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Harriet Peyser (née Heimann) * 1878
Brahmsallee 25 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Harriet Peyser, née Helmann, born 7 Dec. 1878 in Wandsbek, deported 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga-Jungfernhof
Harriet Peyser was born on 7 December 1878 in Wandsbek (which at that time belonged to Prussia). She was the eldest daughter of the Hamburg-born banker Isaac Heimann (1844–1899) and his wife Margaretha, née Levy (1853–1925), from Magdeburg. Harriet had three younger siblings, all of whom were born in Wandsbek: Helene (1880–1950, Sweden), Hans-Siegbert (1884–1915, Belgium) and Betty (1888). We were unable to learn anything about the family history of Harriet's mother.
The Heimann family lived first on Schloßstraße, then from 1890 onwards on Claudiusstraße in Wandsbek. Later, the parents moved to Isestraße 119. After the death of Isaac Heimann, his widow lived at Jungfrauenthal 28 until her death in 1925.
We do not know exactly when Harriet met her future husband, Joseph Peyser (1866–1931), nor do we know what she did prior to her marriage. Joseph Peyser was a pharmacist. After his studies he applied for a license to open a new pharmacy. On 26 July 1900 the ownership of the St. Catharinen Pharmacy at the corner of Süderstraße and Hammerbrookstraße in Hammerbrook was transferred to Joseph Peyser, as the previous owner had filed for bankruptcy.
Harriet Heimann and Joseph Peyser married on 9 July 1902. The couple initially lived upstairs from the pharmacy. At a later date, the pharmacy's entrance was relocated to Hammerbrookstraße 114. There was a general practitioner’s practice in the same building. The district of Hammerbrook was at that time a residential area, where mainly workers and low-level employees lived. The street was lined with different shops: bakeries, grocers, furniture shops and small businesses. In 1929, the couple found a more suitable apartment at Brahmsallee 25. As this address was in a well-to-do neighborhood, one can assume that the pharmacy was doing well. Joseph Peyser’s tax records with the Jewish Community, of which he had been a member since 1919, confirm this, as he regularly paid quite high annual fees.
Joseph Peyser died on 30 Sep. 1931. The merchant Gustav Heinemann reported his death to the authorities. Heinemann was a member of the chevra kadisha, a burial society. The society traditionally visited members of the Jewish Community who had fallen ill, assisted the family during the illness, washed and clothed the deceased, carried him to the cemetery, dug the grave, buried the body, ensured the presence of a minyan of at least ten male Jews, and remained in the home of the bereaved during the seven days of mourning. The involvement of the chevra kadisha in Joseph Peyser’s funeral indicated that he led a religious life. There are Stolpersteine for Gustav Heinemann and his family at Isestrasse 90 in Hamburg.
The pharmacy was taken over by Josef Kestenbach from Dillingen. Harriet Peyser was registered as the owner, so she initially had an income. Kestenberg leased the pharmacy from 1 Oct. 1936, until he bought it on 16 Dec. 1938. A security order issued on 7 Dec. 1938 had blocked Harriet Peyser’s access to all of her assets. She was granted a small monthly allowance for her living expenses. She had to leave her apartment at Brahmsallee 25. From 1936 until about mid-1938 she lived with her sister Helene and brother-in-law Wilhelm Blitz at Werderstraße 65.
In 1867 Harriet's father Isaac Heimann had founded a banking business, Hartwig Hertz Nachfolger, which, over the years, had become successful dealing with currency exchange and government securities. Isaac Heimann's brother Samuel Moritz (1851–1922) joined the banking business in 1875 as a partner.
Samuel Moritz Heimann was married to Dorothea Rosalia, née Benjamin (born 1864 in Amsterdam, murdered 1943 in Sobibor). They had several children: Bertha (1874–1934), married to Dr. Julius Scherbel (1866–1940), both are buried in the Jewish cemetery Ilandkoppel in Hamburg; Frieda, married to Dr. James Anton Bruno; Betty (1885–1926); Helene (born 1886 in Hamburg), married to Dr. Moses Franzie (born 1879 in Rotterdam). Helene and Moses Franzie had one daughter, Jacoba Helene (born 1907 in Leiden). They were deported from Holland to Auschwitz on 15 Dec. 1942.
Isaac Heimann died on 5 Dec. 1899 in Hamburg. His brother continued to run the banking business until his death on 28 Jan. 1922. Thereafter it changed hands various times, until it was closed by order of the Gestapo on 10 Nov. 1938. The owner, Reinhold Eichelgrün, reported that there were no assets left and nothing stood in the way of the liquidation of the bank.
Harriet Peyer's sister Helene was married to the lawyer Dr. Wilhelm Blitz (born 1876 in Leer, died 1940 in England). They lived at Werderstraße 65 in an apartment building that they owned. The couple had four children: Thea Elisabeth (1905–1975, London), married to the lawyer Dr. Herbert Paul Hochfeld (1903, Lemgo–1990, London); Hans Egon (1906–1959, USA), married to Evelyn, née Brüll (1916–1961, USA), whose son Harald Peter (Harry) was born in 1948 in the US; Edith Margarethe (1907); and Eduard Edgar (1910).
Wilhelm Blitz established a successful law firm in the Hamburg city in 1901. His son-in-law Herbert Paul Hochfeld became a partner in 1930. After gaining her law degree in 1932, Thea Elisabeth Hochfeld also joined the firm. Wilhelm Blitz was also a legal advisor for his father-in-law's banking business.
On April 25, 1933, the licenses of Thea Elisabeth Hochfeld and her husband were withdrawn. Herbert Paul Hochfeld began working as a commercial clerk in a trading company. After the company was "Aryanized" in September 1938, he and his wife emigrated to London, where both again worked as lawyers.
In January 1938, Wilhelm Blitz was accused of "racial defilement" with a client and sent to prison. The basis for the arrest were the Nuremberg Laws issued on 15 Sep. 1935, which prohibited and punished extra-marital sexual intercourse with non-Jewish partners. The court acquitted him, but the Gestapo detained him for nine months in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp. He was released in November 1938, under the condition that he emigrate as soon as possible. His daughter-in-law, who was visiting Hamburg at the time he was released, described him as follows: "In place of the very lively, powerful person [he returned] as an old, physically and mentally broken, frighteningly emaciated man.”
On 30 Sep. 1938 he voluntarily gave up his license to practice law. He sold the building at Werderstraße 65. Until they emigrated, the Blitzes lived with Harriet Peyser at Lenhartzstraße 1. His children found him a sponsor in England and provided the financial security for him to join them in England in December 1938. They were unable to secure their mother’s emigration, however, but Helene Blitz was able to flee to Sweden at the beginning of 1939 with the support of her son Eduard Edgar. The children Hans Egon, Edith Margarethe and Eduard Edgar had already emigrated to England, Sweden and the USA in 1936 and 1937. On 4 Jan. 1940, Wilhelm Blitz died of coronary thrombosis, a consequence of his inhuman imprisonment.
There is a Stolperstein at Werderstraße 65, where Wilhelm Blitz lived for many years, in his memory.
We do not know why Harriet Peyser decided against emigrating to her family in England. In mid-1939 she was quartered with the Meseritz family at Jungfrauenthal 53. The Meseritzes and Harriet Peyser were deported to Riga-Jungfernhof, a satellite camp of the Riga Ghetto, on 6 Dec. 1941. All trace is lost of her after that point.
Her family never forgot Harriet Peyser. Her nephew Eduard Edgar Blitz submitted a Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem for her, once in 1980 and again in 1988.
The gravestone for her husband Joseph Peyser at the Ilandkoppel Jewish cemetery in Hamburg includes an inscription in her memory.
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Sonja Zoder
Quellen: 1; 2; 5; 8; StaH 231-7B1995/ 201; 332-5/8619-355/1902; 332-5/3832-620/1878; 332-5/8107-460/1931; 351-11/ 3117; 351-11/ 4610; 351-11/460; B45/863/1872; Jüdische Gemeinden, 992e2 Bd. 2 (Deportationslisten); Hamburger Adressbuch; Auskunft Bärbel Kroh v. 15.10.2013; Apothekerkammer Hamburg, Dr. Reinhard Hanpft v. 28.4.2014; Schmitz, Geschichte der Hamburger Apotheken, S. 253/254; Morisse, Ausgrenzung, Bd. 1, S. 128, 145f.; http://www.communityjoodsmonument.nl/page/33118/nl am 28.10.2013; http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beerdigungsbruderschaft am 9.11.2013; Jüdischer Friedhof Hamburg, Ilandkoppel am 10.11.2013.
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