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Alfred Gutmann * 1866
Hohenzollernring 8 (Altona, Ottensen)
Alfred Gutmann, born on 26 Dec. 1866, arrested in 1940, deported on 19 June 1942 to Theresienstadt, deported on 21 Sept. 1942 to Treblinka and murdered there
Alfred was born in Hamburg on 26 Dec. 1866 as the second of five children to the Jewish couple Nathan Gutmann and his wife Cäcilie, née Freund. Julia, born on 9 Sept. 1865 was the first child, followed on 17 Dec. 1869 by Manfred, on 30 Mar. 1871 by Hedwig and on 8 Dec. 1874 by Eugen Peter.
No details could be established concerning Alfred’s childhood and education. His father Nathan Gutmann was the owner of the Alexander Gutmann Company, a manufactures warehouse at Bahrenfelder Strasse 108. The Gutmanns were already residing in their second generation in Hamburg as a merchant family and had achieved great prosperity. Alfred Gutmann later joined his father’s business.
On 27 June 1903, Alfred married the Catholic Elisabeth Maria Wierzbowski in Cologne, born on 16 Sept. 1876 in Graudenz/West Prussia (today Grudziadz in Poland). Her parents were the brigade commander Joseph Wierzbowski and Anna Hedwig Caroline, née Schrewe. She had a sister, Frieda Olga Brigitta, who was born on 19 Jan. 1884 in Saarlouis.
For Elisabeth’s sake, Alfred converted from the Jewish to the Catholic faith after their wedding. The marriage remained childless. They first lived in an apartment at Fritz-Reuter-Strasse 6 (today Onckenstrasse) in Othmarschen. In 1910, they moved into an apartment at Altonaer Bahnhofstrasse 88, which they occupied until 1916.
Alfred Gutmann’s brother-in-law Gustav Arthur Weber died in Hamburg on 5 Mar. 1932. After the death of his brother-in-law, Alfred felt responsible for his sister, took her into his owner-occupied apartment at Flottbeker Chaussee 195 (today Elbchaussee) and paid her a pension of 150 RM per month until her deportation.
According to Hamburg directories, Alfred worked from 1904 at the Pal(l)asch Werke in Hamburg Eidelstedt. This plant mainly produced fishmeal, which consisted of ground dried fish or fish parts. It was used as a feed additive.
Alfred Gutmann then acquired the Pal(l)asch Werke at Ottenser Strasse 16 in Eidelstedt (formerly part of Altona) and thus became self-employed on 6 Mar. 1914. He bought the 6,460 square-meter (some 1.5 acres) property for 77,520 RM (reichsmark).
His wife made 20,000 RM available to him for the purchase of the fishmeal works. The remaining amount of RM 57,520 consisted of shares, mortgages, and loans (which he had made available to other people).
When the property was handed over, residents feared in advance that the fish operation would cause odor nuisance. Alfred Gutmann made assurances that any improvement or innovation required by the city magistrate would be carried out in order to avoid the smell of fish.
On 21 Jan. 1915, he applied for permission to lay tracks on the site, which was approved by the City of Altona. He also expanded the premises by purchasing additional land. Due to the siding, he was able to operate more economically.
On 1 Apr. 1919, he transformed the business into a limited liability company. For economic reasons, the co-partners were responsible for the machines and the real estate.
On 7 May 1924, Alfred Gutmann sold the company rights to the non-Jewish merchant Leopold Heldman, residing at Heilwigstrasse 126 in Hamburg, the future sole owner. On 23 Oct. 1925, bankruptcy proceedings were instituted against Pal(l)asch Werke before the Altona District Court (Amtsgericht).
After the company was sold, Alfred Gutmann remained closely associated with Pal(l)asch Werke. He took over the debenture bonds for the bankruptcy proceedings and repaid the debt of 176,384.54 RM with 2% interest starting on 1 Oct. 1928. The Pal(l)asch works were then sold to the Lübcke & Co KG in 1930.
Brigitte Bromstein, the only living sister of Elisabeth Gutmann, was financially involved in the Lübcke & Co KG extraction and fishmeal plant in Eidelstedt. When the company ran into financial difficulties, Alfred Gutmann supported it with a sum of 29,000 RM.
Alfred Gutmann maintained numerous contacts and had many friends, including the architect Carl Hugo Dehn. He needed 225,000 RM for the construction of a house at Heidenkampsweg 244-246. Alfred and Elisabeth lent him the money and thus secured a life annuity.
He also had the building entered in his name in the Hamburg-St. Georg land register on 6 July 1929 as collateral. When the Nazis later came to power, they reduced the interest rate from 8% to 6%. (Carl Hugo Dehn died of stomach cancer in Hamburg on 27 Oct. 1942, three months after Alfred’s deportation.)
Alfred had an account with Deutsche Bank in Altona; however, like all Jews against whom a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) had been issued, he could not freely dispose of it. The foreign currency office issued the "security order” on 22 Dec. 1938. Following this, he had to obtain approval for the amount he was allowed to spend on his monthly livelihood. The foreign currency office allegedly feared that the couple might flee.
Initially, Alfred was allowed to dispose of 1000 RM (reichsmark) per month, then of 750 RM, and subsequently of 800 RM. Of the money he had lent to the fishmeal plant, he got back only 1,000 RM, which was transferred to his blocked account.
The Gutmann couple continued to live in their owner-occupied apartment at Flottbeker Chaussee 195a (today Elbchaussee) until 1940. They had to vacate the apartment because of the planned Elbe high bridge (Elbhochbrücke). In Feb. 1939, Elisabeth Gutmann submitted an application to the Hamburg-West City Planning Office for approval of a new building on Hohenzollernring 8. It was approved on 27 June 1939. The spouses had to apply to the foreign currency office for the release of all funds to pay the expenses required for the house. They received permission on 4 Sept. 1940.
The Gutmann couple kept securities, savings books, and cash in their bank safe. Elisabeth owned 20,000 RM, which she had lent to him for the fishmeal plant. After the move into the house at Hohenzollernring 8, the foreign exchange office lowered the monthly allowance the Gutmanns were authorized to use to 600 RM.
The couple repeatedly requested an increase in the monthly allowance. Elisabeth was physically disabled, though we have no information as to the type of disability. She owned a car and needed it for her doctor’s visits. In addition, expensive medications had to be covered. Alfred Gutmann required nursing support. We do not have any details about his physical impairments either.
In addition, the couple employed a cook and a temporary helper on an hourly basis to support the household. They regularly gave presents to 20 people on the holidays, and the cook, Lina Urbat, received an extra salary.
In his function as a businessman, Alfred had made money available to other people from time to time, including to the Doktor der Naturwissenschaften für Philosophie ("doctor of natural sciences for philosophy), Oskar Isey. With the money he borrowed, Oskar Isey was able to buy a plot of land in Klein Flottbek. The repayment of these mortgages, too, could be deposited only to Alfred Gutmann’s blocked account with Deutsche Bank.
On 31 Jan. 1939, investigation proceedings were initiated against the Gutmann couple. They had been denounced: In the house, there was a safe-deposit box with savings books, cash, and jewelry. In addition, there were documents in the safe about an expired 1928 mortgage amounting to 60,000 RM, which Alfred had made available to State Councilor Dr. Emil Helfferich. Alfred Gutmann testified that the savings account books belonged to his wife.
The accusations against him proved to be unfounded in the preliminary investigation, which was discontinued on 18 Apr. 1939. The savings account books originated from the years 1925/1926, so it was impossible to pin any fraud on Alfred. Probably, the former authorized signatory Adolf Lüdders, whom Alfred Gutmann had dismissed in earlier times, had denounced his former boss. He had also sent him threatening letters on a regular basis.
On 25 Nov. 1940, Elisabeth Gutmann appointed her husband Alfred as sole heir to the house at Flottbeker Chaussee 16 in her will. The estimated value of the house and land was 40,000 RM. From 1941 to 1942, the couple lived at Hohenzollernring 8 in the house they had built themselves.
On 23 Apr. 1941, Elisabeth died in the evening hours in her house at Hohenzollernring 8 as a result of an air raid. Alfred bought for her a double grave, section 19 burial place I number 8-9, at the Altona cemetery on Stadionstrasse. Probably he, too, wanted to be buried there later. Elisabeth was buried on 26 Apr. 1941 in the newly acquired grave.
(In the 1970s, she was given a grave of honor among air-raid victims in the middle of the cemetery and was reburied there. To this day, the cemetery gardeners have been maintaining the grave.)
We do not know how badly the bombing damaged the house. Alfred continued to live there until his deportation.
In Nazi terminology, the Gutmann marriage was regarded as a "non-privileged mixed marriage” ("nichtprivilegierte Mischehe”). Jewish spouses who lived in one of these unions were not protected from deportation, but were deferred and then mostly deported to Theresienstadt. After the death of his wife, Alfred Gutmann, too, lost this fragile protection and had to reckon with deportation. The Jews destined for Theresienstadt were deferred until the summer of 1942, when transports to Theresienstadt began. In this scenario, well-to-do Jews had to conclude a "home purchase contract” ("Heimeinkaufsvertrag”) by which they made over their assets to the former Jewish Community, which was forced to transfer the funds to the Nazi state.
Shortly before his deportation, he transferred 30,830 RM for safekeeping to his friend, the fish smokehouse owner Detlef Frick, residing in Altona at Kleine Fischerstrasse 48-50. (Detlef Frick sent this amount to Alfred Gutmann’s heirs in July 1949.) Under the threat of expropriation, Alfred Gutmann sold the house to the consul Georg Rademacher.
The amount he had to pay according to the "home purchase contract” was 18,500 RM. The contract promised him free accommodation, food, and medical care in Theresienstadt.
The reality entailed overcrowded barracks, unheated dwellings, poor nutrition, and completely inadequate medical care. People had, if anything, a bed, a chair, and a closet. They were not granted any more.
Alfred Gutmann was deported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942 and, notwithstanding the "home purchase contract,” deported from there to Treblinka on 21 Sept. 1942 and murdered.
On 13 Oct. 1942, an auction of his furniture and household effects took place. The proceeds amounted to 272 RM for the silver and 22,177.50 RM for the rest of the household. The protocol noted that the auction was "voluntary.”
The fate of Alfred Gutmann’s relatives:
As mentioned earlier, Alfred Gutmann had three other siblings: Julia Weber was also deported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942, and, on the same transport as her brother, on 21 Sept. 1942 to Treblinka, where she was murdered. A Stolperstein is located at Isestrasse 21.
Brother Manfred and his wife Rosa, née Epstein, were deported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942, where Manfred Gutmann perished on 15 Aug. 1942, and his wife Rosa on 5 Mar. 1943. For them, Stolpersteine were laid at Jungfrauenthal 28. (See www.Stolpersteine-hamburg.de)
Another sister, Hedwig, fled to Scotland and died there after the war.
Brother Eugen Peter was found dead on 1 Nov. 1905 in Hamburg at Brahmsallee 6. He was buried at the non-Jewish Ohlsdorf cemetery in grave A.G.32 No. 67.
His parents Nathan and Cäcilie Gutmann and his brother-in-law Gustav Arthur Weber were buried in the grave next to Eugen Peter Gutmann.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: June 2020
© Bärbel Klein
Quellen: StaH 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 7; 8; 136-1_927; 213-13_4670; 213-13_4671;213-13_4672; 213-13_4673; 214-1_313; 353-2 II_312 Dr. Helfferich; 731-8_A 6758 Helfferich; 424-111_D c 1849; 424-13_2546; 424–111_5262; 332-3_A290_156/1869, 332-2_A292_56/1871; 332-2_A 295_282/1874; 332-5_527/1941; 332- 5_454/1905; 332-5_130/1907; 332-5_257/1932; 332-5_287/1942; 332-5_267/1926; 332-5_260/1931; 332-5_72/1908; 741-4_K6175; Korrespondenzakte, 2016, 188.8.131.52 //ITS Digital Archive, Bad Arolsen; Stadtteilarchiv Eidelstedt zur Geschichte der Pal(l)asch Werke eingesehen 7.9.2018; Hauptfriedhof Altona Grabstätte Gutmann; Kopie der Graburkunde vom Friedhof Ohlsdorf.
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