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Chaja Rywa Balck (née Skop) * 1895
Lottbeker Weg 24 (Wandsbek, Wohldorf-Ohlstedt)
CHAJA RYWA BALCK
Chaja Rywa Balck, née Skop, born 22 Apr. 1895 in Diewin, at that time Russia, deported 11 July 1942 to Auschwitz
Lottbeker Weg 24
The Memorial St. Nikolai is Hamburg’s central place of remembrance for the victims of war and tyranny between 1933 and 1945. The former St. Nikolai Main Church was destroyed during the air raids on Hamburg in 1943. In its ruins a museum commemorates the causes and consequences of aerial warfare in Europe. One object in the exhibition is a letter from 1 Sept. 1942 to the "Asset Reclamation Office” (Vermögensverwertungsstelle), a department that, among other things, confiscated the possessions of deported Jews for the benefit of the German Reich and "utilized” them. The author of the letter was a Ms. "G. von T.” – her name is blacked out. The letter states: "… please allow me to inquire about the house of the Jewish woman Balk in Wohldorf Ohlstedt … Since the place is intended for bombing victims, I wish to inquire whether it would be permissible to make an exchange. … Since I would like to live with my son in Ohlstedt near my parents, I request that you review my offer [!] favorably … Heil Hitler …”. Ms. G. von T. was advised "to contact the housing maintenance authority in this matter”. That office replied to her enquiry with a negative response. The aforementioned "Jew Balk” was the owner of the building at Lottbeker Weg 24: Chaja Rywa Balck had lived there for 13 years until she was deported and killed.
Chaja means "she lives” in Hebrew. We do not know whether her parents, the carpenter Selig Skop and his wife Eva, née Rosenzweig, gave their daughter that name because she was a particularly delicate child. We have no information about her childhood or adolescence. Her birthplace Diewin lies in Kobryn District, east of Brest-Litowski, in today’s Belarus. In 1878 the town had 2,490 residents, 998 of whom were of the Jewish faith.
Only a few documents provide information about Chaja Balck’s life. She moved from Warsaw to Hamburg on 21 Jan. 1919 where she lived in the Schmidt household at Brauerknechtgraben 8 III. Her registration card notes her profession as seamstress and her Polish citizenship. A short time later on 1 Mar. she was baptized at the Protestant St. Michaeliskirsche. It was there on 22 Apr. 1919 that she married the Lutheran workman Paul Balck, born in Hamburg on 29 May 1878. Chaja’s landlord, Wilhelm Schmidt, acted as their witness. Paul Balck lived in the same building. His parents were no longer living. His father, the Christian workman Christoph Joachim Friedrich Balck, had died in the poorhouse at the age of 79 in Aug. 1917. He had already lost his mother, Catharina Margareta Henriette, née Mohnsen, shortly before his eighth birthday in 1886. We know nothing about Paul’s childhood or education. It is not known whether he had any siblings. He fought in World War I as a soldier in Russia, which might be how he met Chaja, 17 years his junior. Kobryn District was intermittently occupied by German troops.
We do not know anything about the first years of their marriage. In 1929 they lived at Wilhelmsburgerstraße 83 III. That same year, Paul Belck had part of his war disability pension paid out as a compensation fund "for acquisitions and economic support”, which allowed them to purchase the property at Lottbecker Weg 24. In Mar. 1929 he was entered in the land register as owner, in June he received a loan from the city to build a single-family dwelling. In addition, he received a supplemental loan through funds from the Reich Housing Assistance Fund for disabled war veterans and surviving dependants. At the end of Sept. 1929, they moved to Ohlstedt. Initially they sublet part of the house, probably to finance the building of the house. The first tenant was a former housemate from Wilhelmsburgerstraße.
Paul was discharged as a disabled war veteran due to open tuberculosis which he had contracted in Russia. He was then permanently entitled to 80% of his pension. A doctor advised the couple against having children due to his illness. Otherwise they would most certainly have had children as they were both very fond of children, Chaja later wrote.
In the 1932 address book, Paul Balck was listed at the address Lottbeker Weg 24 with his occupation as "fruit packer”. Six years later he died at Marien Hospital, just shy of his 60th birthday, perhaps as a longterm effect of war. Not only did Chaja lose her partner when he died, she also lost the protection of her "Aryan” husband. As his sole heir, she became owner of the house.
As the following document shows, she must have led a very reclusive life after the death of her husband. On 10 Oct. 1941, Chaja Balck wrote to police headquarters, requesting that she not be required to wear the "Jewish badge”: "as the widow of a disabled veteran of the Great War and based on my conduct and my very withdrawn life … also considering that only Aryan people and children live in my house, and it cannot be in their interest that I am forced to wear this marking.” Her [criminal!] file gives no indication whether she ever received a reply. Instead she was summoned to the Wohldorf-Ohlstedt police station because she "[did] not include her identifying location or identification number on her identity card, … This is a violation of … the identity card order.” Chaja Balck stated in her defense: "I was unaware of the order. I live here alone and have no contact with anyone. I do not have any contact with other Jews. Nor with the Jewish religious community.” She was sentenced to a fine of five Reichsmarks (RM) or one day in jail and had to cover the cost of the court proceedings. On 26 Nov. 1941, she paid the court in Hamburg 7.50 RM. At the time of her hearing, she received a monthly military pension of 88.95 RM, likely supplemented by rental income.
Eight months later, Chaja Balck was deported to Auschwitz. On the deportation list, her occupation was noted as a worker, meaning she had performed forced labor. The chief finance president seized her property at Lottbeker Weg 24 for the benefit of the German Reich. In 1943 it was sold on to a severely disabled World War II veteran.
Information as of July 2016
Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: November 2017
© Sabine Brunotte
Quellen: 1; 5; StaH 332-5 3337 Nr. 280; StaH 314-15 OFP Akte 23; StaH 332-8 Meldewesen K 6988; StaH 332-5 1932 Nr. 2567; StaH 332-5 3337 Nr. 280; StaH 332-5 193 Nr. 1781; StaH 332-5 6963 Nr. 1504; StaH 213-11 643/42; StaH 332-5 7204; StaH 741-4 Fotoarchiv K 4379; StaH 522-1 Jüd. Gemeinden 992 e1 Bd. 5; Grundbuchakte Lottbeker Weg 24, Ohlstedt, Blatt 377, Einsichtnahme 14.2.2013;
Taufregister der Kirche St. Michaelis Hamburg 1916 bis 1920, Anno 1919 S. 140 Nr. 36;
Trauregister St. Michaelis 1919–1923, Anno 1919, S. 22 Nr. 106; www.mahnmal-st-nikolai.de, Zugriff vom 21.11.2015; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyvin, Zugriff 10.11.2015; www.agora.subuni-hamburg.de, Hamburger Adressbuch 1932 online, Zugriff vom 21.6.2016.
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