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Marie Fraenkel (née Deutsch) * 1861
Braamkamp 38 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)
Marie Fraenkel, née Deutsch, born 23 May 1861 in Neustadt in Upper Silesia, deported 24 Mar. 1943 to Theresienstadt, died there 12 Oct. 1943
"Frau Professor Fraenkel"
Marie Deutsch was born in Neustadt in Upper Silesia to the Jewish couple Wilhelm Deutsch and his wife Johanna, née Haase. Her husband, Eugen Fraenkel (1853-1925), who was also Jewish, was also born there. They married in October 1880 and moved to Hamburg. Professor Eugen Fraenkel worked as a bacteriologist and pathologist at the St. Georg and Eppendorf hospitals and was one of the most renowned physicians of his time. He isolated Clostridium perfringens (known in Germany as the Welch-Fraenkel bacillus), a bacteria that is the leading cause of gas gangrene, and was the first to prove that the cholera pathogen was responsible for the epidemic that swept Hamburg in 1892.
Marie and Eugen Fraenkel had three children: Max (7 Jan. 1882-21 Mar. 1938, physician, house doctor at the Hamburg Opera, committed suicide in despair over the anti-Semitic persecution, see "Stolpersteine in Wandsbek mit den Walddörfern”), Margarete (married name Kuttner, 28 May 1884-1944, murdered in Auschwitz), and Hans (12 June 1888-27 July 1971, journalist).
Around 1930, Marie Fraenkel, as a well-to-do elderly lady, was living in a house on Alsterglacis. One of her household servants was Elsa, the sister of the Low German author Clara Kramer-Freudenthal. Clara dedicated an essay to "Frau Professor,” in which the familiarity between the Kramer family from the Altes Land and the Jewish lady is evident, although the class distinction is upheld:
"Frau Fraenkel and my sister Else visited us when the cherry trees were in blossom, and again when we harvested the cherries. Our mother always cooked a good meal when she came, but never with pork. For dessert there was Rote Grütze (a typical northern German dessert, a kind of fruit porridge made with red summer berries or cherries). … We children were always excited when Frau Fraenkel came to visit. She always brought us a treat.”
Sometime around 1930, Clara Kramer, who was at the time about 11 years old, was invited to spend a week at Frau Fraenkel’s house:
"How fine everything was! I had a lovely week in Hamburg. Frau Fraenkel took me with her when she went shopping. I didn’t have to share my chocolate or candy with anyone. Everything was just for me! The nice lady showed me the Alster with its pretty sailboats and Hagenbeck’s with all of the animals. I’ve never forgotten this wonderful week.”
It was soon after this visit that Marie Fraenkel gave up the big house on Alsterglacis and moved to a smaller, newly-built apartment in the Senator-Erich-Soltow Trust on Braamkamp 38. Frieda Bräuninger also was a resident in the Trust, and stayed in contact with Marie throughout the years of persecution up until she was deported.
The Nazi era changed the life of the elderly lady dramatically. In order to protect her from the persecution and ostracism, Marie’s son Max, whose "mixed” marriage was considered "privileged,” tried to have her come live with him and his family in Volksdorf, but the authorities refused to let her. In 1941 her pension was reduced by a "social compensation levy” decreed by the National Socialists. Then on 30 April 1942 she was evicted from her apartment on Braamkamp and forced to move to a "Jews’ house,” the Kurzer Kamp Jewish home for the elderly. One month later she was again forced to move to another "Jews’ house” at Beneckestraße 2.
Clara Kramer recalled that Marie Fraenkel continued to visit her family in the first years of the Nazi dictatorship. "She kept glancing furtively around, and we knew why. The persecution of Jews was in full swing.” She finally stopped visiting.
In the summer of 1942, she once again took heart and went on an outing to the Altes Land. Clara, who had taken her small son to pick vegetables from the garden, discovered her on the dike. "How surprised I was! There sat Frau Fraenkel with her granddaughters on the outer dike. ‘But Frau Fraenkel, why don’t you come in? Mama will be so happy to see you,’ I said with joy. But Frau Fraenkel shook her head, with a look in her eyes like an animal that had been shot. She answered, ‘No, Clara, I know you mean well, but I don’t want to put you in danger. But I would be grateful if you could bring us a few cherries.’ ‘Mama won’t hear of it, please come with me,’ I said. Frau Fraenkel turned up the collar of her coat and pointed to the yellow Star of David with ‘Jew’ on it and shook her head again, with tears in her eyes.”
Clara’s mother was also unable to convince Marie Fraenkel and her granddaughters to come to the house for coffee. So she brought the coffee, raspberry juice and buttered zwieback to the ‘pariahs’ on the dike. "So we sat together on the outer dike. We all had lumps in our throats. Frau Fraenkel used to tell such wonderful stories, but now, no, it was so difficult to carry on a conversation. … I had run to pick some cherries, and I fixed a small basket and brought them a full bowl to eat right away. The two girls dug in, but Frau Fraenkel was too upset to eat.”
The Kramer family never saw Marie Fraenkel again. When Clara Kramer-Freudenthal’s book was published, one of Marie’s granddaughters, Ilse Jochimsen, got in touch with the author and they exchanged reminiscenses.
On 19 March 1943, Marie Fraenkel wrote the letter below to her daughter-in-law Lotte, Max’s widow and Ilse’s mother. After she had received her deportation notification, there was time for one last visit to her daughter-in-law’s house in Volksdorf. While she was there she attempted to take her life with an overdose of sleeping pills, but her relatives hindered her. Thus the nearly 82-year-old woman was deported from Hamburg to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 24 March 1943.
The Kramer family received one last postcard: "Mother received a postcard from Theresienstadt. Frau Fraenkel wrote that they had to wash fully naked with cold water outside in the snow and ice. The cold disturbed her less than the shame. We still don’t know how she was able to smuggle the postcard out of the camp.” (Mail directly to and from Theresienstadt was only possible after 1943. Before that everything went through the censor’s office in Berlin. See Meyer, Beate: Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933-1945, Hamburg, 2007, p. 72).
Marie Fraenkel died on 12 October 1943 in Theresienstadt.
Letter from Marie Fraenkel to her daughter-in-law Lotte Fraenkel (Max Fraenkel’s widow) from the day before she was deported to Theresienstadt:
Hamburg, 19 March 43
My dearest Lottchen!
The police physician only asked my age, felt my pulse and said "You’re still quite fit!” That means I’ll be taken away on the next transport. He also felt Frau Strauß’ pulse and said "We’ll leave her here.”
The matron who was there had to write T or H on our papers, that means approved for transport [transportfähig] or invalid [hinfällig]. They won’t tell me anything, but I know the verdict. I don’t know if I’ll see you again, but I want to thank you for all of your love and kindness. I hope that your children reward you for it. I don’t yet know who will accompany me, but they will not be able to assuage my sorrow. I am not composed, but numb, and it will be very difficult. The deaf-mute is celebrating, because he can stay here and eat large pots full of food, as he is miming. The two Frau Schülers haven’t been examined yet, so they don’t know if they’ll be able to stay, let alone if we can stay together.
I’ll give this dreary letter to the first person I meet who can put it in a mailbox. Don’t be angry with me that it is so dry, and try to translate it into something warmer for yourself and the others.
Celebrate Ilse’s birthday as best you can, maybe I can contribute something via Dr. Müller, and you can get her something she has wished for. It was so wonderful when one could choose a gift as one wanted – our memories are the best things we have left. On the 21st, the day of Mackel’s* death, I’ll be thinking of him.
Farewell my dear child. I’ll keep you in my dearest thoughts.
Your old, very very silly
*Her son Max Fraenkel. 21 March 1943 was the fifth anniversary of his death.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Ulrike Sparr
Quellen: 1; 4; 7; 8; http://www.sassisch.net/rhahn/kramer/fraenkel-history.html (eingesehen 28.12.06); AB 1931 (Bd. 2); AB 1938 (Bd. 1); AB 1941 (Bd. 2); AfW 230561; Ludolf Brauer, Herrn Professor Dr. Eugen Fraenkel zum Gedächtnis (Referatenbriefe der Wiss. Abteilung P. Beiersdorf Nr. 20 ); Clara Kramer-Freudenthal, Ollanner Vertelln. Stade, 1994, S. 30ff; Auskünfte von Prof. Jochen Fraenkel, Juni 2007; schriftl. Auskunft von Paul Kuttner, Januar 2007, Auskunft von Ursula Pietsch, April 2008; Brief Marie Fraenkels: Privatbesitz.