Memories of the Hudtwalcker family
By Mathilde Lutteroth
When I was a child I often spent the winters with my parents, brothers and sisters at the home of my grandfather, Ascen Lutteroth, at 6 Neuer Wandrahm, where the Zollkanal flows today on the site of the beautiful old patricians’ houses. Other “Hudtwalckers” lived at the time close to the steep-stepped house. The daughters were friendly with my Lutteroth aunts from childhood.
Around 1866, old Mrs Hudtwalcker, née Fiedler, lived in a summerhouse in Harvestehude where the large EckeMittelweg block of flats stands today on the Rabenstraße. During those years I used to see the old woman in her lace cap with ribbons. She lived with her daughter Amanda and son Heinrich. She was a familiar figure in Hamburg on account of her many fine attributes, but more so, perhaps, because she was ahead of her time. She particularly adored the new water cures and was indeed the first woman in Hamburg to be interested in air baths. There was a great furore when she installed an air bath consisting of a square, open-topped canvas tent on the roof of her house at that time on the Große Theaterstraße. She would take her air baths in it – quite an outrageous thing to do in those days. In 1869, the 40-year-old bachelor Heinrich Hudtwalcker and the 22-year-old Arthur Lutteroth would meet almost every Saturday on the Lübeck railway. Both of them stated the purpose of their journey: Hudtwalcker wanted to study the architectural beauties of Lübeck, but Lutteroth was smitten by the mid-winter charms of country life on his uncle’s property at Klinken near Oldesloe. After more frequent journeys together, it then emerged, however, that the real reason was that Anna Petit was in Lübeck and Mathilde Lutteroth was in Klinken.
Later on in Hamburg both of them would often meet Hudtwalcker and Lutteroth in beautiful Harvestehude. The daughters of the two couples later attended the same school run by Dr. Bulau on the Heimhuderstraße. Hedwig Hudtwalcker was very friendly with Elsa Lutteroth – and the latter spent many happy hours at the Hudtwalckers’ lovely house at 28 Johnsallee, which was an extremely hospitable home.
Heinrich Hudtwalcker was, like so many of his generation, intellectual and enthusiastic in many respects, almost to the point of being gushing. He often delighted his guests with his well-trained voice. He also took a great interest in art, yet was still regarded professionally as an able, successful businessman in his northern fish oil businesses.
One winter we had taken out a subscription together to the city’s theatre. Whenever we used to walk home together over the “Gänsewiese” (moors), he would often still be very enthused by the opera we had heard and frequently stood still. He maintained that he always felt the earth’s curve on the Gänsewiese, as if he were standing right at the top and the curve was beginning with the avenues. His garden with its many roses also gave him great pleasure. His greatest joy, however, was always his wife, to whom he was attached with an almost frenzied love.
The years changed nothing. She was also a particularly good companion for him, with her radiant serenity, amiability and constant youthfulness, and so when she died at fifty years old, she could have been taken for a thirty-year-old. She knew how to cultivate a great social life and was the best mother to her children, with a quite uncommon religiosity at the same time. When Karl Hudtwalcker, the only son at that time, had died at nine years old, I went to her before Christmas because I could only guess at how heavy her heart must have been. She led me quite calmly, however, into the hall, decorated as always with a huge Christmas tree and many tables. She had created a burial mound under the Christmas tree trimmed with greenery, a cross and flowers in memory of Karl. I was quite shocked, but she was quite calm and said that we could not wish him back because it was so much better for him in heaven. We should not begrudge him that!
She also tried to further her education herself and for a long time had French read once a week in the afternoon on her pretty veranda, for instance Corinne and other old-fashioned pieces. Apart from me, Mrs Mathilde Mönckeberg (subsequently the mayor’s wife), Mrs Emden, née Rücker and Thara Hertz were also there.
Alongside many intellectual endeavours in the house, there were also inventive ideas. Heinrich Hudtwalcker was an early riser and so the idea struck him of sweeping his coal cellar himself in the early hours and keeping it tidy. I myself saw this fire-box tended every day, through which a scrupulously clean path wound its way between coal, wood and peat.
The children were loved equally by their parents, but I think that Sophie was the mother’s particular favourite. With beaming eyes the mother once said to me: “Little Sophie is so angelic!” An unusual statement perhaps from a mother. But she was also an exceedingly graceful girl, most like the tall, dark blonde mother in appearance along with the third daughter, Anna. Only once did Sophie cause her parents great heartache. A kind of paralysis (blood poisoning?) had set in on one arm, giving them great cause for concern. The famous professor Esmarch from Kiel was sent for and talked about amputating the limb. Fortunately this did not happen and the arm healed completely.
Once we were at a large dinner at the Hudtwalckers. Sophie looked delectable in a white dress and was to go that evening to a ball at Dr Goverts on the Heimhuderstraße. Among the dinner guests was the young, blonde and handsomeGustav Albrecht, who years later was to marry Sophie. However, he had not been invited to the ball. I happen to remember that my brother, Dr. Alexander Lutteroth, danced the first dance at the ball with Sophie. This was a sign of great affection in those days.
Sophie was at her best in 1892 at the time of the cholera outbreak. Her mother Anne came to me one day at our little house at that time in Fontenay. She looked pretty and blooming in a hat with a crown of pink roses and the idea that she would be one of the cholera victims within a few days was inconceivable! She complained to me that her husband had been dragged down by the problems with cholera, that he would have to be distracted and amused and we should therefore come to them that evening. She herself was not afraid and quite well. Then the disease broke out. The children left the house, only the husband and Sophie remained there and Sophie very bravely held out to the last in her ministrations until death closed her radiant eyes for ever. It was said afterwards that the family had eaten uncooked pears from the large pear tree in the back garden. It was a great blow to the family and to their many friends.
Later Heinrich Hudtwalcker temporarily lapsed – and had done so previously – into melancholia, but after some time recovered completely and enjoyed life for years afterwards. He took pleasure in his children, his home and particularly in the club of friends that surrounded him, to which we, however, did not belong. He would often worry, quite unjustifiably, about his finances. Despite everything, we were mindful of his joy in life until sudden death plucked him from life when he was sitting in a cab in front of his office. The club initially consisted of Hudtwalcker, Hertz, Emden and Johann Mestern. Later on Nottebohm, Friedrich Baur, Rudolf Crasemann and Alfred Edye were added to it. When I think of the Hudtwalckers’ house, I am bound to think of Heinrich Hudtwalcker’s three sisters with the greatest affection.
Amanda Hudtwalcker clung to the house and the children with heartfelt love. She was clever, good and extremely brave, though she could be somewhat earthy or sharp-tongued. But I never experienced the latter because she was always helpful to us and would even collect our children every day when times were difficult and I knew they were looked after extremely well when they were at “Aunt Mande’s”. Thora Mutzenbecher, née Hudtwalcker was an active, friendly woman, though not as lively as her sisters, but she was the prettiest. She was the matriarch of a long line of descendents. (Mutzenbecher in America had 12 grandchildren, Schlüter 5 and Hertz 8).
Thusnelda Goverts, née Hudtwalcker, was loved and admired throughout Hamburg. She ran an immensely hospitable, intellectually stimulating home of the kind that was not to be seen in Hamburg again. Her life is described by Miss Thusnelda Kunhardt in the form of a manuscript. This is in the possession of the Director of the Regional Court (Landgericht), Dr Govert.
A pleasant surprise
The Hudtwalckers were in a deep slumber when they were woken by unfamiliar hammering in the cellar. Mrs Hudtwalcker climbed down there, unaware of what a surprise she would have. At the door of the girls’ bedroom an older woman met her with the words: “Mrs Hudtwalcker, congratulations, a splendid boy has arrived”. Then the “wise” woman led her to the cook’s bed (this much I remember) where the little boy was lying next to the mother. But on a chair in front of them sat the beaming father who turned out to be the cab driver and stayed quietly sitting there. After they had got over the unexpected surprise, the master and mistress revealed how kind they were. They adopted the little boy as their godchild, the parents became a married couple and the master and mistress did a great deal for the people. Mrs Hudtwalcker recounted the experiences of that terrifying night in a very humorous manner.
In memory of an old family custom, two large glass bowls on feet with fresh fruit and tropical fruits as well as oranges even in winter, figs, dates, almonds and raisins, etc. always stood on the Hudtwalckers’ everyday dining table.
A new generation of Hudtwalckers
We were close friends for many years with the Norwegian foster daughter of the Goverts-Hudtwalcker couple, Emely Langberg, and later invited her to stay overnight at our house at 24 Johnsallee. She brought with her one of her three nieces, Sigrid Holm, the daughter of the very well-known Norwegian pastor, Holm-Langberg. We therefore invited them to stay and both stayed for a few months as our dear guests until they accepted invitations to go to Mrs N Köhnemann and then to Adolf Woermann. Sigrid Holm was at that time a charming, pretty girl and I therefore found it quite natural that the young Heinrich Karl Hudtwalcker was one of those also paying his attentions to her. But neither Miss Langberg nor I myself had any inkling then of a more earnest affection until both ladies went back to Norway. As far as I remember, Heinrich Hudtwalcker had gone on board the ship to say goodbye and had at the same time become betrothed to Sigrid – to kind Aunt Langberg’s great astonishment and to the equal astonishment of all his relatives in Hamburg. His parents had been dead for some years by then, and he had become part of his father’s firm.
The genealogical book, Volume 19, shows the Hudtwalckers have Nordic, consistently fine, highly intellectual faces. The women related by marriage can also be called consistently pretty. Only Mrs Hudtwalcker, née Fiedler, was perhaps outwardly unattractive, but rather this very revered and perfectly genial woman brought even more intellectual energy into her family. The author of these memories, Mathilde Lutteroth, née Lutteroth, wrote about “The Lutteroth Family” in 1902. She was President of the Neustädterstraße Girls’ Refuge and the Hamburg Association of Girls’ Refuges from 1904-1908. Her husband (and cousin), Arthur Lutteroth, did an apprenticeship as a merchant and entered his father’s business, “Lutteroth & Comp.” in 1867. He was a member of the City Parliament and in the Trade and Shipping Delegations. The couple had four children, including Dr. Ascan Lutteroth (*1874), Associate Judge at the Hamburg District Court (Landgericht). As President of the Hamburg Family History, Sigillography and Heraldry Association, he edited the Hamburg Genealogical Book.
Written by: Mathilde Lutteroth.
Translated from German by ComText-Apropos AS, Oslo, Norway.