I. Buildings Integral to the Former Life and/or Persecution of Jews in Hamburg - Neustadt/St. Pauli.
No. 19 Neuer Wall.
Up until the 1930's, the Hirschfeld fashion house was one of the major stores situated in the Hamburg city centre. The Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses, even in allegedly liberal Hamburg, hit the store hard. The clothing store was one of the targets of the Nazis' violent rampage on the night of the 9th/10th November, i.e. the so-called "Kristallnacht" (Pogrom Night). The windows were smashed, the furnishings destroyed and the merchandise thrown into the Alsterfleet (Alster canal). The store owner, Benno Hirschfeld, and two of his nephews were arrested and dragged off to a concentration camp. Following his release Benno Hirschfeld was forced to experience the "arisierung" of his business. ("Arisierung" = the Nazi term for the expropriation of Jewish property and its transfer to non-Jewish ("Aryan") ownership. "Arisierung" was enforced by a series of laws and regulations, and the use of naked violence. "Arisierung" was also used to exert pressure on "Jews" as an inducement for them to forcibly emigrate. Many of those who were "arisiert" no longer possessed the necessary finances to emigrate.)
On the 22nd November 1938 the Hamburg Oberfinanzpräsident (Head of the Treasury) issued a restraining order on the pretext that the Hirschfeld family planned to emigrate. The business was then sold to the "Aryan" businessman, Franz Fahning, who had already cheaply acquired other "arisierte" clothing businesses. The Hirschfeld family did not even receive the laughably low purchase price. On 30th November 1938, Fahning announced in an advertisement that the firm Hirschfeld had "restlos in arichen Besitz übergegangen" (passed totally into Aryan ownership).
Benno Hirschfeld was rearrested and murdered in Buchenwald Concentration Camp shortly before the end of the war. Other Hirschfeld family members were able to flee to Uruguay just before the outbreak of the war.
The property was returned to the Hirschfeld family after the war as indemnification, however, Fahning was allowed to continue running the business. In 1956, Fahning bought half ownership of the property from one of the Hirschfeld heirs; the other half remaining in the Hirschfeld family.
In 1991, Fahning sold his part of the property to the property speculator, Dr. Jürgen Schneider, who planned to profit through renovating the building. There followed a conflict between Schneider and the Hirschfeld family over the level of rent to be paid. Schneider asked the county court for a compulsory auction of the property in order to oust the Hirschfeld family. A Dutch firm, later found to be one of Schneider's companies, outbid the Hirschfeld family. Hans Hirschfeld described the compulsory auction as a "zweite Enteignung" (second expropriation).
During the expensive renovation of the building Schneider's property empire spectacularly collapsed and "Hamburgs berühmteste Bauruine" (Hamburg's most famous unfinished building), as the "Hamburger Abendblatt" newspaper referred to it, was abandoned. Bankrupt, Schneider and his wife disappeared abroad, later to be arrested in Miami and brought back to Germany for trial.
No. 19 Neuer Wall then became the property of a bank which financed the completion of the renovation. Today it houses Hermès Paris, Giorgio Armani and Habitat.
"Arisierte" ("Aryanized") Businesses:
The businessman, Hans Robinsohn, who owned a large clothing store in Neuer Wall on the
junction with Schleusenbrücke, recalls the first years of the Nazi regime:
Another of the numerous examples of such criminal expropriation of property was the famous Bucky department store, at No. 4 Eimsbütteler Chaussee, to which belonged the well-known advertizing slogan: "Selbst die Tante aus Kentucky geht zum Ausverkauf nach Bucky!".
In 1938, after having experienced years of Nazis standing in front of the store agitating customers to boycott the store with placards that read: "Wer beim Juden kauft ist ein Volksverräter" (anyone who buys from a Jew is a traitor to the people), the department store was "arisiert".
Members of the Bucky family were only able to flee to Uruguay and the USA with the greatest of difficulty, and with the loss of their property.
In this way hundreds of Jewish businesses in Hamburg came into the possession of "Aryan" owners. During the war, not only businesses but also the private property and money of Jewish citizens were "arisiert", most of whom were later murdered in the Nazi concentration and extermination camps.
Frank Bajohr in his book "Arisierung" in Hamburg. The Verdrängung der jüdischen Unternehmer unter nationalsozialistische Herrschaft, Christians Verlag, Hamburg 1997, estimates that a total of over 100,000 Hamburg citizens were beneficiaries to this criminal expropriation of Jewish property.
Remarkably, in 1987, 1988 and 1989, numerous businesses in Hamburg celebrated their 50th anniversaries but more remarkable was how many of these firms concealed that they had come into existence through this process of "Arisierung".