Susanna Abraham

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Susanna Abraham , née Heine , (* around 1746 in Nienburg ; † 1821 ) was a German merchant and founder in Nienburg / Weser . After the death of her husband Marcus Abraham in 1792, she became an independent trader and developed her Ellenwaren business into one of the leading trading houses in Nienburg. She was very involved in the Jewish community. Susanna Abraham made it possible to build the Nienburg synagogue, and a school was set up in her house.


Susanna Abraham came from a family of traders in Nienburg. The grandparents Franchen and Salomon Alexander were already based in Nienburg. A letter of protection from 1717 has survived for the grandfather . Sisge - as Susanna Abrahams was probably the real first name - was born between 1744 and 1746 as the second of five children to the married couple Röschen and Joseph Heine. Around 1765 she married Marcus Abraham, who came from Drakenburg . The marriage remained childless. After the death of her husband in 1792, Susanna Abraham continued to run the retail trade independently in her late forties. She was a successful business woman and developed her goods trade into one of the first trading houses in Nienburg. She was supported by commercial assistants, mostly her nephews.

Three generations of business women

Susanna Abraham had active role models for her independent business activity.

Her grandmother Franchen Alexander was born in Bückeburg, and her husband Salomon Alexander was a protective Jew in Nienburg. After Solomon's death, Franchen remarried. Her second husband, Philip Enoch from Lippe, was able to take over the protection of his predecessor. He traded in yard goods: cloth, ribbons, and lace that were measured and cut by the yardstick. In 1741 Philip Enoch was allowed to buy the house at Langen Strasse 66, which he had previously rented. Mayor Semler wrote in the deed that he had sold " this old, dilapidated and uncomfortable house and barn with a lot of costs to repair and expand " for 610 thalers to Enoch.

The house was later inhabited by Susanna Abrahams' parents, Röschen Heine, and her husband Joseph Heine from Berlin. Both had had the letter of protection since the 1730s. After the death of her husband, Röschen Heine also continued to run the wholesale trade. In 1796, at the age of 73, she gave up the business.

Grandmother, mother and daughter were merchants. From 1792 to 1796 there were two Jewish traders from the same family in Nienburg at the same time.

Commercial activity of Susanna Abrahams

Susanna Abraham's economic success was based on her many years of trading experience, a family network and extensive business relationships. The trading house Abraham was not only represented in Nienburg and the surrounding areas of Hoya , Landesbergen , Stolzenau and Liebenau . Visiting lists show that she sent her trading assistants to the trade fairs in Minden and the long-distance trading city of Braunschweig . Their business relationships reached as far as Hamburg , with its port the most important transshipment point in northern Germany. In Hamburg she ordered goods for resale. The orders were processed in writing. The Hamburg businessman A. Goldschmidt wrote to Susanna Abraham on January 11, 1804: At your request, a package with 2 Manchester pieces will be sent. To credit us the amount with the note below. [...].

Jews were subject to a number of laws and ordinances that interfered with their lives. The exercise of public offices and entry into the guilds was forbidden to them. The edict of King George I from 1723 was particularly important for trade. The edict regulated the trading activities of Jews and severely restricted the permitted range of goods. Jewish traders were not allowed to run an open shop. The sale of silk and haberdashery goods was also prohibited.

Susanna Abraham's business location was her house at Langen Strasse 79. Her plan to set up an open shop with a counter in her house failed in 1797 due to the opposition of the Nienburg Krameramt. As a result, she was only able to trade outside of her home at trade fairs and markets and directly from house to house.

Susanna Abraham was an extremely successful business woman who confidently defended her interests towards the city council, trading partners and the Kramer guild. In 1815 she succeeded in obtaining the license to trade in woolen goods. This was a considerable advantage over the local Jewish competition, because it put them on an equal footing with the Christian traders with their range of goods. For this privilege she paid an annual severance payment to the Krameramt. She was still forbidden to become a member of the guild. Their success aroused resentment, envy and fear from their competitors. Again and again she had to defend herself against the accusation of illegal peddling.

In order to secure the business succession, Susanna Abrahams brought her nephew Jonas Meyer from Petershagen to her home. He should inherit her home and business. For fear of the dominance of their trading house, not only the Christian Kramer, but also all protective Jews in Nienburg took action against this project in 1817. The protective Jews intervened in a letter: " [...]. There was no need for any further proof of how much the local protective Jew, widow Abraham, was favored by the freedom of trade granted to her by the Royal Provincial Government a few years ago. None of us is [...] able to match her [...] ". Susanna Abraham then made her house the res sacra , in which a synagogue was to be established. When she died in 1821 at the age of 75, her trading house also went out. Susanna Abraham was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Nienburg. Her tombstone has not yet been found.

The Nienburg Synagogue

In her will of 1817, Susanna Abraham bequeathed not only her house to the Jewish community, but also a capital of one thousand thalers in gold and other large sums of money: I am leaving my bourgeois house and accessories to the local community as a synagogue and for the sake of desssfalss necessary building and other facilities a […] capital of one thousand thalers in gold […].

However, the government in Hanover refused to set up a synagogue in their home . The reason was that it should not be located on the main street, because the Jewish worship service is always connected with the disturbance of the neighborly peace through the singing in the temple, which often lasts whole nights. The Jewish community then decided to build a new building behind the residential building on Schloßplatz. The synagogue was designed by the Flemish architect Emanuel Bruno Quaet-Faslem and built in 1823/24. It was a narrow, elongated, rectangular building with a gable roof in the classical style. The synagogue was destroyed in the pogrom night in 1938.

A Jewish school was set up in Susanna Abraham's house. The building was expropriated and Aryanized in 1938. The house is still preserved today, although it has been rebuilt. It is the only remaining building in Nienburg that used to have a Jewish community function.


  • Patricia Berger: “Get out of the sun!” Female résumés - experiences - articulations . In: Mark Feuerle: Nienburg. A city history , Bremen: Edition Temmen 2010

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