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Hedwig Fürst (née Zobel) * 1874
Isestraße 55 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)
Hedwig Fürst, née Zobel, born on 4 May 1874, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died there on 23 July 1943
Dr. Isidor Fürst, born on 31 Mar. 1859, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died there on 19 Dec. 1942
Rudolf Fürst, born on 6 Dec. 1899, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk Minsk
A distant relative who remembers the Fürst family well describes them as a cheerful, relaxed community.
Isidor Fürst was a dentist. Since 1892 he had been practicing in Hamburg.
He was from Lübeck. His ancestors had lived in Moisling near Lübeck. His grandfather, Jacob Gumpel Fürst was born there in 1793 and lived until 1893. He married Anna Boldt, a Christian who changed her faith and took the Jewish name Sara.
In contrast to the Hanseatic City of Lübeck, Jews had been allowed to settle in Moisling since the 17th century. We don’t know where from and when the Gumpel family came to Moisling. Jacob Gumpel was a butcher. He belonged to a minority that strived for reforms in the very conservative Jewish community.
Sara and Jacob had six children, four grew to be adults.
In 1848, when the Jews finally became citizens with equal rights in Lübeck itself, they had to adopt a "firm and unmistakable” family name. Jacob decided to take the name "Fürst”.
The second eldest son Meier Jacob now was officially called Meier Jacob Gumpel Fürst. He was 29 when in 1850 he married Hannah, "Hanchen”, Bonn from Hamburg. She was ten years younger than her husband. They had six children. Julius, the second eldest, died in an accident, when he was eight years old. The five surviving siblings, Mathilde (b.1851), Henry (b.1856), Isidor (b.1859.), Clara (b. 1860) and Recha (b.1863) during the course of their lives found their way to Hamburg.
In 1871, while all but Mathilde were still children their father died of the plague.
The next year Mathilde married her uncle Nehemias Bonn, her mother’s brother, in Lübeck and moved to Hamburg with him.
Her two brothers and two sisters, being 15, twelve, eleven and eight years old, were still attending school. It is not known to us which schools they went to.
In April 1875, when he was not even 19 years old, Henry moved to Hamburg.
Two years later, his brother, Isidor, also 18, arrived in Hamburg. He became an assistant to a dental technician, what we today perhaps would call an apprenticeship. He only stayed for two years, and in January 1879, returned to Lübeck for a short time. There he was mustered for the landsturm ( home reserve) for the first time, the next year again in Annaberg in Saxony. We don’t know what took him there. In November 1880 he returned to Hamburg, was mustered for the landsturm a third time and stayed here until October 1883. He then matriculated in dentistry at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On June 30th, 1886, he completed his studies there as "Doctor of Dental Surgery” ( Doctor in arte dentaraie chirurgiiae). As late as the year 1940 his name still appeared on the list of alumni. K.H., a surviving relative asks himself today why Isidor Fürst did not use this connection for a timely emigration. In February 1892 Isidor Fürst returned to Hamburg. It remains uncertain what he did and where he lived during the six years in between. On February 29th, 1892 he had the sad duty to report his mother’s death on the previous day to the registry office. She had survived her husband by 21 years and spent the last years of her life at her son Henry’s in Gurlittstrasse in Hamburg. In 1891 Isidor’s sister Clara had married the Hamburg businessman Nathan Nachum.
Isidor’s mother didn’t live to see her daughter Recha also get married in Hamburg in October 1892. Her husband, Moritz Oppenheim, was a butcher, later a horse dealer, from Elmshorn.
The same year Isidor established his dental practice in Collonaden 41. In 1896 he was granted the Hamburg citizenship.
In January 1897 he married Hedwig Zobel of Dresden, thus the only member of the large family that did not stem from Lübeck or Hamburg. Her ancestors were from Prussia. Her father, Joseph Moritz Zobel moved to Dresden in Saxony from his native town Krotoschin in the former district of Posen in 1865. His wife, Caecilie, was born in Hirschberg, Silisia, also a Prussian province. She was the daughter of the merchant Moritz Friedenthal and his wife, Johanna, neé Pollack. They married in Hirschberg on September 2nd, 1867. Moritz then was 29, Caecilie 20 years old. Caecilie gave birth to four children, Bianca (1868), Woldemar (1869), Hedwig (1874) and Fritz (1877).
Moritz Zobel obviously had come to Dresden to establish his own business. But since he was not a citizen of Saxony he was not entitled to establish a trade on his own. In 1867 he entered the "Cartonnagenfabrik Jacobi”, a wholesale firm then called "Jacobi und Zobel”. As a citizen of Saxony, Selig Jacobi had to assume the complete responsibility and liability. At the same time with Jacobi’s support, Moritz Zobel formally applied for the Saxon citizenship.
On March 24th, 1871 after a ceremonial oath in the "Altstädter Rathhaus” He was registered as a citizen of the city of Dresden.
In January the same year he had already purchased his own property in Struvestrasse. The firm Jacobi & Zobel was moved there. And as a citizen of the town of Dresden Moritz Zobel could become its owner.
The next goal was to achieve the Saxon citizenship. The procedure took another four years. On October 30th ,1874, the year when Hedwig was born, Moritz Zobel vowed by "Adonai, the eternal God of Israel”, all the time to be faithful and obedient to His Majesty the King of Saxony as well as the laws of the state, and to faithfully observe the constitution of the state. He, his wife and their children were granted the Saxon citizenship.
Moritz Zobel extended the firm. In 1890 he gave notice that he was closing the firm in Struvestrasse and had his own larger factory, "Lithographie und Steindruck” built in Seidnitzer Strasse. From the basement to the fourth floor up to 90 workers were employed - stonemasons, stonecutters, printers, lithographers bookbinders and office clerks. And room had to be provided for the heavy equipment that was needed to produce and sell printed matters like posters, leaflets, works of art – a sheet of his own stationery that is kept in his files in the Dresden Archive is an example of the high quality of the factory’s products. In 1891 the "Kunstanstalt für Lithographie und Steindruck Moritz Zobel” started work in Seidnitzer Strasse 9. But until the end of 1892 Moritz Zobel had to fight the painstaking inspections by the government building inspector.
Woldemar Zobel entered his father’s firm as executive secretary in 1894. In the 1899 address book the firm was listed as a stock corporation, father Moritz director, son Woldemar executive secretary.
In 1900 Moritz died, highly honoured by the Jewish community – since 1893 he had been the chairman of the board of the Dresden synagogue.
His son Woldemar carried on the firm until 1910. He died in Hamburg in 1933.
Caecilie Zobel survived her husband by 26 years. Her two sisters were married to two brothers in Hamburg. Her daughter Hedwig thus had two aunts in Hamburg. It is possible that she got to know her future husband Isidor Fürst through that connection.
On January 28th ,1897 her father could still be witness to their marriage in Dresden. His four grandchildren were also born while he was still alive.
On the outside, Hedwig and Isidor were an unusual couple: Isidor, called Edi or Kiek, was not very tall, and his wife towered above him by a significant margin. The married couple had four sons born within less than three years: Walter, born in 1897; Hellmut, born in 1898; and the twins Hans and Rudolf, born in 1899. For the mother, it posed a veritable challenge to raise and provide for four sons, "even just in terms of cooking, for they were all voracious athletes.” She gave each of her three daughters- in- law a handwritten cookbook with her own recipes as a present. The sons remember in great reverence how she managed the difficult task to master the household and keep the family together. The father regularly made his way to the soccer field with his sons to watch the games of the Hamburger Sportverein (HSV), the club in which they themselves actively pursued sports. Later, they had to train in the Jewish Bar Kochba sports club. Once the quintet set out together to see with their own eyes how one of the first airplanes flew over Hamburg. For this purpose, the father reportedly excused his sons from attending school that day. Another time he took them on a hike from Hamburg to Travemünde. In a commemorative brochure for Walter’s 80th birthday Hans and Hellmut Fürst together with friends wrote down a collection of their common memories.
In 1899, Isidor Fürst moved his practice in Collonaden to house number 96, the family had moved from Grindelallee to Hartungstrasse 16. Since 1912 the practice is listed under Rothenbaumchaussee 7 in the address book. From 1930 to 1938 we find Rothenbaumchaussee 30 as entrance for the practice of Father Isidor and son Hellmut. The family moved here as well.
All four sons served in the military during the First World War. Hellmut was taken prisoner of war by the British. Walter sustained serious disfiguring injuries to the face that necessitated several operations. The family records suggest that Rudolf did not serve at the front.
Like his father, Hellmut Fürst became a dentist. First he had his own practice, then in 1932 he joined the paternal practice and was able to keep the statutory health insurance license until 1935, probably because he had been a frontline soldier. The family was able to live on this income, without accumulating any substantial savings.
In 1937 Isidor Fürst with his wife Hedwig and their son Rudolf moved to Isestraße 55.
Here Isidor and Hellmut Fürst took care only of a small private circle of patients for the short time until Hellmut with his wife Elisabeth emigrated to Australia in 1938. Despite his old age, Isidor Fürst was – according to his sons – in such good physical shape that he could carry on doing consultation and dentistry work.
Walter Fürst was able to pass his high-school graduation exam (Abitur) only in 1920 after finishing his military service. In 1927 he completed studies in chemistry with a degree of Dr. rer. nat. After working for four years in the chemical industry, he returned to the university and studied medicine from 1931–1935, passed the examination to practice in 1936, followed by a one year medical internship in the Israelitisches Krankenhaus. By that time as a Jew, he could not receive his medical license nor was he allowed to practice independently as a physician in Germany. In 1939 he emigrated to the USA by way of Oslo, Norway and subsequently established his medical career.
In October 1940 he married his fiancée Lotte Schmidt. They had met at the Jewish Hospital in Johnsallee in Hamburg, where Lotte was a nursing student. Lotte had emigrated to the USA by way of England together with her grandmother, mother, and sister.
Walter was recognized as a physician and practicing medicine by 1941.
Hans Fürst, a merchant by profession, had already emigrated in 1937. He lived with his wife, Luise Moses, a nurse, in safe exile in Costa Rica.
His twin brother Rudolf stayed with his parents in Hamburg. After his military service, he had completed training as a technical assistant. From 1929 until 1933, he worked as a lab assistant in the Reich Railroad repair shop in Glückstadt, which belonged to the Harburg works division. His income was low since he was classified only as a "worker on a wage contract.” His dismissal on August 19th,
1933 occurred based on the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” ("Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums”). After that, he found a job as a commercial clerk with a Jewish bank until the financial institution was "aryanized.”
Rudolf Fürst was in poor health and required special protection by the family. Added to this was the fact that he had homosexual tendencies, which was an additional heavy burden under Nazi rule.
On November 8th, 1941, Rudolf Fürst was deported to Minsk. Nothing is known about his subsequent fate. On the deportation list, "Sara” is entered behind his name, possibly a malicious stab at his homosexuality.
Together with Rudolf Fürst, the subtenants of the Fürsts, the Pincus family of three, had to set out to the collection point for the transport to Minsk. The same house in which Isidor Fürst lived also accommodated his colleagues Ellie and Ernst Tichauer from Bergedorf. They, too, were deported to Minsk the same day. (Stolperstein at: Alte Holstenstrasse 61).
Another subtenant of the Fürst family, Hedwig Meier, née Ostwald, moved to Grindelallee 134 in October 1941, and she was deported from there to Riga on December 6th, 1941.
Hedwig and Isidor Fürst had to spend their last months in Hamburg in the "Jews’ House” ("Judenhaus”) at Frickestrasse 24. At this address, they received the deportation order to Theresienstadt on July 15th, 1942. On the same transport, Isidor’s brother Henry and his wife Gertrud were taken there as well. On the deportation list, which was ordered alphabetically, his name appears between those of Hedwig and Isidor. The two sisters Clara and Recha had to follow them four days later.
Henry Fürst died in Theresienstadt on September 29th,1942 the two sisters were deported further and were killed in Teblinka. Only Gertrud Fürst could be liberated in Theresienstadt on May 8th, 1945.
Hedwig’s brother Fritz and his wife Friederike, for whom Isidor in 1913 had served as witness to their wedding in Hamburg, were deported from Dresden to Riga on January 21st 1942.
The family in Hamburg might have known about their fate before they were sent to Theresienstadt.
Isidor Fürst apparently took along dentist’s implements, enabling him to practice in Theresienstadt if need be. Of particular importance to him, however, were the papers of his private studies. After all, he was convinced that based on intensive study of the bible and calculations of his own, he had established the location of Moses’ grave. He intended to hand over his notes to the University of Jerusalem at a later date.
Quite obviously, the Fürsts had been taken in, like many of their fellow sufferers, by the whitewashed statements that Theresienstadt was a home for the elderly of which one could buy a share. Instead, life without any privacy in crowded old barracks, hunger and disease was what they had to face. One preserved document is the notification regarding their deportation dated July 26th ,1942 that Hamburg relatives sent to the sons in exile: "My dears, parents departed. Send warm regards. Hope you and brothers are well. We are doing well. Warmest regards and best wishes …” The number of words on the preprinted forms of the Red Cross was strictly limited. It was possible only to allude to central information so that the mail would not fall prey to censorship.
The Fürsts themselves did not any more get in touch with acquaintances in Hamburg, even though that would have been possible. Isidor Fürst died on December 19th, 1942. News of this arrived in Hamburg half a year later and in an indirect formulation: "The widow [!] of your related dentist also lives in L 425 …" The card had been written on June 11th, 1943. Less than six weeks later, on July 23rd, 1943 Hedwig (Hedel) Fürst also died in Theresienstadt. It was not until the 13th of November 1944 that the relatives were able to convey the message, once again encoded, to the sons: "Dear Lotte, Walter, thanks for the Red Cross message. Hedel is together with Uncle Edi. We are well. Heartfelt greetings also to Hellmuth. Louise, Hans.
Inge, Bert, Klaus.”
A poem Isidor Fürst wrote may serve as his legacy here:
Awareness floats throughout our whole,
a mystic happening, real or seeming:
my forebears’ souls embrace my soul
and float about me like my dreaming.
Through ties of everlasting love,
and guided by old memory,
from boundless realms – beyond, above –
they find their pathways back to me.
Translation by D. L. Salinger and W. M. Furst
Durch meine Seele geht ein Ahnen,
ein traumhaft mystisches Erleben,
ein Seelenaustausch mit den Manen
die gleich Gedanken mich umschweben,
die durch das Band der ew’gen Liebe
und an Erinnerung gebunden
aus unbegrenzten Weltgetriebe
den Weg zu mir zurückgefunden. - ))
Princeps (Isidor Fürst)
Translator: Erwin Fink (Changings Fladhammer/Furst, 3.9.2017)
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg
© Christa Fladhammer
Quellen: 1; AfW 310359; 040574; 091197; 131198; 011299; StAH: Personenstandsbücher; Gespräch mit Klaus Hannes am 4.6.2007; Rot-Kreuz-Brief und Postkarte aus Theresienstadt Privatbesitz; Archiv der Hansestadt Lübeck: 1.1.-1 (3) ASA Interna 17304; 17334; §:%: - Stadt- und Landamt 2781; Israelitische Gemeinde Nr. 4 864/ Genealogisches Register; Familienregister; Eheschließungen; Stadt Elmshorn, Personenstandsakte Moritz Oppenheim; Auskunft über die überlebenden Söhne und zur Familie Friedenthal/Zobel von Barbara Chatterjee, geb. Fürst.; Stadtarchiv Dresden: Gewerbeamt A, Bürger- u. Gewerbekaten.2.3.9. Z1370; Heiratsurkunde Isidor Fürst/Hedwig Zobel; Sterbeurkunde Caecile Zobel; historische Adressbücher: www.adressbuecher.sachsendigital.de; Grabstein für Moses Zobel, jüdischer Friedhof Dresden.
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