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Eduard Hertz * 1870
Hochallee 29-31 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Eduard Hertz, born on 28 Mar. 1870 in Ostenfelde in the District of Warendorf (Westphalia), deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, death there on 27 May 1943
Alice Hertz, née Steinberg, born on 27 Sept. 1882 in Leipzig, widow of the late Mr. Ullmann, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, deported further on 15 May 1944 to Auschwitz
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the two Jewish families of Elsberg and Hertz lived in the Westphalian town of Ostenfelde. Around the year 1856, Rosalie Elsberg married the butcher and small grocer Joseph Hertz. She gave birth to at least ten children, seven daughters and the three sons Louis, born in 1866, as well as Eduard and Eugen. Following tradition, the oldest son took over his father’s business and stayed in his hometown. Eduard, born on 28 Mar. 1870, moved away, though maintaining contact with his family, amongst whom he, a successful merchant, celebrated the eightieth birthday of his mother Rosalie in 1919. On the family photo, he stands at the center directly behind her.
The first 44 years of Eduard Hertz’s life remain largely in the dark to us. It was impossible to establish when he came to Hamburg. He must have been successful as a merchant, for in 1914, he acquired a 25-percent share as a partner in the "Hansa-Lichtwerke GmbH,” whose electric transformer stations supplied the three Barkhöfe and the Südsee-Haus buildings in the Hamburg office quarter with electricity, and he also shared the general management jointly with the Lokstedt merchant Hugo Gerson. The company headquarters were located at Steckelhörn 11 in Hamburg-Altstadt.
Five years later, on 26 May 1919, Eduard Hertz had his own enterprise, the "Kraftwagen Handels- und Betriebsgesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung” ("Motor vehicle trading and operating company Inc.”), entered in the company register. He contributed 25,000 RM (reichsmark) in equity share capital and served as nominal general manager, though increasingly leaving the management up to a partner. As an authorized signatory he appointed Else Riechert, the accountant from the "Hansa-Lichtwerke GmbH,” subsequently also his wife Alice Hertz. The company register indicated, "Subject of the enterprise is 1. the rental of trucks and passenger cars, as well as the operation of workshops and 2. the purchase and sale of automobiles, accessories, and items from related branches of this industry, as well as other items of the technical and machine industry.” In addition to trading primarily in electric cars, the company was comprised of a large-scale garage with adjoining car repair shop, as the ad in the 1924 classified directory shows, and it operated gas stations as well.
Probably in 1919, Arthur Hertz (the oldest son of Louis Hertz and thus Eduard’s nephew) moved from Münster to Hamburg to continue his medical studies. After completing his degree program, he got his first job at Barmbek Hospital in 1924, becoming a renowned heart specialist there.
Only in 1920 can Eduard Hertz be pinpointed in Hamburg at his own address. For brief periods in each instance, he lived at Hallerstrasse 11 and Brahmsallee 18, and from 1922 onward at Bornstrasse 5. On 24 Mar. 1924, he married the widow Alice Ullmann, 12 years his junior. She had been born as Alice Steinberg in Leipzig on 27 Sept. 1882. Her first husband, David Ullmann, and she had been married in Dec. 1901 while still in Leipzig, then moving to the Netherlands. Their two daughters were also born there: Ilse on 24 May 1903 in s’Gravenhage and Claire on 17 Oct. 1904 in The Hague. Whether the couple separated in 1912 or moved to Berlin together could not be established with certainty. In 1913, the Ullmann family moved into a six-bedroom apartment in a new building on Reichsstrasse in Berlin, for which Alice had modern furniture made from the Wiener Werkstätte (the artistic "Vienna Workshop”). David Ullmann died in the Dutch city of Arnhem in 1919.
Upon getting married, Alice and Eduard Hertz moved into a spacious apartment at Hochallee 29, which Alice furnished with her Berlin furniture. Starting at that point, the head of the household, Eduard Hertz, was listed as a member of the German-Israelitic Community, paying considerable communal taxes from then onward. Around 1931, he purchased the property on Armgartstrasse 4 in Hohenfelde featuring a representative, multistory redbrick building, where probably the following year he and his wife moved into a four-bedroom apartment overlooking Schwanenwik Bay [on the Outer Alster].
Alice Ullmann’s daughters were already adults. Ilse became a correspondent and married the Berlin lawyer Erich Franz Levy; Claire studied art history in Hamburg with Erwin Panofsky, completing her studies with a Ph.D. thesis in 1930 on Die Geschichte der ersten Menschen in der Kunst des 1. bis 13. Jahrhunderts ("The history of the first human beings in the art of the first to the thirteenth century”). At the art history department at the time, legendary up to our day and still located in the Kunsthalle, instructors also included Fritz Saxl and Ernst Cassierer, as well as Aby Warburg, and a close cooperation existed with the latter’s private Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek ["Library of Cultural Sciences,” the beginnings of the collection now at the Warburg Institute in London]. As early as 1926, Claire had married the dentist Dr. Heinz Lachmann, born on 21 Sept. 1902 in Eschwege, and as a wedding present, she received [her mother Alice’s] breakfast room furnishings from Berlin. On 30 Mar. 1932, their son was born.
In 1930, the "Hansa-Lichtwerke” were sold to the Hamburgische Elektrizitätswerke (HEW). Following this, Else Riechert changed to the Kraftwagenhandels- und -betriebs-GmbH, also as an accountant. In this company, she uncovered embezzlements by the managing partner to date, upon which Eduard Hertz took over the former partner’s interests, managing the enterprise himself from then on. He succeeded in paying off the debts, without the problems leaking to the public. The major company revenues came from a long-term contract with the Hermann Tietz Department Store on Jungfernstieg. For a fixed per-kilometer rate, the Kraftwagenhandels- und -betriebs-GmbH made vehicles and chauffeurs available for making deliveries to customers.
On top of that, Eduard Hertz represented the car manufacturer Paige featuring its luxury limousines, the US company Continental Motors, and the HaWa (Hannoversche Waggonfabrik) with its small electric cars. For this purpose, he had furnished a showroom at Grosse Bleichen 8–10. Added to the revenues from his business was major investment income from bonds as well as rental income. Apart from the property on Armgartstrasse, he owned two apartment houses in Eimsbüttel at Bundesstrasse 14 and at Bundesweg 5–7.
Until 1933, Alice and Eduard Hertz lived carefree in upper middle-class circumstances. Every year, they went on one or two vacation trips – usually abroad and often in their own car, a Ford Convertible – to which they would invite along Ilse with her family.
Initial incisive changes occurred in 1933, the dismissal of Eduard Hertz’ nephew Arthur as a physician and the occupational ban for Ilse’s husband Erich Levy as a lawyer in Berlin. As a result, Ilse and Erich Levy emigrated that same year to Palestine. Eduard Hertz lost two representations of car companies, and the boycott of Jewish businesses also resulted in the revenues of the Kraftwagenhandels- und -betriebs-GmbH declining. Nevertheless or because of this, Eduard Hertz continued to invest in his company.
In 1934, Arthur Hertz emigrated to the USA. Claire’s husband emigrated to Palestine in Jan. 1934, she and their son followed to join him in June 1934. Soon after their arrival, all three successively fell ill with malaria tropica, the most severe form of malaria. Subsequent inflammations of the middle ear impaired Claire’s hearing permanently.
At that time, there was still the opportunity for the Hertz parents to visit their children in Palestine. For the first time in the spring of 1935, Alice Hertz traveled to stay with them for three months; in Mar. 1936, Eduard Hertz went, and in 1937 again his wife, to see them in Palestine. Conversely, Ilse Levy accepted her parents’ invitation to meet up with them in Marienbad in the summer of 1936.
In the meantime, the Aryanization of the Hermann Tietz Department Store progressed, which was called "Alsterhaus” from 1936 on. As of 1 Jan. 1938, it cancelled the contract with the Kraftwagenhandels- und -betriebs-GmbH. Thus, the Hertz couple lost their major revenues. Nevertheless, in the summer of 1938, Alice and Eduard Hertz and their daughter Ilse met up in Northern Italy to spend two months there together.
At a conference taking place in Evian on Lake Geneva at the same time, representatives of 32 countries consulted about immigration quotas and places of refuge for Jewish refugees from the German Reich, without, however, agreeing on any facilitation of immigration; Ilse Levy perhaps learned enough about this conference to beseech her mother to come with her to Palestine. However, Alice Hertz returned to Hamburg with her husband. He still hesitated to emigrate. That changed only with the November Pogrom of 1938, even though he was not affected personally. As a Jewish entrepreneur though, he was forced to sell the Kraftwagenhandels- und -betriebs-GmbH below value and with concurrent deletion of the company name. Thus, his active business life ended.
From then on, Eduard and Alice Hertz earned their living by selling assets. The proceeds from the compulsory sales of the properties at Armgartstrasse 4 in Hohenfelde – to the National Conservative Poppenbüttel-based farmer, large landowner, and subsequent member of the [post-war] Hamburg City Parliament from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Otto Henneberg – and Bundesstrasse 14 as well as Bundesweg 5–7 were calculated against the respective mortgages of the properties and compulsory payments to be made. What remained was a sum with which Eduard Hertz planned to build up a coffee business in Palestine in the future. His wife owned a small fortune from which she paid the "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”) imposed on her.
On 10 Mar. 1939, the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) issued a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) for the entire assets of the Hertz couple. These assets were drastically reduced by, among other things, the forced exchange of valuable stocks in return for Reich Treasury Bills (Reichsschatzanweisungen), the confiscation of bonds, as well as the handing in of precious metal goods and jewelry toward the "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”). So far, Alice and Eduard Hertz still lived as tenants in their apartment on Armgartstrasse. They were granted a monthly allowance of 1,500 RM at their free disposal. While the "reordering” of his assets took place, Eduard Hertz initiated the emigration to Palestine; his older brother Louis and his wife Mimi fled to the Netherlands.
By that time, Eduard and Alice Hertz also attempted to leave Germany as soon as possible. Eduard Hertz commissioned his non-Jewish tax consultant, Franz Jäger, with implementing preparations for emigration. In Apr. 1939, the latter submitted to the Chief Finance Administrator all of the documentation required for issuing the tax clearance certificate (Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung) toward emigration to Palestine. They also included a list of paintings, carpets, bronze and porcelain figures. On the order of the tax investigation department, they were estimated by the Heumann art gallery and deemed "– from a cultural perspective – as not being of such exceptional significance” as to "constitute a loss to German cultural heritage if transported abroad.”
When inspecting the designated moving goods, the customs secretary prohibited the export of several items, unless Eduard Hertz paid a duty of 6,834 RM to the Gold Discount Bank ("Dego-Abgabe”). It was comprised of a 100-percent duty on necessary purchases and a 500-percent duty on non-essential purchases such as bicycles, fridge, washing machine, and vacuum cleaner. The inspector raised no objections against any of the other items, since in his view they were old and used: These were large parts of the apartment furnishings.
Problems arose regarding the handing over of precious metal items and jewelry. Legally, part of them belonged to the daughters already living in Palestine. They were heirlooms of their father, with Netherlands’ hallmarks and an engraved U, which they had given to their mother on loan. Eduard Hertz was granted permission to export them. To what extent they ever reached the daughters is unclear because during transport one of the parcels went missing in Genoa.
That same month, the Chief Finance Administrator authorized the costs for passage and the shipping expenses for the moving goods. The goods were shipped, but the departure of Alice and Eduard Hertz dragged on due to the immigration restriction passed by the government of the British Mandate of Palestine. Ilse Levy organized her parents’ emigration through the London-based "Refugee Committee.”
In Aug. 1939, all of the papers were at hand, and the required amount of security had been deposited, when the Second World War started. Nonetheless, the couple moved to the guesthouse Zahm, located at An der Alster 1, in expectation of imminent emigration, and both prepared by taking language courses, with Alice Hertz also enrolling in a sewing course.
At this point, Eduard Hertz once again had to submit a declaration of assets. The amount at their free disposal to cover monthly living expenses was set at about 500 RM. For any extras – ranging from a pair of gloves for a former employee to the train tickets for trips to celebrate the birthday of Eduard Hertz’s unmarried sister Johanna in Münster, and the funeral of his sister Rosalie Horn in Jülich, or toward paying taxes for his sisters – Eduard submitted separate applications, nearly all of which were approved. The amount not claimed for the passage to Haifa was credited to the blocked account.
The Hertz couple made efforts to arrange for emigration to Shanghai – possibly as an intermediate stop to reach Honduras – and they even received the required tax clearance certificate on 12 Dec. 1940. The reasons for why this undertaking failed are not known.
Some of the applications dating from the years 1941 and 1942 reveal the social decline of this previously renowned Hamburg merchant. When he and his wife moved into a guesthouse at Oberfelderstrasse 42 on 3 May 1941, he, being used to the convenience of central heating, applied for money to purchase a stove, and one month later, his wife Alice needed 60 RM for a used sewing machine.
Toward the end of 1941, they learned that Laura Heumann, one of Eduard Hertz’s sisters, had been deported from Münster to Riga. After that, they lost contact to her.
On 1 Mar. 1942, the Hertz couple moved into an unfurnished apartment again, 1.5 rooms with a kitchen at Grindelallee 134. They were allowed to take the funds required for furnishings from their assets, and the same applied to the small purchases connected to their next move to the "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Kielortallee 22. There Alice and Eduard Hertz lived only for a brief time. Eduard was more than 70 years old, Alice more than 60 years, and both still had assets, so they were forced to prepare for relocation to the "ghetto for the elderly” ("Altersgetto”) in Theresienstadt. They (like many other people over 65) were led to believe that this was a "home purchase” ("Heimeinkauf”) that required them to surrender their remaining assets of approx. 30,000 RM. The illusion was nurtured even further by the fact that they were permitted to take along quite a few suitcases.
On 15 July 1942, they were transported along with more than 900 other Hamburg citizens to Theresienstadt. The never saw any of their suitcases again. Probably, they encountered one last time Eduard Hertz’s sister Johanna from Münster who arrived in Theresienstadt 14 days after them. Nearly 80 years old, she was deported further to the Treblinka extermination camp as early as two months after that. The siblings did not learn anymore about the fact that their brother Louis was arrested in Rotterdam in Aug. 1942 and murdered in Auschwitz on 11 Dec. 1942. He had fallen into the hands of the SS during a street raid and had been taken to the Westerbork transit camp. His relatives were not tracked down in their hideout, but his wife Mimi died due to the nervous strain in 1943.
Because of malnutrition, insufficient hygiene, and probably faltering will to life, Eduard Hertz died at the age of 73 ten months after his arrival in Theresienstadt on 27 May 1943. Alice Hertz survived for another year and on 15 Apr. 1944 was deported to Auschwitz, where she was almost certainly "selected” for killing immediately upon arrival.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2016
© Hildegard Thevs/Frauke Steinhäuser
Quellen: 1; 2; 4; 5; 7; 8; 9; StaH 231-7 Handelsregister; StaH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident R 1939/728; StaH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident R 1939/2379; StaH 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident F 996; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 1676; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 6140; StaH 552-1 Jüd. Gemeinden 992 e 2 Bd. 4 Transport nach Theresienstadt am 15. Juli 1942; Hamburger Adressbücher; Kunsthistorisches Seminar der Universität Hamburg, Erstsemestergruppe 1980/81, Chronik des Kunsthistorischen Seminars der Universität Hamburg 1919–1949, Hamburg, 1981; Walter Tillmann, Geflüchtet Verschollen Ermordet. Das Schicksal der jüdischen Familie Hertz aus Ostenfelde, Warendorf 1999; Melanie Wassink, Als das Auto nach Hamburg kam, in: Hamburger Abendblatt, 29./30.1.2011, S. 9.
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