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Hertha Sobietzki (née Kozy) * 1899

St. Georgs Kirchhof 6 (Hamburg-Mitte, St. Georg)

JG. 1899

Hertha Sobietzki, née Kozy, born on 6 May 1899 Tuchel/West Prussia (today Tuchola in Poland), detained in 1940, murdered on 2 Apr. 1942 in the Bernburg euthanasia killing center

St. Georgs Kirchhof 6

The stolen registration form of her subtenant, Gustav Brunschede, drew the attention of the criminal investigation department to Hertha Sobietzki. During the thorough interrogations due to emerging suspicion of "racial defilement” ("Rassenschande”), she confessed to having Lesbian tendencies. The attempt to get by as a single woman concealing her Jewish descent had failed because of a terrible coincidence.

Hertha Kozy was born in 1899 in Tuchel/West Prussia as the daughter of the "full Jewess” Johanna Kozy, née Lewin, and the "Jew” Abraham Kozy ("racial affiliation checked by the Reich Office for Genealogical Research [Sippenamt]”). Together with five siblings, she grew up in Birnbaum near Posen (today Miedzychod near Poznan in Poland). After leaving the eight-grade elementary school (Volksschule), she worked as a domestic help.

In Berlin, Hertha Kozy married Karl Sobietzki on 19 May 1919. The marriage remained childless, and since 1920, the spouses went their separate ways, getting divorced on 17 Aug. 1931. Hertha Sobietzki found work as a waitress.

In 1923, she moved to Hamburg, where she worked as a barmaid until about 1932. In 1927, she was sentenced to a fine or, alternatively, to two days in prison for embezzlement. Until 1937, she lived from selling homemade handiwork. On 24 Dec. 1937, she had herself baptized at the Catholic St. Mary’s Church (Marienkirche) on Danziger Strasse (today Mariendom). Up to that time, she had been a member of the Hamburg Jewish Community, which supported her financially until 1936.

From 1937 until her arrest on 28 Nov. 1940, Hertha Sobietzki lived at St. Georgs Kirchhof 6, renting out rooms for a living. Since she accepted only long-term guests, she omitted to register her business.

In the course of the investigation against Leo Schlesinger, a Jewish man who had stolen the registration form of an "Aryan” customer in her guest house, Hertha Sobietzki came under suspicion of "racial defilement.” After her summons to the interrogation at the 23rd Office of the Criminal Investigation Department (23. Kriminalkommissariat) in the Stadthaus (Gestapo headquarters), she confessed to her Lesbian tendencies:

"I have had an abnormal disposition since my early youth. I have homosexual relations with women. Most recently, I met a girl two years ago at the Café Dreyer. She was 22 years old at the time. I cannot provide any particulars of the girl. I called the girl ‘Bubi.’ – I also do not know where the girl worked and where she lived. The relationship lasted about four to five months. Let me correct myself: The relationship lasted for about one year. With this girl, I had homosexual intercourse about two to three times a week. … The relationship broke down because she was bisexual. Apart from me, she also had male sex partners. I became jealous, and the whole thing broke off.

During my work as a barmaid, I always had only women as sex partners for my own pleasure. I met these women at the bar. Some of them were married women. … For two years, however, I have not had any dealings with women. I was afraid of entering into a relationship again, and apart from that, I also never found something suitable.”

Although Hertha Sobietzki had not provided any concrete information about her ex-girlfriend, the criminal investigation department nevertheless tried, though in vain, to find out who was behind the pet name of "Bubi.”

For lack of evidence, the suspicion of "racial defilement” was dropped. Instead, Hertha Sobietzki was found guilty of violating the "compulsory identification card requirement” ("Kennkartenzwang”) and of "failing to assume a Jewish first name.” The accused stated on record, "I did not obtain an identification card and did not assume the additional first name of Sara because I did not want to be Jewish. If it had been known that I was a Jewish woman, I also could not have rented out room to Aryans.”

Hertha Sobietzki was booked, interrogated down to the most intimate detail, and then taken into police "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”).

On 19 Dec. 1940, the trial took place before the Hamburg District Court (Amtsgericht). District Court Director (Amtsgerichtsdirektor) Erwin Krause sentenced her to three months in prison with the "police detention” calculated against her prison term. After having serving her sentence in the Fuhlsbüttel women’s prison on 26 Feb. 1941, she was committed by the criminal investigation department to the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp. The first settlement day concerning the "protective custody” there was 27 Feb. 1941. On 3 Apr. 1941, Hertha Sobietzki was taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Probably she was classified there in 1941/42 as a "person unworthy of life” ("Lebensunwerte”) in connection with Operation "14f13” (Aktion "14f13”) (depending on the status of the file, women of Jewish descent were designated by the responsible doctors to be murdered) and gassed in Feb./Mar. 1942 in the Bernburg euthanasia killing center. The official death notice reads, "2 Apr. 1942, Ravensbrück concentration camp.”

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

Stand: January 2019
© Bernhard Rosenkranz(†)/Ulf Bollmann

Quellen: Hertha Sobietzki, geb. Kozy – Zimmervermieterin, in: Bernhard Rosenkranz/Ulf Bollmann/Gottfried Lorenz: Homosexuellen-Verfolgung in Hamburg 1919–1969", Hamburg 2009; Linde Apel, Jüdische Frauen im Konzentrationslager Ravensbrück 1939–1945, Berlin 2003, S. 296–316.

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