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Franz Max Rappolt * 1870
Leinpfad 58 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)
Franz Rappolt, born July 3,1870 in Hamburg, deported on July 15, 1942 to Theresienstadt, where he was murdered on November 25, 1943
Charlotte Rappolt, nee Ehrlich, born in Breslau, on January 14, 1878, committed suicide on March 6, 1941
The Jewish businessman Joseph (Isaac)Rappolt (1807–1873) became a resident of Friedberg, a town in Hessen, in 1837 upon showing proof of a capital of 4000 guilders. In 1837/38 he moved his company J.L. Rappolt (fruit, oil seeds and flour) to Friedberg. His sons Jofey (Joseph) and Luj (Louis) and daughter Berta were born in Bruchenbruecken, a town close to Friedberg. The younger son Louis Rappolt (1837–1913) took over his father’s business. At the end of 1861 and with asum of 5000 guilders, the older son Joseph Rappolt (1835–1907) left Friedberg, which at that time had 4100 inhabitants, and moved to the large city of Hamburg with a population of 320,000.
The following year Joseph Rappoltacquired citizenship in Hamburg, which until 1860 had required being Lutheran. That same year, he established the business of Oppenheim & Rappolt together with Julius Oppenheim (born Sept. 27, 1828 in Echte/Harz, married to Emilie Wolfers from Minden and citizen of Hamburg since 1854). The business in this Hanseatic city manufactured raincoats and men’s clothing. A year later he married Louise Hertz (1839–1911), who was born in Breslau and was the daughter of a salesman HinrichHerz and Ernestine, nee Schlesinger. They had five sons, the fourth of whom, Franz Rappolt, was born in 1870 in the apartment of the Neuer Wall 69. Like his 6-year-older brother, Arthur Rappolt (1864–1918), he probably had a private tutor before attending high school. He went abroad for several months to Spain (1888/89) and Italy (1891/92) before serving for his one year of voluntary military servicewith the Hanseatic Infantry-Regiment 76 starting in November 1892. After a commercial apprenticeship, Franz joined the firm of Oppenheim & Rappolt, where his brother Arthur Rappolt had been employed since 1885 (from 1889on as authorized signatory). A studio photograph of 1877 shows Joseph, with Kaiser-Wilhelm sideburns,surrounded by his sons Paul and Arthur wearing suits,Ernst and Franz in sailor uniforms, and Otto in children’s clothes. With the pride of a citizen and businessman, it is as if he wanted to record the beginning of a successful family enterprise. His wife Louise and daughter Helene (born Dec. 28, 1865)are not pictured. The photograph was taken by Emilie Bierber (1810–1884), one of the first professional women photographers in Germany, who had already established a studio of her own in Hamburg by 1852. 1877, the year the photograph was taken, was also the year that the eight members of the Rappolt family moved from the Hamburg district of St.Georg to the suburb of Rotherbaum,where private developers were adding a well-to-do neighborhood to the city.
The Rappolt family lived at the following addresses: Rathausstrasse 9/Altstadt (1863–1866), Neuer Wall 69/Neustadt (1867–1871), Kirchenallee 26/St. Georg (1872–1874), Holzdamm 19/St Georg (1875–1876), where the business partner Julius Oppenheim also lived from 1870 to 1880 at number 55, Bundesstrasse 18/Rotherbaum (1877–1885) Magdalenenstrasse 35/Rotherbaum (1886–1901) and Mittelweg 143/Rotherbaum (from 1901).
When the co-owner, Julius Oppenheim (1828–1895), left the business at the end of 1892, Joseph’s older sons, Paul and Arthur Rappolt, joined the management team of the firm, known as of January 1897 as Rappolt & Söhne. From 1899 to 1903, Franz Rappolt headed theBerlin branch of the business located at Kurstrasse 38. He lived at Charlottenstrasse22 in Berlin Mitte. In October 1899, he married Charlotte Ehrlich in her hometown of Breslau. Franz Rappolt’s mother also came from Breslau. With his bride, he moved to Keithstrasse 3 in the Tiergarten district of Berlin.
Charlotte ("Lotte”) Ehrlich came from a merchant family (parents: Eugen Ehrlich and Wanda, nee Cohn). Her father was a co-founder of the manufacturing and export firm, "Fabrik und Exportfirma für Metall-, Eisen- und Stahlwaren Herz & Ehrlich,”[Herz & Ehrlich Factory and Export Company for Metal, Iron, and Steel Products] established in Breslau in 1846. Franz and Charlotte Rappolt’s first child, Fritz, was born in Berlin (Aug. 22, 1900). In autumn 1903 Franz Rappolt was transferred to the main office in Hamburg and in January 1904 he became a general partner of the company. His younger brother Otto took over the management of Rappolt&Söhne’s Berlin branchand became an executive member of the entire company in January 1904.
In Hamburg Franz and Charlotte Rappolt lived at Johnsallee 69 III (Rotherbaum) for four years, and this is where their sons Heinz (born 1 Nov. 1903) and Ernst (born 25 Oct. 1905) were born. All three sons were baptized together on July 12, 1906 at St. Catherine’s Church. It can be assumed that the Rappolt family had left the Jewish faithand become Lutherans by this time. Just two days before the christening, Franz Rappolt’s father, Joseph Rappolt, had acquired a large burial plot in the OhsldorfCemetary. The prestigious family grave, built by the architect Alfred Martin (born 1835) in 1907, had room for him and 13 more family members. In 1907 The Hamburg Correspondentbriefly reported the death of the head of the family: "The senior manager of a highly respected company has died. Mr. Joseph Rappolt died in Nice on the 28th of February. He was 72 years old.”His death in Nice indicates that he may have been on vacation to escape wintry Hamburg.
In 1908 the family of five moved into a ground floor apartment at nearby Rothenbaumchaussee 34, where they lived until 1915. This was already a "good” Hamburg address, but the family circumstances improved even more. In 1914 Franz Rappolt purchased a parcel of land at Leinpfad58 from Theodor Ritter, a co-owner of the Woermann-Linie, who had recently acquired it himself in March 1913 from the "Alster Dampfschiffahrt-Gesellschaft m.b.H." for the construction of a harbor.
The residence, for which Franz Rappolt commissioned Hamburg architect Carl Gustav Bensel (1878–1949), was built 1914/15. Benselhad designed the facades of several office buildings on Mönckebergstrasse. In September of 1915, the Hamburg Feuerkasse [fire insurance] estimated the value of the new residence at 137,000 Marks. The 14-room house had five bedrooms and was tastefully furnished with works of art (including carpets, oil paintings, a baroque cupboard, a velvet corner sofa, and a Biedermeier desk).Which works of art reflected the taste of Franz Rappolt andwhich that of his wife, and whether any of them were inherited or received as gifts is not known. What is documented is an oil painting by Philipp Hackertof 1794, two paintings by the Hamburg Impressionist Thomas Herbst (1848–1915), who also gave the Warburg daughters drawing lessons, and another oil painting by a French Impressionist (possibly Maurice Utrillo). Other art pieces in the house included a sketch by Eugene Spyro, a society painter born in Breslau (1874–1972) and a reproduction of a Greek bronze statue of Hermes, Greek god of commerce and merchants. Twelve chairs with leather upholstery were placed around the large expandable table in the dining room. There was a Steinway piano and Charlotte Rappolt owned a valuableantique violin. The sons played violin, cello, and piano. Friends like Carl Rocamora (born 1890) were regularly invited to join in the chamber music, playing four-handed piano pieces, for instance, with Charlotte Rappolt. A picture of Goethe hung on the wallin the master study. From his four trips (including to America and Asia in 1906/7, to Austria in 1915, and a three-month trip to the USA in 1929), Franz brought home mementos which did not always please his wife – they were then stashed away in a cupboard.
Two maids and a cook looked after the household, and a chauffeur, his father’s former coachman, drove Franz Rappolt in a Mercedes to the firm’s headquarters in Mönckebergstrasse. In 1918, the oldest son Fritz graduated from the Kirchenpauer-Realgymnasium in Hamm andsubsequently went into military training. The middle son Heinz attended the Heinrich-Hertz-Realgymnasium,then completed a commercial apprenticeship at Klöpper (a wool trading company located at Mönckebergstr. 3, today Kaufhof) and worked for hat manufacturing companies from 1924 to 1926 in Friedrichsort (Rousselet), Alessandria/Italy (Borsalino), andBredbury, Stockport/England (Joseph Ward Ltd.). The youngest son Ernst attended the nearby "Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums" in Winterhude from 1914 to 1923, earning his university-entrance diploma in September 1923. He then studied law at the Universities of Freiburg/Breisgau, Munich, and Hamburg. The sons were confirmed in the St Johannis Church (Harvestehude) in 1915, 1918, and 1920.
The older Rappolts returned to the Jewish faith in the 1920s: as of 1925 Franz Rappolt is listed as a member of Hamburg’s "Deutsch IsraelitischeGemeinde”; his brother Otto joined two years later, and in 1929 his brother Paul followed.
In 1891 the firm of Oppenheim & Rappolt set up offices and manufacturing space on the first, third, and fourth floorsof a new building at Admiralitätstrasse 71/72 ("Admiralitätshof"). However, the expanding firm soon outgrew these quarters. In 1911 Rappolt & Söhne commissioned the construction of new headquarters at Mönckebergstrasse 11–13 in downtown Hamburg; the firm took up occupancy there in July 1912. "Rappolt-Haus," as it was called, was a prestigious brick building designed by the architect Fritz Höger. The bay windows above both main entrances and the four small gables, clad with "deep reddish blue sintered ”bricks and travertine limestone, related to the historical architecture of North Germany. Inside, however, modern information and transport systems were installed: intra-office pneumatic post, telephones with colored light and sound signals, electronic signals for coffee breaks, five stairwells, five freightelevators, three paternoster lifts, one freight elevator, and one elevator clad in mahogany. Ventilation systems with suction shafts, several hundred electric sewing machines and garbage chutes, sorted by material, were incorporated in the production facilities. Employees had access to a cafeteria and several fountains, with water drawn from thecompany’s own, 180-meter deep well. The firm occupied the 4th to the 6th floors (around 3,500 sq.m./37,600 sq.ft.) until 1939, manufacturing high-end English style men’s coats and raincoats, and conducted wholesale trade in men’s fashion. Fabrics were purchased from a number of places, including Hirschland& Co. in London. The 1910 handbook of Listed Companies in Hamburg ("Hamburger Börsenfirmen") describes the product range as including "menswear, raincoats, underwear, shirts, umbrellas, traveling rugs, etc.” Franz Rappoltbecame a co-owner of the company in 1904 and took over the finances. The oldest brother and co-owner Paul Rappolt (Rondeel 37) was responsible for the weaving patterns and fabrics. The third co-owner of the family business was the second oldest brother Arthur Rappolt (Rondeel 33).
The Rappolts had close business ties with the MM Warburg & Co. Bank (Hamburg), especially with Dr. Fritz Warburg (1879-1964), and also with Privatbank Simon Hirschland (Essen and Hamburg), where they had friendly dealings with the owners of Gebr. Hirschfeld (see the biography of Benno Hirschfeld) and the Robinsohn fashion house, where Franz’s daughter-in-law Hedwig Rappolt, nee Auerbach, would later do fashion drawings for advertisements and brochures. The firm also had business contacts in Neumünster/Holste with C. Sager Söhne& Co., a main supplier of coats, and in Aachen with the textile embroidering company Auerbach. Furthermore, the Rappolts had friendly contact with Richter Felix Gorden (1863–1939) and his wife Elisabeth Gordennee Wolfers (1879–1941?), with the textile merchant Hugo Wolfers (1873–1941?) and his wife Olga Wolfers nee Oppenheimer (1885–1941?), with Herbert Kauffmann (1889–1943?) and Lilly Kauffmann nee Schönfeld (1893–1944?), with Ernst Haas (1883–1944?), May Ledermann nee Luria (1895–1944?), and ElsbetGötz (1901–1944?).
Franz Rappolt’stastefully furnished officeoccupied one of the upper floors, just underneath the production workshops and cutting tables. The employees addressed him as "Herr Franz.” A large portrait, painted in oil by Walter Georgi in 1923, symbolized his pride in the business, and most likely hung in a private office or the conference room. Earlier, in 1912, a bust of his father had been installed on a tall mahogany pedestal on the third floor. Contemporaries described Franz Rappolt as an imposing and dignified businessman. On the occasion of his 70th birthday his son Ernst, exiled in the USA, wrote: "…you know how much I have always admired your achievements and dignity, andyou will always be the only role model for me. ”It was not by chance that he chose to bring the portrait of his father along with him when he emigrated to the USA in 1938.
Franz Rappolt never belonged to a political organization. Unlike the sons of his older brother Arthur, Franz Rappolt never joined the exclusive North German Regatta Society. In 1921 and 1922, he presided over commercial disputes as an honorary judge, as did Paul Mecklenburg (see thebiography of Louise Hess, nee Mecklenburg) and Richard Löwenthal. Hissuccess as an important businessman and citizen of Hamburg is demonstrated not least by the fact that, at the end of 1926, he was invited to join the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce and was appointed to the "Zulassungsstelle für Wertpapiere zum Börsenhandel" (License Authority for Share Trading on the Stock Exchange). In 1929 he became one of the five members of the Court of the Hamburg Stock Exchange. Shortly before the National Socialists rose to power, Franz Rappolt, then over 60 years old, could proudly look upon a large family, a flourishing business, personal prosperity and a fine reputation.
A few years later his entire life’s work began crumbling piece by piece: In 1933 he was barred fromthe Hamburg Chamber of Commerce.It is not surprising that Carl Ludwig Nottebohm, who had been demoted to deputy chairman, wrote to him personally, expressing his regret at his departure. A similar letter was probably sent to all of the 16 non-Aryan members of the chamber who were expelled. Rappolt & Söhne was also subjected to pressure from other fronts. The anti-Semitic propaganda in Germany and calls from abroad to boycott German firms led to a decline in sales.
Franz Rappolt’s nephews Hans (b. 1899) and Walter Rappolt (b. 1898), both sons of Arthur Rappolt and co-owners of the firm, emigrated in 1935 and 1936 respectively to Great Britain. Rappolt & Söhne owned part of the company Rasco Ltd. (Nottingham), which specialized in the rubberizing of coats. The two youngest of Franz Rappolt’s sons also left Germany: Dr. jur. Ernst Rappolt, lawyer and in-house counsel for Rappolt & Söhne, whose license to practice was annulled on April 26, 1933, traveled in May 1938 to the USA. The second son, the businessman Heinz Rappolt, who was one of the managers at Rappolt & Söhne from 1932 and co-owner from 1934, emigrated in October 1938 to England. He was able to travel because he obtained an entry permit at the request of an English businessman Joseph E. Ward, for whom he was going to work as a traveling hat salesman. Franz Rappolt’s eldest son Fritz Rappolt (see separate entry) was not in a positionto leave Germany due to his psychological condition. Another company partner, Erich Rappolt (born 1902), the son of Paul Rappolt, emigrated to Great Britain in January 1939.
In 1936 the NS stateintroduced decisive legal measures to restrict businesses and force the sales of companies classified as "Jewish.” In May and June 1936, Franz and his son Ernst wrote letters and personally visited the highest-ranking employee at the Reich’s Ministry of Economics in Berlin, arguing on economic grounds to protest the discrimination against their company.
During an audit commissioned by the Currency Office in May 1938, Franz Rappolt stated to Behrens, an auditor, his views on his future in National Socialist Germany, which the auditor duly noted in his file: "He himself – Franz Rappolt – is aged 68 and wants to live out his life in Germany. Although there are no specific intentions to emigrate at the moment, the younger members of the family Rappolt are all willing to leave Germany as soon as the opportunity for a livelihood presents itself."
Three months later the Foreign Currency Board of the Head of Finances (OFP) froze all of Franz Rappolt’s real estate, bank accounts, and security deposits with an"order of protection”; Franz Rappolt could now no longer control his own assetswithout approval by governmental authorities. After Kristallnacht in 1938 the NS stateimposed a "Jewish Wealth Tax” to be paid in five installments. This sum amounted to 104,000 Reichsmark for Franz Rappolt, and had to be paid between May and November of 1939. Further state-sanctioned robbery of similar dimensions followed. The villa on the Leinpfad had to be sold for 48,000 RM in the beginning of February 1939, at a loss of 32,000 RM based on the last official assessment. ANorwegian businessman Niels Haagensen (born 1880, since 1933 member of the NSDAP, since 1934 member of the fascist Nasjonalsamling Oslo) bought the property. Franz Rappolt moved tothe second floor of Haynstrasse 10 (Eppendorf) on July 26, 1939, shortly after the former tenant Gertrud Rosenblum (born 1877) had emigrated to the USA joining her daughter and son-in-law there. He brought a large portion of the household goods from Leinpfadto the 5-room apartment, including the Steinway grand piano. In May of 1939 Franz Rappolt sold an oil painting by Philipp Hackertto the art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt for 700 RM, who in turn sold itone year later for 1200 RM to the Karl Haberstock Gallery in Berlin, whose owner was also the head of purchasing for the "Führermuseum" in Linz, a project planned by the Reich.
The senior head of the firm, Franz Rappolt (born 1870) and his brother, Paul Rappolt (born 1863), who left the firm on December 31, 1936, remained in Hamburg, as did many other Jews of their generation. In 1938 the National Socialist State forced them to sell their company. The purchasers profited greatly. Walter Hanssen, Gottfried Dubelman and Wilhelm Köppen (ERES Kommanditgesellschaft Hanssen, Dubelman & Köppen) saw their annual income quintuple in the coming years. The Aryanizers fired the Jewish employees, for example Leo Gerson (born Feb. 1893), a sales representative, who died on February 23, 1942 after spending 2½ years in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and Ernst Friedemannfrom the South American Export division, who managed to emigrate in time. Franz Rappolt wrote to his son about one of the employees in January of 1941: "Miss B from the textile departmentis gone."A sentence so concise yet whose meaning was no doubt clear to the reader.
The office buildings on the Mönckebergstrassewere sold in May 1937 (Rappolt-Haus 2) and February 1939 (Rappolt-Haus 1) to an investment group of well-known Hamburg bankers and realtors (Joachim von Schinckel, Freiherr Johann Rudolph von Schröder, Edmund von Österreich, Alwin Münchmeyer, Oskar Hertz) for 60% of the market value. On March 31, 1940 Franz Rappoltmoved out of his office for good,until which timehe had presided over the "Rappolt Management Company in Liquidation," established specifically for the orderly transition and liquidation of the family business. "It is hard for him, but he doesn’t talk about it,” his wife Charlotte wrote to her son Ernst in the USA about his departure from the company that he had managed for 34 years.
The family was not spared any of the other measures taken against the Jews. From January 1, 1939 Franz Rappolt was forced to bear the first name "Israel” and use it each time he signed his name. From July 19, 1940 on Franz Rappolt, as was the case withother Jews, was no longer permitted to have a telephone. It became more difficult to maintain contact with friends who visited him to play skat, bridge, chess or just to chat. Already in September 1939 an 8 PM curfew was in place for Jews. After they were banned from concerts and opera performances, the role of the gramophone in the Rappolt home grew, as he stated in a letter. The circle of friends remained largely intact but it was only possible to meet at private dwellings. The friends who came to play bridge included William Henriques (1859–1941) and his sister Agnes Henriques (1861–1942), Mr. Frankfurter, Margot Haurwitzand Anna Kallmes, nee Goldschmidt (1883–1942).One of the chess partners was Paul Salomon (1865–1941) from St. Benediktstrasse 29. When his brother Otto was visiting from Berlin, he also joined in, playing Solitaire ("the old people’s game" as Franz Rappoltdescribed it). On Sundaymornings there was music for a small audience in the home of Fritz Warburg, who, having emigrated, put his home at the disposal of the Jewish community for the benefit of both listeners and musicians. Starting in September 1941 Franz Rappolt was required to wear the Jewish Star or "Judenstern” in clear sight. Five years later, a family friend stated in a letter: "I still remember the day when he first had to wear the yellow Jewish Star, [I] shuddered at the thought of how he would bear this new challenge. Whereas others were not seen on the street for days or weeks, he took the tram into the city the following morning, with his head held high, attending to his errands and laughing at my fears. ‘I don’t need to beashamed, the others should be ashamed!’" But with the institution of the Jewish Star, contact on the street came almost to a standstill. When Franz Rappolt met his former apprentice in the street and exchanged a few words with him, he held his briefcase tightly against his chest so that the star was not visible. Even the most harmless conversation was dangerous for both parties: Jews didn’t dare hide the star and Aryans didn’t dare be seen asfriendly with Jews. A Reich Security Head Office Circularof October 24, 1941 stipulated "protective custody,” in other words, transfer to a concentration camp in such cases. A long-time employee recalled thathe once greeted Franz Rappolton the Jungfernstieg. Franz Rappolt thanked him, responding: "My dear child you have courage – may God protect you.”
Franz Rappolt now took on voluntary tasks within the Jewish community, which had been subject to central government control as a "Jewish religious association" since July 1939. As of January 1941, he was responsible for the former Jewish girls' home and orphanage Paulinenstift (Laufgraben 37) and also for nursing homes, where he had to implement unpopular cost-cutting measures. "It's a kind of auditing function that I like very much," is how he described his work in a letter. In this role, he worked with the former judge of the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court Walter Rudolphi (1880–1944), who was on the board of the so-called Jewish Religious Association as head of welfare and health care.
Franz was long reluctant to apply for emigrationbecause he was an optimistic and patient person and because he was the one taking care of the family members who had stayed behind. His wife, son Fritz as well as his brothers Paul and Ernst required either psychological or physical support. After his application to emigrate to England was rejected, Franz’s son Ernst Rappolt, who had already emigrated to the USA, attempted to arrange for his father’s departure to North America from 1940 on. However, quotas, convoluted red tape and financial hurdles ($ 2000 security deposit) together with constantly delayed ship departures made emigration to the USA increasingly unlikely. In December 1940, son Fritz Rappolt wrote to his brother Ernst who had emigrated to the United States: "All I can say is that the 'Old Man' (Franz Rappolt) is marvelouslyvibrant, lively and productive. However, Uncle Paul's death had a great impact on Father (...) It was touching how Father took care of 'Teddy' (Paul Rappolt) and 'Tütchen' (Johanna Rappolt) this past year, and he continues to be an amazing man. (...) Father particularly enjoyed the time when Uncle Otto (Rappolt) was here. "
HAPAG [Hamburg America Line], which had previously granted Franz Rappoltpassage to Lisbon on September 12, 1941, revoked this authorization in mid-June 1941. As of August 1941, Cuba increasingly appeared as an alternative in the correspondence between father and son. According to his information, visas to Cuba would becomeavailable within four to six weeks. Franz Rappolt then intended to travel a year later to his son in the United States. In one of the letters, Franz Rappolt, theoretically a well-to-do man, mentioned that he would need $ 2,800 (about 8,500 Reichsmark) for a one-year stay in Cuba, which was not an option given his financially dire situation. At the end of August 1941, Franz Rappolt received the news that the Cuban Consulate would close on September 5, 1941. The earliest possible date to obtain a Cuban visa was now January 1942.
Uruguay,where lower financial guarantees were required, presented new hope at the end of August 1941, but applicants had to wait four to five months for a visa. In the meantime, Ernst Rappolt in the US and Franz Rappoltin Hamburg both kept trying to obtain visas for both Cuba and Uruguay, since the issuance of a visa remained uncertain in both countries.
The local MM Warburg Bank confirmed on August 26, 1941, the transfer of "150,000 RM for Franz Rappolt at the Sperrmarkkurs [fixed rate for the RM] via the German Golddiskontbank, Berlin. The foreign exchange proceeds are required to obtain the visa for Uruguay and to cover legal fees in connection with procuring the visa ... ". Franz Rappolt also prepared for the departure: "I am now brushing up on Spanish instead of English." His sister-in-law Johanna Rappolt also started taking Spanish lessons with a teacher. And even the son Fritz learned Spanish, hoping for a visa for Columbia – however,he had noprospects of emigrating there because he was under guardianship.
Despite the paralyzing uncertainty and the grueling waiting, Franz Rappolt tried to remainoptimistic. From September 10, 1941 on, Franz Rappolt handled the extensive emigration formalities with the Hamburg Foreign Exchange Office through his attorney Morris Samson (1878–1959), now acting as a "consultant". Fritz Scharlach (1898–1943) of the export agency Scharlach & Co. took care of the "hand, luggage and cargo list" of Franz Rappolt and applied for an official packing permit. After examination by the bailiff Richard Fuhrmann (born 1891, member of the NSDAP since May 1, 1933) from the Hamburg Foreign Exchange Office F 4, permission to pack and export to Uruguay was granted on October 31, 1941. Paul Tentler (1871–1958), a lawyer from Hamburg who had emigrated to Montevideo, took care of the formalities there. In November 1941 he waited day after day for the Cuban embassy in Berlin to deliver the visa for which he had applied. His son Ernstdid what he couldfrom the USA and in Germany Franz Rappolt called the deputy of Fritz Scharlach in Berlin daily. However, the order of the Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler of October 23, 1941 blocked further emigration and sabotaged the emigration efforts. The planned steamship departure for Cuba on November 4th was postponed indefinitely.
The last letter from Ernst Rappolt from the USA at the end of November 1941 reveals some of the many obstacles that now confronted Franz Rappolt's emigration: "Meanwhile, I have set all levers in motion and all I have managed to learn is that the wire transfer from here to Cuba took 10 days (why, no one knows) and that the Cuban authorities are overburdened ... Despite several telegrams and telephone conversations, we have not been able to do anything to speed things up. ... I am very desperate about this delay, when I had thought we had gotten so far. I deeply admire your calmness and confidence.”
Shortly thereafter, Nazi Germany declared war on the United States (December 11, 1941), and in the weeks that followed it suppressed telegram, telephone and mail traffic with the United States, Cuba and other Central American states. Even the attempts to establish contact with the International Red Cross were unsuccessful. The possibility of escape from Germany was irrevocably blocked.
On November 8, 1941, Franz Rappolt's eldest son Fritz had to board the train to the Minsk ghetto. In an attempt to obtain relief for him, Franz Rappolttelephoned a Berlin couple who worked in the administration and military hospital there. However, the Nazi extermination machine did not spare him. Fritz Rappolt, who was among the helpers of the German Jewish elder Edgar Franck in the ghetto, was shot along with the other helpers on April 13, 1942, after they had attempted to smuggle letters out of the ghetto.
For Franz Rappolt, the rapid social decline also meant increasing isolation and the loss of family members and friends. On December 4, 1940, his brother Paul died after his third stroke. Only a few months later, on March 6, 1941, his wife Charlotte committed suicide. She had been psychologically unstable for several years and could no longer endure the growing anti-Semitic pressure. She was found unconscious from a Veronal pill poisoning; Dr. Berthold Hannes was summoned. He admitted her to the Jewish Hospital in Johnsallee 68, where she died. On October 25, 1941, the younger brother Otto Rappolt took his own life in Berlin. Franz's brother Ernst Moritz Rappolt, a general practitioner (born May 12, 1868), took his life on April 9, 1942 by injecting sedativesafter he had received orders to move to a so-called "Jew’s House." A few weeks earlier, on March 13, 1942 he had already been compelled to mark his own home with the paper Star of David byorder of Heydrich, head of the Sicherheitspolizei [Security Police] and Sicherheitsdienst [Security Service]. He was found unconscious and taken by ambulance to the Israelite Hospital (Johnsallee 68), where he died. Franz Rappolt explained that the order to move to an old person’s home had been "extremely painful" for his brother. This order also affected him: "I received the same summons from the Hamburg State Police. We were given the option to move into a room together in the old people's home in Hamburg Benekestr. 6 (...) We were here last on Sunday, April 5, 1942 and talked about the details of the move."
Ernst Moritz Rappoltmade his brother Franz his heir. Jews over the age of 65 – like Franz Rappolt, who was now 71 years old – were deferred from being deported until the Theresienstadt ghetto was able to receive them starting in the summer of 1942. In preparation for his upcoming deportation, Franz Rappolt was relocated tothe old person’s home on April 15, 1942. In anticipation of the promised visa his furniture from Haynstrasse 10, a five-room apartment where he had lived since the spring of 1939, and from the one room he rented as of November 25, 1941 from Sophie Schwarz, nee Verschleisser (born November 26, 1877 in Hamburg, deported July 19, 1942 to Theresienstadt), as well as garments, oil paintings and probably the Steinway piano had most likely already been packed and stored on November 21, 1941 for his departure to South America. It is unknown what happened to these belongings, which were usually stored at the freeport in "Liftvans." Maybe they went up in flames after an air raid or were stolen; at any rate, an auction of the household items could not be found in the relevant Gestapo files. The list of items contained in the overseas transport crates was missing from Franz Rappolt's emigration file.
On July 15, 1942, Franz Rappolt andhis sister-in-law, Johanna Rappolt, nee Oppenheim, were deported to Theresienstadt with "Transport VI/1." He died there on November 25, 1943. Others friends and acquaintances of theirs who were also deported on July 15, 1942 included: Gerda Adler-Rudolphinee Schönfeld, her husband Dr. Walter Rudolphi (see above) and her parents Felix Schönfeld (1869–1942) and Anni Schönfeldnee Falk (1875–1943), the physician Friedrich Glaser (1888–1944?) and his wife Olga Glaser nee Fränkel (1892–1943) as well as Ernst Alsberg (1879–1944), who was co-owner of Alsberg& Katz from Schönfeld & Wolfers (see biography of Hugo Wolfer) from 1911 to 1919 and his wife Gertrud Alsberg, neeFeiss (see above).
In September 1945, Franz’s nephew Erich Rappolt (born 1902) returned to liberated Hamburg as "British Intelligence Corps Sergeant Eric Rigby." In his new homeland England he wrote: "Never in my life have I felt so thrilled, excited, sad and satisfied as this short spell in Germany. What a difference between January 29, 1939 when I left Germany and now Sept. 1945, … What a tragedy that so many of our dear ones did not live to see the day of justice.”
In 1965 a street in the new urban area of Hamburg-Lohbrügge was named Rappoltweg after Franz Rappolt. It was probably in the 1980s that "Rappolt-Haus 1” was applied in gilded Gothic lettering to the refurbished wrought-iron gate at the entrance of the building at Mönckebergstrasse 11. In April 2007, stumbling stones were laid for Charlotte and Franz Rappolt and their son Fritz Rappolt at Leinpfad 58. In addition, a stumbling stone commemorates Franz Rappolt at Mönckebergstrasse 11, the former headquarters of the family business.
Stumbling stones commemorate Dr. Ernst M. Rappolt (Rissener Landstrasse 24) and Otto Rappolt (Grottenstrasse 25) in Hamburg-Altona. A stumbling stone was laid at Rondeel 37 in Winterhude for Johanna Rappolt, nee Oppenheim, sister-in-law of Franz Rappolt.
The unmarried cousin Vally Guttmann (born Dec. 14, 1874 in Berlin), probably a daughter of Berta, nee Rappolt (born May 20, 1832 in Bruchenbrücken) was deported from Berlin to theTheresienstadt ghetto on July 23, 1942, and to the Treblinka extermination camp on September 21, 1942.
Translation: Dr. Stephen Pallavicini, Catherine Schelbert, Elizabeth MacFadyen
Stand: September 2019
© Björn Eggert
Quellen: Staatsarchiv Hamburg (StaH) 111-1 (Senat), 16235 = Cl I Lit. T Nr. 12 Vol. 14 Fasc. 17 (marineärztliche Untersuchung von Franz Rappolt in Barcelona, Mai 1889); StaH 131-6 (Staatsamt), Nr. 106 (Ausschluß von Juden … aus Wirtschaftsverbänden, Arisierung, …), Schreiben der Firma Rappolt & Söhne an das Reichs- u. Preuß. Wirtschaftsministerium (22.5.1936); StaH 231-3 (Handelsregister), A 7 Band 22 (Prokuristenprotokoll, P 5733, Moritz Gottheil, 1870); StaH 231-3 (Handelsregister), A 7 Band 30 (Prokuristenprotokoll, P 7592, Wilhelm Wolfers, 1879–1888); StaH 231-3 (Handelsregister), A 7 Band 42 (Prokuristenprotokoll, P 10437 Benno Jacobsohn 1889, P 10438 Paul Rappolt 1889–1891, P 10439 Arthur Rappolt 1889–1891); StaH 231-7 (Amtsgericht Hamburg, Handels- u. Genossenschaftsregister), A1 Band 186 (HR A 41580, Rappolt & Söhne 1938–1940); StaH 241-2 (Justizverwaltung, Personalakten), Nr. A 1404 (Dr. Ernst Rappolt); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), FVg 8866 (Franz Rappolt); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident); F 1978 (Dr. Ernst Rappolt); StaH 314-15 (Oberfinanzpräsident), F 1980 (Heinz Rappolt); StaH 331-5 (Polizeibehörde – unnatürliche Sterbefälle), 3 Akte 1941, Nr. 364 (Charlotte Rappolt); StaH 331-5 (Polizeibehörde – unnatürliche Sterbefälle), 3 Akte 1941, Nr. 552 (Dr. med. Ernst Rappolt); StaH 332-3 (Zivilstandsaufsicht), A Nr. 92 (4124/1870, Geburt von Franz Rappolt); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 6812 u. 407/1895 (Sterberegister 1895, Julius Oppenheim); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8007 u. 522/1911 (Sterberegister 1911, Louise Rappolt geb. Herz); StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), A 24 Band 58 (Reisepassprotokolle 1888/89, Nr. 1007 Franz Rappolt); StaH 332-8, A 24 Band 62 (1891, Nr. 258 Franz Rappolt); StaH 332-8, A 24 Band 63 (1892, Nr. 300 Franz Rappolt); StaH 332-8, A 24 Band 95 (1906, Nr. 1169 Franz Rappolt); StaH 332-8, A 24 Band 316 (1924, Nr. 20704 Franz Rappolt, Nr. 20714 Charlotte Rappolt); StaH 332-8 (Meldewesen), K 2353 u. 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