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Lilli Mayer (née Moses) * 1888
Auenstraße 5 (Wandsbek, Eilbek)
Lilli Mayer, née Moses, born on 11 Feb. 1888 in Flensburg, deported on 6 Dec. 1941 to Riga
On 23 Aug. 1946, the following missing person bulletin appeared in Der Weg: Zeitschrift für Fragen des Judentums, a magazine on issues concerning Jews published in Berlin:
"Who can provide details about Mrs. Lilli Mayer from Hamburg, who was taken to Riga on 6 Dec. 1941. Her son Fred Mayer from South Africa, currently residing in Berlin-Niederschönhausen at Platanenstrasse 10, with Lewin, would be grateful for information.”
Fred Mayer was Lilli Mayer’s son from her marriage with Julius Mayer, born on 27 June 1880 in Rogasen/Posen, whom she had married in Hamburg on 20 Dec. 1911. Lilli Mayer was the third of eleven children of the merchant Levin-Moses and his wife Anna, née Lehmann, both of the Jewish religious faith. Levin-Moses came from Friedrichstadt on the Eider River, where he was born on 24 Feb. 1855. Anna Lehmann was born on 4 Apr. 1856 in what was then Inowroclaw near Bromberg, the subsequent Hohensalza. They got married on 8 July 1882 in Fleckeby near Eckernförde, spending their entire joint life in Flensburg. By profession, Levin-Moses was a merchant, working also as an innkeeper and real estate agent. In the year Lilli was born, he took over the "Tivoli” restaurant, located on the upper part of Südergraben and featuring a concert venue. The monumental singing hall hosted musical and theater performances as well as bazaars and festive gatherings. This included the large-scale prize masquerade with associated carnival ball taking place each February. Initially, Levin was the leaseholder, then the owner of the operation from 1896 onward. With this acquisition, he had obviously overstretched his financial resources, for in 1899 the property was put up for compulsory auction. Subsequently, he worked as a real estate agent for houses and properties. He died in 1909 at the age of only 54, and he was buried in the Rendsburg Jewish Cemetery.
In accordance with a decision of the Flensburg Royal District Court (Königliches Amtsgericht) dated 21 Nov. 1912, three years after his death marked the correction that the last name was Moses and that Levin was the first name. For his part, Levin Moses had added the first name of Leopold. The children known to us were Hermann, born on 2 Feb. 1884; Erna, born on 13 June 1885; Lilli, born on 11 Feb. 1888; Vally, born on 6 Mar. 1889; Marga, born on 8 July 1890; Leonhard, born on 24 Jan. 1892; Hertha, born on 9 Aug. 1893; Edgar, born on 20 Jan. 1895; Alfons, born on 7 June 1886; Lola, born on 10 May 1896; and Luise, born on 24 Jan. 1898.
Some of the family members kept the old last name; others, such as Hermann, used variants like "Lewin” as in Fred Mayer’s bulletin above.
Lilli initially attended the future Auguste-Viktoria School and subsequently the private school run by Marie Zuckertort in Flensburg.
When Leopold Levin-Moses passed away in Flensburg four days prior to his fifty-fourth birthday, only three of the children had reached the age of majority, including Lilli. Along with her and the two youngest daughters, his widow relocated to Hamburg on 1 Apr. 1909, which meant the center of family life shifted there. The other children were in the midst of training or already independent. Lilli’s mother Anna moved into a spacious apartment of her own at Fruchtallee 32 in Eimsbüttel. By renting out three rooms at 21 RM (reichsmark) each a month, she earned a living. Lilli did some traveling after having worked as a "nanny” for families in Bahrenfeld and on Isestrasse in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel for a brief period. Lola worked as an office employee at the Paulinenstift Israelite Girls’ Orphanage headed by Louis Tannenwald, also residing there. Luise, the youngest, attended the Paulinenstift as a student. In May 1910, Marga arrived from Schleswig. She had attended the local teacher training college, subsequently living as a governess with a family for an extended period in each case. During the weeks between two posts, she spent time with her sister Lilli or their mother.
Lillis Mayer’s husband Julius, born on 27 June 1880 in Rogasen in the Prussian Province of Posen, was also from a Jewish family. His father, Machol Mayer, a prosperous livestock dealer and master butcher, remained behind in Rogasen with his wife Bertha, née Mottek, when Julius left his birthplace in 1907 and moved to Hamburg. A few months after his arrival, by then 27 years old, he received the certificate exempting him from military service. Julius Mayer found a job with the local branch of the public health insurance company (Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse) in Hamburg, residing at Rappstrasse 10 at the time of his wedding, while Lilli was registered as residing with her mother at Fruchtallee. The witness to the marriage on the bride’s side was Louis Tannenwald, the principal of the Israelite Girls’ Orphanage.
After their wedding, the spouses moved to Papenstrasse 96 in Eilbek. On 31 Aug. 1912, Lilli gave birth to their only son, Fred Lothar. After several other relocations, in Nov. 1916, the family settled down for good at Auenstrasse 5a, also in Eilbek, where Lilli Mayer lived for the next 25 years with only one unintentional interruption of one year and three months.
With the start of the First World War, the tenants of Lilli Mayer’s mother, Anna Moses, stayed away. She only lived on "family support” from a son serving in the German Imperial Army, amounting to 38 RM, and 10 RM on top of that from her daughter Vally, who was employed as an educator at the Paulinenstift. None of her other children were capable of contributing to support her. One way out was moving into an apartment of a charitable foundation but one prerequisite for doing so was possession of Hamburg citizenship. She obtained it on 17 Apr. 1915 because she "has no convictions and is eligible for subsidized housing here,” even though she "does not earn a taxable income.” Anna Moses moved to the Rée-Stift, a charitable foundation at Schedestrasse 37 in Eppendorf. The children as yet underage, Edgar, Lola, and Luise, found accommodation with older siblings or took on posts as domestic servants. In Sept. 1915, Marga entered a "mixed marriage” ("Mischehe”) with the Christian man Christen Rudolf Katzung; Vally moved to the Netherlands in 1917 and married the Dutchman Leon Creveld in The Hague in 1920. The next to get married was sister Hertha in 1923, to Friedrich Wetzel, a native of Iserlohn. Their only daughter Gerda was born in 1930. Both husbands were Jewish. Friedrich Wetzel had a son from a first marriage, whom Lilli’s sister Erna married.
Lilli Mayer’s husband, Julius Mayer, returned an ill man from the First World War, in which he had to participate after having been remobilized. He died on 26 Nov. 1918 of pulmonary tuberculosis as a consequence of the war and was buried in the Ohlsdorf Jewish Cemetery. His widow maintained only loose contact to her husband’s family. Apparently, his mother had passed away when Julius Mayer’s father, Machol Mayer, and two of his sisters moved from Rogasen to Eberswalde, where they built a new life for themselves.
In 1919, Leonhard, another brother of Lillis, also arrived in Hamburg, living as a horticulturist in Pöseldorf-Harvestehude. In 1931, he, his Hamburg-born wife, and a son moved to Bremen, where he worked as a horticulturist and florist.
Fred, Lilli Mayer’s son, was enrolled in the boys’ elementary school (Volksschule) on Kantstrasse the spring of 1919.
Lilli Mayer found employment with the public welfare authority for war-disabled veterans.
The year 1920 brought a number of changes within the family. The oldest brother, Hermann, took up residence in Breslau (today Wroclaw in Poland); the youngest brother, Edgar, joined the Jewish Community as an independent member; Lola married the bread merchant Bruno Hartkäse from Grossleinungen in the Mountain District of Mansfeld (see biography on Lola Hartkäse, http://www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de); and the youngest sister, Luise, passed away. She was buried in the Ohlsdorf Jewish Cemetery, not far from her brother-in-law Julius.
On 9 Sept. 1921, Lilli Mayer joined the German-Israelitic Community in Hamburg. She was obliged to make only a minimum contribution because she had to support her mother and because her son was "suffering from nervous disease.” Hoping to find a good father for her son, she married a second time on 22 Dec. 1922. Her husband, the commercial agent Wilhelm Schumacher, born in 1882 in Spenke, District of Osten, was non-Jewish. She voluntarily left the Jewish Community, and involuntarily lost her position with the welfare office, which at the time was usual for women getting married. Although she received severance pay, its value dwindled because of the inflation.
From the very start, Lilli Mayer’s second marriage was under strain due to irregularities of which her husband was guilty. In 1925, when Wilhelm Schumacher signed a new contract of employment as a traveling salesman on commission with a basic annual salary of 200 RM, he was soon terminated because of misappropriation. In Sept. 1925, Lilli Schumacher filed a petition for divorce. After her husband had become violent toward her in October, ejecting her from her own apartment, she put her furnishings, which she had bought with her deceased husband, in storage and lived with her son at the home of her sister, Lola Hartkäse, on a visiting basis, though mostly at the home of her mother, Anna Lewin, on Schedestrasse. Her resources were very limited, especially because her husband did not meet his obligations to pay alimony. Her son Fred received a half-orphan’s pension, was exempted from paying school fees, and, as the second to top student of his class, he benefitted from an educational subsidy of 30 RM a month; Lilli received an additional pension. In order to eke out a living, she sold dispensable valuables. Eventually, she turned to the welfare office, receiving support toward her livelihood starting in Mar. 1926. In the summer, the Association for Holiday Trips (Verein für Ferienreisen) sent Fred for six weeks to the Netherlands to visit his Aunt Vally, who lived there in a childless marriage. During his absence, his mother was divorced. Reassuming her previous married name, henceforth she was called Lilli Mayer again. In early October, she got a job as a relief worker with the welfare office and afterward, she depended once more on welfare assistance herself, for her divorced husband did not pay the alimony of 100 RM. Lilli Mayer’s employment opportunities remained limited due to substantial partial deafness.
As of 1 Dec. 1926, Lilli Mayer was awarded possession again of her completely neglected apartment at Auenstrasse 5a. In order to make it inhabitable and to cover arrears in rent, she required a total sum of 250 RM, which the welfare office granted to her. It turned out that the amount did not suffice, because she scoured and cleaned her stored furniture and all rooms very thoroughly. This drove up the use of gas to an unexpected level, something that the welfare office was not willing to cover. In order to rent out a room, it had to be disinfected before, and then there was no bed linen. The social security office was very favorably disposed toward this friendly, willing, and hard-working woman, helping her to get a seemingly reliable source of income. However, the rental income eased her financial distress only insignificantly because it exceeded her overhead only by a small margin. With the death of Wilhelm Schumacher, her divorced husband, the last hope faded that she might get alimony from him after all.
Lilli and Fred Mayer shared the fate of thousands of Hamburg residents unable to find a permanent job. In terms of regular income, mother and son lived on Fred’s orphan’s pension, his educational allowance, a small supplementary pension and rental income, provided there were solvent tenants. In the following years, Lilli Mayer was assigned relief work with government agencies two more times, and the welfare office added up her pension claims with the aim of covering missing voluntary contributions in order to maintain her entitlements to future benefits. With respect to the disability pension, only a few stamps were missing, and they were "affixed later.” Renewed granting of the widow’s pension, which she had also lost with her marriage, was rejected because the independent examining doctor declared her fit for work despite her partial deafness. Her urgent entreaties to the head of the welfare office to give her permanent work or an increase of the welfare benefits, "so that the terrible worries will end,” were not granted in light of the financial situation in the German Reich. Although Fred once more spent a summer vacation with an aunt, this time with Marga Katzung and her two sons in Klecken in the "North Heath” (Nordheide), he remained malnourished. Since his father had died of pulmonary tuberculosis, he was under supervision by the public lung care service (Lungenfürsorge), which, however, was not able to provide adequate food and nutrition for him either. Lilli Mayer was also malnourished and she and her son were susceptible to diseases. Therefore, they were sent together to the relatives in Klecken during the summer holidays. These convalescent vacations with relatives also required a contribution of her own, which Lilli Mayer raised only with great effort. Despite the dire poverty, after the sale of the piano, she kept her household and her jewelry together. Though not of age yet, Fred took on preparing the applications for welfare assistance for himself and his mother, for instance, when boot repairs were on the agenda.
In 1929, Lilli Mayer’s mother, Anna Levin-Moses, died at the age of 73 at Eppendorf General Hospital. She was buried next to her daughter Louise in the Ohlsdorf Jewish Cemetery.
In Mar. 1930, Fred Mayer obtained his intermediate secondary school certificate (mittlere Reife) at the Realschule [a practice-oriented secondary school up to grade 10] on Ritterstrasse, starting an apprenticeship as an export merchant with the Jahnke Company in Speersort. In order to begin his training job, he needed a new suit and a few other small purchases. The fact that the welfare office did not cover the costs for these items resulted in the sale of the piano mentioned. Fred went to work by bike until it was stolen from the house attic. The public transport fare required after that diminished the expenditures for food. Fred fell ill with inflammation of the middle ear, his mother with rheumatism and later with pyelitis. When the statutory health insurance company terminated benefit payments for Lilli Mayer, the physician Jasper Lurie treated her free of charge.
The financial circumstances seemed to improve when Lilli Mayer learned about the death of her first father-in-law, Fred’s grandfather Machol Mayer. Fred was entitled to the inheritance but the last will was in Poland. There were no funds to pay for having a copy sent. The other ray of hope was the willingness of Fred’s training company to waive his remaining period of apprenticeship if he managed to find an employer who paid him higher wages. As a result, in 1933, he changed to the Alexander Goldschmidt Company, an exporting agency located on Jungfernstieg.
After the transfer of power to the Nazis, Fred Mayer no longer felt safe, fleeing to the relatives in the Netherlands. His mother assumed that he was only staying there to visit. However, even though he was not granted a work permit there, he did not return to Hamburg. With support from his Uncle Leonhard, who had emigrated to South Africa, he managed to escape to Cape Town in Oct. 1936, where initially he eked out a living by doing casual work.
On 4 Dec. 1939, Lilli Mayer re-joined, under compulsion, the Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband), as the Jewish Community was called by then, and she was registered with "Levien” as her maiden name. She was destitute and still received welfare assistance, which released her from paying the "head tax” ("Kopfgeld”) of 1 RM a month. In the fall of 1941, when the deportations began, she was notified to report for "evacuation” at the building of the Masonic Lodge in Moorweidenstrasse on 4 Dec. 1941. The transport was delayed by two days, eventually leading to Riga on 6 Dec. 1941, where it ended on Jungfernhof, an abandoned farming estate. Since Lilli Mayer was ill and weak, her chances of survival were slim. There is no further trace of her.
Lilli Mayer’s apartment was on a list of the Gestapo of apartments vacated due to deportation of their occupants. On 6 May 1942, 393.40 RM were transferred to the Chief Finance Administration, the proceeds from the auctioning of her remaining household effects and her jewelry.
Lilli Mayer’s siblings suffered different fates:
Edgar Levin did not manage to gain a professional foothold, and his marriage to a Christian woman failed. In 1938, he was arrested for "racial defilement” ("Rassenschande”). In 1939, he was, via the Glasmoor penitentiary near Norderstedt, committed to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he died before the end of the year, on 24 Nov. 1939. His ashes were buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Ohlsdorf (see brochure on Stolpersteine in Hamburg-St. Georg).
The marriage of Vally Creveld-Moses was divorced in 1936. Having returned to Flensburg, she was deported from there to Auschwitz on 14 Jan. 1943.
Lola Hartkäse, née Moses, was deported to Theresienstadt on 9 June 1943 and then assigned to a transport to Auschwitz on 15 May 1944, after which all traces of her life disappear. At the intersection of Wandsbeker Marktstrasse/Hammer Strasse, a Stolperstein commemorates her (see www.stolpersteine-hamburg.de).
Erna Levin was enlisted for forced labor in 1944 and she survived this deployment.
In Sept. 1915, Marga had married the Christian Rudolf Katzung. The marriage produced two children. Protected by the "privileged mixed marriage” ("privilegierte Mischehe”), she lived to see the end of the Nazi regime, though seriously ill.
Leonhard Lewin emigrated to South Africa in 1936. After a temporary stay in Germany in 1962/1963, he died in South Africa in 1971.
Hertha Wetzel, her husband Friedrich, and daughter Gerda were interned in the Westerbork camp and deported to Theresienstadt ten days later. They arrived there on 14 Sept. 1943. Friedrich perished in the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 30 May 1944. Hertha and Gerda Wetzel survived and returned to The Hague.
The fate of Alfons Mayer remains in the dark.
Lilli Mayer’s oldest brother, Hermann Lewin, lived as a musician in Berlin and was a member of the Jewish Community. From 1935 until 1940, the Berlin directory listed him as a conductor and pianist, respectively. Fred Mayer’s search for his mother led him to his uncle. He found him in Berlin in 1946.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2017
© Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: 1, 4, 5, 7, 9; StaH 213-13 Landgericht Z 28154; 314-15 OFP Oberfinanzpräsident 26 (Wohnungspflegeamt); 332-5 Standesämter 8681-1073/1911; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 38141; Joodsmonument, Jose Martin, Herinnerungszentrum Westerbork; Stadtarchiv Flensburg, Geburtsregister; mündliche Mitteilungen von Christiane Katzung; Dank freundlicher Mitteilungen von Bernd Philipsen, Flensburg: Stadtarchiv Flensburg, XIV Fot G 24 Bd. 2; Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Deportationslisten; Staatsarchiv Bremen, Wiedergutmachungsakten; "Der Weg" 1946; Stengel/Gerigk: Lexikon der Juden in der Musik, Berlin 1943; ancestry.de; Mitgliederverzeichnis der Jüdischen Gemeinde zu Berlin 1947; Berliner Adressbücher; Lammel, Jüdisches Leben in Pankow, S. 40 u. 208; Stolpersteine in Hamburg-St. Georg.
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