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Helene Israel (née David) * 1886
Haynstraße 13 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)
Max Israel, born on 11 Jan. 1875 in Hamburg, deported on 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, murdered there
Helene Israel, née David, born on 9 Apr. 1886 in Hamburg, deported on 18 Nov. 1941 to Minsk, murdered there
Walter John Israel, born on 20 May 1908 in Hamburg, fled to France in 1933, arrested in 1940, deported in 1942 from the Gurs camp to the Drancy camp and on 17 Aug. 1942 to Auschwitz, murdered there
Regina Moses, née Israel, born on 24 Oct. 1877 in Hamburg, deported on 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga, murdered
Max Israel and Helene David were married in the wintertime, on 19 Jan. 1906. More than two years later, in May 1908, Helene gave birth to a son: Walter John. He remained the couple’s only child.
Since 1900, Max Israel had been working as a self-employed "house and insurance broker,” thus following the general line of his father in choosing a profession: Alexander Israel had worked as a funds and exchange broker since 1872. That year, the strict brokering regulation in Hamburg was abandoned, theoretically opening this occupation to anyone – women excepted in principle. Previously, the only persons allowed to work as brokers, whether in the insurance or real estate business, were those personally chosen and sworn by the Brokering Deputation (four councilmen, two "senior elders” [Oberalte], and all members of the commercial deputation [Commerz-Deputation], a precursor of the Chamber of Commerce).
When Max was born, his parents – his mother’s name was Emilie, née Levien – still lived on Lange Reihe in the St. Georg quarter. In the year after his birth, 1876, they had moved to Hamburg-Neustadt, to Alter Steinweg. It was also there that Max’ sister Regine was born. She was some two and a half years his junior. From Alter Steinweg, the parents then had first relocated to the Grindel quarter and from there to Harvestehude. In doing so, they belonged to the large part of the Hamburg Jewish population that between 1870 and 1930 moved from the narrow Altstadt and Neustadt, where three quarters of all the Jews in Hamburg still lived in 1871, to the areas in front of the Dammtor – to Harvestehude and to the parts of Rotherbaum close to the Alster, above all liberal and assimilated Jews, who tended to be upper-class; and to the Grindel quarter predominantly members of the orthodox lower middle class. Generally, this internal migration to better residential neighborhoods was a manifestation of the economic and social rise of Jews since the passage of the Hamburg Constitution in 1860. This constitution granted them liberal rights, including freedom of religion as well as independence of civic and citizens’ rights regardless of religious faith.
As early as 1900, Max’ and Regine’s mother, Emilie Israel, passed away. Her family found a grave for her in the Jewish Cemetery on Ilandkoppel. The two children – grown-up by then – continued to live with their father in the Grindel quarter, at Heinrich-Barth-Strasse 28. After the death of his wife, Alexander Israel married a second time, Bella Weinheim born in 1864. Their marriage did not produce any children.
When Max got married, his future wife Helene still lived with her parents, at Hansastrasse 64 in Rotherbaum. Her mother Laura Lea, née Levien, was a homemaker, and her father, Isaac Berend David, the owner of the Bundheim & David bank. After the wedding, Max and Helene Israel found a joint apartment at Hansastrasse 57 (today Brahmsallee 19) in Rotherbaum. That same year, Max moved into an office at Grosse Bleichen 76. He stayed there for 13 years, and then relocated the office to around the corner to Königstrasse – today’s part of Poststrasse between Grosse and Hohe Bleichen. Since 1899, he already had a spot at the stock exchange, at Pillar 23 A. Moreover, he joined the respectable Hamburg "Association of the Honorable Merchant” founded way back in 1517, from which the Commercial Deputation, the precursor of the Chamber of Commerce, had been founded and elected ever since 1665. In addition, as of 1 Nov. 1911, he became a member of the Patriotic Society (Patriotische Gesellschaft).
Max’ sister Regine worked as a teacher. She had already been married about four years before her brother to the owner of a pharmacy, Alfred Moses. He was a native of Ottmachau in Upper Silesia, today Otmuchow in the Polish Opole Voivodeship. In the year of their wedding, he joined as a partner the "Gustav E. Meyer Apotheke,” a pharmacy at Reeperbahn 159, which his brother Paul had managed on his own until then. After the death of the brother, who died, only 47 years old, in 1916, Alfred Moses took over the "Holsten-Apotheke” at Holstenstrasse 53. At the same time, he and his wife Regine moved with Paul Moses’ widow Elise to Isestrasse 55. Twelve years later, in 1928, Alfred died as well, at the age of 56. As a teacher, his wife Regine was not able to continue operating the pharmacy on Holstenstrasse on her own. However, she did not sell it, instead leasing it out.
Spaces becoming narrower
Max and Helene Israel’s marriage was not a happy one, and eventually they separated. Their son Walter John had completed training as a commercial clerk with Hirsch & Co. and become friends with Sophie Heimannsohn, a native of Samter (today Szamotuly in Poland) and seven years his senior. She worked as a secretary and stenographer. In 1929, they both left Hamburg for Berlin, where they found employment at the Victoria-Mühlenwerke, a large-scale grain mill complex near Oberbaumbrücke. One member of the company management was a cousin of Walter on his mother’s side, Willy David.
Then came 30 Jan. 1933 and the transfer of power to the Nazis. Almost immediately afterward, Sophie and Walter lost their jobs for "racial reasons.” After this, Walter returned to Hamburg for a brief period – however, he did not live with his father but with his aunt Regine at Isestrasse 55. Just a few weeks later, he emigrated to France, initially to Marseille, where he met up with Sophie again. They got married there on 15 Dec. 1936.
That same year, Max’ sister, Regine Moses, had already handed over her pharmacy to a non-Jewish leaseholder. In 1938, when Hamburg’s National Socialists made a renewed push toward forcing Jews out of economic life, she was compelled to sell the business entirely. The previous leaseholder and Nazi party member Max Machaczek was supposed to purchase it for 148,000 RM (reichsmark). Sales contracts between Jewish and non-Jewish parties had to be approved by the NSDAP’s Gau Economic Advisor (Gauwirtschaftsberater), in the context of which he often rejected contracts concluded independently – especially in order to favor certain party comrades and secure their unconditional loyalty. The contract between Regine Moses and Max Machaczek was not approved either. Machaczek had to hand over the pharmacy to the pharmacist Hans Lafrenz, a deal arranged by the pharmacy broker Otto Beckering. This resulted in Regine Moses not receiving a single cent for her pharmacy – another example of the Nazis’ perfidious course of action toward destroying the economic livelihoods of Jews. Furthermore, she had to pay about 25,000 RM as a "levy on Jewish assets” ("Judenvermögensabgabe”).
By this time, she had already left the apartment on Isestrasse and lived at Oderfelderstrasse 25. From there, she moved to Haynstrasse 7.
Persecution and destruction
Max Israel had returned to Hamburg-Neustadt as early as 1934. He had found a small and more affordable apartment there at Poolstrasse 36. In the following year, he was excluded from the Patriotic Society – according to the resolution of the executive committee dated 24 Sept. 1935, he was no longer welcome there without an "Aryan certificate” ("Ariernachweis”). By contrast, the addition of "Mitgl. E.K.” (member of the "Association of the Honorable Merchant") can be found in his entry in the Hamburg directory until 1940. To be sure, this influential Hamburg association steeped in tradition also excluded its Jewish members – in the year 1938 because it allegedly felt compelled to do so in connection with an ordinance of the Reich Economics Ministry regarding the exclusion of Jews from the stock exchange.
In 1940, Max Israel had to move from Poolstrasse to the "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) at Dillstrasse 15. Since 1903, the building belonged to the Zacharias and Ranette and Simon and Mathilde Hesse Stiftung, a foundation incorporated into the Reich Association of Jews in Germany (Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland) in 1939.
Max’ wife Helene, who was separated from him, had resided as a subtenant for quite some time already, frequently changing accommodations. In 1939, she occupied a room of the Jewish tailor Frieda Eller at Haynstrasse 12, in the immediate vicinity of her sister-in-law, Regine Moses. From there, she was forced to move to the "Jews’ house” at Bogenstrasse 25.
The son they had together, Walter John Israel, had gone from Marseille to Paris in 1939, and there he found employment as a travelling salesman of the Joseph Brumlik Company at rue Saint Marc 8. After the occupation of the northern and western part of France by the German Wehrmacht on 14 June 1940, he was arrested by the Gestapo in Paris. The Gestapo initially took him, along with other Jews that had fled from Germany to Paris, to the internment camp in Gurs northeast of the Pyrenees Mountains. At first, some of the prisoners had to sleep on the cold hard ground in the barracks; subsequently, they were allowed to fill bags with straw to lie on. In this context, the prisoners each had only a space not even 80 centimeters (less than three feet) in width for themselves. In the camp, hunger, dreadful hygienic conditions, and diseases prevailed; every day, seven people died on average. Starting off in Gurs, Walter John Israel endured a horrible journey through other camps, as he was taken to, among others, Les Milles in the Southwest of France, about which Lion Feuchtwanger, who was interned there in 1940, later wrote: "(...) the thing most difficult for me to bear in the camp was that one never had a chance to be alone, that always, day and night, during every act, eating and sleeping and evacuation, a hundred people surrounded one, chatting, laughing, screaming, sighing, crying, sweating, washing people. Every action took place in utmost public, and naturally no one felt even the slightest sense of modesty vis-à-vis the other.”
The Vichy Regime had assured the Nazis that it would extradite 10,000 predominantly German and Austrian Jews. This occurred in Aug. and Sept. 1942. From Les Milles, 2,000 Jews were first taken to the Drancy transit camp near Paris. Among them was Walter John Israel. From Drancy, he was taken on Transport no. 20 to Auschwitz on 17 Aug. 1942.
As early as 18 Nov. 1941, Helene and Max Israel were deported from Hamburg to Minsk, and, on 6 Dec. 1941, Max’ sister Regine was deported from Hamburg to Riga-Jungfernhof. None of them survived.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Frauke Steinhäuser
Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 1913 u. 5011/1877, 748 u. 413/1916, 8093 u. 174/1928, 2126 u. 1839/1886, 8644 u. 10/1906, 8610 u. 484/1901; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 33580, 3278, 25337, 55116; Ausschluß von Juden aus dem Reg. E. E. K. u. Eintragungen von Mischlingen in das Reg. E. E. K., Akte Nr. 505/39; Silke Ammerschubert, Frankreich, in: Enzyklopädie des Nationalsozialismus, S. 467 f.; Feuchtwanger, Teufel in Frankreich, S. 40; Siefken, Jüdische und paritätische Stiftungen, S. 132 Subskriptionsbuch S. 222 (Archiv der der Patriotischen Gesellschaft von 1765); Hamburger Adressbücher; Pharmaceutische Zeitung, Nr. 70 v. 31.8.1901; Roß, Ausschluss der jüdischen Mitglieder; Verein Hamburger Hausmakler, www.vhh-hamburg.de/index.php/historie-derhausmakler (letzter Zugriff 2.1.2014); Ortwin Pelc, Neustadt, www.dasjuedischehamburg.de/inhalt/ neustadt (letzter Zugriff 3.1.2014); Sielke Salomon, Grindelviertel, www.dasjuedischehamburg.de/inhalt/grindelviertel (letzter Zugriff 3.1.2014); Walter Israel, Mémorial de la Shoah, http://bdi.memorialdelashoah.org/internet/jsp/core/MmsRedirector.jsp?id=23680&type=VICT IM (letzter Zugriff 20.1.2014); E-Mail von Jérome Darmon, Mémorial du Camp de Rivesaltes, 10.6.2014; E-Mail von Anne Goulet, Conseil général des Pyrenées-Atlantique, DGA de la Jeunesse, de la Culture et du Sport (Archives du Camp de Gurs), 16.6.2014.
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