I. Buildings Integral to the Former Life and/or Persecution of Jews in Hamburg - Neustadt/St. Pauli.
The statue of Heinrich Heine stands on the Mönckebergstraße side of the Rathausmarkt (town hall square) as though it has always stood there. However, it was a long odyssey that secured Heinrich Heine a place on the Rathausmarkt and, like Homer's Odyssey, the journey began in Greece. The renown Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sissi) possessed a summer residence on the island of Corfu. Here she erected the Heine statue she had commissioned from the Danish sculptor Ludvig Hasselriis, perforce, while anti-Semitism in Heine's place of birth, Düsseldorf, prevented it being erected there as planned. Following the assassination of the empress in 1898, Kaiser Wilhelm II inherited the residence on Corfu, which he readily accepted, but was unwilling to retain the statue of the "Schmutzfink in deutschen Dichterwald" ("muckraker among German poets"). Heine's publisher, Julius Campe, brought it to Hamburg but the city rejected the statue, allegedly while it was "second-hand". Campe erected the statue in his own garden in Spitalerstraße. It was repeatedly bedaubed and damaged there.
The city did not feel responsible for the protection of the statue while it stood on private land. Later, the statue was stored in a cellar. Finally, in 1927, the mayor of Altona, Max Brauer, gave the statue sanctuary in Donners Park. In 1933, the Nazis came to power and the Heine statue once again became a bone of contention. In 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war, Campe's daughter departed Hamburg, with the statue in a lorry, to settle in Toulon with her French husband. Heine was to be given a dignified and peaceful spot in a park there. The outbreak of war prevented this. The statue survived the war, and the German occupation of France, in a crate, forgotten until 1956, when it was re-erected.
In 1912, Hugo Lederer created another Heine statue for Hamburg. The opposition to this statue was also so strong that initially it could only be erected on private ground. It was not until 1926 that this statue was erected in the Stadtpark. It stood there until 1933 when the Nazis tore it down, and had it melted down during the war.
In the 1950s people recalled the existance of this statue, but it took more than two decades before the Hamburg authorities could be persuaded, by committed citizens, to honour the poet. Fortunately, there was a small model of Lederer's statue in existence. A new Heine statue was fashioned from this model, and, in 1982, was erected in the Rathausmarkt. After the unveiling of the statue the renown Jewish writer Arie Goral-Sternheim wrote: "Dieses Heine-Denkmal ist ein nicht hoch genug einzuschätzender Beitrag zur Überwindung der vergangenheitsbelasteten, unbewältigten Gegenwart." ("This Heine statue is a positive contribution to the surmounting of the iniquities of the past, that cannot be praised highly enough.")
The destruction of the original statue, and the 1933 burning of books, by the Nazis, Heine's books also landing on the pyre, are recalled in relief on the base of the statue.
The shy young Heinrich from Düsseldorf also had problems with the Hamburg temperament. He wrote to a friend, "Ich lebe hier ganz isoliert." ("I live completely isolated here"). This was perhaps somewhat exaggerated as he had access his uncle Salomon's extensive society. In his magnificent villa in Elbchaussee, Salomon Heine was host to such prominent guests as fieldmarshal Blücher. Heinrich generally remained in the background, playing the uncomfortable role of the poor relative. Later, he wrote commending Hamburg, that the customs were English and the food "excellent".
Salomon Heine then sponsored his nephew Heinrich to study law in Berlin and Göttingen. Unlike his uncle, he became a baptised Christian, with the view of acquiring a position. This isolated him from both Christians and Jews. "Kaum bin ich getauft, so werede ich als Jude verschrien ... jetzt bei Christ und Jude verhaßt ... ich bereue." ("Scarcely am I baptised than I am a notorious Jew ... I am now hated by both Christian and Jew ... I regret my action"). He unsucessfully applied for a position in Prussia, and later as a lawyer in Hamburg. He lived with his parents in Lüneburg at first, and then, with support from his uncle Salomon, made journeys to England and Italy. In 1830, he moved to Hamburg for a year but found no prospect of a job there. He finally moved to Paris to become a world famous poet.
He occasionally visited Hamburg mainly to persuade his uncle Salomon to continue his financial support. The acquisition of fame as a poet brought financial reward with it, mainly attributable to his Hamburg publisher Julius Campe. He married Mathilde, whose given name was Crescentia, in Paris. She was a shoe seller and suffered terribly through Heinrich wanting to turn her into a cosmopolitan lady. She defended herself with violent outbursts of temperament.
She won the affection of Salomon Heine who visited them in Paris, and was included in the financial support already received by Heinrich. In 1844, Heinrich Heine once again travelled to Hamburg from which arose his most famous book: "Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen". In 1848, he was taken ill with an agonizing condition of the spinal chord that confined him to his "deathbed". He died on 17th February 1856 following this long illness.
Entrance Hall of the Rathaus (Town Hall):
This action took place without it being reported in the press.