Hans Blum - originator of the Berlin Black Market Passport Business
Information from Josef Jakobs
According to Josef, Hans Blum had started the foreign naturalisation organisation in Berlin. At some point, Hans was unable to continue the business due to the restrictions placed on Jews. He then used Jürgen Ziebell as a cover before getting out of the business. While Josef said that Ziebell became very rich after taking over the organisation, he made no such statement about Dr. Hans Blum. This may suggest that Blum did not charge fees for his services or, if he did, that they were very reasonable. Even Josef admitted that he didn't make a lot of money from the business until he met Ziebell in January 1938.
According to Josef, it was Hans who introduced Rammrath and Ziebell to each other. Blum also introduced Ziebell to Wolpe and Roos who were involved with Irish naturalisations.
In September 1938, a Jewish lawyer in Hamburg was arrested for immoral conduct. The Gestapo found names and addresses of several Jewish individuals in Berlin. They visited Berlin and arrested Hans who was living at Tauentzienstraße 7 or 8. From Hans, the Gestapo agents got Rammrath's name and the latter exposed the entire business.
Josef stated that Hans was "now in London". There is no evidence that MI5 tried to track down Hans, or rather, no evidence that survives in Josef's MI5 files. Josef said that he didn't know when Blum came to England. He said that Hans had been released by the Gestapo at Prinz-Albrechtstraße but that he was still in Berlin in April 1939 as he had been interrogated again. Josef did know that Blum's wife and children were already in London at that time and assumed that Hans came to England soon after April 1939. Josef believes that Hans was interned upon arrival in England.
According to Josef, Hans Blum was about 35 years old and about 5'9" tall with a slim build, weighing about 120 lbs. He had dark blond hair with a small, pale face and a hooked nose. He wore no spectacles, was clean-shaven and had some gold teeth. Hans spoke only German and came from Berlin.
Tracing Hans Blum
I wasn't all that confident that I would be able to find much on Hans Blum, considering that his name would seem to be quite common. However... the clues that Josef gave provided enough information for me to be quite confident in the outline of Hans's life below. The German Jewish lawyer Hans Blum did indeed escape to England with his wife and daughter. He was interned at Kitchener Camp in Sandwich, Kent before being released to the Pioneer Corps in late 1939. His story is not without tragedy.
Most of the information contained below is pieced together from genealogical records on Ancestry and some Ancestry trees on the Blum and Jacobÿ families. I've also confirmed information presented in the Ancestry trees by visiting the Yad Vashem site and its database of Shoah victims. I also found some information about Hans on the Kitchener Camp website.
Parents of Hans Blum
Marcus Max Blum, a medical doctor, married Flora Wilde on 12 May 1884 in Berlin. Marcus was 31 years old, born 30 November 1852 in Fürstenberg an der Oder to businessman Wolff Blum and his wife Johanna Schlesinger. At the time of his marriage, Marcus was living at home with his widowed mother at Elisabethufer 46 (now Leuschnerdamm). Flora was 24 years old, born 9 October 1859 in Meseritz (now Międzyrzecz, Poland) to businessman H[??] Wilde and his wife Friedericka Kurz. At the time of her marriage, Flora was living in Meseritz, presumably with her parents.
Marcus and Flora had several children:
- Arnold Blum - born 13 January 1887 in Berlin
- Waldemar Blum - born 15 July 1888 in Berlin
- Margarete Lenore Blum - born 18 April 1892 in Berlin
- Fritz Theodor Blum - born 15 January 1895 in Berlin
It would appear that Hans Blum served during the First World War, but as a non-combatant, being awarded the Ehrenkreuz für Kriegsteilnehmer on 3 June 1935. At the time of the award, Hans was listed as a "Dr. Jur." (Doctor juris), indicating that he held a "Doctor of Laws" degree. His legal profession is confirmed by an 11 August 1928 passenger list from Hamburg to Bergen (Norway) in which Hans gave his occupation as Rechtsanwalt (lawyer/attorney/solicitor).
Hans was accompanied on the voyage to Bergen by his wife Senta Blum (born 29 July 1902). Berlin marriage records are not available after 1920 so it is likely that Hans and Senta were married between 1920 and 1928. A bit of sifting through the Berlin address books reveals that in 1926, Hans was living at the same address as his father, at Blumenstraße 57. In 1927, Hans was still living at the same address as his father, although it would appear that he may have had an office at Friedrichstraße 214. By 1928, however, Hans was living at Tauentzienstraße 8, suggesting that his marriage to Senta took place around that time. Hans had spent his youth in the eastern part of Berlin, in the Friedrichshain district. His move in 1928 to Tauentzienstraße brought him into Josef's stomping grounds, the Wilmersdorf district.
Hans's wife, Senta Salomea Jacobÿ, was born 29 July 1902, the daughter of businessman Louis Jacobÿ (born 2 November 1865 at Haus Lopatken, Kreis Briesen - now part of Poland) and Hannchen Gelhar (born 1 January 1876 in Wreschen - now part of Poland). At the time of Senta's birth, the family was living at Magazinstraße 13a in the eastern part of Berlin.
A couple of years after their marriage, Hans and Senta welcomed a daughter into their life. Steffi Blum was born on 16 July 1930 in Berlin. A few years later, on 30 June 1934, Hans's father, Marcus Max Blum passed away in Berlin at the age of 82 years.
Hans and Senta apparently did not change living arrangements after their marriage, with Hans and his family being listed in 1938 as living at Tauentzienstraße 8. This confirms what Josef had told the MI5 officers, that Hans Blum lived at Tauentzienstraße 7 or 8.
Escape from the Nazis
Whilst researching this blog, I came across a most fascinating and precious document which blew me away: an Entlassungschein issued by the Kommandantur des Staatl. Konzentrationslagers Sachsenhausen on 17 December 1938. [image link from the Kitchener Camp site] Discharge papers issued by the Commandant of the States Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen. Here, in one fell swoop I had seemingly found confirmation of several aspects of Josef's story: that individuals involved in the passport business were sent to a concentration camp, specifically Sachsenhausen, and that some of them were released. To me, this has always seemed rather unbelievable, that Jews could be arrested in 1938, imprisoned in a concentration camp and subsequently released from the concentration camp and then manage to escape from Nazi Germany.
It would appear, however, that in 1938/1939, Nazi Germany had yet to implement its infamous Final Solution. The Wiener Library site notes that single Jewish men from Germany and Austria were released from concentration camps in the aftermath of the infamous November Pogrom on the proviso that they leave Germany immediately, often without their families. In the case of Hans, his wife and daughter were already in England, so fortune was shining on him. According to the Sachsenhausen discharge papers, Jew Hans Blum was born on 2 July 1899 in Berlin. Hans had entered the concentration camp on 11 November 1938 (suggesting a connection with the November Pogrom which took place on 10 November, rather than imprisonment for the passport business) and been discharged just over one month later. The document noted that Hans needed to notify the local police upon his discharge and the document was stamped on 17 December 1938 by the police in Charlottenburg. Josef thought that Hans was still in Berlin in April 1939 but this does not seem to jive with the information provided the Wiener Library, that Jews released from concentration camps needed to leave Germany immediately. Although, it would appear that the 4000 German and Austrian Jewish men who escaped via this route arrived at the camp between January and September 1939. So, it is possible that Hans did not leave Berlin until after April 1939.
We next pick up Hans's trail in England where he was interned at Kitchener Camp near Sandwich, Kent [image link to Kitchener Camp site]. According to one of the documents posted on the Kitchener Camp site, Hans was a member of the camp staff from 7 June 1939 to 15 November 1939 (in charge of leave) and left to take up an appointment as a member of the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps. The 1939 National Registration confirms that Hans was at the Kitchener Camp in September 1939. Hans's wife and child, Senta and Steffi, were staying at Black Cottage in Eastry (near Sandwich). On 6 October 1939, Hans was brought before a tribunal which determined that he was exempt from internment as a Category "C" alien. According to the Kitchener Camp site, after Hans joined the Pioneer Corps, he was posted to North Devon (likely the seaside communities of Westward Ho! and Ilfracombe), where he and his family spent the remainder of the war.
Victims of the Shoah
Hans and his small family had been fortunate. They had escaped Nazi Germany and would go on to build a life for themselves in England. The rest of the Blum family, however, would not be so fortunate. Hans's mother, Flora, and his three siblings, Arnold, Margarete Leonore and Waldemar, would all perish in the Shoah.
- Margarete Lenore Blum (age 50) was deported to Riga, Latvia from Berlin on 19 October 1942 (Transport 21)
- Waldemar Blum (age 54) was deported to Riga, Latvia from Berlin on 19 October 1942 (Transport 21) (His wife had passed away in 1928)
- Flora (Wilde) Blum (age 83) was deported to Theresienstadt from Berlin on 28 December 1942 (Transport 1/51)
- Hildegard Hanna (Blum) Salinger (age 29) was deported to Auschwitz on 23 January 1943 (Her spouse is unknown)
- Rolf Heinz Blum (age 16) was deported to Auschwitz from Berlin on 26 February 1943 (Transport 30)
- Arnold Blum (age 56) and his wife Bela Malye (née Bergmann) (age 59) were also deported to Auschwitz from Berlin on 26 February 1943 (Transport 30)
A Life in England
Hans was naturalised in England on 23 December 1947. At the time he was living in London with his wife Senta and his daughter Steffi. It would appear that he continued to practice as a lawyer. A 1959 article in the Association of Jewish Refugees periodical notes that:
Dr. Hans Blum celebrated his 60th birthday on July 2nd. Through his work as a lawyer, he has proved a most helpful and trusted friend to many in our midst. At the same time, he has always rendered voluntary services to various organisations built up by German Jews in this country. He is the Treasurer of the Association of Democratic Lawyers, an Executive and Board member of the New Liberal Jewish Congregation, and a member of the Legal Panel of the Ex-Service (N.B.) Association; he also belongs to the Board of the organisation of former members of the Students' Fraternity, F.W.V. In all his activities, Dr. Blum has excelled by his steadfast devotion and a strong sense of duty. The AJR [Association of Jewish Refugees], with whose efforts he has been associated for many years, joins his numerous friends in wishing him health, happiness, and success for many years to come.
Two years later, in the last quarter of 1961, Hans witnessed the marriage of his daughter Steffi Blum to Benjamin N. Lachmann in Hampstead, London. In 1968, Hans welcomed the birth of a grandchild. The following year, on 23 May 1969, Hans passed away. A notice in the AJR stated:
Blum - Dr. Hans Blum of 37 Eton Avenue, London, N.W.3, passed away on May 23, shortly before his 70th birthday. Deeply mourned by his wife, daughter, son-in-law, relatives and many friends.
Two In Memoriam notices from the same edition of the AJR noted:
Dr. Hans Blum, a faithful member of the AJR, passed away after a short
illness on May 23. He would have been 70 years old on July 2.
Dr. Blum was one of the best-known legal advisers in compensation claims and a very active member of various Jewish organisations. He was on the Executive and Board of the New Liberal Jewish Congregation and for many years chairman of its Chevra Kadisha. He also served as treasurer of the Anglo-German Lawyer's Association and was closely connected with the F.M.V. Student's Fraternity. His death will be mourned by many people and our sympathy goes out to his wife Senta and his family.
Mr. Hans Sachs writes:
"Dr. Hans Blum wird nicht nur von seiner Gattin Senta und seiner einzigen Tochter Steffi nebst Schwiegersohn betrauert, sondern auch von einem sehr grossen Kreis seiner deutschen und englischen Freunde. Er war aber auch ein ganz besonderer Mensch, der sich seiner Mitmenschen, ob arm ob reich, in vorbildlicher Weise annahm. Er verstand es, alle, die zu ihm kamen und juristische Hilfe und Unterstuetzung suchten, so zu beraten, dass jeder gestaerkt und hoffnungsvoll von ihm ging. Wir, die wir das Glueck hatten, ihn als Freund naeher kennen zu lernen, haben einen schweren Verlust erlitten und werden seiner stets dankbar gedenken".
"Dr. Hans Blum is mourned not only by his wife Senta and his only daughter Steffi and his son-in-law, but also by a very large circle of his German and English friends. He was also a very special person, who cared about his fellow man in an exemplary way, poor or rich. He knew how to counsel all those who came to him seeking legal help and support in such a way that everyone left him strengthened and full of hope. We, who had the fortune to get to know him as a friend, have suffered a serious loss and will always remember him with gratitude."
As for Hans's nephew, Peter Wolfgang Blum, who escaped to the United States, he too married and had at least one child. One his children provided written testimony to the Yad Vashem site on some of the Blum relations who perished in the Shoah.
Hans sounds like an admirable individual and I tend to suspect that when he operated the Jewish emigration organisation in Berlin, he did so without a view to making a fortune from it. When the organisation/business passed to Ziebell, however, it became much more of a financial enterprise which took advantage of desperate people.
Ancestry - various genealogical documents
Berlin Address Directories - ZLB site
Wiener Library site - Kitchener Camp Refugees
Kitchener Camp site - memories of Hans Blum
Kitchener Camp site - documents of Hans Blum
Association of Jewish Refugees periodical - 1959 and 1969 (opens as a pdf)
Helen Fry has written a book - Jews in North Devon during the Second World War - there is mention of Hans and Senta Blum on page 130 (according to the index listed on GenUKi) - I have not seen the book.
The Kitchener Camp site was located just north of Sandwich, immediately northwest of Stonar Lake, on the west side of Ramsgate Road.