returning to Hamburg, however, after three months and studying for a short time at the School of Applied Arts (Kunstgewerbeschule). In about 1920, he founded the "Bücherstube Hans Götz,” a bookstore with a second-hand department located at Esplanade 14.

Upon completing school, Reinold Götz did a commercial apprenticeship and eventually became a stamp dealer. He owned the company named Marcophilhaus Reinold Götz. Both brothers succeeded in fleeing abroad in the Nazi period, even though at the price of losing their economic livelihoods, as they explained after 1945 to the Restitution Office (Amt für Wiedergutmachung): In 1933 or 1934, Hans-Leopold was expelled from the Reich Chamber of Literature (Reichsschrifttumskammer), membership of which was mandatory for all booksellers, too. In 1935, he went to Denmark but was unable to obtain a work and resident permit. After a brief stay in Sweden, he returned to Denmark and managed to earn his livelihood doing commission sales for a Danish bookseller. In Oct. 1943, as the Jewish population was supposed to be deported from Denmark, which had been occupied by Germany since 1940, the German diplomat Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz informed representatives of the Jewish community of this plan and helped organize the escape of 7,000 persons on fishing boats across The Sound (Öresund) to Sweden. Hans-Leopold Götz was also brought to safety in this way.

Reinold Götz emigrated at the end of Dec. 1938 via Amsterdam to one of the Lesser Antilles, Trinidad, which belonged to Great Britain at the time. Under the compulsion of "Aryanization,” he had been able to net just enough from the sale of his company to cover the passage on a ship. Agnes Götz intended to follow her son to Trinidad and worked at full speed to gather all of the necessary papers and documents in the course of 1939. She had already had furniture and clothing transported to the free port area when the outbreak of war shattered this plan.

The house of Agnes Götz on Leinpfad had already been confiscated in Jan. 1939. Therefore, she moved in with her sister Dorothea, the mother of Elsbet Götz, who had her residence in the immediate neighborhood at Agnesstrasse 55. The three women lived there in one household until their deportation to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942. Agnes Götz died in the "Hohenelbe” hospital in Theresienstadt.

Elsbet and Agnes Friederike Götz were aunt and niece: Elsbet’s mother Dorothea, née Falk (28 Feb. 1874–1953), was the sister of Agnes Friederike Götz, and Elsbet’s father Robert (1868–1931) was the brother of Oscar, the husband of Agnes. The members of the originally Jewish family gradually had themselves baptized as Protestants: Robert as a 16-year-old youth; his daughter Elsbet and her older brother Oswald were baptized while children, and when Elsbet was confirmed in 1915, her mother Dorothea also converted to the Protestant faith.

The families, related by marriage, lived at close geographical quarters: The gardens of the properties at Agnesstrasse 55 and Leinpfad 22a bordered on each other, and the relatives visited each other through a gate in the fence. The family of the banker Robert Götz lived in a way befitting their social status, and Elsbet had a happy childhood, enjoying many liberties. Later, her niece Renate Osthoff wrote about her that she had grown up "almost like a boy” because she had always played with the male cousins.

Like many other girls in her neighborhood (see entries on Windesheim, Maass, Ledermann), Elsbet attended the private Firgau School at Sierichstrasse 53. This was not a "Jewish” school but until the state authorities ordered its closure in 1938, no difference was made between female students belonging to dissimilar religious faiths. After her schooldays, still during the First World War, Elsbet attended a "Fröbel seminar” and had herself trained there in dealing with children. She helped in kindergartens and soup kitchens, opening her own private kindergarten in her parents’ house at Agnesstrasse 55 in the 1920s.

According to the description by her niece, she must have had a special charisma. Her slightly plump figure at a young age earned her the affectionate nickname "Dicke” ("Pudge”). During a visit to the house of her brother Oswald, who worked at the Städelsche Kunstinstitut, an art museum in Frankfurt, she met the painter Max Beckmann and impressed him so much that he did a portrait of her.

The niece writes the following about a visit to Hamburg: "After lunch, all of us rested. We were allowed to take turns lying with Elsbet on her couch. She wore pearls in her earlobes and smelled wonderfully of perfume. We were not allowed to speak a word, and we did not sleep a wink because her being so close set our thoughts in motion. Her bookshelf contained books we were ‘not yet’ permitted to read. I remember Lysistrata by Aristophanes, which I read secretly.”

The handing over of power to the National Socialists led to far-reaching changes: "Good friends” broke off their friendship; the kindergarten had to be closed. Although "Aryan” domestic servants were in fact not supposed to be employed in Jewish households, the maid Hedwig, who was very attached to the family, stayed with them for the time being. Close relatives left Germany: Cousin Hans Leopold went to Denmark in 1935; cousin Reinold and her brother Oswald emigrated in Dec. 1938.

At first, Elsbet Götz and her mother still managed to live on the existing assets, and they were even able to afford the occasional vacation trip. In 1939, the "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”) had to be paid. Elsbet’s assets fell prey to this compulsory duty. Even jewelry and silverware had to be turned in, but they succeeded in withholding a few items. The aunt, Agnes Götz, was forced to give up her house on Leinpfad and moved in with them. Going to the theater and to concerts was prohibited to Jews by then and the niece states on this score: "‘In the absence of something better,’ Elsbet whistles the St. Mathew Passion to herself on Good Friday. ‘When you know it so well, that may suffice under certain circumstances.’”

From 1940 onward, they were no longer allowed to have a phone connection. In this case, help was forthcoming from the bookseller Greta Stolterfoht: In the back room of her "book room” ("Bücherstube”) they were able to make phone calls.

In order to save their remaining property, the family made efforts in 1941 to transfer still existing bank shares and the house at Agnesstrasse 55 to Dorothea’s "half-Jewish” ("halbjüdische”) granddaughters in Frankfurt. To obtain permission to do so, they had to pay a special charge and the "levy on Jewish assets” – amounting to a total of 120,000 RM.

Starting in 1941, Elsbet Götz was enlisted to perform forced labor, initially at a canned vegetables plant, then in a factory manufacturing paper lacing twine. She sought to face even this situation with humor, writing to her niece about love letters she had received from a forced laborer there: "Well, yes, auntie does have her appeal! However, I have now refused to tolerate any further harassment.”

In the late summer of 1941, they did find a hotel in Tyrol one more time that accepted them to spend a vacation there. Spontaneously, Elsbet used the opportunity to cross the border to Switzerland with the help of an Austrian friend. However, she did not stay there in order not to leave her mother alone in the impending danger.

Shortly after her return to Hamburg, the decree took effect that compelled Jews to wear the "Jews’ star” ("Judenstern”). From Oct. 1941 onward, the deportations began. On 1 Dec. 1941, Elsbet Götz had her appendix taken out. In this way, she saved herself and her mother from deportation to Riga on 6 Dec. 1941: Both of their names were on the deportation list for that day, but they were crossed out by hand. After that, Elsbet continued to be in poor health.

On 19 July 1942, Elsbet Götz, her mother Dorothea, and her aunt Agnes did ultimately have to comply with the transport order to Theresienstadt. Before that, the family found themselves compelled to sell the house on Agnesstrasse in order to be able to meet the required payments toward the "home purchase contract” ("Heimeinkaufsvertrag”). The eligibility to room and board they supposedly acquired there in this way turned out to be life in mass accommodation in the ghetto.

From Theresienstadt, they were able occasionally to correspond with the relatives in Frankfurt, also receiving parcels from there. Elsbet even found a modicum of happiness in life: In Sept. 1943, she married Dr. Wilhelm Dreyer (born on 9 Nov. 1891 in Buchheim), a lawyer from Cologne. In Theresienstadt, he was responsible for taking care of disabled veterans from World War I. Together with him, she was taken to Auschwitz on 19 Oct. 1944 and probably gassed immediately upon arrival. Wilhelm Dreyer did not return either.

Philipp Manes, who was murdered later on, wrote in his diary entry dated 18 Oct. 1944 about the preparations for this transport to Auschwitz: "Many friends are standing in the line. [...] Dr. Dreyer with his splendid wife. He managed the war-disabled section in an exemplary way.”

The mother, Dorothea Götz, survived despite a fractured leg and was liberated from Theresienstadt by Soviet troops in May 1945.

The niece writes the following about a visit to Hamburg: "After lunch, all of us rested. We were allowed to take turns lying with Elsbet on her couch. She wore pearls in her earlobes and smelled wonderfully of perfume. We were not allowed to speak a word, and we did not sleep a wink because her being so close set our thoughts in motion. Her bookshelf contained books we were ‘not yet’ permitted to read. I remember Lysistrata by Aristophanes, which I read secretly.”

In this ancient comedy, the women of Sparta and Athens form an alliance to end the war between the two city-states: They refuse to have sex with their husbands until they make peace. This was considered a risqué subject in the first half of the twentieth century, especially when available as a "booklover’s edition” featuring the erotic illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley. (We do not know, however, which edition was on hand in the Götzes’ home.) An operetta by Paul Lincke dealt with the lubricious theme as well.

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Ulrike Sparr

Quellen: 4; 5; 8; AfW 141205; AfW 081096; AfW 270569; AfW 280274; Personenstandsbuch Standesamt Eimsbüttel; StaHH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden, 992e2 Bd. 3; Philipp Manes, Als ob’s ein Leben wär, Berlin 2005; Osthoff, Renate, Elsbet, (Privatdruck) 2001; Briefwechsel und Telefonate mit Renate Osthoff im Januar/Februar 2008.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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