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V.l.n.r.: Siegfried, Claus, Hannelore und Elise Josephs
V.l.n.r.: Siegfried, Claus, Hannelore und Elise Josephs
© Stadtmuseum Oldenburg, Bildarchiv, KV 57 (Sammlung Friederichsen)

Claus Josephs * 1925

Rothenbaumchaussee 217 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)

JG. 1925

further stumbling stones in Rothenbaumchaussee 217:
Dr. Albert Dreifuss, Bernhard Wolf Josephs, Caroline Josephs, Emma Josephs, Siegfried Josephs, Elise Josephs, Ida Koopmann, Anna Polak, Henny Silberberg, Mary Sternberg, Albertine Vyth, Julius Wohl

Elise (Lisbeth) Josephs, née Josephs, widowed name Stein, born on 11 Aug. 1887 in Jever, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, deported further on 6 Oct. 1944 to Auschwitz
Siegfried Josephs, born on 5 Nov. 1885 in Jever, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, deported further on 6 Oct. 1944 to Auschwitz
Joachim (Claus) Josephs, born on 21 Jan. 1925 in Oldenburg, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, deported further on 29 Sept. 1944 to Auschwitz

Rothenbaumchaussee 217

The grandchildren living in Chile, Israel, and the USA never got to know their grandparents Elise and Siegfried and their uncle Claus. "Though not in detail, all of us always knew that our grandparents and our uncle were murdered by the Germans,” state the grandchildren.

Elise Josephs was born on 11 Aug. 1887 in Jever as the older daughter of Joseph C. Josephs (1857–1919) and his wife Rosa (Röschen) Wolf Josephs, née Josephs (1861–1906). Her siblings were Henny (1888–1944; see, Louis (1891–1916 in France), and Helene (Leni) (1893–1942 in Auschwitz); they were born in Jever as well. After the mother had passed away, Joseph C. Josephs married Paula, née Josephs (1872–1923), 15 years his junior and a cousin of the deceased. The marriage remained childless.

When Elise reached the age of majority, she married the livestock dealer Levy Moses Stein (1866 in Emden–1914) on 15 Jan. 1908. Their two sons Karl-Heinz (1910–1997 in Los Angeles/USA) and Herbert (1912–1942 in Palestine) were born in Emden. Two years later, the husband and father died of cardiac arrest, which meant Elise, aged 27, was left to fend for herself and the two small children. She took on the challenge and continued operating the livestock trade. After passage of the year of mourning, she married her uncle, Siegfried Josephs.

Siegfried Josephs, the youngest of 14 siblings, was born on 5 Nov. 1885 in Jever as the son of Henriette J. Josephs, née Wolffs, (1840 in Aurich–1919 in Jever) and Wolff C. Josephs (1833–1911). His oldest sister Rosa was the mother of Elise Josephs. Siegfried Josephs worked as a merchant and livestock dealer. In the First World War, he served as a soldier and returned from the front with a serious injury (shot to the ear). For this, he was awarded the Friedrich-August Medal Second Class. This medal, endowed by Grand Duke Friedrich-August of Oldenburg, weathered the horrors and terrors of Nazi rule intact and is now in the possession of his granddaughter Esther de Beer in Israel.

Elise Stein and Siegfried Josephs got married on 29 Oct. 1918. "In those days, it was not unusual for an uncle to marry his niece,” according to grandson Gideon Schmuel de Beer. Moreover, Elise was well-to-do owing to the inherited livestock trade, whereas Siegfried had returned from the war in relative destitution. After the wedding, the couple lived in Oldenburg. Soon, children arrived, daughter Hannelore "Püppi” (1920–2008 in Israel) was born, her favorite brother Claus on 21 Jan. 1925. Siegfried now continued to operate the livestock trade successfully for the districts of Friesland and East Friesland. He was deemed a much-respected dealer in his trade. During the world economic crisis, the Josephs had to "tighten their belts” as well. Until then, they had lived in a good residential area in "grandiose style,” as we learned from an interview with Hannelore in 2001. The family employed a maid, a cook, as well as a nanny for the two children. On top of that, they already owned a car even in those days and the stables necessary for the livestock trade.

Increasingly, anti-Semitic "slogans” could be heard in Oldenburg. As early as the May 1932 regional Landtag elections, the National Socialist Workers’ Party (NSDAP) won the absolute majority. After 30 Jan. 1933, for the first time the swastika flag fluttered in front of a ministry building. In Mar. 1933, quite a few members of the Oldenburg City Council joined the NSDAP. The "Jews boycott day,” 1 Apr. 1933, did not hit the Josephs family directly since they did not own a retail store. However, Hannelore Josephs later recalled "that the Nazis stood in front of the stores of Wertheimer and Landsberg.” Her father was not worried yet, saying, "I belong to the Reich League of Jewish Frontline Soldiers [Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten]. Nothing will happen to me.” However, with passage of the Nuremberg laws [on race] in 1935, the climate for Jews became worse. Thus, Hannelore Josephs left school as early as 1935 due to harassment or, respectively, she was actually kicked out. By way of example, she described the following scene: According to her, singing "Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss ...” ["Auburn is the hazel nut…,” a German folk song popular in the Nazi era], the students walked back into the classroom. The supervising teacher pulled her by the hair, saying, "You Jew girl, what are you doing, singing along here?” and threw her out of the class. In response, her father had complained to the principal. The principal, a Social Democrat, had reacted helplessly: "These are the times,” advising him to "Take the child out of school before she starts to suffer.” Siegfried Josephs decided that Hannelore ought to go to Berlin, where her brother Karl-Heinz lived with his wife Ruth, née Altman, to whom he had been married since 15 Dec. 1935. He helped her get a job as a children’s nurse. However, both families where she had successively found a position emigrated. Her brother and his family, too, emigrated to Britain (later they lived in the USA). Thus, Hannelore joined the Hechalutz Movement that prepared young Jewish men and women for life in Palestine, operating (hachshara) centers for this purpose. During the training in activities relating to agriculture, the crafts, and home economics, she frequently returned to her family in Oldenburg. The training center was closed in 1938.

After having worked in the Netherlands for two and a half years, Hannelore’s older brother Herbert returned to Oldenburg in Dec. 1935. Shortly after his return, he left Oldenburg for Palestine as he organized a livestock transport there. According to information by the family, he reportedly continued to manage the livestock trading business there.

Several "Jewish” businesspeople had to sell their enterprises to "German” owners by Sept. 1936. The farmers in Jever and environs did not wish to do business with Jews anymore, saying "mit de Jöden handeln wi nich” (Frisian dialect meaning, "we do not trade with the Jews.”). The Jewish livestock dealers based in Oldenburg were no longer allowed to work either, being forced as early as 1936/1937 to surrender their commercial licenses, since they were deemed "not trustworthy.” During this time, the Josephs family lived on Oldenburg’s Ziegelhofstrasse, no longer in such a good residential neighborhood. In July 1938, they changed for a few months to reside in the house of the horse dealer Iwan Lazarus located in a street named Nedderend. He emigrated to South America with his family at the end of 1938. As of 30 Sept. 1938, Siegfried Josephs deregistered his business.

In the night of 9 to 10 Nov. 1938, the synagogue in Oldenburg was set on fire. That night, the Nazis arrested more than 30 Jewish men, including Regional Rabbi (Landesrabbiner) Leo Trepp, and Siegfried Josephs. Together they were escorted by SA guards past the burning synagogue to prison, where they were taken into "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”) and transported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Thanks to a medical certificate issued by her husband’s attending physician, Schmeling, Elise Josephs managed Siegfried’s release from Sachsenhausen. At this time, Hannelore Josephs was staying with her family for a few days. The events were probably the final impetus for her emigration to Sweden. There, she also had the opportunity via the Hechalutz to complete her training. In June 1939, she visited Oldenburg for the last time and then travelled by train and ferry to southern Sweden, where she completed her training after two years. In May 1941, she set out on her journey to Palestine overland through Finland, the Soviet Union, Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon, arriving in Palestine that same month.

The dramatic events prompted a rethinking among the family. "As was the custom, we went to the synagogue on major holidays,” recalled Hannelore Josephs, but "after the bar mitzvah of my brother Claus, for boys after the age of 13, our household began becoming kosher.”

The family moved once again to Grüne Strasse, into the house of the widow Henni Silberberg (see, where they were accommodated until Mar. 1940. There was a small ray of sunshine though: In 1940, Elise and Siegfried Josephs became grandparents: Roni, the daughter of Herbert Stein, was born in Palestine. However, the young father of the child, Elise Josephs’ son from her first marriage, died already two years later. By that time, however, contact to Palestine had already been interrupted due to the war. The Josephs family fled from Oldenburg to Hamburg, where Elise’s sister Henny lived with her husband, Julius Schwabe. They found accommodation in the retirement home at Rothenbaumchaussee 217, a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) of the Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband), as the Jewish Community was forced to call itself since 1939. They were employed as caretakers there. A few weeks later, they reunited there with Henni Silberberg from Oldenburg. Henni Silberberg was deported to Theresienstadt on 15 July 1942 as well, and she died there on 10 Aug. 1942.

Having arrived in Hamburg, Claus Josephs started agricultural training in Blankenese. He too probably wished to live in Palestine, but that did not happen. In June 1941, the Josephs opened a bank account with a bank located at Klosterstern 1 and informed the foreign currency office of this. As a result, they received a letter from this office demanding that they disclose their financial circumstances. The statement showed that as a caretaker couple they received a gross salary of 190 RM (reichsmark) plus free room and board. With all day-to-day expenses deducted, including the training and boarding costs for their son Claus, they had 15 RM a month left. Added to this was a war disablement pension for Siegfried Josephs amounting to 25 RM. Consequently, the foreign currency office did not issue a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”).
In the meantime, Henny Schwabe, Elise’s sister, lived two houses away on Rothenbaumchaussee. However, being so close lasted only a short time, as she was relocated to the "Jews’ house” at Beneckestrasse 6 in Apr. 1942. A few weeks later, in June 1942, Claus Josephs had to undergo an eye operation, whose cost of 200 RM his aunt covered, after she had received permission to do so by the Chief Finance Administrator (Oberfinanzpräsident) on 30 June 1942.

With the transport on 15 July 1942, whose assembly point was the school at Schanzenstrasse/Altonaer Strasse, the Gestapo deported Elise, Siegfried, and Claus Josephs, as well as Henny Schwabe (see biographies at to Theresienstadt. After more than two years, the family was separated. Claus Josephs had to board the "Labor Transport El” ("Arbeitstransport El”) to Auschwitz as early as 29 Sept. 1944. One week later, on 6 Oct. 1944, his family followed on the "Relatives’ Transport Eo” ("Angehörigentransport Eo”). The family was murdered at a time unknown, likely though soon after their arrival.

In mid-August 1944, at a point when the Josephs family eked out a miserable existence in Theresienstadt under inconceivable circumstances, Hannelore Josephs wrote a letter to the chair of the Jewish Religious Organization, Max Plaut, who had been allowed to depart for Palestine, asking him for further details about her family. We do not know the answer. Hannelore tried everything, submitting to the appropriate authorities in Palestine two applications for entry permits for her family and aunt Henny a few days later. The permits were issued on 15 Oct. and 27 Oct. 1944, respectively. This is documented by files of the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, which the family made available to us.

At the time, Hannelore Josephs completed her military service in the British Army. Near Haifa, she met her future husband, Wilhelm Oscar de Beer (1914–1993 in Israel), a native East Frisian from Emden. He too did his military service in the British Army. After both had been discharged from service, they married in Kfar Saba on 19 Nov. 1947. Their three children were born in Palestine and Israel, respectively: Chanan Joseph Zabar (in 1948), Esther (in 1951), and Gideon Schmuel (in 1956). At the age of nearly 79, Wilhelm de Beer passed away on 17 Apr. 1993.

Hannelore’s older brother Karl-Heinz (born in 1910) and his wife Ruth became the parents of Herbert (in 1945), as well as Joan and Robert (in 1951). Karl-Heinz Stein died in Los Angeles in 1997. All of the children live in California. Herbert Stein’s daughter Roni, married name Kaplan, lives in Israel. In memory of her brother Claus, Hannelore de Beer submitted the Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem in May 2001.

Antje Naujoks, a native of Jever, emigrated to Israel in the early 1990s. In Aug. 2001, she conducted a detailed interview with Hannelore de Beer, which the family made available to us. Hannelore de Beer passed away on 5 Jan. 2008, only a few months before her eighty-eighth birthday.

On 10 Nov. 2013, a memorial wall was dedicated in Oldenburg, listing victims by name. The former Oldenburg citizens Elise, Siegfried, and Claus Josephs were not forgotten.

We would like to extend sincere thanks to the de Beer, Stein, and Kaplan families for cooperating toward this biography; they supported us with valuable clues and details.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: April 2018
© Sonja Zoder

Quellen: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 7; 8; StaH 314-15 OFP Oberfinanzpräsident R 1941-122 und R 1939-358; Schulamit Meixner: ohnegrund, Wien 2012; Die Geschichte der Oldenburger Juden und ihre Vernichtung, Band 4, Oldenburg 1988, S.90f., 100,110,113 und 114; Stadtmuseum Oldenburg, Bildarchiv, KV 57 (Sammlung Friederichsen) per Mail Andreas von Seggern am 10.10.2014; Interview Hannelore de Beer und Antje Naujoks vom 11.8.2001; Wilhelm Mosel: Wegweiser zu ehemaligen jüdischen Stätten in den Stadtteilen Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum (I) Heft 2, Hamburg 1985 und Rotherbaum (II) Heft 3, Hamburg 1989; URL: am 4.10.2014; am 4.10.2014; am 9.11.2014; am 16.3.2015; am 23.3.2015; am 29.3.2015; am 22.4.2015; am 23.4.2015;
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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