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Franziska Simon (née Marcus) * 1877
Lüneburger Straße 2 (Harburg, Harburg)
Franziska Simon, née Marcus, born on 20 May 1877 in Harburg, deported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942, murdered on 25 Aug. 1942
Lüneburger Strasse 2
Franziska Simon, née Marcus, was born as the third child of the married couple Julius and Rosa Marcus, née Hirsch, at a time when Harburg underwent rapid economic and population growth. Like many others, she too was born into a large family, which included the siblings Max (born on 20 July 1872), Hugo (born on 7 Dec. 1873), Laura (born on 4 July 1875), Siegfried (born on 28 Apr. 1880), Elsa (born on 20 Oct. 1883), and Richard (born on 17 Mar. 1893). Her sister Laura and her brother Richard were granted only short lives. Dying when still children, they were buried in the Jewish Cemetery on the Schwarzenberg.
The Marcus family was among the members of the small Harburg Synagogue Community. Their new place of worship at the intersection of Eissendorfer Strasse and Albersstrasse (today Knoopstrasse) was just 14 years old at the time of Franziska’s birth. While the City’s Jewish Community numbered only 175 members at the time, this figure doubled over the following 60 years, reaching 358 after all. Their proportion of Harburg’s total population was 0.5 percent in 1933.
When Julius Marcus died in 1925, his wife Rosa took on, with great commitment and remarkable success, the management of the "Harburger Bettenhaus,” a bedding company, which she also navigated unscathed through the tempests of the world economic crisis with support from her children. The name continued to stand for quality, and the company succeeded very well in maintaining its position on the market, despite strong competition and adverse basic conditions.
This changed dramatically when Hitler became Reich Chancellor in Jan. 1933. The "Betten- und Konfektionshaus Julius Marcus,” (bedding and ready-to-wear clothing), too, was affected by the "defensive boycott” (Abwehrboykott) across the German Reich, for which the Nazi party (NSDAP) had called. The Harburg city council and the Harburg district leadership of the Nazi party had willingly followed the call and ceased cooperation with Jewish business people, physicians, and lawyers effective immediately.
Although the "boycott” lasted only one day, it had long-term repercussions for many of those affected. The "Betten- und Konfektionshaus Julius Marcus” felt the mounting reserve of many previous customers and Rosa Marcus was forced to realize that the splendor of former heydays was irrevocably fading year after year. In 1938, the family had to sell their property.
Franziska Simon and her husband, Michaelis Simon (born on 10 May 1869), who had initially worked as a photographer and later became the owner of a small textiles firm, also lived only on their savings from 1935 onward, after others had taken over management of the company. This resulted in the two spouses and their daughter Hertha (born on 23 May 1901) having to give up, among other things, their spacious apartment at Grindelhof 77 and move into a smaller one at Eppendorfer Landstrasse 36. Whether they made any further plans, as their daughter did, toward relocating is not known. In light of the mounting threat, Hertha Simon decided to emigrate, eventually finding refuge in the USA.
Her parents did not stay in Eppendorf for long. After promulgation of the "Law on Tenancies with Jews” ("Gesetz über die Mietverhältnisse mit Juden”) on 30 Apr. 1939, the duplex at Kielortallee 22–24 became their new place to stay. This law permitted all house and apartment owners to hand their Jewish tenants termination of rental agreements without notice. "German national comrades” ("Volksgenossen”) were "not to be compelled to live together with Jews in one house.” Many landlords and landladies made extensive use of the possibilities the new law afforded. A new element was also the stipulation that Jews could be forced to take in other Jews as subtenants. The house into which Franziska and Michaelis Simon moved was in Jewish ownership. Originally, it belonged to the Oppenheimer Foundation, which in 1907–1909 built a residential home with rent-free or very low-rent apartments (Freiwohnungen) for needy members of the German-Israelitic Community as well as a synagogue. In the Nazi period, ownership of all Jewish residential homes was transferred to the "Reich Association of Jews in Germany” ("Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland”), before becoming subject to forced sales by law in 1942. When the housing shortage increasingly escalated immediately prior to the start of World War II and especially afterward, these residential homes had to accommodate an ever increasing number of persons looking for an apartment. Cramped together in confined space, often several families had to share one apartment. For each person, only 6 square meters (some 65 sq ft) of living space was allocated, and regardless of its size, every room had to be occupied with at least two persons. In Gestapo terminology, these residential homes were soon dubbed "Jews’ houses” ("Judenhäuser”) and starting in Mar. 1942, they were labeled with a "Jews’ star” ("Judenstern”). In this way, the occupants could not only be monitored more easily but they could also be reached more quickly and reliably. If the residents were scheduled for a deportation, this was announced by a notice put up in the staircase.
In this way, Franziska and Michaelis Simon as well as numerous other occupants of the house learned that they were scheduled for "resettlement” to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942. As announced, soon the trucks pulled up in front of Kielortallee, taking the "resettlers” directly to the assembly point in the elementary school at Schanzenstrasse 20. Upon arrival at the assembly point, their baggage was checked very meticulously. In addition, they had to produce a list of assets that was examined thoroughly. Based on the Eleventh Ordinance to the Reich Citizenship Law (11. Verordnung zum Reichsbürgergesetz), the assets of "Jews relocating their residence abroad” fell to the German Reich. The same applied to apartment furniture and fittings as well as their household effects. Subsequently, their belongings were publicly auctioned. The proceeds went to the Reich treasury.
All deportation trains of Hamburg Jews left the Hanseatic city from the abundantly remote Hannoversche Bahnhof train station in the harbor. Together with Franziska and Michaelis Simon, 924 other persons were "resettled” from Hamburg to Theresienstadt in mid-July 1942.
In 1941, the National Socialists had converted the old Austrian garrison town in Bohemia into a ghetto that was initially intended only for Czech Jews but eventually became a destination for deportation trains from Germany, too. In rapid succession, fully occupied trains from all parts of the German Reich and later from other areas of Western Europe arrived there.
The new arrivals were committed to the old military barracks and other quarters. Before the Second World War, 7,000 soldiers had lived in the city. In Sept. 1942, the number of people crowded into the buildings was 58,497. They slept in three-story bunk beds, set up in narrow rows throughout the old soldiers’ quarters and leaving no space for privacy. The sanitary conditions were antiquated and provisions were more than inadequate. Medical care was restricted to the bare necessities. Exhaustion, hunger, and oppressively confined conditions in each and every corner of the ghetto made for a suitable breeding ground for the development and spread of dangerous diseases. Older people in particular, whose immune defenses declined rapidly, were affected most severely. In light of these living conditions, Franziska Simon had practically no chance of survival. Six weeks after her arrival, she closed her eyes forever at the age of 65.
She was spared the fate of her husband, who left the ghetto five weeks later on a train that went to Treblinka in Poland. In the extermination camp by the same name located along the railroad line from Warsaw to Bialystok, his life ended.
Among the victims of the Holocaust were also Franziska Simon’s brothers Max Marcus, who was also deported from Hamburg to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942, Siegfried Marcus, who was taken with his sister-in-law Martha Markus from Hamburg to Lodz on 25 Oct. 1941, and Hugo Marcus, who was forced to leave the Hanseatic city on the Elbe River with his wife Gretchen 6 Dec. 1941 in the direction of Riga, as well as her sister Elsa Traub, forced on 30 Oct. 1941 in Cologne to board a train whose journey ended one day later in the Lodz Ghetto in the annexed "Reichsgau Wartheland” (Warthegau).
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: January 2019
© Klaus Möller
Quellen: Hamburger jüdische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, bearbeitet von Jürgen Sielemann unter Mitarbeit von Paul Flamme, Hamburg 1995, S. 221 f.; Gedenkbuch für die Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft, 4 Bände, Bundesarchiv Koblenz (Hrsg.), Koblenz 2006, S. 781; Yad Vashem, The Central Database of Shoa Victims´ Names: www.yadvashem.org; Theresienstädter Gedenkbuch. Die Opfer der Judentransporte aus Deutschland nach Theresienstadt 1942–1945, Prag 2000; Staatsarchiv Hamburg, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden, 992b; Staatsarchiv Hamburg, 430-5 Magistrat der Stadt Harburg-Wilhelmsburg; Harburger Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, Bezirksamt Harburg (Hrsg.), Harburg 2003; Barbara Günther, Margret Markert, Hans-Joachim Meyer, Klaus Möller, Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Harburg und Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg, Landeszentale für politische Bildung (Hrsg.), Hamburg 2012; Maria Koser/Sabine Brunotte, Stolpersteine in Hamburg-Eppendorf und Hamburg-Hoheluft-Ost, Landeszentale für politische Bildung (Hrsg.), Hamburg 2011; Eberhard Kändler/Gil Hüttenmeister, Der jüdische Friedhof Harburg, Hamburg 2004; Harburger Adressbücher; Mathias Heyl, Vielleicht steht die Synagoge noch. Jüdisches Leben in Harburg 1933–1945, Norderstedt 2009; Beate Meyer, Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden 1933–1945. Geschichte. Zeugnis. Erinnerung, Hamburg 2006; Linde Apel, In den Tod geschickt. Die Deportationen von Juden, Roma und Sinti aus Hamburg 1940–1945, Hamburg 2009; Wilhelm Mosel, Wegweiser zu ehemaligen jüdischen Stätten in Hamburg, Deutsch-Jüdische Gesellschaft Hamburg (Hrsg.) H. 2 und 3, Hamburg 1985; Barbara Müller-Wesemann (Hrsg.), Martha Glass, "Jeder Tag in Theresienstadt ist ein Geschenk". Die Theresienstädter Tagebücher einer Hamburger Jüdin, Hamburg 1996; Martin Friedenberger, Klaus-Dieter Gössel, Eberhard Schönknecht (Hrsg.), Die Reichsfinanzverwaltung im Nationalsozialismus, Bremen 2002; Karin Guth, Bornstraße 22. Ein Erinnerungsbuch, Hamburg 2001.