The former Talmud Tora Realschule was built by the architect Ernst Friedheim, and officially opened on 20.12.1911.
In 1909, the Hamburg Senat (executive), notified the Bürgerschaft (parliament) that the school board had the intention of transferring the school accommodated in two houses in Kohlhöfen, in the Neustadt district, to a newly built school in another district of the city. The circa 4,000 m² property, owned by the city, situated in Grindelhof next to the Bornplatz Synagogue, appeared ideal to the school board. The Senat moved that the property be sold to the school.
The school building had three storeys: the groundfloor contained 5 classrooms, the headteacher's office, a conference room, and a map room. The rear wing housed the gymnasium with a gallery enabling it to be used as an assembly hall. The first floor housed 5 classrooms, a conference room and the staff-room. The second floor housed a further 5 classrooms.
At the opening of the new school at No. 30 Grindelhof in 1911, Dr. Joseph Goldschmidt continued
as headteacher. He had been such since 1889. At the opening of the new school he summarized
the educational goals of the school so:
This nationalism was incompatible with Zionism. When the Warburg family wanted to make a large donation to the school in memory of the 1910 deceased Moritz M. Warburg, who had greatly supported the school in the past, Goldschmidt, and others, made it clear that it was not his job to educate "additional pupils" to become "hebrew speaking settlers for Palestine", rather to produce loyal citizens of "our German fatherland".
Dr. Joseph Carlebach became head of the school on 1.04.1921. He reproached the school for being "ossified", and described it, and other schools, as being a "poor imitation" of the secular, state schools. His desire to restructure education in the school sprang from a combination of orthodox and zionist views. He wished to reanimate the national content of language, country and culture within the Jewish religion. The living language of the people and culure of "Israel" was to be formed from the dead Hebrew language and the language of worship. In a letter to the Education Authority dated 17.02.1924, Dr. Carlebach, and the school board, set out in concrete terms a restructuring of the school.
The most important proposals were: from Easter on, to convert the Vorschule (three years schooling prior to secondary school - in operation until 1920) into a Jewish Grundschule (primary school). Those pupils in the Sexta (former entry class of a grammar school, i.e. 5th school year) that were unable to pass the examination leading to the Quinta (second year of grammar school, i.e. 6th school year) were to enter the 5th year of the Volksschule (previously a school providing basic primary and secondary education) that was fed from the newly established primary school. The foundations were thereby laid for a Jewish Volksschule of 8 years duration.
In a further letter, dated 21.01.1926, Dr Carlebach, informed the Education Authority, in the name of the school board, that due to financial reasons the Volksschule and Realschule were to temporarily remain in one building under one headteacher.
On 4.08.1925, Dr Carlebach was chosen Chief-Rabbi of the Hochdeutschen Israelitischen Gemeinde in Altona (High German Israelite Community in Altona). In this connection the Altona community requested a reference from the Hamburg Education Authority. In their reference, the Education Authority attested that Dr Carlebach had been headteacher of the Talmud Tora Realschule since 1.04.1921, and in this capacity had proved to be a "good educationalist" and "thoroughly competent administrator". His copious knowledge and his "sense of justice" had quickly gained him the respect and trust of his staff, and the "admiration of his pupils", which was acknowledged by the parents. They could only commend his "energetic" and "attentive" work for the school.
He did not depart the school until 11.04.1926.
The rooms were decorated with exemplary pictures. The excellent art teaching was due to his stimulus and the relentless effort of the excellent art teacher Kallmann Rothschild II. School journeys were regularly organized. Individual work of pupils and the concept of the Arbeitsschule (Georg Kerschensteiner, 1854-1932), where the personal initiative of the child was emphasized, became popular. A school orchestra was founded by the young Dr. Joseph Jacobsen. Study groups comprising teachers, and teachers and pupils were initiated. The teachers were entrusted with the mind and "soul" of their pupils and this was to be the foundation of teaching.
Dr. Carlebach always had the trust of his pupils to an unprecedented degree. His enthusiasm and "flow of ideas" were communicated to his pupils. Their delight in the school was visible and a reluctance to attend school practically unknown.
In conclusion are several reports about the Talmud Tora Realschule during the period
in which Dr. Carlebach was headteacher:
On 20.11.1982, in Hamburg, Herr T., who attended the school between 1917-1924, gave
the following account:
Another former pupil Herr G., now in New York, who left school in 1924 and began a business
training gave the following account while on a visit to Hamburg in June 1982:
Herr G. had Dr. Carlebach for Hebrew and remembered him well.
The employment of Arthur Spier as the new headteacher took place after the farewell party for Dr. Carlebach. On 29.11.1926 Arthur Spier wrote to the Education Authority reiterating the desire for recognition of a separate Volksschule (a school providing basic primary ans secondary education). He offered to bear the cost of the primary school and Volkschule, while he requested the continued state susidizing of the Realschule. He pointed out that the Deutsch-Israelitische Gemeinde (German Israelite Community) financially supported the present Realschule. This did not bias the school in any way, it being an independent Kuratoriumsschule (school run by a board of trustees) whose strict orthodox Jewish management was stipulated in the will of the founder.
In 1928 the Talmud Tora Realschule initiated the founding of an upper school. In a letter dated 28.11.1928 Albert Spier requested from the Education Authority that the Untersekunda (sixth year of secondary school = tenth school year) continue into the following year as Obersekunda (seventh year of secondary school = eleventh school year). His grounds were that Jewish religious law disallowed Jewish school children from attending school on Saturdays and Jewish holidays. The Education Authority had accommodatingly authorized Jewish pupils to be excluded from school on these days. In practice, however, the regular absence from school of Jewish pupils was a serious disturbance to teaching and proved an impediment to the proper running of a school. As a consequence of previously unsuccessful attempts to solve this problem practically all headtechers of state secondary schools either opposed or rejected the admission of Jewish pupils to their schools. In conclusion Spier declared that the school was prepared to comply completely with all the directions and demands regarding the improvement to the natural science laboratory, teaching materials collection, etc.
Between the years 1924 and 1927, 40 out of 89 Untersekunda pupils entered the Obersekunda. In the year 1924/25 the Albrecht Thaer Oberrealschule led all schools with 9 out of 10 pupils entering the Obersekunda. Pupils from the Talmud Tora School generally transferred to the Albrecht Thaer Oberrealschule, formerly in Vor dem Holstentor, in the St. Pauli-Nord district. In 1925/26 the Albrecht Thaer Oberrealschule shared its position with the Heinrich Hertz Realgymnasium, with 5 out of 14 pupils entering the Obersekunda. In 1927/28 the Oberrealschule Bogenstraße led with 4 out of 8 pupils, followed by the Albrecht Thaer Oberrealschule with only 2 pupils.
At the beginning of 1929, Spier was able to announce that the Education Authority had authorized the continuation of the Untersekunda into the Obersekunda for the year 1929/30. The establishment of an Obersekunda lay the foundation stone for the development of a secondary school with sixth form, i.e. a school with nine school years culminating with a university entrance examination.
In a letter to the Housing Department, dated 15.05.1929, Spier explained that the shortage of space in the school had compelled it to purchase the neighbouring property at No. 38 Grindelallee.
In a letter dated 17.03.1932 the Senator responsible for the Secondary School Education Authority informed the Reichsminister des Innern (Home Secretary), in Berlin, that the Talmud Tora Realschule had become a secondary school with sixth form, through the extension of the school with Obersekunda, Unterprima (lower sixth) and Oberprima (upper sixth), and following the sitting of the first Reifeprufung (university entrance examination = A Levels) at Easter 1932 would be acknowledged as an Oberrealschule. Following this the school officially used the title: Tamud Tora Schule (Volks- und Oberrealschule) in its correspondence and documents. It retained this name until April 1937.
In a report to the Education Authority, dated 17.08.1934, Spier gives an interesting picture
of the circumstances of the school following the so-called Machtergreifung (seizure of power)
by the Nazis:
On 7.06.1937, Spier was still able to give a detailed account of several aspects of the
teaching of Jewish subjects in the school to the Education Authority:
The school could only fulfil its major task by teaching the Jewish subects "objectively and thoroughly" and "educationally tactfully" so that none of the different religious associations need have any doubts.
On 15.04.1937, the school had to change its name from Talmud Tora Schule, Volks- und Oberrealschule to Talmud Tora Schule, Volks- und Oberschule. In September 1938 the name changed again to simply Talmud Tora Schule. On 7.09.1938, Spier presented a list to Gestapo Regional Headquarters with the letterhead Talmud Tora Schule. The list comprised the 28 pupils, whose parents lived in the then pre-war Germany, i.e. Berlin or Vienna, and who were registered in the school after 1 January 1938. Pupils and teachers coming from outside Hamburg had to immediately register with the Gestapo in accordance with a consultation of 5.09.1938.
In the Pogrom Night of 9/10.11.1938 the teachers of the Talmud Tora School were
arrested. Spier himself was committed to prison in the police station in Sedanstraße which
joins Grindelallee from the west. Here he was pushed down some stairs. He suffered the consequences
of this violence until his death.
Frau P. from Israel, on a visit to Hamburg, gave the following account on 23.11.1983, regarding
the course of events that took place outside the school on 10.11.1938:
The "(Reichs-) Erlaß des Reichsministers für Erziehung und Unterricht über den Schulbesuch jüdischer Kinder" ("Decree of the Reich Minister of Education concerning the school attendance of "Jewish" children") of 15.11.1938, enacted the exclusion of all "Jewish" children from attending German schools. There were non-denominational and Christian boys among the 47 boys who were accordingly forced to register at the school, being designated as "Jews".
In the following months the Talmud Tora School was confronted with another problem resulting from the deportation of over 1,000 Polish Jews from Hamburg on 28.10.1938. Numerous children were left behind, alone and without means, in Hamburg.
Arthur Spier, teachers, and a number of other helpers, including the head of the orphanage, Raphael Plaut worked to get the children to England or Sweden. Spier accompanied such Kindertransports in December 1938 and March 1939. Spier travelled to London again on 8.08.1939 to negotiate the reception of further children. Gestapo Chief Göttsche issued Spier a certificate dated 7.07.1939 which stated that his reason for travel was in the "furtherance of emigration" abroad. It requested that his re-entry into Germany not be obstructed.
On 1.02.1939 a Kindertransport departed for Sweden.
In March 1983 Frau M., living in Seattle, USA, gave the following account of the
Kindertransport to England in 1939 on which she sailed as a young girl:
New problems arose for the Talmud Tora School at Easter 1939. Due to financial problems the girls from the Mädchenschule der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde (Volks- und Realschule) (German Israelite Community Girls' School), at No. 35 Carolinenstraße had to move into the Talmud Tora School building. Until this time co-education had only taken place in the upper school of the Talmud Tora School. Despite the ammalgamation, there were fewer pupils attending the school as in the previous year. 729 pupils had attended the school in May 1938, 700 boys and 29 girls.
Finally, the now sole Jewish school in Hamburg also had to give up its building. In July 1939, Reichsstatthalter (Gauleiter = district head) Karl Kaufmann issued the order that teaching was no longer allowed to take place in the Talmud Tora School after the 1939 summer holidays. In September 1939, Spier informed the Gestapo that lessons had ceased. However, the Talmud Tora School transferred to the former Mädchenschule der Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde at No. 35 Carolinenstraße. In the same year, i.e. 1939, both buildings at No. 30 and No. 38 Grindelhof became the property of the City of Hamburg. As the building at No. 35 Carolinenstraße offered insufficient space the building at No 30 Grindelhof was allowed to be used further until Spring 1940.
The Gestapo informed Spier in a letter dated 1.03.1940 that the Geheime Sicherheitsamt in
Berlin (Chief of Gestapo and SD) had appointed Spier the Leiter des gesamten jüdischen
Schulwesens im Reich (Head of the entire Jewish School System throughout the German Reich).
Spier was to travel to New York and obtain the necessary money for the planned reservation from the Warburg family. He obtained a letter of commendation from the Jüdischen Religionsverband (Jewish Religious Federation) in Hamburg. Göttsche was sure that Spier would return. However, Spier remained in New York.
Spier must have considered emigrating in 1939, as reports about him were submitted at this time.
One of his "exception talents" was negotiating with government departments. It was an "eloquent testimonial" that he gained the "respect" and "confidence" of officials by leading these negotiations with "skill" and with a "particular understanding for the interests of the other side". In conclusion it stated: "his departure will be an irreparable loss to the school".
In 1940 the City of Hamburg acquired the buildings at No. 30 and No. 38 Grindelhof at their rateable value, and immediately housed the Hansischen Hochschule für Lehrerbuildung (Hansa Teacher Training College).
In 1943, No. 30 Grindelhof housed the Staatliche Berufspädagogische Institute (Vocational Training Institute) and an independent Lehrerinnenbildungsanstalt (Women Teachers' Training Institute). No. 38 Grindelhof housed the Hansischen Hochschule für Lehrerbuildung (Hansa Teacher Training College).
Frau W., in April 1982 in Hamburg, related that in 1939 No. 30 Grindelhof housed a state run Haushaltsschule (School of Domestic Science) and a Sicherheitsdienst (SHD) (Crisis Centre).
The buildings No. 30 and No. 38 Grindelhof also became deportation assembly buildings for the
deportation of designated "Jews". The buildings functioned as such for three of the deportation
transports, on 19.01.1944, 30.01.1945 and 14.02.1945 to Theresienstadt.
Her daughter, Frau M., gave the following account
in 1984 in Hamburg. Her evidence confirms that this transport departed from the former Talmud Tora
We finished packing the following morning. I brought a trolly from my firm and we took our mother, with sleeping bag and large rucksack, to the Talmud Tora School where the deportation transport was to assemble. We were able to spend a short time with her in front of the school. She knew many of the other women there who were to be deported with her. While many were in tears, my mother succeeded in cheering others with words of comfort. I had nothing but admiration for her. We knew that the deportation transport was destined for Theresienstadt, which had the reputation of being a model camp (...). At this time it was clear that the war would not continue for much longer. We took leave of one another (...) entirely confident that we would see each other again in the foreseeable future. It was almost a year and a half before she retuned to us. During this time she received all but one of our weekly parcels."
In response to a letter dated 9.02.1944 from the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland
(Reich Organization of Jews in Germany) complaining about the "exceptionally" high cost of the
transport that departed on 19.01.1944 the representative of the organization in Hamburg, with its
office at No. 22 Bornstraße submitted a detailed, itemized letter. It stated:
· Provisions, including hot food prior to departure: RM 613.16 · Cost of travel: RM 394.05 · Medication: RM 151.99 · Fitting out of the waggons: RM 132.75 · Timber for fitting out the waggons: RM 100.14When one compared the above expenses with earlier deportation transports from Hamburg to Theresienstaft the later transports were less costly than the earlier transports.
The above expenditure meant that the individual cost for the proposed 98 deportees would have been around RM 20, and for the actual 61 deportees around RM 25.
Three goods trucks were ordered by the "Aufsichtsbehörde" (Gestapo) to make up the transport, two for the transport and accommodation of the deportees, half a waggon for the luggage and half a waggon for the Gestapo escort. The establishment and fitting out were carried out as with earlier transports.
In regard to the travel costs, due to the prevailing transport difficulties and the short period of time available to the deportees, the deportees were not able to bring their own luggage. The luggage had to be brought from outlying suburbs with correspondingly high transport costs. The Gestapo set a transport deadline of only 24 hrs. Herr Dr. Max Plaut was informed of the transport at 11 a.m. on 18.01.1944. He was instructed to immediately arrange everything necessary so that the transport could punctually depart on the following day. The deportees had to present themselves at the assembly building at 1 p.m. the following day.
It is assumed that the transport on 30.01.1945 departed from the Talmud Tora School as either, former assembly buildings no longer existed (Nos 2, 4 and 6 Beneckestraße) or were too large (Provincial Masonic Lodge at No. 36 Moorweidenstraße) for the 19 deportees on this transport. When possible, the Gestapo normally used an assembly building again. The fact that the next and final transport on 14.02.1945 also departed from No. 30/38 Grindelhof supports this assumption.
The "Einsatzbefehlen" (work orders) presented to the deportees were practically identical, differing only in the time stated for reporting, i.e. 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. In view of the age of the deportees, seventeen being over the age of 65, there must have been doubt about the urgent need for "deployment of labour abroad". In contrast to the transport on 19.01.1944, the "work orders" for the transport on 30.01.1945 were issued seven days before departure.
Although protest and complaint and attempts at postponement had no effect, it was also possible
to be deferred or exempted from this transport. Frau H. obtained deferral on grounds of
This "Arbeitseinsatztransport" (labour transport) comprised 66 women and 128 men.
These last three deportation transports from Hamburg also departed from the former Hannöverscher Goods Station.
The following individuals are representative of those deported on these last three deportation transports:
Of the 194 deportees of this last transport these four did not return.
Today, the building at No. 30 Grindelhof houses the Fachhochschule Hamburg, Fachbereich
Bibliothek und Information (University of Applied Science, Library and Information Management).
A memorial plaque has been erected on the wall left of the main entrance. Unfortunately it makes no reference to the former headteachers of the school and their contributions or to the fate of the pupils following the compulsory closing of the school. Nor does it refer to the fact that between 1944-45 the building functioned as a deportation assembly building for more than 270 individuals, nor that more than 80 boy pupils of the school were transported to various ghettos and concentration camps.
In 1981 an additional plaque was erected on the stair-well, that lists the former teachers
and pupils of the school who lost their lives during the First World War.
Today No. 38 Grindelhof houses the Europa-Kindergarten and a private residence.
More than 12 teachers and pupils of the former Talmud Tora School were deported. The following are named:
More than 80 boy pupils who attended the former school at No. 30/38 Grindelhof, at No. 35 Carolinenstraße or finally No. 3 Papendamm were deported. The following are named:
German text: Dipl.-Pol. Wilhelm Mosel, Deutsch-Jüdische Gesellschaft, Hamburg.