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Thekla Hinkel * 1875

Tornquiststraße 7 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)

JG. 1875
TOT 2.11.1944

Thekla Hinkel, née Hirschfeld, born on 5 July 1875 in Hamburg, died of a heart attack on 2 Nov. 1944 in the Henriettenstraße bunker

Tornquiststraße 7

The midwife who assisted at little Thekla’s birth was named Selig. The birth took place in the home of Thekla’s parents at Holstenstraße 3. Her parents were Betje, née Goudstikker, originally from the Netherlands, who turned 25 shortly after the birth of her daughter, and Wolff Hirschfeld, a Hamburg retailer, six years older than his wife.

Betje Goudstikker had been born in Rotterdam on 24 June 1850, the eldest daughter of the art dealer Salomon Elias Goudstikker and his wife Grietje, née Klisser. She had nine siblings, one of whom, her second-youngest sister, Sophia, was among the most prominent representatives of the Munich women’s movement around the turn of the century. Around 1867, the Goudstikkers left the Netherlands and settled in Hamburg. From there, the parents, together with the youngest children, moved to Dresden, where Salomon Goudstikker died in 1892. Betje had remained in Hamburg. There, in 1873, she married 1873 Wolff Hirschfeld – on 5 May in a civil ceremony and around four weeks later in a solemn ceremony according to Jewish ritual, conducted by Anschel Stern, chief rabbi of the German Israelite Community.

Wolff Hirschfeld was born on 9 Apr. 1844, the son of the shoemaker Alexander Wolff Hirschfeld and his wife Pauline, née Präger. At the time of his marriage, he was working as a commis, that is, a commercial clerk. Betje and he still lived at that time with his parents at Holstenstraße 3. Nine months after the wedding, on 9 Mar. 1874, their first daughter, Jeannette, was born. Just over a year later, Thekla was born. On 26 Nov. 1897, Jeannette married Adolph Katzenstein, a retailer from Düren. The two divorced around five years later, on 13 June 1903, and Jeannette officially took her maiden name again. On 14 July 1929, the police found her dead in her apartment at Heinrich-Barth-Straße 5. Possibly she took her own life at the age of 55.

Little is known about Thekla Hirschfeld’s life. She probably worked, because she lived alone and married quite late for those times. When she married the traveling salesman Wilhelm Carl Heinrich Hinkel on 10 Jan. 1930, she was 56 years old. Wilhelm Hinkel had been born in Hanau on 2 Jan. 1888 and was thus 12 years younger than Thekla. He had lived in Hamburg since 1925 and, unlike his wife, was a Protestant. For this reason, Thekla had to leave the Jewish Community when she married.

Both she and Wilhelm had lived as lodgers before their marriage. He lived last in the Grindel neighborhood, specifically in the Grindelthal, as the part of Grindelallee between the buildings numbered 14 and 16 was known at the time. Thekla lived in Alsterdorf, at Alsterdorfer Straße 361. After marriage, the living situation of the two did not change at first. Obviously, they could not afford an apartment of their own for a long time. They moved several times, still as subtenants, within the Eimsbüttel area, until they finally found a home of their own in Oct. 1939: a walk-down apartment adjoining a shop at Tornquiststraße 7.

As of Dec. 1938, the alliance of Thekla and Wilhelm Hinkel was regarded, in the terminology of the National Socialists, as a "privileged mixed marriage.” Protected by her non-Jewish husband, Thekla Hinkel was not required to wear a "Jews’ star” (Judenstern), nor did she receive a deportation order. Nonetheless, the couple’s situation intensified dramatically at the end of 1944. Wilhelm Hinkel, as he later wrote to the Hamburg Office for Compensation, had been imprisoned for six months in 1939 because of his marriage to a Jewish woman. For the same reason, he had to perform forced labor, beginning on 27 Oct. 1944. He thus was included in the large group of non-Jewish husbands of Jewish women (termed "persons of Jewish kinship,” "jüdisch Versippte”), who in October 1944, along with Jewish "crossbreeds” ("Mischlinge”), were conscripted for labor deployment with the Todt Organization – first, because the German economy urgently needed male manpower as a result of the war, second, because there was a plan to cause the men in this way to seek a divorce from their Jewish wives. The Todt Organization, established in 1938, was named for its first head, Fritz Todt, the former Reich Minister for Armaments and Ammunition. Among its chief tasks were construction projects of strategic significance in Germany and in the territories occupied by the German Wehrmacht. The Hamburg conscripts were lucky under the circumstances: They were deployed in their home city and, for the most part, were not "barracked,” that is, placed in camps. Thus, Wilhelm Hinkel, along with other forced laborers, had to clear away rubble and recover dead bodies for the Hamburg construction firm John Kriegeris & Co. During such work, the men were not even allowed to seek refuge in a bunker when big air raids were in progress. Actually, Wilhelm Hinkel should have been quartered in the city park camp in Alsterdorf, a camp for prisoners of war deployed at forced labor as well as civilian forced laborers, both men and women. The camp also had been destroyed, however, so that he was allowed to sleep in his own home. In exchange, he had to report every morning at 6:30, together with the others, for roll-call at Hegeplatz, intermittently guarded by SS men.

A few days after his service obligation, a catastrophe occurred at home. On 2 Nov. 1944, around 10:30 p.m., Thekla Hinkel suffered a fatal heart attack upon entering the surface air-raid shelter on Henriettenstraße. Together with her husband, she had tried to take shelter during an air raid. Because the Red Cross nurse on duty was unable to reach a doctor, Thekla, with the consent of her husband, was taken by the undertaker Jochens from Eppendorfer Weg to the mortuary of the Harbor Hospital (Hafenkrankenhaus). Her heart probably could no longer withstand the uninterrupted emotional stress, in constant fear, not knowing how much longer she, as a Jewess, would be protected by her husband – especially since Wilhelm Hinkel was conscripted for forced labor. In addition, the permanent threat of the air raids on Hamburg, which had been under way for months, may have been a contributing factor.

At first, Wilhelm Hinkel’s situation was unchanged by the death of his wife. Actually, he should have been immediately released from forced labor. That did not happen, however, until around four weeks later, on 9 Dec. 1944 – and even then only after he had repeatedly written to the Hamburg NSDAP Gau Leader and Reich Governor Karl Kaufmann and made him aware of the facts. As a result, a few days after Thekla Hinkel’s burial in the Ohlsdorf Cemetery, he received a visit from an employee of the Office of the Senior Tax Director, who explained to him that all his wife’s belongings were being confiscated, including everything acquired during the marriage, such as linens and clothing. In addition, he had to vacate the flat, which was being transferred into the Party’s ownership. He was told that he should now make a list of the corresponding things and that, if he refused, he would be sent to a concentration camp. After he had complied with the order, an auctioneer appeared in his home two days later and auctioned off everything on the spot. The proceeds, in the amount of around RM 540, went to the Office of the Senior Tax Director, after the auctioneer’s expenses were deducted. Before the auction, he had been given permission to buy back one bed, one table, and one curtain at the price of RM 150, which he did, out of necessity. He needed these things for his new quarters, as a family he knew in Winterhude had made a room available to him.

After the war ended, Wilhelm Hinkel had his wife’s urn moved to another section of the Ohlsdorf Cemetery, because he considered the original site too dark and remote. He himself died in 1970.

Translator: Kathleen Luft

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg

Stand: October 2016
© Frauke Steinhäuser

Quellen: 1; 9; Adressbücher Hamburg; StaH 331-5 H 2436 Polizeibehörde – Unnatürliche Sterbefälle;
StaH 332-5 Standesämter 1201 u. 793/1944; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 13290 u. 4/1930; StaH 332-03 Zivilstandaufsicht A Nr. 206; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 10101; Residentenliste 1939; (Zugriff: 5.11.2012); (Zugriff: 5.11.2012); Franz Häußler, Fotografie in Augsburg, S. 154f.; http://jorge.home. (Stammbaum Elias Salomon Goudstikker; Zugriff 5.11.2012); (Stammbaum Betje Goudstikker, Zugriff 5.11.2012); Friederike Littmann, Ausländische Zwangsarbeiter in der Hamburger Kriegswirtschaft; Meyer, "Jüdische Mischlinge", S. 237ff., Meyer (Hrsg.), Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der Hamburger Juden, S. 79ff.

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