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Š The Wiener Library, London

The End of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin

The End of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin AKTIVE SMUSEUM Faschismus und Widerstand in Berlin e.V.

Aktives Museum Faschismus und Widerstand in Berlin e.V.

Small and medium-sized Jewish businesses in Berlin 1930 –1945 A research project by the Department of Modern German History, Humboldt University, Berlin

in cooperation with Leo Baeck Institute New York

English translation by Charlotte Kreutzmüller Berlin 2010



WeiรŸensee Pankow 4 16

Wedding 15




Prenzlauer Berg









19 11





6 12 9


Wilmersdorf Schรถneberg

Neukรถlln Tempelhof

Zehlendorf Steglitz





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Final Sale. The End of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin Nazi Institutions and Networks of Persecution

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1 E. Braun & Co. Berlin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Unter den Linden 2 2 Antiquariat Martin Breslauer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Französische Straße 46


3 Deutsches Theater. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Schumannstraße 13a 4  Erste Berliner Dampf-Rosshaarspinnerei (Ebro) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Pistoriusstraße 66 – 69

5 Fröhlich & Pelz. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Konstanzer Straße 1 6 Ritterstraße 86 7 Getreidegroßhandlung Alfred Höxter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Pariser Straße 32 8 und Berliner Produktenbörse Burgstraße 25


9 Eiergroß- und Einzelhandlung Jacobowitz & Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Bergmannstraße 16 10 Kreditwarenhaus Jonass & Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Lothringer Straße 1

11 Kutschera Betriebe: „Café Wien“ und „Zigeunerkeller“ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Kurfürstendamm 26


12 Private Kunst- und Kunstgewerbeschule Reimann. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Landshuter Straße 38 13 Ruilos Knoblauch-Verwertungs-G.m.b.H. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Achenbachstraße 33 / 35




14 Kostümhaus Theaterkunst Hermann J. Kaufmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Schwedter Straße 9 15 Gebrüder Eduard und Max Moses Wassermann. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Brunnenstraße 71 16 Wisbyer Straße 63 17 Butterhandlung Gebr. Weinberger. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Brunnenstraße 188 –190 18 Atelier Yva – Photographie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Schlüterstraße 45 19 Teppichgroßhandlung Nissim Zacouto. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Jägerstraße 61 Sources /  Acknowledgements Imprint

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The exhibition Final Sale. The End of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin is based on the findings of research carried out by staff and students at the Department of Modern German History of Berlin’s Humboldt University. The conclusive findings of the research project, which investigated the fate of small and medium-sized businesses in Berlin 1930 – 45, has been published in 2012. The exhibition was produced in cooperation with the historical society Aktives Museum Faschismus und Widerstand in Berlin e.V., which has been devoted to creating historical exhibitions with a biographical focus since its inception in 1983. Sixteen businesses were selected from the large number and wide variety of Jewish businesses in Berlin for the exhibition. Although they do not provide a comprehensive picture, they serve as examples for branches, fields of business and specific contexts which have previously not been the focus of historical interest. The intention is to add less widely known information to the cases already well documented in order to uncover new aspects of the history of Jewish commercial enterprise in Berlin during this period. The individual case histories are framed by photos of Berlin businesses which were targeted by boycott or willful destruction, visualizing the concrete threat that Jewish businesses faced. In this case, some well known photos were included of stores at unknown locations. Thanks to the project’s database, these could be accurately identified for the first time. C HR I S T O P H K R E UT Z M ÜL L E R , K A S PA R N Ü RN BE RG


Final Sale. The End of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin

Berlin – a center of Jewish business

Persecution and Counter Strategies

Berlin, the capital of the German Reich, was one of the largest industrial cities in the world, an international center of commerce and finance, and a Jewish capital. A quarter of all German publicly traded companies were based in Berlin. And nearly a third of all Germany’s Jews lived here.

By 1933 all Jewish commercial enterprises were threatened by National Socialist persecution. The SA menace was ever-present; business connections were cut, supply and service channels blocked and interest groups and chambers of commerce brought into line. However, the intensity of the threat differed from case to case and depended on a number of factors: The branch in which the business was active and its significance for foreign trade; the attitude of interest groups, competing businesses, employees and neighbors; the business’s location in the city and the nationality of the proprietor or main shareholder.

The Jewish population of Berlin was highly heterogeneous. In June 1933, Berlin’s Jewish community counted 160,564 members, about a third of whom were not German nationals or had been only since the end of World War I. They differed not only in their attitudes to religion and financial situations: Besides the prominent business elite, there were also thousands of Jewish blue-collar and white-collar workers, petty traders and unemployed as well as a broad middle class. Jewish-owned businesses played an important role in the city’s economy and dominated some branches. The preponderance of Jews in Berlin’s banking, clothing industry and department store sector is well known and has gained negative connotations in the light of anti-Semitic resentment. But Jews were also active in many other fields and branches, including the egg, grain, leather, metal and furniture trade, in textile and shoe manufacturing, in the radio and electrical industry and in the pharmaceuticals industry.


In an environment which was growing more hostile almost daily, Jewish business people developed a range of strategies in order to keep their heads above water. Some tried to take judicial action against their unfair treatment and sue their persecutors with the help of the Jewish community or the Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith. Others tried to occupy specific market niches or develop their foreign trade, enhancing their position as sources of foreign exchange and opening an escape route at the same time. Many began to explicitly address a Jewish clientele for the first time and advertised in Jewish community papers. Still others took on non-Jewish partners or changed the business’s name to sound non-Jewish. Most, however, simply tried to be inconspicuous, lived off their assets and waited for better times. Although none of the strategies could ultimately lead to success as Nazi terror and persecution took on unprecedented dimensions, this nevertheless shows that Jewish business people continued to act as independent agents.

Pogrom and the destruction of Jewish commercial enterprise in Berlin There were violent disturbances in Berlin even before the boycott of April 1, 1933, of which the “Köpenick week of blood” in June 1933, in which at least 23 people were brutally killed, formed a terrible climax. More disturbances, partly of a pogrom-like nature, occurred in Berlin in summer 1935 and June 1938. The latter so-called June riots served the Nazi regime as a dress rehearsal for the November pogrom in 1938. Between November 9 and November 12, thousands of Jewish businesses were systematically destroyed and plundered. The SS, SA and their henchmen destroyed not only window panes but also entire shop interiors and stocks and frequently business documents. After the pogrom, Jews were prohibited by law from conducting retail trade and handicrafts enterprises and from providing goods and services. Their businesses were liquidated or ownership transferred to non-Jews. At about the same time, the remaining Jewish owned manufacturing and wholesale businesses were systematically pressurized to liquidate their businesses or transfer them to non-Jewish ownership. A few Jewish business owners managed to continue to run their enterprises until 1941. Tragically, it was precisely the relative success of their defense strategies, combined with the optimistic view that things would improve, which led to some Jews leaving it too late to emigrate. This is clearly reflected in the Berlin commercial register: From late 1941, the deletion of businesses often occurred in tandem with the deportation of their owners and in some cases businesses were even deleted from concentration camps. C HR I S T O P H KRE U T Z M Ü L L E R


Nazi Institutions and Networks of Persecution Main parties involved in the persecution of Jewish businesses before 1933 from 1933 from 1937-38

NSDAP SA SS Hitler Youth German Labor Front Nazi shopfloor activists

Economic Advisor to the Berlin Nazi Party

The press Nazi press (Der Angriff, Der Stürmer, Völkischer Beobachter) Daily press Trade press

Reich Culture Chamber

Jewish commercial enterprises

Municipal administration Chief of Police (Dept. IV: Economic Control) State commissioner (from 1936, city president) Mayor of Berlin Local government offices and local mayors

Regional tax offices

(from 1937 ‘superior finance directorates’)

Customs administration Exchange control agencies

Chamber of Industry and Commerce

Reich and Prussian Ministries Reich Department of Commerce Reich Ministry of Finance Prussian Ministry of Finance Commissioner for the Quarter-Year Plan (from 1936) Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda Central Bank


Interest groups and corporations Various trade associations (from 1934-35 ‘Reich groups’ and ‘Commercial groups’)

German Labor Front (Nationalsozialistische Betriebszellen Organisation or NSBO) The German Labor Front (DAF) acted as a successor organization to the trade unions, which were abolished in 1933, and pursued a radically anti-Semitic course. Nazi shop floor activists (Nationalsozialistischen Betriebszellen Organisation or NSBO) antagonized Jewish co-workers and caused unrest in Jewish businesses. This usually led to the isolation then dismissal of Jewish members of staff and/or the seizure of Jewish businesses. Economic Advisor to the Berlin Nazi Party (Gauwirtschaftsberater) Heinrich Hunke was economic advisor to the Berlin Nazi Party. From the outset, he saw it as his task to “further stem the Jewish influence in Berlin’s trade and industry”. He propelled the destruction of Jewish commercial enterprise and, from fall 1937, was the de facto executive power in all instances of property transfer. Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Industrie- und Handelskammer) In 1933, the Berlin chamber of commerce and industry (IHK) was the largest chamber in the Reich. It acted as a center of liaison for businesses and authorities. From 1931, its tasks included assessing the projected usefulness of companies’ foreign travel and commissions. Even before the boycott, the president of the IHK, Karl Gelpcke, dismissed all the active Jewish board members under pressure from an “action committee of the Commercial Law department of the Federation of National Socialist German Lawyers” which stormed his office. At the same time, the IHK received an increasing number of queries into whether businesses were Jewish. The IHK began systematically screening all businesses in early 1938. After the pogrom, when the destruction of Jewish commercial enterprise was legally enforced, the IHK assessed the suitability of non-Jewish transferees and determined how many of the 3,000 Jewish retail businesses were to be liquidated. From 1939-40, the IHK attended to the deletion of the remaining Jewish businesses in the commercial register in close cooperation with the district court. Interest groups and corporations The city’s trade associations and interest groups were reorganized in 1933-34 in the interests of the new regime and leading Jewish members either removed or rendered powerless by the founding of new institutions. Subsequently, the old associations – now renamed ‘commercial groups’ (Wirtschaftsgruppen) – were required to submit business assessments on the basis of which supplies and commissions were allotted. This placed them in a position of authority, which they often abused to deliberately discriminate against Jewish businesses.

Regional tax offices (Landesfinanzämter) As well as the central tax office, the regional tax offices, which were subordinate to the Reich Ministry of Finance and renamed “superior finance directorates” (Oberfinanzpräsidenten) from 1937, enforced a tax adjustment law from 1934 designed to discriminate against Jews. In some cases, tax debts were invented in order to increase the pressure on businesses. After the pogrom, the tax offices charged a “Jews’ property levy”. The exchange control agencies of the regional tax offices carried out extensive examinations of Jewish businesses, especially scrutinizing any possible intention of Jewish business people to transfer assets abroad. Often the existence of high debts was enough to harden this suspicion. In this case, the exchange control agencies could block business accounts or confiscate traders’ passports. NSDAP The Nazi Party (NSDAP) was the central agent in the network of persecution. Joseph Goebbels, head of the administrative district of Berlin (Gauleiter), used his position to instigate pogrom-like disturbances in September 1931, early summer 1935 and June 1938. Goebbels played a key role in instigating and carrying out the pogrom in November 1938 and as administrative head of Berlin and Reich Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda was instrumental in radicalizing the persecution of Jews to the point of mass murder. The press The most important Nazi newspapers were Völkische Beobachter and Der Angriff, which was founded by Goebbels in 1927. Der Stürmer was not a Nazi Party paper in the narrow sense but was the most influential, maintaining a Berlin office from 1935. Jewish businesses were regularly attacked in all these newspapers. Der Stürmer also published lists of Jewish businesses and the names of their customers. Once the Nazis’ policy of Gleichschaltung, forcing people into line, had taken effect, the trade press and specialist journals also assumed an anti-Semitic style and reported sometimes quite openly on the destruction of Jewish commercial enterprise. Reich Culture Chamber (Reichskulturkammer) Founded in September 1933, the Reich Culture Chamber (RKK) aimed to unite all fields of the arts under one roof. At first it was difficult for Jews to become members and from 1935 they were actually barred. Exclusion from the RKK was equal to a professional ban and forced Jews in all fields of the arts to give up their professions.

Reich and Prussian Ministries The old-established ministries viewed the uncontrolled persecution of Jews, which began with the Nazis’ seizure of power, with skepticism. The Reich Ministry of the Interior feared for national interests, the Reich Department of Commerce was concerned about the consequences on foreign trade and the Foreign Ministry feared repercussions in international politics. Hence a number of appeals, especially those made by the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, were initially successful. From 1935, however, nearly all ministries were involved in developing anti-Jewish legislation. Following Hjalmar Schacht’s resignation in late 1937, the Reich Department of Commerce was reorganized under Hermann Göring, in his capacity as commissioner for the quarter-year plan, and eventually became the central supervisory body overseeing the destruction of Jewish commercial enterprise. SA The SA (Sturmabteilung) violently threatened Jewish businesses even before the Nazis’ seizure of power, organized the boycott on April 1, 1933, and continued to harass Jews and Jewish-owned businesses afterward. SA violence reached a final peak during the pogrom in November 1938. SS From 1934, all state concentration camps were controlled by the SS (Schutzstaffel). From 1936, the SS also infiltrated and controlled the entire police system. Jews were completely defenseless in the face of SS violence in the unlegislated area of the concentration camps. This also applied to the 5,000 or more Berlin Jews – among them an unknown number of business owners – who were taken mostly to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in June and November 1938. Municipal administration In the city of Berlin, the chief of police – Magnus von Levetzow and from 1935 Wolf Graf von Helldorf – was in charge of the economic administration. From April 1938, all property transfer contracts concerning Jewish businesses had to be authorized by him. The state commissioner and later “city president” Julius Lippert, who was superior to the Mayor of Berlin, terminated all municipal business contracts with Jews even before the boycott in 1933 and supervised the registration of Jewish commercial enterprises in 1939. Mayor of Berlin Heinrich Sahm tried to drive Jewish traders out of the city’s central market in summer 1933. Local government offices also boycotted Jewish businesses and barred Jewish traders from local markets. In 1938-39, they drew up directories of Jewish businessmen and trades people and supervised their takeover or liquidation on site. CHRISTOPH KREUTZMÜLLER

Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend) The leaders and members of the Hitler Youth (HJ) helped the regime before the boycott of April 1933 by drawing up boycott lists. In summer 1935 they played a major part in the riots. In June 1938, HJ units were partly responsible for daubing abusive graffiti on Jewish shop fronts and marking out Jewish businesses and participated in the pogrom.


Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, Handschriftensammlung

Emanuel Braun is widely considered to be the inventor of the boutique. His luxurious E. Braun & Co. stores in Vienna, Prague, Karlovy Vary and Berlin supplied Europe’s high society with formal wear, table linen and accessories. As Austrian nationals, the company’s Jewish owners were initially protected in Nazi Berlin. This changed however after Austria’s annexation in 1938.

Privatarchiv John Myer, Seattle

Viennese Luxury in Berlin

Emanuel Braun, “inventor of the boutique”, founded the company E. Braun & Co. in Vienna in 1892 together with his brother Josef.


E. Braun & Co. began as a bridal wear and accessories store, founded by brothers Emanuel and Josef Braun in Vienna. They were soon appointed suppliers to the Austrian imperial and royal court and opened branches in Karlovy Vary and Prague. Finally, in 1914, E. Braun & Co.’s largest branch was opened in Berlin, Unter den Linden 75, next to Hotel Adlon. Here the range of products was extended to include men’s wear and table linen and later also items of furniture and home accessories. Between 1926 and 1928, the store’s premises were renovated by Viennese architect Ferdinand Kratzky at a cost of 850,000 Reich marks. Now the building boasted a grand portal on the corner of Wilhelm Strasse and Unter den Linden and an elevator to the salesrooms on the second and third floors. The store was fitted with antique furniture and chandeliers imported from Vienna. In December 1930, Emanuel Braun’s sons-in-law, Hans Friedrich Mayer-Braun and Siegfried Franz Oser-Braun, took over the Berlin branch as partners of the parent company. Among their most prominent customers were the actors Käthe Dorsch, Helene Thimig, Emil Jannings, Heinz Rühmann and Theo Lingen as well as actor and theater director Fritz Kortner and composer Paul Hindemith.

Landesarchiv Berlin

Landesarchiv Berlin

E. Braun & Co. Berlin

Forced to sell after Austria’s annexation in 1938

The store E. Braun & Co. was situated next door to the legendary Hotel Adlon on Pariser Platz and profited from the hotel’s wealthy international clientele. The company held a ten-year lease on the premises. “The house owner, Hotelbetriebs-A.G., [will] take care not to give notice to quit to a solvent and old-established tenant, while conversely the tenant-taxpayer [E. Braun & Co.] will only seek alternative sales premises in the worst case. The expenditure of over 850,000 Reich marks shows how convinced the tenanttaxpayer is that the lease will be renewed on expiry after 10 years. They would certainly not have made such an investment if there seemed to be even a remote possibility of having to vacate their premises in 1937. Even now there is no evidence to suggest they think otherwise.” (Berlin tax office, auditor’s report on the company E. Braun & Co, 1936; JCC AZ 127436)

Landesarchiv Berlin

In May 1938, Siegfried Franz Oser-Braun was arrested by the Gestapo while on a routine business trip because his Austrian passport was no longer valid. While still in detention in September 1938, the property transactions office in Vienna forced him to sell the company E. Braun & Co. to Georg Wiedersum in Bremen. In 1942, E. Braun & Co. Nachfolger [successor] Georg Wiedersum, as the company in Berlin was now named, still had a turnover of 1.6 million Reich marks. On February 20, 1943, the store on Unter den Linden was closed as part of the campaign to close down businesses in Germany which were not relevant to the war effort. The premises with their contents were seized by the Nazi authorities and assigned to a senior SS official (Persönlicher Stab Reichsführer SS). The business continued in the form of a ‘war sales agency’ in Leipziger Strasse 43-44. The former store premises at Unter den Linden 2 were razed to the ground in a bomb attack in September 1943. The premises on Leipziger Strasse were also destroyed by bombing in November 1943.

Privatarchiv John Myer, Seattle

View of one of the opulent salesrooms in the E. Braun & Co. store at Unter den Linden 2 after renovation in the late 1920s.

Hans and Hansi Mayer-Braun emigrated to Egypt with their sons Robert (left) and Ferdinand following Austria’s annexation in 1938. In 1940 they moved to New York.

Landesarchiv Berlin

Escape into Exile

Luxury evening wear, accessories and lingerie in the shop window, around 1927.

On 28 September 1938, Siegfried Franz and Edith OserBraun emigrated with their children Maria and Gustav to London, then to Egypt in March 1939, and finally to the USA. The Oser-Braun family was denationalized by the German Reich in 1941. With salvaged inventory boldly transported by truck from Prague and Karlovy Vary to the 13

USA, Siegfried Franz Oser-Braun opened a store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan and a branch in Palm Beach, Florida, which both flourished.

“On arrival in the USA my grandfather Hans Mayer-Braun was greeted by the cus­toms officers with the words: ‘Welcome to the United States Mr. Mayor!’ He then said to his wife: ‘I’m not a bürgermeister [mayor],’ and asked the officers to immediately change his name to Henry Myer. My grandmother Hansi MayerBraun took the name Henrietta Myer.” Privatarchiv John Myer, Seattle

Following Austria’s annexation in 1938, Hans Friedrich Mayer emigrated with his son Robert to Egypt, where he too opened a store selling textiles. His wife Johanna, known as Hansi, and their son Ferdinand joined him in late 1938. The family stayed about two years in Egypt before moving to the USA. Hans-Friedrich Mayer-Braun became Henry Myer and opened a store on Long Island under the name H.E. Braun.

John Myer, June 2008

Restitution and settlement After the war, the Viennese company E. Braun & Co. was returned to the founders’ heirs. Henry Myer became director in 1962. He was accompanied back to Vienna by his son Fred, Fred’s wife Marietta Myer and their sons. The Prague branch was destroyed in the war. The Berlin branch on Unter den Linden was not rebuilt but Georg Wiedersum continued to run his ‘successor’ business in Berlin at Kurfürstendamm 43 and 219. In 1954, the Oser-Braun and Myer-Braun families approached Georg Wiedersum in the hope of reaching an amicable agreement. The forced sale in 1938 was declared to be null and void.

“In summer 1938, when we still owned the stores in Karlovy Vary and Prague, we loaded a truck in Karlovy Vary with the most valuable stock of table and bed linen. I’m talking about lace, best quality linen, silk and so on. The whole thing was organized by Mr. and Mrs. Hirsch. Hirsch was a Jewish employee of the company, who was later beaten to death by other employees. This truck was shipped to New York care of one our best members of staff, Sophie Klausner. When we arrived in New York my father opened a store in Manhattan with Miss Sophie and [the contents of] the truck. Sophie knew all our American customers from her time in Karlovy Vary.”

Georg Wiedersum and his son now obtained a license to use the company name. A store named E. Braun & Co. Nachf. Georg Wiedersum existed at Kurfürstendamm 43 until the year 2000, listed in the commercial register as a limited company with Brigitte Hilversum as director. Today there is a branch of the Swiss shoe store Bally at Kurfürstendamm 219. Bally also took over the main branch of the company in Vienna in 1985. In 1988, Gustav Oser sold the rights to the company name E. Braun & Co. to a US investor, who opened luxury goods stores in New York and Beverly Hills, following in the footsteps of the original company founders in Austria.

Gustav Oser, June 2008

rk-Fotoservice, Wien



Marietta Myer, daughter-in-law of Henry and Henrietta Myer, hands over two historical photo albums and a visitors’ book from E. Braun & Co. on November 18, 2004, to the manuscript collection of the Viennese municipal and provincial library. She is pictured with Vienna arts councilor Dr. Andreas Mailath-Pokorny and Dr. Martin Neidhardt of lingerie and swimwear specialists Palmers AG. Palmers AG took over the Viennese business from the Swiss Bally group in 2001.

Landesarchiv Berlin

Every letterhead tells a story: Until 1938 the company was named E. Braun & Co. Nachf., (successor), in reference to the company founder’s widow and two sons-in-law. The letterhead announced branches in Berlin, Vienna, Karlovy Vary and Prague. After the company’s takeover in 1938, Georg Wiedersum used up the remaining stationery, simply stamping his name below the heading. In 1945, new stationery was finally printed with the letterhead E. Braun & Co. Nachfolger Georg Wiedersum. The four branches were still listed although two of them no longer existed. The company’s Berlin address was given as Kurfürstendamm 219. This remained the company’s official name until its closure in 2000.

Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes, Berlin

After Austria was annexed by Germany, the Braun family was no longer protected by its Austrian nationality and henceforth classified as “Jewish”. The denationalization file on Siegfried Franz Oser-Braun and his family of 1941-42 documents this: Here, a communication from the Gestapo to the Reich Main Security Office of June 6, 1941, is shown.

On August 23, 1997, the Hotel Adlon was reopened on the original site, Unter den Linden 1. The new building extends across the block to former street number 75, where the E. Braun & Co. store was located. Once again, on the first floor of the hotel there are stores offering luxury goods. 15

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer

Martin Breslauer with fellow bibliophiles: Lawyer Dr. Otto Liebmann, senior civil servant Ludwig von Ploetz, Fedor von Zobeltitz, Paul Kressmann, Dr. Siegfried von Volkmann (seated, from left) around 1930.

Antiquariat Martin  Breslauer With the help of his many friends in the book trade and at great material cost, the internationally successful antiquarian bookseller Martin Breslauer – heart and soul of the Berlin Bibliophile Society and fervent German patriot – managed to emigrate and make a modest new start in London. But, in fall 1940, a German aerial bomb literally startled him to death.

The heart of Berlin’s Bibliophile Society

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer

Martin Breslauer, born on December 16, 1871, studied ­German and Palaeography at Rostock University before completing apprenticeships at some of Europe’s most renowned bookstores, including Menozzi in Rome, Welter in Paris, Hachette in London and Joseph Baer in Frankfurt am Main. At the age of 26, he decided to set up his own business. On February 4, 1898, he and his former school friend Edmund Meyer founded the antiquarian and retail bookstore Antiquariats- und Sortiments­ buchhandlung Breslauer & Meyer at Potsdamer Strasse 27b.


In 1904, the partners Breslauer and Meyer parted company. Martin Breslauer subsequently took premises at Unter den Linden 16. On his return in 1918 from the western front, where he served as a private first class, he moved the bookstore to Französische Strasse 46. Himself an ardent book collector, he was also co-founder and board member of the Bibliophile Society, secretary of the regular Berlin Bibliophile Evenings and, in 1911, founding member of the Maximilian Society, one of Germany’s most renowned bibliophile associations, and his bookstore became a hub for Berlin’s bibliophiles.

A portrait of Martin Breslauer by an unknown artist (signed OLDEN), gouache, around 1925.

Appointed consultant to the Prussian State Library, in 1919 Breslauer appraised the private library of Frederick the Great in his Potsdam residence Sanssouci, over which a dispute had erupted between the State of Prussia and the king’s descendants. In 1929, he discovered the library of Napoleon’s second wife, Marie Louise, in Vienna. He safely transported the collection of roughly 5,000 volumes to Berlin where he organized their sale. His largest transaction was the sale of the Prince of Stolberg-Wernigerode’s library of 120,000 volumes, some dating from the Middle Ages, in 1931.

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer

Forced Closure and Emigration After 1933 Martin Breslauer very soon encountered difficulties in his private and professional life. In 1934 he and his family had to give up their elegant suburban house at Jungfernstieg 20 in Lichterfelde and move to an inner-city apartment at Meineke Strasse 16-17. In 1935, Breslauer’s son Bernd was exposed to such serious anti-Semitic threats in the school yard that he did not go back. Faced with expulsion at short notice from the Reich Culture Chamber in the same year, which would have cost him his license to trade books, Martin Breslauer filed an objection on December 14, 1935. On June 29, 1936, he was informed that his expulsion could be postponed “out of consideration for the significance of [his] work” on condition that he hand over his business “without delay […] to a suitable Aryan person”.

Borries Freiherr von Münchhausen, Balladen, 1st edition, Berlin: Breslauer & Meyer 1901. This title page illustrates Martin Breslauer’s work as a publisher alongside his activities as an antiquarian bookseller.

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer


Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer

Martin Breslauer’s letterhead after moving his business to Französische Strasse 46, which he amended by hand after his enforced emigration to London.

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer

This undated photograph shows Martin Breslauer in a library, presumably between 1915 and 1918, in the uniform of a private first class.

A general assembly of Weimar’s Bibliophile Society in the council chamber of Berlin’s city hall on November 14, 1931. Seated on the podium is the committee (from left): Carl Ernst Poeschel, Prof. Dr. Georg Wittkowski, Fedor von Zobeltitz, Martin Breslauer and German Supreme Court librarian Dr. Hans Schulz.

A letter from the Reich Literary Chamber to Martin Breslauer of June 29, 1936

Against his nationalist convictions, Martin Breslauer was forced to consider emigration. Following initial talks with contacts in Italy, he decided on England. An art collector friend offered him an interest-free loan to rebuild his bookstore there. Acquaintances at Sotheby’s and Morrison vouched for him. Breslauer’s famous library comprised 21,000 volumes and was the largest private bibliographic collection in the 17

world. He was concerned that the Nazis might confiscate it if he asked for permission to take it to England. But he also wanted to avoid it being sold off bit by bit and scattered all over the world. In this situation, Martin Breslauer’s friend and business associate in Switzerland, Martin Bodmer, stepped in and bought most of the collection. Breslauer was able to take the remaining 6,000 books with him to London thanks to the help of some colleagues who assessed them as worthless for the tax authorities.

On March 26, 1936, Martin Breslauer, a frequent business traveler across Europe, wrote to his wife Grete from London: “Now, besides all the other worries, you have landed in the midst of professional worries and you see how difficult and arduous this struggle for life is. But grit your teeth and carry on fighting with courage and perseverance! Don’t let things get you down. Somewhere and sometime a ray of sunshine will come! How effective faith can be has been proven by the last few years in our fatherland. Here, by the way, no reasonable person thinks of war. There is lots of sympathy for Germany and little for France. The people are starting to realize what terrible injustice was done to us with the Versaille Treaty and that one cannot oppress a great nation like this with impunity.”

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer

Auditors were set to work on Breslauer’s business but rather than covering the usual five years their audit went all the way back to 1924. After a year, they had calculated a tax liability of exactly the amount which Breslauer would have been able to transfer abroad after payment of the Reich Flight Tax. He was left with nothing, then, from the sale of his collection. He closed the business as demanded in early 1937 and traveled with his family by night train via Holland to England. To pay for the train tickets, they pawned some golden desert spoons, Breslauer’s son later recalled, which he took to the Berlin pawnshop Schaper to save his father the embarrassment. In December 1938, Breslauer obtained official permission to set up an antiquarian bookstore in London. Business, however, was slow. On October 16, 1940, a German aerial bomb exploded in the backyard of Bedford Court Mansions in Bloomsbury where the family lived. Martin Breslauer died a few hours later, aged 69, of a heart attack caused by the shock.

Two days later, he wrote in his next letter to Grete from London: “Tomorrow there will be elections. A sad fate prevents us from taking part. Nevertheless, all my heartfelt wishes for a broadly favorable outcome in the best interests of our beloved fatherland and for its reputation. May its honor be resurrected once more!” Another two days later: “I just read about yesterday’s excitement. It must have been marvelous. Such a shame that one is excluded from it. People here are full of admiration.”

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer

And finally on April 2, 1936: “I went to see an American movie here yesterday evening: terribly tasteless. It is too strange. People don’t see that a new era is dawning, they get up with yesterday’s views and go back to sleep with them. I think for some of these nations there will be a dreadful awakening sometime – not to Germany’s detriment! One doesn’t need to be a prophet [to see that].”

Martin Breslauer’s membership card for the Reich Literary Chamber, the compulsory Nazi association for everyone working in literature and publishing. 18

Revival of the antiquarian bookstore Soon after his father’s death, Martin Breslauer’s son Bernd, who changed his name to Bernard, volunteered for military service and spent the war working for British intelligence. When the war ended, Bernard Breslauer managed to build on his father’s reputation to establish an antiquarian bookstore of international renown. Attempts to reopen the business in Berlin failed, however, and he stayed in London until moving the business to New York in 1977. He retained the name Antiquariat Martin Breslauer. Bernard Breslauer died in 2004, leaving his personal estate to the Berlin State Library.

Art collector Robert von Hirsch, who had emigrated from Frankfurt to Switzerland in 1933, attached a check for over £700 as an interest-free loan to this letter of July 6, 1937.

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Nachlass Antiquariat Breslauer


Bernard Breslauer specialized in manuscripts, early prints, illumination and historical bibliography. He was responsible for some important literary finds and several purchases commissioned by renowned libraries all over the world. In 1978, for example, he bought a copy of the Gutenberg bible at auction for the library of the Land Württemberg for 2.2 million dollars, the highest price ever paid for a book. In 1997 he was made an honorary doctor of the Free University Berlin. When Bernard Breslauer died aged 86 in 2004, his business was closed. In 2005, Christie’s auctioned his valuable library of about 2000 volumes.

Today The Regent Berlin hotel is located at Französische Strasse 46.


Österreichisches Theatermuseum, Wien

Max Reinhardt (né Maximilian Goldmann) was born in 1873 in Baden near Vienna. He became an actor at the Deutsche Theater in Berlin in 1894 and began staging his own productions in 1903. His meteoric rise began with his takeover of the Deutsche Theater. Reinhardt’s most significant achievement was helping to introduce director-led theater to Central Europe. His meticulously prepared productions demonstrated his unique sense of interplay, atmosphere, stage set and lighting as a dramaturgic unit, and the musicality and rhythm of speech. On March 8, 1933, he fled from the Nazis to Austria. In 1937 he emigrated to the United States where his theater aesthetic found few friends. He never saw Europe again. Reinhardt suffered three strokes and died in 1943 in New York.

The Deutsche Theater The Deutsche Theater, or DT, in Schumann Strasse is probably the best known case of a Nazi business seizure in the culture industry. By systematically ousting its owner, Max Reinhardt, the Nazis in power aimed to tap into the theater’s glamour and prestige. Reinhardt’s counter strategies were not able to prevent this. The path to fame: 1883 –1933

Landesarchiv Berlin

In 1906, young actor and director Max Reinhardt bought the Deutsche Theater, founded in 1883. He installed a studio theater, the Kammerspiele, in the adjacent building and set about making his theater one of the most renowned in Europe if not the world. Reinhardt was not only a pioneering artist; his theater was also exceptionally prosperous for 25 years. The secret of his success was expansion and multi-usage: By buying or renting additional theaters, he could continue to stage acclaimed productions while trying out new plays at the same time.

The Kammerspiele of the Deutsche Theater around 1912. Although the sale contract obligated Max Reinhardt to confine his interests to the Deutsche Theater, he immediately converted the dance hall in the adjacent building, Embergs Salon, into a studio theater so that plays could also be staged in a more intimate setting.

Reinhardt named his flourishing theater business Deutsche National Theater AG and floated it on the stock market in 1917, reducing his economic risk and allowing ambitious plans to be forged for the construction of a large-scale theater. In 1919, the Grosse Schauspielhaus was opened seating 3,200. When a public entertainment tax on all private theaters was introduced in 1920, Reinhardt responded by turning his enterprise into the limited company Deutsche Theater in Berlin GmbH. It was officially recognized as useful for the public benefit, reducing its tax liability, in 1926. Gradually Reinhardt built up the largest theater corporation in the world. By 1931 it comprised twelve theaters and over 10,000 seats. However, the world economic crisis also left its mark on Reinhardt’s empire. Audience numbers dropped and theaters had to be closed or leased. In 1932, the DT was targeted by militant anti-Semitism for the first time. Joseph Goebbels, the administrative head of Berlin and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Der Angriff [Attack], published an article raging against Karl-Heinz Martin’s production of Gyula Háy’s Gott, Kaiser und Bauer [God, Emperor, Farmer]. For fear of violent repercussions – Berlin’s chief of police did nothing to prevent them – the play was taken off the program. The loss of ticket revenue almost ruined the DT.


Landesarchiv Berlin

From a “German” theater to an “Aryan” theater

First, the Deutsche Theater in Berlin GmbH was no longer recognized as useful for the public benefit and charged with millions of marks worth of taxes. Then Goebbels, in

In 1906 Max Reinhardt bought the Deutsche Theater and two adjacent buildings for the price of 2475 million marks from Adolph L’Arronge, the theater’s founder. 29 financiers, including publisher Paul Cassirer, newspaper baron August Huck, AEG founder Emil Rathenau and the bankers James Hardy and Robert von Mendelsohn, raised the money. They hoped their investment would start to pay off after a year with Reinhardt as director of the DT. Reinhardt left the financial side of the business to his younger brother Edmund (1875-1929) who proved to be a financial genius but died shortly before the world economic crisis broke out.

Adolf Hitler was primarily interested in the Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth and in establishing a world class theater in Linz. Nonetheless, a box was set aside for him in the first circle of the Deutsche Theater. Goebbels even had a box built at the Kammerspiele, in conflict with the actual purpose of the studio theater.

Archiv Deutsches Theater, Berlin

One of Reinhardt’s most successful directorial projects was Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream which was staged between 1905 and 1918 in a total of twelve different productions. From 1909, the set featured real trees on a revolving stage. The theater had never seen anything like it before. Soon word got around in Berlin that “at half nine the woods turn at Reinhardt’s”.

Akademie der Künste Berlin, Archiv

Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin

The Deutsche Theater around 1912.

In mid-January 1933 Max Reinhardt leased his theater to Carl Ludwig Duisberg-Achaz. Although Achaz was the wrong person for the job of theater director, he had access to considerable funds and was able to prevent the DT from going bankrupt. But the future Reich Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, also had designs on the world famous theater. Through the Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda and in cooperation with the German Labor Front, the Nazi authorities proceeded to take possession of the Deutsche Theater in five stages.

his capacity as head of theater, refused to extend Achaz’s contract when it expired in April 1934. Instead the Propaganda Ministry paid “Reich subsidies” of 450,000 marks annually to Heinz Hilpert, who rented the theater in June 1934 from Max Reinhardt. The entire rent went to the German Labor Bank, which had been Max Reinhardt’s and the Deutsche National Theater AG’s chief creditor since world economic crisis broke out and controlled by the German Labor Front since the trade unions were dissolved. The bank then made use of its vote as creditor to force all the existing members of the Deutsche National Theater AG’s supervisory board to resign in April 1934. They were replaced by Nazi sympathizers and supporters. The capital stock was reduced and old bearer share certificates 21

The DT and Kammerspiele were henceforth the property of the German Labor Front and controlled by Joseph Goebbels. The seizure of the theater was complete. While theater director Hilpert sought to maintain a certain distance to the Nazi regime on an artistic level, he had incriminated himself by complying with the Propaganda Ministry’s racialist staff policy. In 1944 all theaters in Germany were closed.

required to be personally submitted in Berlin otherwise they were declared invalid and auctioned off. This meant that stockholders who fled abroad were effectively expropriated without compensation. Reinhardt managed to hold on to a symbolic amount and sold the securities to the bank for 10 per cent of their value. All new bearer share certificates were bought by the German Labor Front’s own Trust Company for Commercial Enterprises which thus acquired 52 per cent of the shares.

In 1949 the DT – now in Soviet-controlled East Berlin – was nationalized. The restitution files were closed in October 1995 when the properties were returned to Reinhardt’s heirs. Proceedings aimed at the restitution of shares in the Deutsche National Theater AG are still pending in court.

But Max Reinhardt still privately owned the property and land on which the DT and the studio theater stood. Consequently, the new owners broadened the object of the business to include the purchase of real estate. As Reinhardt’s creditor, the German Labor Bank applied for the theater to be sold by public auction. In September 1934, the Deutsche National Theater AG purchased the property for 600,000 Reich marks.

Heinz Hilpert, born 1890 in Berlin, worked for Max Reinhardt at the Deutsche Theater where he became one of the leading stage directors. He was one of the few directors to keep his job after January 30, 1933 – ironically as manager of the Volksbühne which the Nazis regarded as a “Marxist party theater”. But Goebbels admired his artistic ability and Hilpert took over the Deutsche Theater, backed by the Propaganda Ministry, in 1934. Hilpert complied with the Nazi authorities’ racialist strategies in the naïve belief that he could preserve the artistic integrity of the theater and prevent “the worst” but effectively became their – albeit not entirely compliant – puppet. Technically he remained a private employer but was actually dependent on money from the Propaganda Ministry. Hilpert could only look on at Max Reinhardt’s expropriation, which he had unconsciously participated in. He died in Göttingen in 1967.


Archiv Deutsches Theater, Berlin

Bundesarchiv Berlin


Goebbels insisted that Heinz Hilpert mount plays by Heinrich von Kleist, which Hilpert had long avoided since they had become part of the Nazi canon. In 1942 he finally staged three Kleist plays. Hilpert’s Amphitryon with Doris Krüger (left) and Gisela von Collande, from March 1942, made some clear concessions to the Nazi aesthetic.

Archiv Deutsches Theater, Berlin

While the Kammerspiele studio theater was almost completely destroyed in the war, the Deutsche Theater was able to resume regular performances in September 1945.

Archiv Deutsches Theater, Berlin

In Berlin-Mitte today, productions of the DT, Kammerspiele and Box regularly play to full houses. The specialist journal Theater heute voted the DT “theater of the year 2008”. In 2011 The Deutsche Theater was awarded the directors prize of the „Deutsche Theaterpreis.“

Foto: Björn Weigel

The Deutsche Theater was also an important marker of prestige for the GDR. Top class directors and actors presented high quality drama to visitors of the nationalized theater in Communist East Germany. From 1980 to 1983, the DT and the studio theater were thoroughly renovated and rebuilt. This photo shows Erich Honecker, head of state of the GDR (left), and theater manager Prof. Rolf Rohmer at the DT’s reopening on September 29, 1983. 23


Ebro Upholstery The company Ebro was the life’s work of two Jewish brothers, manufacturing and selling horsehair seating and upholstery made by a special patented technique. Their main client was the expanding automobile industry. In the years after 1933, the company was classified as a priority business for the German Reich and garnered the interest of high-ranking local Nazi authorities. Under extreme threats of violence, the owners finally handed over their valuable business in summer 1938. The “purchaser” was Heinrich Hunke, economic advisor to the Berlin Nazi Party since 1928.

From establishment to the mid-1930s

Museumsverbund Pankow

Ebro – an acronym of Erste Berliner Dampf-Rosshaarspinnerei [First Steam Horsehair Spinning Mill, Berlin] – was established around 1900 by engineer Richard Friedmann as a wholesale company for upholstery materials. A few years later, Friedmann began manufacturing his own supplies and in 1924 the factory became a stock corporation. His youngest brother Ernst became his partner and shareholder. The factory premises were located on opposite sides of Pistorius Strasse (66–69 and 95–96) in Berlin-Weissensee. Ebro manufactured and sold upholstery units made with horsehair by a special, patented technique which was only used by two other German factories. Within a few years, the company had gained an outstanding reputation extending beyond Berlin. Most significantly, Ebro became an important partner of the growing automobile industry. The company’s business records for the year 1936 list such major clients as Auto-Union, Daimler Benz, Adam Opel and Bayerische Motorenwerke.

Historical view of Pistorius Strasse in Berlin-Weissensee. The Ebro premises were located at the far end of the road from 1902. 24

Thanks to his entrepreneurial skill, Richard Friedmann made a considerable fortune which enabled him and his family to live very comfortably. Ebro was not only a lucrative business, it was also deemed significant “for German interests” in an assessment by the Reichskreditgesellschaft bank. For this reason, from 1936 onwards, Heinrich Hunke, economic advisor to the Berlin administration, increased the pressure on the company’s Jewish shareholders to hand over their factory. They put up considerable resistance and “sales” negotiations proceeded only very slowly. As late as 1937, Richard Friedmann tried to avert the hostile takeover by appointing a brother-in-law of his who was a Nazi Party member to the board of directors.


Enforced sale in 1938 In the following year, Heinrich Hunke started to push the takeover by increasingly drastic means. From this point on, the owners were terrorised and intimidated into surrendering to Hunke’s demands. In 1938, Hunke effected the immediate transfer of Richard Friedmann’s shareholding of 75 percent – 150,000 Reich marks – to his non-Jewish wife Ella. The shares were held on trust by lawyer Dr. Erich Naue, who had introduced Hunke to the company board. Ernst Friedmann, whose 25 per cent shareholding was now also held by Naue, was forced to leave the business the same month, as was the Friedmanns’ brother-in-law. An

ullstein bild, Berlin

Richard Friedmann with his wife Ella and their daughter Ruth in Berlin, around 1925. After 1933, the family’s daily life was increasingly overshadowed by negative portents: Instead of taking a box at the theater they could only sit in the stalls; extra taxes were levied and additional cutbacks enforced almost daily; eventually they were forced to vacate their exclusive rented apartment on Hohenzollerndamm. In 1939, the Friedmanns decided to send their daughter to England. Only two photographs of Richard Friedmann still exist, and there are no pictures of his brothers.

Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Historisches Archiv

Heinrich Hunke (1902-2000) was economic advisor to the Nazi administration of Berlin from 1932 to 1945 and head of the economic policy department of the Berlin Nazi Party. As one of the most influential Nazi economic theorists in the 1930s, he was instrumental in destroying the livelihood of Jews in Berlin. He personally profited from the enforced sale of Ebro, acquiring 850,000 Reich marks at the expense of the Friedmanns.

The company manufactured and supplied upholstery made with horsehair. Horsehair was, then as now, a precious material guaranteeing the highest quality. One of Ebro’s best known clients was the car manufacturer Adam Opel. Ebro may have supplied the upholstery for their ‘Olympia’ seat cushions, declared to be “as comfortable as lounge chairs” in a 1930s advertisement.

SS-officer took his place on the board. Before being finally ousted in July 1938, Richard Friedmann was required to train the new managers, who left National Socialist newspapers like Der Stürmer on his desk each morning with anti-Semitic articles underlined in red. One morning he found “Clear out Jew” daubed in huge red letters on the factory wall. The 61-year-old managing director never set foot in his company again. The takeover eventually took place in late June 1938. In the course of the month-long negotiations, Hunke had reduced his offer daily. Finally, threatened with expropriation and the destruction of the factory, the owners caved in. In spite of the fact that there were several potential bidders, among them some offering up to 900,000 Reich 25

marks, Hunke was able to secure the factory for himself for the give-away price of 375,000 Reich marks, thanks to Dr. Naue’s instrumental position as trustee. The shares were actually worth many times more than that, and the purchasing price was covered by the business’ surplus profit. The Friedmanns had no access to the money. The end of the Friedmann brothers

After the end of the Second World War in 1945, the main shareholders Naue and Hunke lost interest in the factory. Categorized as ‘ownerless’ by the Soviet military administration, Ebro was placed under trusteeship in 1945 and eventually nationalized by the GDR in 1949. On May 30, 1949, the company was deleted from Berlin’s commercial register. However, Ebro continued to exist in West Berlin after 1945 as a number of bank-held securities remained unaffected by expropriation in the GDR. In 1952, the company was officially restored to Ella Friedmann, who registered for liquidation the same year. A N NE PALTIAN, EVA BALZ

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde

The Friedmann brothers remained in Germany after the company’s seizure. On November 1, 1941, 61-year-old Ernst Friedmann was deported to the Litzmannstadt (Lodz) ghetto together with his brother Kurt, who died there on March 15, 1942. A short time afterward, on May 9, 1942, Ernst Friedmann was deported to the Kulmhof (Chelmno) extermination

camp. Anticipating his own imminent deportation after being summoned to the local police station, Richard Friedmann committed suicide at home on July 16, 1942, aged 65.

In early 1938, the Nazis’ head of economic policy in Berlin began applying extreme pressure to enforce the sale of the company which he had wanted to get his hands on for some time. The Friedmann brothers were brutally intimidated into accepting the conditions stated in this letter, clearing the way for the hostile takeover of the company. 26

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde

Before his death, Richard Friedmann calculated the salary and bonuses the Nazis had cheated him out of since the forced sale of his company. Deprived of any proceeds from the sale, from July 1938 he was permitted to withdraw only 200 Reich marks per month from a blocked account for his living expenses.

The company’s founder and managing director Richard Friedmann (1876-1942) wrote several short letters bidding farewell to friends and acquaintances before taking his own life on July 16, 1942. These lines were addressed to his long-time private secretary Wanda Schubert: “Dear Ms. Schubert! Unfortunately now we will not meet again because I must go, as I am not willing to let myself be tortured for a long time in a concentration camp. Please send my regards to anyone who remembers me […]”. In another letter he said goodbye to his wife’s best friend: “Dear Ms. Hanna! May I ask you, as my wife’s oldest and now nearly only friend, to help her over the first difficult days. I wish you and Fritz all the very best, wherever life’s path may lead you, and whatever brings you joy and fulfilment. Adieu, Yours, Richard Friedmann”.

Today, little remains of the former Ebro premises on one side of Pistorius Strasse in Weissensee. A supermarket has been built on the opposite side.

Richard Friedmann was married to Ella Friedmann (née Kunze, 1882-1974). Once wealthy, after 1945 she received a pension of only 200 DM a month. 27



Moritz Fröhlich in 1912, aged twenty. “He looked ‘non-Jewish’, use the jargon of the time,” writes his son.

Helga Fröhlich, née Kohnke, in 1919, aged nineteen.

Fröhlich & Pelz Glass – Crystal – Porcelain During the Weimar Republic, Moritz Fröhlich, son of an Upper Silesian restaurant owner, built up a thriving business in Berlin selling porcelain and glass. 1933 did not seem to change that and Fröhlich and his new partner Kurt Pelz continued to prosper until 1936. Less than two years later, however, Moritz Fröhlich was forced out of his own business by Pelz and lost his livelihood. In April 1939, Moritz Fröhlich and his family managed to emigrate in dramatic circumstances, first to Cuba, then to the USA. He was not able to get re-established in business and died in 1955.

Before 1933 In the early 1920s, Moritz Fröhlich moved from Frankfurt on the Main to Berlin, where some of his relatives ran a business selling knick-knacks and jewelry in Bad Strasse. He soon became established as a sales representative for porcelain, glass and crystal, got married and moved into a spacious apartment in the middle class district of Halensee. The “Golden Twenties” saw an increase in demand for inexpensive consumer goods and Fröhlich, with his practiced eye for the market potential of simpler versions of high-quality tableware and glassware, became a trusted mediator between manufacturers and buyers for major department stores. During the world economic crisis the family had to move into a smaller, slightly cramped apartment. Moritz Fröhlich did whatever he could to cheer the place up, including bringing home a precious, halfmeter-long porcelain parrot.


By 1928 Moritz Fröhlich employed up to three traveling sales representatives and took new premises, first at Ritter Strasse 59, then a few doors further down the street at number 86. World economic crisis, however, put the brakes on the business and he and his family were compelled to move into a more modest apartment in 1930. In view of the economic situation, Fröhlich, who was otherwise decidedly anti-religious, began advertising in the directory of Jewish businesses for the first time.


After 1933

“There was much joking about the Kohnkes in the family: How much …had the Kohnkes had to pay for the suffix ‘ke’ which made their name sound less Jewish than ‘Kohn’? That was the kind of joke which the Nazis drove the last remaining humor out of.” (Peter Gay) Top row: Moritz Fröhlich, Willy Kohnke, Siegfried Kohnke, Alfred Kohnke and Samuel Fröhlich. Bottom row: Helga Fröhlich, née Kohnke, Albert and Regina Kohnke and Hedwig Kohnke. Alfred Kohnke joined his American wife in her home country in 1923. It was thanks purely to her help that Moritz Fröhlich and his family were able to emigrate to the USA in 1941.

“We suddenly became Jews,” is how Moritz Fröhlich’s son remembers the year 1938. But Fröhlich saw the opportunities in this. Faced with increasing isolation, Jewish businesses sought out Jewish associates. Moritz Fröhlich took to leaving a Jewish newspaper protruding from his coat pocket as an inconspicuous sign of his Jewish background. In other respects, he preferred to keep a low profile. His decision to take on a non-Jewish business partner in 1934 may have been an attempt to protect the business. Ironically, his new partner Kurt Pelz – unlike Fröhlich – resembled the stereotypical image of a Jewish businessman. Well-meaning associates promptly advised Fröhlich to get rid of “the Jew”. In spite of the threatening circumstances, business was brisk and in 1936 the Fröhlich family moved into an exclusive apartment with new furniture in Sächsische Strasse, Wilmersdorf. Just a year later, they spoke openly of emigrating. But for the time being there seemed to be no rush.


The situation changed dramatically in 1938. Encouraged by anti-Semitic measures and protected by anti-Semitic laws, Kurt Pelz threw Moritz Fröhlich out of his business

Advertisement for Fröhlich & Pelz in the Berlin classified directory of 1938.

Advertisement for Kurt Pelz in the Berlin directory of 1939 – now without his business partner.


in July without any compensation. During the pogrom in November, Fröhlich’s relatives’ stores on Bad Strasse and Olivaer Platz were demolished; Moritz Fröhlich’s brotherin-law Jaschkowitz was taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Fröhlich was able to go into hiding with the help of an old colleague, Emil Busse.

Moritz Fröhlich’s sister Esther with her husband, Moritz Jaschkowitz. He survived the Holocaust by jumping off the train destined for an extermination camp. Esther Jaschkowitz was deported and murdered. The place and date of her death are not known.

In the ensuing months, the family lived off its savings while Moritz Fröhlich desperately looked for a place to emigrate to. When the United Kingdom finally turned his application for immigration down, the only remaining option was to go to the USA via Cuba. The necessary documents were obtained in spring 1939 with the help of relatives in America. At the last moment, Moritz Fröhlich faked the date on their ship tickets for the St Louis so that they could 29

Hamburg. At the last moment, several western European countries granted the passengers asylum but, apart from the UK, the security they offered was not enduring, ending with the outbreak of war. It is estimated that about a quarter of the St Louis’ passengers did not survive the Holocaust – including Moritz Fröhlich’s sisters Esther and Recha.


travel two weeks earlier, on April 27, 1939, on the Iberia. The Iberia was the last ship to take passengers permitted to go ashore in Havana, while the St Louis was forced to leave Cuba again after months of uncertainty, with 900 despairing Jewish passengers onboard. When both the US and Canada refused the refugees entry, the ship returned to its home port,


Moritz Fröhlich (center), Peter Fröhlich (just seen, behind his father) and Helga Fröhlich (second from left) board the Iberia on April 27, 1939, in Hamburg, destined for Cuba.

During the crossing to Havana, Peter Fröhlich sketched the route of the Iberia on this card. It was uncertain whether the family would ever reach their final destination – Quincy, Florida, where Helga Fröhlich’s brother Alfred lived. 30

Epilogue Despite their excellent contacts and the tireless efforts of their relatives, the Fröhlichs waited for nearly two years in Cuba for permission to enter the United States, which finally came in spring 1941. In the US, Moritz Fröhlich worked for a short time as a sales representative for sportswear and leisurewear until he was forced to admit that his English was not proficient enough to conduct business. He found employment as an unskilled worker in a factory making army hats but was fired a short time later for supporting union rights. Subsequently he tried, without much success, to set up a philatelist business with a stamp collection he had brought from Germany. Moritz Fröhlich died in 1955, aged 62. “He did his best, but in an imperceptible and insidious way, Hitler had made him a broken man.” This is how Peter, a renowned historian, who took on the surname Gay in American exile like all his family, describes his father’s fate in his autobiographical book, My German Question. Growing Up in Berlin 1933–1939. Among the best known of his many works (also published in Germany) are two books on love and sexuality in the bourgeois age and an in-depth biography of Sigmund Freud.



Peter Fröhlich became Peter Gay: In 1998, Moritz Fröhlich’s son Peter published the memoirs of his youth in Berlin.

Moritz Fröhlich launched his business in 1924 in Konstanzer Strasse 1 in Wilmersdorf.

Ritter Strasse 86 in Kreuzberg: This is where the building stood where Moritz Fröhlich and his partner Kurt Pelz had office premises 1935 –1938.


Grain Wholesalers Alfred Höxter In some business sectors, such as the wholesale trade of regional products on the stock exchange, Jewish businesses in Germany were targeted by Nazi economic strategy on two levels. First, from February 1933 measures were introduced aimed specifically at undermining Jewish businesses, such as new legislation and boycott. Second, free trade was increasingly hindered by the Nazis’ anti-liberal economic policy. The rise and untimely fall of the company Alfred Höxter, which traded grain wholesale on the Berlin commodity market, shows how individuals and institutions worked together to exclude Jewish businesses and prevent them from developing strategies for survival.

1919 –1932: One of the “best-known companies in grain wholesale” Alfred Höxter was 39 years old when he decided to set up his own business trading on the Berlin commodity market in 1919. He had come to Berlin from his hometown Dahlenburg in the district of Lüneburg at the age of twenty to work at the republic’s foremost stock exchange. Höxter built up a reputation in stock exchange circles as a trustworthy and respected trader and ran his business with great success. Six years after founding his company, Höxter had made enough money to take out a life insurance policy for himself and his wife Käthe Höxter (née Wohlgemuth) worth 42,000 Reich marks, which ran until 1945. In a bid to increase his clientele, Alfred Höxter took on Paul Pincus, a nephew of his wife, as business partner. They then insured the company against losses in the event of either partner’s death by taking out a business partnership insurance valued 20,000 Reich marks each. Together Höxter and Pincus continued to run the business successfully despite the banking crisis of 1931 and the resulting 11-month closure of the stock exchange. From 1929 to 1932 they each had a net income of between 30,000 and 50,000 Reich marks. Their success in business was reflected in the family’s improved living standards: Mr. and Mrs. Höxter and their two children now lived in splendor in an eight-room apartment at Pariser Strasse 32. This address also became the company’s official place of business. 32

1933 –1935: “Purges” at the Berlin stock exchange and changes in business regulations

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegen­heiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde


Until 1933 the company Alfred Höxter was part of a broad, well-functioning network of around five hundred grain and animal feed traders, mill representatives, flour, potato and seed wholesalers and other businesses involved in regional trade. The branch was a well-known “Jewish domain” with Jewish business owners making up more than half the independent traders on the commodity market between 1928 and 1933.

The Berlin stock exchange in Burg Strasse 25 on a postcard from about 1900. The building, built 1886, housed the Berlin securities exchange, commodity and metal markets. It was the central stock exchange of the German Empire from the 1880s to the Second World War for all three departments. The Berlin commodity market was on a par with the exchanges in Chicago and Liverpool.

Landesarchiv Berlin

Letterhead of the Alfred Höxter company from the year 1936. The company’s old address, W 15, Pariser Str. 32, can just be discerned underneath the black bar on the right. Between 1928 and 1938 a total of 857 authorized traders were admitted to the commodity market, 435 of whom were proven to be of Jewish origin. The actual number of Jewish businessmen working in the commodity market was probably around 600. The last of them were barred from the Berlin stock exchange on June 20, 1938.

View from the gallery of one of the three trading floors looking on to Burg Strasse during trading between noon and 2 pm, around 1930. Following extensive renovations in winter 1935, the gallery was opened to the public, as it had been before the First World War. Admission cost 50 pfennigs.

The year 1933 brought far-reaching changes to how business was conducted at the commodity market. Jewish businessmen became the target of a process of exclusion motivated by anti-Semitism. Alfred Höxter and Paul Pincus were repeatedly subjected to verbal abuse by groups of SA men and National Socialist students outside the stock exchange. On April 1, 1933, “spontaneous” actions by the Nazi rank and file were channeled for the first time in a boycott campaign against the “Jewified” commodity market. Although this did not have a conclusive effect, it sent out a clear message. The persecution of Jewish stockbrokers climaxed in the officially termed “purge” of brokers and commercial representatives of October 31, 1933, in which a total of 87 Jewish commodity trading businesses had their admissions to the stock exchange withdrawn. While Alfred Höxter and Paul Pincus retained their authorization, their clientele had been significantly reduced by the campaign. Besides these anti-Semitic motivated measures, steps placing greater control in the hands of a Nazi organization for the production and distribution of food and the Reich Economic Ministry led to a decrease in trading on the stock exchange. Trading was only possible subject to a wide array of restrictions. Consequently, the stock exchange lost its market-forming and price-determining function and became obsolete. 33



Floor plan of the stock exchange (from: August Schneider. Führer durch die Börse zu Berlin, Berlin: H.S. Hermann 1926). The hall on the east side facing Burg Strasse was the commodity and metal market. In 1928, over 450 telephones were installed for arbitrage dealing in the cellars of the stock exchange. The reading room was situated on the first floor of the building and contained the library of the Berlin chamber of commerce, comprising over 40,000 volumes, lost in the Second World War. The Berlin chamber of commerce was the proprietor and supporting organization of the Berlin stock exchange.

A detailed floor plan of the commodities hall (from: August Schneider, Führer durch die Börse zu Berlin, Berlin: H.S. Hermann, 1926). Domestic and foreign business and futures transactions were carried out at the commodity market. The broker’s bar is clearly marked (Maklerschranke, center left). During trading, the official exchange brokers stood within this barrier, noted incoming orders and determined the official rates. Boxes were situated at the pillars and along the south wall containing samples of grain being traded. Assessment of these before the close of trade was an essential means of securing contracts.

Landesarchiv Berlin

One of the three trading floors after the close of trade, photographed around 1930. The telephone booths (below left), folding chairs and alcove seats could be rented by authorized traders from the stock exchange administration. Along the pillars on the first floor (center) the red and green light signals of the exchange rate indicators can be seen.


1936 –1970: Business closure and emigration – escape to an uncertain future The restrictions on Jewish businesses in the grain trade and the new regulations for commodity trading led to a tangible reduction in Alfred Höxter’s turnover. In 1933 Höxter’s and Pincus’ income was already half what it had been in 1932 and falling. The rapidly shrinking market made it increasingly difficult for them to stay in business. By 1936 the Höxters had made the decision to emigrate. In 1935 Paul Pincus had been attacked and threatened by a Nazi member of the commodity market. He left the business in February 1936 and emigrated via Turkey and Italy to Argentina. In April 1936 the Höxter family moved to a two-and-ahalf room apartment at Clausewitz Strasse 5. The expensive furnishings from the apartment in Pariser Strasse were sold off well below their value. On January 27, 1937, Alfred Höxter

had his life insurance paid out. Even with the 2,250 Reich marks saved from the business partnership insurance, it was not enough to pay the 19,500 marks Reich Flight Tax demanded by the Charlottenburg-West tax office. Having finally managed to raise the money, Höxter was able to escape three days later via London to Brazil. In exile, he described his later professional life in these succinct terms: “When I emigrated to Brazil in early 1937 I was already 57 years old and had great difficulties finding a way to make a living here. In the first years, I lived mainly off the sale of valuables and pieces of furniture which I had brought to Sao Paolo. In 1945, my wife opened a gift store with which we earn a modest living.” HENNING MEDERT

The Site of the former Berlin stock exchange in the corner of Burgstrasse 25 and Anna-Louisa Karsch-Strasse in Berlin-Mitte.

Landesarchiv Berlin

The house at Pariser Strasse 32 in Wilmersdorf where the Höxter family lived and where the company Alfred Höxter was based was destroyed in the Second World War.

View of the bombed Berlin stock exchange, photographed October 5, 1947. It was destroyed in an air raid on May 24, 1944. The ruins were demolished in the 1950s. The Berlin stock exchange moved to a new building in Fasanen Strasse, West Berlin. Technological advancement has put an end to floor trading such as in Alfred Höxter’s time. 35

Egg Wholesale and Retail Traders Jacobowitz & Co. The family business Jacobowitz & Co. was one of the many old-established Jewish egg traders to be found in the lower middle class districts of Berlin. A key branch of the food sector according to the Nazi’s “blood and soil” ideology, after 1933 the egg industry was soon reorganized to remove unwanted competition. The year 1935 marked the climax of a process designed to oust those who did not fit the mold. The Jacobowitz family business, established in 1875, soon faced closure.

A family business from the 19th century The history of Jacobowitz & Co. egg importers and wholesalers stretches back to the 19th century. Josef Jacobowitz, a merchant, founded the business in 1875. The company was based in Bergmann Strasse 16, near the covered market in the district of Kreuzberg. It first appeared in the Berlin commercial register in 1900. In 1918, the business was taken over by Josef’s 55-year old son-in-law Albert Schlesinger, who had built up an egg wholesale and import business in Herne, Westphalia, in the previous nine years. He was married to Bertha Jacobowitz, one of Lea and Josef’s four daughters, with whom he had two children: Alfred (born 1897) and Klara Erika (born 1909). The Schlesingers moved in ‘over the shop’ at Bergmann Strasse 16.

Landesarchiv Berlin

Views of three Berlin dairy and grocery stores. The Jacobowitz’s store probably looked something like this in imperial Germany. The two photographs on the right were taken around 1900; the photograph below was taken around 1930.


The traditional family business was obviously a popular choice in the city as it prospered and enabled the Schlesingers to lead a comfortable life, symbolized by their ownership of a car as early as 1913, for which they had a garage built into the courtyard of their house. The company’s actual turnover can only be estimated as the accounts were lost in the war. In the 1950s, Schlesinger’s daughter, aided by former business associates, estimated the value of the company at 75,000 Reich marks with an annual turnover of 40,000 Reich marks. The compensation office, however, presumed the value to be much lower, arriving at an annual income of 25,000 Reich marks on consultation with representatives of the trade.

Bezirksamt Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg von Berlin

The egg trade after 1933: Sell up or close down In 1935 Alfred Schlesinger had to close down his business. As a Jew, he was no longer authorized to trade on the egg market. In early July 1937, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce informed the local court that the business had been liquidated on October 1, 1936, and applied for the company to be deleted from the commercial register, which was effected on July 28, 1937. In the 1950s, Klara Erika Werber (née Jacobowitz) made the following statement: “In over 50 years of the company’s existence, Jacobowitz & Co. maintained a good reputation in the branch [but] the business was destroyed overnight by arbitrary legislation.” In 1934, new regulations had been introduced withdrawing licenses from Jewish traders. At the same time, an association of German egg traders was founded. Only members of this association were authorized to import eggs through the central “egg exploitation company”, and Jewish businesses were not admitted. Left only with the reject goods which association members had discarded, Jewish egg wholesalers soon faced economic ruin.

Landesarchiv Berlin

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz

The company headquarters were in Bergmann Strasse 16 in Kreuzberg. The Jacobowitz family owned the building. They emigrated in 1938. In April 1944 the house was seized by the Gestapo. Eleven years later, the property was restored to the family and they received a one-off compensation payment of 270.56 German marks.

Landesarchiv Berlin

The egg industry was subject to a profusion of new decrees and directives from 1934. Eggs were given special importance among agricultural products, as this photograph of a stand at the Grüne Woche agricultural fair from 1937 shows. Model window-displays illustrate the vigorous action being taken by the “Reich Agricultural Guild” in the “battle for eggs” (Kampf um Eier).

As in the grain trade, there was no scope in the egg trade for developing effective counter-strategies against these measures. Consequently, the year 1935 marked the climax of a huge wave of business sales as the many Jewish egg traders, who had formed the majority in the branch, were forced to either sell up to non-Jewish colleagues for a nominal fee or – like the Jacobowitz family – close down. By 1936, all Jewish traders had been ousted from the market. 37

Emigration and Exile

As the sole heir, Klara Erika Werber (née Jacobowitz) received compensation for damages to her parents’ occupational advancement of 15,350 German marks in 1963.

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz

In the case of Jacobowitz & Co., Nazi economic policy hit the youngest family member first. Klara Erika Schlesinger was dismissed “on grounds of pressing urgency” from her job as a shorthand typist for the Reich Association of German Grocers and Food Traders in April 1933. Unable to find a new job in Berlin, she emigrated via Vienna to England in August 1933. Her brother Alfred, who was building a promising career trading in textiles, also emigrated to England in August 1933 when he was denied access to foreign currency in Berlin. Neither was able to make a steady living in England. Their parents stayed in Berlin even after their business was closed but resolved to leave Germany as quickly as possible after the shock of the November pogroms in 1938. Bertha and Albert Schlesinger hastily made an oral testament at a notary’s office naming their children as their heirs before they made their escape, penniless, via Holland to England, where their children supported them. Two of Bertha Schlesinger’s three sisters were also able to emigrate in time to the United States. Rachel Rosenthal (née Jacobowitz) was deported together with her husband on April 30, 1942, aged 66, via Theresienstadt to Zamosce and murdered.

Large-scale advertising campaigns such as this in the trade publication The German Egg Industry were designed to promote egg consumption among the population.


Landesarchiv Berlin

Without any way of making a living, many Jews chose emigration to survive. A letter of January 31, 1947, from Alfred Schlesinger in Leeds to his cousin Max Rosenthal in New York shows how the remaining family members had become scattered across the globe.


Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz

At Easter 1936, Goebbel’s newspaper Der Angriff highlighted the “success” achieved in removing Jewish competition from the egg industry.

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz

Having lost their licenses and authorizations to trade in the egg market, by 1935 –36, Jewish egg traders were forced to either close their businesses or sell them way below value to the non-Jewish competition. The sales advertisements in the party-loyal trade publication The German Egg Industry for the years 1935 and 1936 document this wave of business handovers not only in Berlin.

Today there is a wine store in the salesrooms at Bergmann Strasse 16. 39

Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin, Zentrum für Berlin-Studien

Advertisement in the newspaper Berliner Morgenpost of December 6, 1928

Jonass & Co. Discount Department Store In the early 20th century, Berlin was a department store mecca. Adolf Jandorf’s KaDeWe and the department stores Hermann Tietz, Wertheim and N. Israel were famous examples. As well as these ‘consumer temples’ with their sunlit courtyards, salons and winter gardens, there were also large stores catering for the less affluent which attracted custom with smart budget ideas. One of these was Jonass & Co., a department store five minutes from Alexanderplatz, which offered credit vouchers as part of its sales strategy.


From mail-order to millions

Purchase vouchers were available to anyone who could supply proof of identity with two documents showing their full address. 40

Hermann Golluber, born in Gdansk on April 18, 1876, came from a family of merchants working in the textiles and fashion industry in Berlin from the late 19th century. By the mid-1920s, he was running a successful business. He was listed in the Berlin commercial register as co-proprietor of two companies, Jonass & Co. AG and Baugesellschaft Zentrum GmbH. His main place of business was a department store at Belle Alliance Strasse 7-10 (now Mehringdamm 32–34), Jonass & Co. AG, selling luxury and second-hand goods and offering loans and layaway plans. Business was brisk and soon expanded to include a site at Lothringer Strasse 1 (now Tor Strasse 1). Golluber commissioned architects Gustav Bauer and Siegfried Friedländer with the construction of a second department store. The building close to the poor Jewish quarter – in the new functionalist style with office and sales-space and a restaurant and roof garden on the eighth floor – was opened in early December 1928. Repeating the sales strategy of the store on Belle Alliance Strasse, the new department store promised purchase vouchers and loans – an attractive prospect for the mostly impoverished local residents.

A change in management heralds the end

Landesarchiv Berlin

In summer 1930 business was still thriving, two years after the department store’s launch in 1928. Visitors to the restaurant on the eighth floor and the roof terrace seating 300, 31 meters above street level, had a spectacular view of the city.

1933’s company report notes that the whole business was transferred to a high-rise building at Alexanderplatz 2, convenient for public transport, on a 5-year lease in March 1933. But that is only part of the story. The boycott of Jewish businesses in spring 1933, the store’s steadily diminishing profits and the ubiquitous SA men constantly trooping to the grave of Horst Wessel placed Hermann Golluber (his business partner had died in August 1932) under extreme pressure. He eventually left the site at Lothringer Strasse 1, which had stood empty since the spring, to the Propaganda Ministry and its planned exhibition on Germany’s claim to territories in the East. When The East – Germany’s Destiny was opened in December 1933 by Reich Minister Dr. Wilhelm Frick and Foreign Policy Leader Alfred Rosenberg, Hermann Golluber was no longer on the company board. Two long-standing colleagues, Johannes Horn and Else Vogdt, had taken his place; a development which had been looming for some months. In November 1935, the company became a limited partnership with Johannes Horn and Else Vogdt as personally liable shareholders. The newspaper Berliner Tage-

Landesarchiv Berlin

Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

Jonass & Co. was one of the first Berlin department stores to be claimed by the Nazis, even prior to 1933. In 1930, Horst Wessel, stylized a martyr of the Nazi movement, was buried in the cemetery opposite the department store. It subsequently became a popular location for Nazi rallies and parades. By 1933, the Nazis were forging plans to install a propaganda exhibition in the formerly Jewish department store “at the heart of the Reich capital, on Horst Wessel Platz”.

Aerial view of Alexanderplatz, 1935

From 1933 the department store and business offices were located at Alexander­ platz 2. This photograph was taken in 1938. By the end of the year, Hermann Golluber had lost his business and almost his entire fortune.

blatt commented on November 28, 1935: “One can safely assume that the whole transaction is in preparation for the department store’s transferal to purely Aryan ownership.” Initially Golluber retained a share in his company worth 800,000 Reich marks. A year later, Johannes Horn took 41

Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin, Zentrum für Berlin-Studien

Advertisements for Kaufhaus Jonass & Co. around 1936

An advertisement from the 1937 Christmas catalog

42 Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum, Archiv

Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum, Archiv

Bundesarchiv, Berlin, SAPMO Bildarchiv

over Golluber’s position as managing director of Baugesellschaft Zentrum. Both companies were under close observation by the NSDAP. In February 1937 the Reich treasurer demanded the “hand-over without delay of the register files concerning 1. Baugesellschaft Zentrum GmbH [and] 2. Jonass & Co. KG Berlin”. Just one month later the company Bau­gesellschaft Zentrum GmbH which owned the site at Lothringer Strasse 1 was changed into a civil-law partnership. Hermann Golluber had no other alternative but to admit Johannes Horn and Else Vogdt to the company as shareholders. They now held a 40 per cent stake in the property. At this point, the site at Lothringer Strasse 1 was rented for three years by the leaders of the Hitler Youth organization and the premises converted to accommodate roughly 1000 employees. In May 1938, Hermann Golluber and his short-term business partner Hugo Halle left the partnership. The company was now no longer classified as Jewish. After the November pogroms in 1938, Hermann Golluber and his wife Rosa were hidden for a time by Margarita von Kudriavtzeff, who worked at the American embassy and probably saved their lives. In spring 1939 they emigrated to the USA. Hermann Golluber died in New York on August 18, 1939. From 1938, Johannes Horn was sole proprietor of the companies Jonass & Co. and Bau­gesellschaft Zentrum GmbH. He leased the premises that same year to the National Socialists and sold them in 1942 to the Hitler Youth leaders.

After 1945, the former department store was owned by East Germany’s ruling SED party and became the seat of the Zentral Komitee, party archive and Institute for Marxism-Leninism in the ZK of the SED. In the mid-1990s, the property was restored to Golluber’s heirs. In 2007 they sold the building to the exclusive British Soho House Club. Today the former discount department store, which built up a clientele in the late 1920s with the offer of price reductions and layaway purchase plans, houses Turkish baths, gyms and luxury apartments. U L L A JU N G

Bundesarchiv, Berlin, SAPMO Bildarchiv

A discount department store becomes an exclusive club

After 1945 the department store fell to the SED and became the seat of the party’s Zentral Komitee and Institute for MarxismLeninism. There was nothing to commemorate the Jewish owners or its time as headquarters of the Hitler Youth organization.

In fall 2009, the building which Hermann Golluber had built was reopened as an exclusive international club. Soho House Berlin is intended as a meeting place for artists, filmmakers, media workers and business people. The building is classified as a historical monument. 43

Karl Kutschera’s Café Wien and Zigeunerkeller On Kurfürstendamm – Berlin’s busiest shopping and entertainment boulevard between the wars – Karl Kutschera ran the wine-bar and restaurant Zigeunerkeller and coffee house Café Wien. Both became fashionable meeting places of international renown. But their prominent success soon caught the eye of the anti-Semitic paper Der Stürmer. One year and several defamatory articles later, Der Stürmer had achieved its goal: even before new legislation designed to systematically eliminate Jewish businesses came into force, the paper had practically ruined Kutschera and he gave up his business in late 1937. In a bid to prevent the closure of the Zigeunerkeller, Kutschera leased it out together with Café Wien. His name was deleted from the commercial register a short time later.

A popular haunt and a tourist magnet Karl Kutschera was born in Hungary in 1876 but later took on Slovak nationality. He completed an apprenticeship in Vienna before moving to Berlin in 1900. Here, he first ran a café at Kurfürstendamm 209 before opening a new restaurant at Kurfürstendamm 26, in a property which he bought a short time later. It had been built in 1912 as a true ‘pleasure palace’, housing a cinema, which was leased to the Ufa film studios, a two-storey café, billiard hall and bowling alley. Kutschera added to these extensive amusements his Café Wien in the style of a Viennese coffee house. It was such a success that Kutschera was able to expand the business in 1929 and converted the cellar into a restaurant offering Hungarian cuisine and “gypsy music”. Acclaimed by the contemporary press as a sensation, the Zigeunerkeller soon became – in Kutschera’s own words – a “world-famous magnet for tourists”. It was the first Berlin restaurant of this size to be entirely below street level.

Stadtarchiv Nürnberg

This image of a fiddler designed by Theo Matejko advertised the Zigeunerkeller.


By the early 1930s, Kutschera was a respected and wealthy man and one of the best-known restaurateurs in Berlin. In 1937 he employed 154 members of staff, including 13 musicians, and had an annual turnover of one-and-a-half million Reich marks, making his business one of the most successful in the catering industry in Berlin.

Kurfürstendamm was regarded as a hotbed of decadence by Nazi ideologues and was frequently exposed to antiSemitic attacks from the early 1930s. Kutschera’s establishments, rendered doubly vulnerable by their location and their success, were not spared. In July 1935, during the so-called “Kurfürstendamm riots”, there were disturbances outside Café Wien after the Ufa film studios premiered the Swedish movie Petterson & Bendel which had been lauded in the Nazi press as a product of anti-Semitic thought. Radical anti-Semitic party members took this as grounds for assaulting supposedly Jewish passers-by and causing trouble in the surrounding establishments. One year later, in September 1936, Café Wien and the Zigeunerkeller were among the first businesses in Berlin to be targeted by a systematic smear campaign by Der Stürmer. The newspaper reported a “scandalous” lack of hygiene in Café Wien and claimed the staff worked in degrading conditions. Consequently, the Board of Sanitation threatened to withdraw Kutschera’s license under the pretext that the Zigeunerkeller was no longer suitable “for permanent human residence”. In order to prevent the

Landesarchiv Berlin

Landesarchiv Berlin

Ruined by the anti-Semitic press

Outside the Union Theater at Kurfürstendamm 26, around 1930 Top: View inside Café Wien. In 1935 Kutschera had planned to convert the back room of the café into a dance hall but withdrew his plans in September – possibly in reaction to the anti-Semitic disturbances of July 1935.

Landesarchiv Berlin


Kutschera commissioned the architect Max R.B. Abicht with the conversion and design of the Zigeunerkeller (below, a view of the interior) as well as caricaturist A.M. Cay and Theo Mateijko, one of Germany’s best-known illustrators. Matejko also designed the promotional figure of the fiddler which appeared on postcards and above the entrance to the Zigeunerkeller, as shown on a photograph published in Der Stürmer in December 1937 (left).

“In the metropolis Berlin there’s everything, even a gypsy cellar [Zigeunerkeller]” These lines were written on a complimentary postcard from the Zigeunerkeller by a visitor in August 1936. The author of the lines obviously did not agree with the advertising slogan on the front of the postcard claiming “The best home cooking in Berlin” as the superlative “best” is crossed out. 45

closure of the Zigeunerkeller, and hence the break-up of the business as well as a drop in turnover, Kutschera decided to lease both his establishments to the non-Jewish shareholders Ernst Krüger and Josef Stüber. The latter also held the post of leader of the Berlin Nazi association of coffee house owners. The Zigeunerkeller continued to open its doors as usual but now had the words “Jews not welcome” emblazoned over them. Kutschera was not forced to close down his business as a result of boycott – its profits even increased in 1937 compared to the previous lucrative year when Berlin hosted the Olympics – but because of pressure exerted by Der Stürmer on municipal authorities.

Bundesarchiv, Berlin



A crowd gathered in front of a Stürmer showcase in BerlinSchöneberg. Although the weekly Der Stürmer, published by Julius Streicher in Nuremberg, claimed relevance for the entire Reich from 1933, it was actually a local paper until 1935. On expansion, the Reich capital naturally gained importance for Der Stürmer. In order to promote it and increase its readership, Der Stürmer strove for maximum public visibility, erecting many showcases in Berlin and elsewhere. In 1935 Streicher also set up a special Berlin office of Der Stürmer with the task of improving reporting and cultivating networks in the capital. The result was the column Berliner Brief which appeared from July 1936, regularly defaming local Jewish businesses. One of the first editions of this column was devoted to Kurfürstendamm which Der Stürmer viewed as particularly Jewish. In this article, Kutschera’s Café Wien was attacked for the first time and slandered as the “Jewish Eldorado of Kurfürstendamm”.

Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Berlin

The Kutschera family was deported to Theresienstadt in 1943. While Karl Kutschera and his second wife Josephine survived the concentration camp, their two children, Karin and Gerd, were murdered in Auschwitz. Mr. and Mrs. Kutschera returned to Berlin after 1945. Following the death of Josef Stüber shortly after the end of the war, they were able to resume work in Café Wien – the Zigeunerkeller remained flooded – in 1946. Although the café did not regain the glamour of the past, Kutschera was still a highly respected businessman and was made honorary chairman of the Berlin Innkeepers’ Guild. Karl Kutschera died on May 19, 1950. After his death, his wife Josephine ran the business until the early 1970s.

Stadtarchiv Nürnberg

It remains unclear whether Josef Stüber not only profited from Der Stürmer’s smear campaign but actually initiated it in order to engineer a speedy takeover.

Left: Though serving only cold drinks instead of expensive coffees, the terrace of Café Wien was a popular meeting place again in 1948. Haus Wien in the mid-1950s. The in-house cinema, Filmbühne Wien, was closed in 2000. It had opened in 1913 with a showing of Max Reinhardt’s Insel der Seligen.

Joseph-Wulf-Mediothek der Gedenkst辰tte Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz, Berlin

The Berliner Brief column in an issue of Der St端rmer of September 1936. April 1937

October 1936

December 1937

Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Handelsregister

On June 14, 1938, a third ordinance of the Reich Citizenship Law was passed compelling all Jewish businesses to be registered in centrally held lists. Here, Ernst Kr端ger duly declares that he is non-Jewish.

The building at Kurf端rstendamm 26 in Berlin-Charlottenburg today. 47

Julius Klinger gained international recognition for his “functional poster design”. He designed this poster of 1911 depicting the pioneering role of Schule Reimann: The painter, armed with palette and brush and seated on the head of an Amazon, is fighting for the school’s aims with his own means.

Schule Reimann, College of Applied Art Albert and Clara Reimann’s private art college in Berlin-Schöneberg was inspired by the work of the Bauhaus and Werkbund schools. It was famed for its departments of fashion illustration, costume and textile design and window design as well as its spectacular college balls. After 1933 the Reimanns initially tried to adapt to the changing circumstances in order to save their life’s work but in 1935 decided to sell and join their son in London. 1902 –1933: The rise and heyday of Reimann College

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek, Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek

From the 1920s, the Schule Reimann insig­nia comprised an eye, pencil and brush.

While training to become a cabinetmaker, Albert Reimann (1874-1976) carved nothing but “lions’ heads, baskets of fruit and ornaments” imitating earlier styles. Running his own studio from 1898, he focused on a functional aesthetic related to art nouveau, which he also taught in his workshops. Clara Reimann (1874 – c.1956) was a seamstress with an interest in photography. In the blue reception room of the college, she “tirelessly gave each individual student” advice and assistance on how to tailor courses to suit their needs, according to Maria May, former tutor and textile designer. From Farbe und Form, issue 1/1932. 48

In 1902, sculptor Albert Reimann (born 1874) opened a students’ workshop for small-scale sculpture in his studio on Ritter Strasse, Kreuzberg, with 14 participants. In 1903, the rapidly expanding school moved to a building on the corner of Landshuter Strasse 38 and Hohenstaufen Strasse 41 in Schöneberg, which Reimannn later bought. On gaining governmental recognition in 1905, the art school was named Schule Reimann, Private Kunst- und Kunstgewerbeschule. It was one of the first workshop-based colleges in Germany and published its own journal from 1916 entitled Farbe und Form [Color and Form] from 1920. It ran a large store selling art supplies and products made by the students on the first floor. To mark the 25th anniversary of its founding in 1927, the school mounted an acclaimed exhibition of its work in the Museum of Applied Arts which subsequently traveled across Germany for two years and the USA in 1930. In the years 1920-1935, between 500 and 750 students were enrolled, with a steadily increasing number of foreign students bringing ever more foreign income to the school. The college’s annual turnover amounted to about 400,000 Reich marks with a profit margin of about 30,000 Reich marks. It employed about 40 members of staff. Up to 56 tutors gave instruction in 30 subjects including Commercial Art, Theater Design, Metalwork and Woodwork. In 1928 the school’s range was extended to include seminars in photography and film and, in 1932, an advertising class and a sound film studio. In 1931, an urgently needed extension was built at a cost of about 250,000 Reich marks.

Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

The combination of theory with craftsmanship and avant-garde inspired artistry with industrial manufacturing was the trademark of Schule Reimann. This coffee and tea service of 1932, created in Karl Heubler’s metal workshop and featured in a college brochure of 1935, is a prime example.

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

Museen Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Archiv

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

1933 – 1935: Threats and sale

With the enforcement of the Reich Culture Chamber Law of September 22, 1933, Reimann was no longer permitted to work as an artist but he remained head of the college, which was now controlled by a Nazi staff committee. In early 1934, the SA repeatedly surrounded and occupied the grounds, preventing tutors and students from entering this “un-German” college, as they called it. As late as 1935, Reimann published two extensive promotional brochures but decided to sell up the same year. The sales contract, concluded by mutual agreement on August 14, 1935, conceded the college and the rights to the

Akademie der Künste Berlin, Hugo-Häring-Archiv

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek, Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek

The Reimann “house” in Schöneberg before and after conversion (around 1915 and 1932): The extended building not only provided much-needed space for workshops and studios (photos from: Farbe und Form, issue 2-3/1932) but also for the Higher College of Decorative Art which had been housed in the Schöneberg town hall for many years.

Looking back, Albert Reimann recalled that in mid-1933 he thought his college was too important an institution to be badly hit. In this spirit, he went ahead with the exhibition of Schule Reimann students’ work from September 28 to October 5, 1933, as planned. It was positively received by 10,000 visitors and the press. It went without saying that 800 Reich marks of the proceeds went to the annual drive to support the National Socialist People’s Welfare Organization.

Invitation to a fancy-dress ball in 1928, designed by Helen Ernst. Well-known artists taught at the school as a sideline, including graphic artist Max Hertwig, painters Moritz Melzer and Hans Baluschek and costume illustrators Anni Offterdinger, Erna SchmidtCaroll and Kenan.

In Berlin, Schule Reimann was also famous for its spectacular college balls. These themed parties were held several times a year and attracted thousands of visitors to some of Berlin’s largest venues, including the Zoo ballroom, the Sportpalast, the Grunewald racing track and the Kroll opera. Celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich, May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl (top left) attended. Decorations, costumes and carnival floats were designed and created in the school’s own studios and workshops. From: Farbe und Form, issue 2/3 1930 (photo collage) and special edition April 1, 1927 (costume).

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

Hugo Häring (1882-1958) was a member of the avant-garde architects’ organization Der Ring, founded in 1926. As a leading representative of the Neues Bauen style of architecture, he was involved in designing controversial projects such as the Onkel Tom development in Berlin. This was an additional reason for the continuing attacks on the school under his direction between 1935 and 1943.

name with its “high commercial value” to architect Hugo Häring. The purchase price of 250,000 Reich marks was to be paid in installments from the surplus profits. In 1936, Häring stopped payments because he was allegedly not making enough profit. Reimann had only the proceeds from the art supplies store, which Häring had not taken over, to live on. During the pogrom in November 1938, the windows of the store were completely smashed and the stock partly destroyed. Reimann sold the remaining stock at a knock-down bargain price. This incident finally prompted the Reimanns to emigrate. On December 17, 1938, they went to London to visit their son and never returned. 49

Joseph-Wulf-Mediothek der Gedenk- und Bildungsstätte Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz, Berlin

Das Schwarze Korps, the newspaper of the SS, frequently attacked the school under Häring’s direction. This article of February 25, 1937, criticized the unchanged, conspicuous writing on the building and the new owner’s supposed financial dependence on “the Jew Reimann”.

Museen Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Archiv

1935 –1943: The conflicts continue

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek, Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek

The college under Häring was named Kunst und Werk. Private Schule für Gestaltung but advertised until at least 1938 on postcards, posters and invitation cards as “formerly Schule Reimann” or “formerly Reimann-Ball”. The old name obviously had enduring appeal and was good for business.

Heinz Reimann (1902-1972) opened the Reimann School and Studios in London on January 12, 1937. It enjoyed considerable renown and success until it was closed because of the war in 1941. It was destroyed by bombing in 1944 and never rebuilt. (London promotional brochure) 50

Although the college now had a non-Jewish principal, it continued to employ former Bauhaus artists such as Georg Muche and Walter Peterhans and Albert Reimann remained the owner of the land and the building. For these reasons, Häring soon came under severe criticism from the Nazi authorities. In 1935, a Nazi organization of German advertising men and women, which was planning its own college, applied for the closure of the department of window design on the grounds that it did not teach the “essentials of German advertising”. Extensive correspondence between the Reich Economic Ministry, the state commissioner, the mayor of Berlin and the NSDAP, among others, on the teaching and profitability of the college and the “influence of the Jew Reimann”, was conducted right up until 1944. The courts, creditors, lawyers and valuators of all parties were called in as well as the official receivers, and a foreclosure sale was initiated. Häring responded to the offensive by repeatedly stressing the college’s quality and profitability. He complained that the enforced rejection of 680 “non-Aryan” students by 1938 had incurred a loss in college fees of 400,000 Reich marks and caused the college considerable financial difficulties. But Häring also sought personal advantage in taking over from a Jewish owner by only making sporadic payments with the justification that “different concepts of Aryanization” now prevailed. When Reimann was stripped of his citizenship in 1941, his property fell to the Reich. On November 23, 1943, allied bombs destroyed the college building. The Reimanns applied for compensation in 1946 and received a small sum. In the 1960s, Albert Reimann also received a monthly pension of 600 DM. He died in London in 1976. C H RISTINE KÜHNL-SAGER

In 1933 and 1934, Schule Reimann’s struggle with the changing circumstances was reflected in the content and design of the college journal Farbe und Form. The chairman of the staff committee now presiding over the college published articles with Nazi appeal such as “Schule Reimann and the new spirit”. The school’s link with German crafts was emphasized more than its previous cooperation with industry.

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

The journal served as a means of trying out new design. Eventually, however, a traditional Gothic script and conventional arrangement of text and images gained the upper hand. Issue 4/1934 was the last edition. Publications by a college under Jewish direction were apparently no longer tolerated, and they were ceased without comment.

Today nothing remains of Schule Reimann at Landshuter Strasse 38 in Schöneberg. 51

Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Handelsregister

The first company logo in Breslau, 1921: Ruilos advertised its natural household remedies and treatments with the motto, “The sun is the best medicine”. The company ethos reflected the growing interest in holistic approaches to health and the natural world which were particularly relevant to alternative medicine as well as to neurology, psychology and philosophy.

Garlic Product Specialists Ruilos G. m. b. H. Doctor of chemistry Georg Eppenstein, shareholder and managing director of the company ­Ruilos, was abducted by SA men on June 21, 1933 – the first day of the so-called “Köpenick week of blood” – and severely physically maltreated. Georg Eppenstein died of his injuries on August 3, 1933. His non-Jewish wife carried on the business.

From foundation to crisis and revival

Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Handelsregister

A group of Breslau merchants and men of private means founded the publicly traded company Ruilos-Hausmittel-Heilverfahren-Volksgesellschaft m.b.H. on April 6, 1921. It emerged from the company Ruilos-Vertrieb Wilhelm Riehle, set up to manufacture and sell a range of chemical products for medicinal and home hygiene purposes, from pharmaceutical remedies to disinfectants and preservatives.

A promotional postcard advertising Ruilos of May 8, 1931. The range of products listed includes syrup, lozenges and creams. Georg Eppenstein applied his knowledge of chemistry to develop a number of patents for “garlic therapy”. According to Marta Eppenstein, the family was insulted as “garlic Jews” as a consequence. 52

In early 1922 the company was renamed Ruilos-Heilverfahren GmbH and moved to Goldschmieden in the district of Breslau. Despite looming hyperinflation, managing director Wilhelm Riehle opened a subsidiary branch in Berlin in 1923. A short time later, the entire business, now named Ruilos KnoblauchVerwertungs-G.m.b.H., was transferred from Lower Silesia to Berlin. The main branch was situated on Dosse Strasse in Berlin-Freidrichshain and the offices were on Lück Strasse in Berlin-Lichtenberg. At the height of the inflation crisis in the fall of 1923, the company was close to dissolution and relocated to Achenbach Strasse 8 (today Salvador Allende Strasse) in Köpenick. But it managed to recover and gradually raise its capital stock from 6,000 Reich marks to 58,000 Reich marks with additional shareholders in 1925. One of these was Georg Eppenstein. Appointed deputy manager in 1927, then managing director, Eppenstein increased his holding from an initial 10,000 Reich marks to 52,000 Reich marks in 1930. In 1931 he and his family moved to an apartment on the production site at Achenbach Strasse 33 –35. His wife Marta Eppenstein became deputy manager of the firm.

1933 – SA terrorism and murder Especially in Berlin, the SA formed an important pillar of the Nazi movement. Without its physical intimidation, high visibility and motorized propaganda dissemination, the success of the NSDAP in the German capital would hardly have been possible. The SA’s frequent use of violence quickly increased its notoriety, pleasing Berlin’s administrative head, Joseph Goebbels: “People were talking about us and it was inevitable that the public asked more and more who we really are and what we want.” However, it was yet to be fully developed as an effectively run organization. In the first year of its existence, the Berlin SA counted 300 members. In March 1931, the districts Treptow and Köpenick only had one SA unit, less than all other Berlin districts. But by August 1933, the Köpenick SA boasted about 900 men.

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde

Archiv Heimatmuseum Treptow-Köpenick

Georg Eppenstein, born December 7, 1867, shareholder and managing director of Ruilos from 1926 –27, came from a Jewish family from BerlinNikolassee. He married Marta Bertram in March 1909. In January the following year, their daughter Elisabeth-Charlotte was born. Georg Eppenstein did not practice any faith. His daughter received a Protestant baptism, like her mother. According to the Nuremberg race laws of 1935, she was classified as a “first-degree half-Jew”. Several of Georg Eppenstein’s relatives were later deported to Theresienstadt; his aunt Emma Eppenstein was murdered in 1943. He was 65 when he died.

Köpenick’s “week of blood” formed a climax of the SA’s early terrorist practice. From the morning of June 21, 1933, SA stormtroop unit 15 led by Herbert Gehrke began arresting political opponents and Jews. In the course of this campaign, a threatened member of the SPD shot three SA men in self-defense. The violence escalated. Over the next few days, SA men abducted and tortured over 130 people; at least 23 people died. One of those abducted was Georg Eppenstein. His wife Marta was able to secure his release from the Köpenick local court jail: “I was shocked when I saw him. He was unrecognizable. His spectacles were gone, his eyes and head beaten in, his nose shattered. His whole face was black. My husband could not see or hear. Gehrke was obviously impressed too, as he said to me: ‘Go on, take your husband home.’ At home I immediately called a doctor and he shook his

Left: photo of Marta Eppenstein from her identification card as an “approved victim of Fascism”, issued on October 1, 1946.

Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Handelsregister

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde

Right: photo of Elisabeth-Charlotte Eppenstein from her identification card as a persecutee of National Socialist legislation, issued on March 14, 1947. As a “first-degree half-Jew”, Elisabeth-Charlotte Eppenstein could not complete her study of medicine and worked after her father’s death as deputy manager of Ruilos. She was interned in the Wittenauer Heilanstalten mental home from February to April 1944. In the 1950s, she fought for recognition as a victim of political and racist persecution.

Ruilos letterhead of 1925 showing the new company name after moving from Goldschmieden to Berlin. Although the offices were relocated a number of times, the production site remained in Köpenick until the company’s closure in 1950

Marta Eppenstein’s account of the sequence of events, December 29, 1950. 53

Archiv Heimatmuseum Treptow-Köpenick Archiv Heimatmuseum Treptow-Köpenick

A photograph of Köpenick local court at Hohenzollern Platz 5 (today Mandrella Platz 6) taken after 1945, showing the entrance to the jail with the original gate and yard. From May 1933, the local court jail was the staff quarter of SA stormtroop unit 15. Members of the SA continued torturing their victims and even murdered some of them in the prayer hall. The bodies were sewn into sacks and thrown into the river Dahme. Others were released. Marta Eppenstein personally persuaded SA stormtrooper Herbert Gehrke to release her husband. A former remand cell in Köpenick district court jail, photographed on August 14, 2008. A memorial site commemorating the “Köpenick week of blood” in June 1933 was opened on the premises on May 8, 1980.

Landesarchiv Berlin

When the victims of the “Blood Week” had been disposed of in the river Dahme, on June 26, 1933, the SA organized a state funeral for the three SA men who had been shot. SA stormtrooper Herbert Gehrke, Gauleiter and Reich Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, Gerhard Schach, head of the organization department of the NS-Party in Berlin and Arthur Görlitzer Goebbels deputy in Berlins party administration (front row, from left) headed the procession through Köpenick. In the second row (on the right) August Wilhelm von Preußen can be seen. The death of the SA men was used in propaganda as justification for the Köpenick SA’s murderous campaign of terror in June 1933. Herbert Gehrke was promoted to the post of SA senior stormtrooper “in recognition of his services to the national revolution” as of July 1, 1933.



Archiv Heimatmuseum Treptow-Köpenick Archiv Heimatmuseum Treptow-Köpenick

Archiv Heimatmuseum Treptow-Köpenick

Undated views of the façade and backyard of the restaurant Demuth at Elisabeth Strasse 23 (now Pohle Strasse 13) used as evidence in court in 1950. The family-run restaurant became the base of the SA stormtroop unit 2/15 under Herbert Scharsisch in 1931-32. Not far from Achenbach Strasse, the SA had tortured political opponents there even before June 1933. During the “Köpenick week of blood”, members of the “Demuth stormtroop unit” forced a number of detainees into the hayloft in the backyard and subjected them to severe physical maltreatment. At least eight people died of the injuries they sustained. Georg Eppenstein was one of them. Among the main perpetrators were Wilhelm Beyer, Gustav Erpel, Fritz Letz and Paul Thermann.

Georg Eppenstein died on August 3, 1933, as a consequence of his physical abuse. Marta and Elisabeth-Charlotte Eppenstein took over the shareholdings and management of the company. Fearing further attacks, they, like many other families, moved away from Köpenick in 1934, first to Hindersin Strasse 5 in Tiergarten then to Schlüter Strasse 49 in Charlottenburg in 1935. Their new address also became the company’s base. The factory remained in Köpenick. In 1938, just a few weeks before the November pogrom, Marta Eppenstein declared her non-Jewish status as an “Aryan”, probably saving her and her daughter’s livelihood and lives.

Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Handelsregister

head and said after the examination that my husband had to go straight to hospital. That happened. My husband stayed there for some days in terrible pain. Then I brought him home again. But he still could not get up.”

Georg Eppenstein’s death certificate, issued on September 12, 1933. Following his release from SA detainment, Eppenstein was admitted to hospital in Köpenick but later taken to the Charité hospital in the center of Berlin via several intermediate stops. There he was diagnosed with “intradural hematoma” and underwent an operation on August 2, 1933, but succumbed to his severe brain hemorrhaging a day later.

In the proceedings against “Plönzke et al”, East Berlin’s director of public prosecutions Max Berger indicted 61 former SA men. Herbert Gehrke was not among them; he had died in action on March 18, 1945 in Dirmingen/Saar. The East Berlin district court heard the cases of 32 persons present and 24 absent from June 5 to July 19, 1950. Marta Eppenstein made a statement before the trial began. The court sentenced 15 of the accused to death, 13 to life imprisonment and the remaining men to jail sentences of between five and 25 years. ST EFAN H ÖRDL ER

Proceedings against former SA men involved in the “Köpenick Blood Week” in East Berlin from June 5 to July 19, 1950. Seated on the front bench are Otto Busdorf, Gustav Erpel and Erich Haller (from left). Erpel, who became an SA company leader, played a key role in torturing Georg Eppenstein on the premises of the Demuth restaurant and SA base. The criminal court of the East Berlin district court sentenced him as chief offender to death by guillotine. Gustav Erpel was executed on February 20, 1951, in Frankfurt/Oder.

Archiv Heimatmuseum Treptow-Köpenick

After the end of World War II, the Eppensteins once again found themselves caught in the machinery of political systems. The company’s production plant was in East Berlin – the Soviet zone of occupation – but the offices were in the west of the city. It was not possible to coordinate the two locations to run the business. In summer 1950, the municipal council of East Berlin closed down the production site. The deadline for declaring capital assets in German marks passed and the company went into liquidation from December 31, 1951. Marta Eppenstein was nearly 80 when she died in 1957. Her daughter Elisabeth-Charlotte died in 1973. In 1971 the factory and family residence was demolished in order to make way for new development.

Archiv Heimatmuseum Treptow-Köpenick

The postwar period – liquidation and trials in Berlin

Senior director of public prosecutions Max Berger addressing the jury before the East Berlin district court during proceedings against the SA perpetrators of the “Köpenick Blood Week”. In the background, the portrait of Georg Eppenstein can be clearly seen on the right.

The former company base of Ruilos-Knoblauch-Verwertungs-G.m.b.H. at Achenbach Strasse 33–35 (today Salvador Allende Strasse 43–45). A commemorative brass stone was laid in 2004. 55

Theaterkunst GmbH, Berlin

Privatbesitz Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

A Theaterkunst Hermann J. Kaufmann delivery truck in the courtyard at Schwedter Strasse 9, before 1936. Left: View of the Industriehaus Schwedter Strasse 9 building from a promotional leaflet, around 1911. Design by graphic artist Otto Arpke which became the company logo, early 1920s.

Theaterkunst Theatrical Supplies In the 1920s, Hermann J. Kaufmann led the company Theaterkunst to become one of the top décor and costume suppliers for theater and film in the world. Despite attracting the interest of a number of individuals, institutions and the state, and the difficulties arising after 1933, Kaufmann was able to run the company until 1936. Since he sold it, it has continued to exist under the name Theaterkunst GmbH until today.

Deutsche Kinemathek – Marlene Dietrich Collection, Berlin

Deutsche Kinemathek – Marlene Dietrich Collection, Berlin, Foto: M. Lüder


Invoice from Theaterkunst Hermann J. Kaufmann to Marlene Dietrich, 1931.

Kimono worn by vaudeville singer Lola (Marlene Dietrich) in the movie Der blaue Engel [The Blue Angel] (Germany, 1931). 56

World War I was not yet over when Hermann J. Kaufmann (1877–1942) took over the company Theaterkunst, founded in 1907, and entered it in the commercial register. The object of the business was the “complete provision of theatrical décor and costumes”. The company premises, where costumes were produced and rented, were at Schwedter Strasse 9 in Prenzlauer Berg. During the Weimar Republic, Theaterkunst under Kaufmann became the best known Berlin costumiers for theater and film in the world. About 360 members of staff were employed in workshops covering 4,500 square meters [approximately 50,000 square feet] and including a gentlemen’s and ladies’ tailor’s, a milliner’s and shoemaker’s, a studio for embroidery and appliqué, a saddler’s and sword-maker’s and a store of historical and modern props, costumes and accessories. Kaufmann invested strongly in advertising. He had a company logo designed, published a catalog of products and placed advertisements promoting his work with revue theaters in Berlin and historical and epic films. One of his biggest coups was a commission to supply costumes and props for the movie Ben Hur (USA, 1926). This was a mark of “recognition of the thorough German approach to historical research and craftsmanship” the trade press noted.

Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin

Pictures from the company catalog, before 1925. The catalog offered weapons and accessories as well as costumes and props. The company was profiled in an introduction and insights into its workshops, storerooms and reception rooms provided by these illustrations.

After 1933, a number of parties revealed an interest in the company Theaterkunst Hermann J. Kaufmann. The culture chambers and the Gestapo immediately put Kaufmann under pressure to surrender his business. The film industry had a vested interest in Theaterkunst as a “productive and reliable company with […] well trained staff”. Backed by the Ufa film studios and the Propaganda Ministry, Hermann Stallberg, probably born 1895 and NSDAP member and SA stormtroop unit leader from 1932, founded the company Theaterkunst, Ausstattungs- und Uniformen GmbH on April 25, 1933. The next day, he advertised the “first purely Christian company in the branch under National Socialist direction” which also manufactured army clothing and SA and SS equipment. At this point, Theaterkunst Hermann J. Kaufmann still existed.

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz

Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin


Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin

Advertisement for Theaterkunst Hermann J. Kaufmann in: Das große Bilderbuch des Films, 1926. The design is by Werner Boehm, who was employed by the company from 1923 to 1965 and lived through various changes in government and ownership during his many years working there.

Advertisement publicizing the takeover of Theaterkunst Hermann J. Kaufmann by Nazi Party member Hermann Stallberg on the front cover of the leading trade paper for theater Die Deutsche Bühne [The German Stage], year 25, issue 5 (1933).

The two companies appeared in the Berlin directory under the same address. While Stallberg’s company took over all the domestic business and clientele, Kaufmann continued to oversee the foreign commissions. They shared the workshops, stores and staff. Stallberg’s business foundered, however, after one year. Hermann Kaufmann’s non-Jewish wife Meta and his long-standing trade executive Walter Russ then stepped in as partners, the latter also taking over as managing director. Costume fitting with Henny Porten for the lead role in the movie Luise, Königin von Preußen [Luise, Queen of Prussia], around 1930

In 1936, businessman Adolph Nau (1884-1955) and the ailing Swedish matchstick corporation Svenska Tändsticks Aktiebolaget (STAB) took over the business. The partner57

ship contract of April 22, 1936, stipulated payment of the purchase price of 150,000 Reich marks in two parts of 1000 Reich marks by Nau and the remaining 149,000 Reich marks by STAB. Taking the name Theaterkunst GmbH, the company carried on the tradition of the previous two businesses Theaterkunst Hermann J. Kaufmann and Theaterkunst Ausstattungs- und Uniformen GmbH and merged them. Nau and Otto Wilhelm Lange, a committed Nazi born 1884, who had previously worked in arts administration and theatre management, were appointed managing directors. The Swedish matchstick corporation, where Nau had held leading positions for many years, supported his new start at Theaterkunst. The business was consolidated under the new management. The senior members of staff were kept on, ensuring the company maintained its high standards. It was classified as a priority wartime business by the Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda and its commissions steadily increased. It supplied costumes for entertainment industry movies, propaganda features and theater in Germany and in the occupied territories. Hermann J. Kaufmann emigrated to Brussels where he died in 1942, alone and robbed of his life’s work. Theaterkunst GmbH still exists today. Its main office is located at Eisenzahn Strasse 43-44 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf with addi­ tional branches in Hamburg, Cologne and Munich.

Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin


Bundesarchiv, Koblenz

Front cover of the promotional brochure on Der Schritt vom Wege (Germany, 1939). The film was based on Theodor Fontane’s novel Effi Briest and featured Marianne Hoppe in the lead role, directed by Gustaf Gründgens.


Otto Wilhelm Lange, photographed by Charlotte Willott, 1934. Lange had previously pursued a nationalist programming policy as director of the Deutsche Volksoper and manager of the Deutsche Nationaltheater am Schiffbauerdamm in the Weimar Republic. A dedicated Nazi, he was managing director of Theaterkunst GmbH from 1936 to 1945. Nothing is known of his life after 1945.

Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin

Program for the anti-Semitic propaganda movie Jud Süß [Jew Suss], (Germany 1942). Theaterkunst GmbH and Kostümhaus Verch are credited as décor and costume suppliers.

Schwedter Strasse 9 in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. Theaterkunst Hermann J. Kaufmann occupied business premises and workshops in the courtyard building.


Eduard and Max Moses Wassermann The life story of the brothers Eduard Elias and Max Moses Wassermann, grocery traders in Berlin’s oldest northern suburb, illustrates some of the range of strategies that Jewish business people used to resist Nazi oppression in the late 1930s. One brother got by as a silent partner while the other managed to stay in business by changing branches. Nevertheless, their example also shows that relative economic success did not offer real protection and even the most diverse defense strategies could ultimately lead to the same conclusion: deportation and murder.

From Tarnow to Berlin

Privatbesitz / Repro Museumsverbund Pankow

Foto Aljona Mozorova

Eduard Wassermann was born in 1883 in Tarnow in Poland. He left his hometown shortly after the turn of the century for Berlin, where he became a poultry trader. Listed in the Berlin commercial register from 1923 as proprietor of a small business, he imported meat – mainly from Sweden and Yugoslavia – and sold it at the market in Wichert Strasse, at the central livestock market and in a shop at Rodenberg Strasse 40. The shop, which his wife and daughter ran and which moved in the early 1930s to Brunnen Strasse 71, was increasingly used as an ice cream parlor in the summer months.

Eduard Wassermann


Max Wassermann, born 1895, joined his brother in the German capital in 1912. He set up a grocery store with his wife Leonora in Kugler Strasse and sold eggs wholesale from the backrooms. The egg business went so well that he soon closed the grocery store and moved the wholesale branch to a shop at Wisbyer Strasse 63 in 1929. Max imported his eggs from countries including Denmark and Holland and sold them by the crate to bakeries and stores. Apart from the driver of the company truck, the only employees were workers required to load the goods. Max Draber, a convert to Judaism for the sake of his Jewish wife, took care of the accounts on a part time basis. The fact that Max Wassermann and his family were able to move into a 4-room apartment in the newly built Wisbyer Strasse 65 and employ a maid indicates that, like his brother Eduard, he prospered in business.

Oppression and counter-strategies

Privatbesitz / Repro Museumsverbund Pankow

The situation rapidly worsened for the two brothers in the mid-1930s. Their licenses to import eggs and meat were withdrawn. In December 1936, Eduard Wassermann sold his business to the non-Jew Edwin Hansen but remained a silent partner with a 48 per cent holding, which enabled him to get by.

Privatbesitz / Repro Museumsverbund Pankow

Eduard Wassermann’s poultry shop in Rodenberg Strasse in the late 1920s. His daughter Gertrud, known as Trudchen, (center) is standing outside with the other staff members.

When Max Wassermann was barred from trading eggs a short time later, he had to close down his business. Despite his popularity and good reputation, many of his customers refused to pay their outstanding bills. He subsequently tried to break into wholesale meat trading but soon had to give up. On coming into an inheritance soon afterward, he set up a gentlemen’s clothing factory, Wassermann & Adler, at Kaiser Wilhelm Strasse 38 which later moved to Münz Strasse 15, with a Jewish partner who soon left. The factory manufactured mostly coats and suits which were sold wholesale to clothes stores. The shop was devastated during the November pogrom in 1938 and the sewing machines and band saws destroyed but he still tried to keep the firm going. At this point he considered fleeing for the first time but his wife Leonora refused to leave Berlin. Disagreement over the question of emigration together with their extreme financial difficulties put their relationship under such strain that in 1939 Leonora divorced Max.

Privatbesitz / Repro Museumsverbund Pankow

Privatbesitz / Repro Museumsverbund Pankow

Eduard Wassermann behind his stall at the covered market in Wichert Strasse in Prenzlauer Berg, around 1925.

Eduard Wassermann with his wife Klara and their sons Samuel (left) and Alfred, around 1933. While Samuel was able to legally immigrate to Palestine as a student, Klara and her daughter Gertrud fled to Palestine via Milan as refugees in 1939. Alfred went from Milan to Paris, where he disappeared after the German occupation.

Max Wassermann and his wife Leonora, known as Lotti. She and the couple’s daughter Toni were deported to the Lodz ghetto in 1941, then to the Kulmhof (Chelmo) extermination camp. Their son Bernhard was the only one to survive, having managed to escape illegally via the Netherlands to England. 61

Privatbesitz / Repro Museumsverbund Pankow

Privatbesitz / Repro Museumsverbund Pankow

Eduard Wassermann, sitting on the coach box, and his family on a Sunday outing.

Privatbesitz / Repro Museumsverbund Pankow

Eduard Wassermann’s store in Brunnen Strasse 71, around 1933. In winter only poultry was sold and in summer most of the store was given over to selling ice cream.


Max and Eduard Wassermann (from left) with friends and relatives (including their accountant Max Draber, second from right) on a Fathers’ Day outing, 1933 or 1934.

Death in Sachsenhausen The two brothers, who had tried in different ways to defy the National Socialist’s anti-Semitic measures, ultimately both faced a tragic end. They were among the 534 Jewish men and youths holding Polish passports to be arrested in Berlin immediately after the outbreak of World War II and taken to Sachsen­hausen concentration camp on September 13, 1939. They died there in 1940, allegedly of appendicitis. In fact, Eduard Wassermann was diabetic and had both legs amputated in Sachsenhausen – an operation from which he never recovered. Max Wassermann, crushed by the death of his brother, died just under a month later. J O NA S KRE I E N BA U M

The brothers’ gravestone on the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weissensee

No traces are left of Eduard Wassermann’s store on Brunnen Strasse 71 in Berlin-Mitte.

Wisbyer Strasse 63 in Prenzlauer Berg where Max Wassermann once ran his wholesale egg business.


Jüdisches Museum Berlin

Butter was in short supply in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1935, there were severe shortages among the population as a consequence of armament and the Nazis’ policy of autarchy. Joseph Goebbels addressed the issue in his propaganda by posing the rhetorical question “Butter or bullets?”

The Weinberger brothers, from left: Adolf (1892-1967), Hermann (1887-1968), Salomon (born 1894), Nehemia and Israel Weinberger (born 1896). Hermann left the business in 1930. Nehemia was the only one of the brothers who did not join the butter business. He ran a shoe store at Brunnen Strasse 25 in the 1920s.

Butter Merchants Weinberger Brothers Berlin’s largest butter business was a thorn in the side of local Nazis. While the involvement of a foreign concern and the Polish embassy protected the company for a time, it eventually became apparent that there was no escape for a Jewish company once it had become the target of persecution.



Gebr. Weinberger proudly demonstrates the manufacture and packaging of drippings with cracklings in its own “state of the art drippings plant […] using impeccably hygienic methods” in a promotional brochure of the mid-1920s. An inspection of this factory served as welcome grounds to start persecution in 1935.


The Gebrüder Weinberger [Weinberger Brothers] butter business grew from a grocery store which Helene Weinberger had set up in 1889. Hermann Weinberger married into this business and founded a wholesale grocery which his brothers Adolf, Israel and Salomon, who had come to Berlin from Gorlice in Galicia, joined after the First World War. The firm, which resided in a magnificent building in Brunnen Strasse 188 -190, rose to become Berlin’s main butter suppliers in the mid1920s. It manufactured its own butter, lard and fat, supplied about 8,000 small dairy goods stores and ran its own chain of grocery stores under the name Otto Thürmann. The world economic crisis caused some difficulties for the company, which Hermann Weinberger had left by that time, but it was able to overcome them partly thanks to the help of the British-Dutch Unilever group.

… and big guns

Jüdisches Museum Berlin

Although the Weinberger brothers had struggled in the face of boycotts from 1933, their situation became really critical when the Unilever group withdrew its support in August 1935. The Nazi newspaper for Berlin Der Angriff fired the first shot in the campaign against the company. This triggered a boycott of supplies by a number of dairies and a drastic reduction in the amount of fats and drippings available. In mid-September 1935, Salomon Weinberger turned to the Polish embassy for help. Unlike his brothers, he had managed to acquire Polish nationality since being deprived of German citizenship. At this point, however, the company’s situation worsened dramatically.

Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Frankfurt / M. und Leipzig

A Gebr. Weinberger delivery cart and truck. The cover on the cart shows the name of a butter wholesale company and drippings factory which Adolf, Israel and Salomon ran without their brother Hermann for a time.

Jüdisches Museum Berlin

Advertising as a defense strategy: The Weinberger brothers feature twice on this page of the Jewish community paper Jüdische Gemeindeblatt für Berlin of January 1934, once represented by Thürmann and once by Weinberger’s Butter.

In the backyard of the butter wholesale company in Brunnen Strasse 188-190, c. 1935. A fleet of over 50 trucks delivered goods to customers in the city. In 1936 the trucks were sold off at throwaway prices without the consent of the Weinberger brothers.

The German Labor Front had offered the non-Jewish competition the Jewish company’s quota of supplies if they also took on its non-Jewish staff. Although the offer was legally unwarranted, some non-Jewish butter traders accepted it and the German Labor Front proceeded with forcing Gebr. Weinberger employees out of the company. Under extreme pressure, about two thirds of the firm’s employees left. At the same time, deliveries of imported butter to Gebr. Weinberger were stopped, blocking the business’s last supply channel and causing it to slide into a “vegetative existence” as Salomon Weinberger wrote to the Polish embassy. In December 1935, the brothers had no other option but to sell Otto Thürmann GmbH for far less than its true value to Otto Reichelt GmbH. 65

Once again, the Polish embassy intervened and was able to have the ban suspended. But no sooner had this occurred than, on April 9, 1936, the brothers were arrested on suspicion of fraudulent labelling. The Polish embassy secretary made it a priority to get the brothers released. In mid-June 1936, he reasoned with the Foreign Ministry that the brothers only wanted to liquidate their business and no further obstacles should be laid in their path. After a three-month detainment, the three brothers received a relatively lenient sentence, passed following a trial in camera, which was deemed discharged by their pre-trial custody. On their release, the brothers discove-

Joseph-Wulf-Mediothek der Gedenk- und Bildungsstätte Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz, Berlin

On February 6, 1936, the brothers concluded a new partnership agreement. Israel and Adolf transferred their shares in the business to Salomon, who still had Polish nationality. The brothers hoped that under the protection of the Polish embassy the business might be saved. But even before the new partnership could become effective, a letter from Berlin chief of police Helldorf sealed the fate of the company. Helldorf’s communication of March 6, 1936, prohibited the Weinberger brothers from trading foodstuffs – based on a trade restriction regulation from the inflation crisis – and granted them a period of all of three days to liquidate the business.


Der Angriff of August 10, 1935: The article entitled “The disguised Jew” initiating the brothers’ persecution.

red that the company’s offices had been repeatedly searched, the storerooms looted and some of the machines removed. The butter wholesale company had de facto ceased to exist. Before emigrating and under the protection of the Polish embassy, Salomon Weinberger wound up his company by September 1938. It was deleted from the Berlin commercial register on June 19, 1939. Only the subsidiary Otto Thürmann GmbH, sold on the verge of bankruptcy in 1935, still exists today. C H R I S T O P H KREUTZMÜLLER

Bundesamt für zentrale Dienste und offene Vermögensfragen, Berlin

This article from the newspaper Berliner Morgenpost of March 12, 1936, recounts without comment the typically outrageous reasoning for the Berlin chief of police’s trade ban.

Notes by tax official Dr. Edmund Hegel of October 27, 1936: In the course of a government audit, a high tax debt was falsely attributed to Gebr. Weinberger and their personal assets seized to increase the pressure on them.

Brunnen Strasse 188/190 in Berlin-Mitte today, where the arts administration of the Berlin senate is now based. In 2010 a copy of this poster was put on display in the foyer of the building.

Jüdisches Museum Berlin

Israel and Adolf Weinberger, like their brother Salomon, were able to flee to safety in the USA only by leaving most of their assets behind. Salomon’s daughter Judith and wife Ernestine were refused entry into the US because Judith suffered from a mental illness. They subsequently fled to Poland where they were murdered in August 1942. In this letter, the chief of police insisted on addressing Adolf Weinberger by his middle name, Abraham.


Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

“Yalta” costume created by Schule Reimann for one of the art college’s legendary fancy-dress balls, design by Else Taterka, photographed by Yva, in: Farbe und Form [Color and Form], issue 1/1930

Yva Photographic Studio Else Ernestine Neuländer, alias Yva, built a successful career as a fashion and commercial photographer from the mid-1920s. Despite the increasing isolation and oppression of Jews, she managed to keep her studio going until 1938. But eventually a professional ban and forced labor formed the prelude to Yva and her husband Alfred Simon’s deportation to Sobibór extermination camp in 1942.

The photographer Yva – detail of the work Yva photographing the sculptor Hugo Lederer in his studio, 1930.

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek, Sammlung Modebild Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek

Bundesarchiv, Koblenz

An in-demand fashion and commercial photographer

Charlotte Weidler’s illustrated feature profiling storyteller Abd el Kader entitled “God won’t forget the Arabs” in Uhu, issue 11, August 1932. The photo credits point to Weidler’s cooperation with Yva as early as 1932. 68

During the Weimar Republic, many women rose to become wellknown, successful photographers. A number of studios run by women, including Frieda G. Riess, Lotte Jacobi, Suse Byk and Elli Marcus, were located in West Berlin. Many specialized in portrait photography and counted society ladies and gentlemen and art world celebrities among their clients. Else Neuländer, (born 1900), started out in the mid 1920s as a professional photographer and soon became well established. Besides nude and portrait photography, her most lucrative commissions were for fashion and commercial photography. One of her specialties was photo-stories for the monthly magazine Uhu bearing titles such as “Lieschen Neumann wants to get ahead”, “Next, please…”, “Beef olive with carp” and “Katy Lampe, the girl from Brunswick”. The aim of these strips was to profile the “new” modern woman and her daily life. The models appearing in them worked with Yva simply for the fun of it and a print of the final product. From 1930 to 1934, the Yva studio was located at Bleibtreu Strasse 17, on the corner of Mommsen Strasse. Many fashion shoots took place here. Else Neuländer took commissions from a number of contemporary papers and magazines, including Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, Die Dame and Elegante Welt. She cooperated closely with her friend and doctor of art history Charlotte Weidler, who traveled abroad taking photographs with an ethnographic focus. The results were published as the work of “Dr Weidler-Yva”.

The alternative world of the studio

“Lieschen Neumann wants to get ahead”: One of Yva’s typical photo-stories for the magazine Uhu, in Uhu, issue 6, March 1930.


Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek, Sammlung Modebild - Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek

From 1933, the Yva studio was hit by Nazi campaigns and legislation. In August, the newspaper Deutsche Nachrichten published a list of press photographers that singled out Jews and foreigners. Following the establishment of the Reich Culture Chamber and introduction of an ‘editors’ law’ it became virtually impossible for Jewish photographers to make a living. More and more of the newspapers which Yva worked for were closed down and important customers lost. The studio nevertheless managed to continue publishing photographs in the German press until 1936.

Letterheads of the studios Yva Photographie and Presse-Foto Yva. In 1936, art historian Charlotte Weidler officially assumed responsibility for the studio, allowing Yva to continue working. Weidler emigrated to the USA in 1939 where she supported Jewish friends who were artists and art dealers.

In 1934 Else Neuländer married Alfred Hermann Simon, born 1889, who looked after the financial side of the business. In spring of that year they moved to Schlüter Strasse 45 where they lived and worked on premises comprising 14 rooms. The roof garden, balconies and entrance hall with its striking staircase featured often in the studio’s photography. Here, Yva employed about ten members of staff, including her friend Elisabeth Röttgers, a photographer, who was in charge of press sales from 1932 to 1936. She described her boss as a woman with an “iron will”, hard-working, competent and forceful in dealing with her employees but also perfectly charming and cheerful. Helmut Newton and his nephew William Godwin trained under Yva. Looking back, Newton spoke of Yva’s “sacred halls”. After a time, some models who had wor69

Museum Folkwang, Essen, Fotografische Sammlung

Yva with her staff on the roof garden at Schlüter Strasse 45, around 1934. Yva is seated with her back to the camera with her husband Alfred Simon to her right and Elisabeth Röttgers opposite (fifth from left).

ked for the studio previously distanced themselves from Yva, not wishing to be associated with a Jew. When the situation worsened, Yva’s non-Jewish friend and associate Charlotte Weidler (1895 –1983) took over the studio. In late 1938, Yva had to close down completely. In a testimonial for one of her employees, Yva wrote that the business had to close because of the “order to eliminate Jews from the German economy” of November 12, 1938. Up to this point, Yva had been able to continue her artistic work as a photographer and employ members of staff, albeit in increasing isolation.

Sammlung Modebild – Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Banned from professional work

Advertisement for Crème Mouson, using Yva’s photography, without credit, in: Die Dame [The Lady], issue 10, May 1937. 70

The couple moved several times in 1938 into ever smaller apartments. Their last address was Bamberger Strasse 49, where they shared a furnished room. They had 34 cases put into storage at Hamburg harbor, suggesting that at one point they considered emigration. But according to Elisabeth Röttgers, who stayed in contact with the couple while their circle of friends shrank, Alfred Simon did not want to leave Berlin. After the onset of war, daily life became ever more trying. Yva performed forced labor as an X-ray assistant in the Jewish hospital; her husband as a street sweeper. In early June 1942, the couple was arrested by the Gestapo and deported on June 13, 1942, to Sobibór extermination camp. The date of their murder is not known. In 1943 – one year later – transport companies and the head of the Berlin tax office began nego­ tiations over the Simons’ property, i.e. the cases in storage in Hamburg. In the event, 13 were sold at auction and 21 were destroyed during a bombing raid. Heike Stange

Sammlung Rissmann, Hotel Bogota, Berlin

Fashion images photographed in the Yva studio in Schlüter Strasse 45 (today, Hotel Bogota), 1934 –1938. Yva used four different locations on the premises as backdrops for her fashion photography: Doorways, the roof terrace, the entrance hall with staircase and windows.

Schlüter Strasse 45 in Berlin-Charlottenburg has housed Hotel Bogota since 1965. The hotel’s proprietor, Joachim Rissmann, collects Yva’s photography and pays tribute to her work and influence in an exhibition on the premises, also featuring this profile. Two commemorative brass stones were laid for Yva and her husband Alfred Simon outside the building in 2005. 71


Nissim Zacouto in the office of his rug wholesale business in Jäger Strasse 61 in 1933. In the 1920s, Zacouto employed more than twenty staff members here; in the late 1930s, he still employed twelve.

Nissim Zacouto’s Wholesale Carpets Turkish wholesale rug dealer Nissim Zacouto descended from an old Sephardic family. He enjoyed an excellent reputation in the 1920s and was protected from direct attack after 1933 by his foreign nationality. But his import business was dependent on foreign exchange and soon he was struggling with increasingly damaging losses. He emigrated to France in 1939.


From Constantinople to Berlin

Nissim Zacouto (1892 –1987) and his wife Norma, née Eskenazi (1898 –1997) in Berlin in 1922, four days after their marriage in Constantinople. Nissim Zacouto came from an ancient Sephardic family. He spoke Ladino (a 15th century form of Spanish written in Hebrew letters like Yiddish) with his parents and siblings. As the eldest son, he initially bore his grandfather’s name, David. But after recovering from a severe illness, in the course of which a miracle-healing rabbi was consulted, he was given the name Nissim (Hebrew: “miracle”). 72

In the early 20th century, business relations between the Ottoman Empire and the German Reich blossomed in the wake of the newly constructed railroad to Baghdad. The Orient held a strong fascination for the European middle classes and oriental products were very fashionable. This was the situation when 16 year-old Nissim Zacouto first arrived in Berlin. He quickly and profitably sold a batch of oriental rugs which his father Isaac, an oriental carpet and antique dealer in Constantinople, had sent to Berlin. One year later, Zacouto settled permanently in Berlin and had a carpet business entered under his name in the commercial register. The business moved from Heiliggeist Strasse to an exclusive property at Jäger Strasse 61 and concentrated entirely on wholesale. Zacouto became an established supplier to leading department stores and renowned specialist outlets and, by the mid-1920s, had gained an excellent reputation in the field. He became vice president and interim president of the Turkish-German chamber of commerce. In 1926, he was placed under investigation by the public prosecutor on suspicion of carpet smuggling but the allegations proved unfounded and the charges were dropped. In the early 1930s, he weathered a huge drop in trade in oriental rugs caused by the world economic crisis and depression.

Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Potsdam

From Berlin to Paris


File notes by the chamber of commerce: Carpet dealers Fischer & Wolff responded to an inquiry on November 25, 1925, stating that Nissim Zacouto’s was “one of the few decent Turkish firms”.rgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Potsdam

As one of about 600 Turkish nationals in Berlin, Zacouto was technically protected from direct attacks on his person and business. But his reliance on foreign exchange to import merchandise placed him in a vulnerable position. After 1931 the Reich mark was no longer a convertible currency but subject to a complicated system of clearing and allotment which was rigorously applied by the central Reich bank and the exchange control agencies of the regional tax offices. Before a tax office granted licenses, it required assessments of the projected economic value of exchange allowances from the chamber of commerce. In addition, the latter consulted leading trade association members and well-known firms in the branch on the business in question’s dependability. In the case of Zacouto’s firm, the district head of the ‘Reich specialist group for carpets, furnishing textiles and curtains’, Joachim Quantmeyer, made a statement colored by anti-Semitic prejudice. This slander by a branch insider had the effect of increasingly limiting Zacouto’s scope for doing business. His attempts to counter it were to no avail. Seeking an alternative, Zacouto gradually transferred his business abroad. In 1933 he planned to open a branch in Switzerland or Italy but from 1935-36, settled on France. Prevented from conducting foreign trade in

Landesarchiv Berlin

Last advertisement of Nissim Zacoutos in the German Carpet Trade Gazette

Interior views photographed by Marta Huth, around 1930. Whether modern or traditional, rugs were an essential part of any interior: In Paul Boroscheck’s dining room in Berlin-Wilmersdorf (designed by Marcel Breuer) and in the reading room of Hans and Marta Huth’s apartment in Berlin-Schöneberg.

Berlin, he began retailing in the meantime, advertising pre-war stock in the German Carpet Trade Gazette until 1938. Some of his customers were now Jewish emigrants wishing to buy expensive bucharas or shirvans and try and transfer them abroad as simple rugs. Finally, in 1939, Nissim Zacouto emigrated with his family. He left his Berlin business behind as security. 73

protected to an extent. On France’s occupation, however, the receiver no longer deemed it necessary to take care of it and applied to have Nissim Zacouto’s carpet business deleted from the Berlin commercial register in March 1941. In the 1950s Nissim Zacouto considered reviving his business in Berlin. But when several costly and time-consuming compensation appeals failed, he stayed in Paris where he again built up a successful carpet trading business. The restitution of the Berlin business assets has not yet been concluded. C H RI S T OP H KRE U T Z M ÜLLER, BJÖRN WEIGEL

Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Potsdam

Zacouto managed to acquire status as a Protégé Spécial Français with which he qualified as an honorary French citizen abroad, though stateless in France. This enabled him to transfer a considerable part of his assets abroad. But after the outbreak of World War II, Zacouto was deemed a national of an enemy country and the ‘Reich commissioner for the treatment of enemy assets’ appointed Hermann Hänecke administrator of his business in March 1940. Since the German receivers in such cases were instructed to act in the interests of the business and preserve its intrinsic value to avoid the loss of German assets to foreign countries, Zacouto’s business was

Business owners had to apply for foreign exchange from their regional tax office for business trips abroad and be prepared to make concessions, as this letter shows. Here, Zacouto applied for foreign currency to take on a trip to Strassburg, Paris and Zurich, where he planned to visit his cousin, who ran one of the largest local carpet businesses. 74

Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Handelsregister

Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Potsdam

In a letter to the president of the regional tax office, the president of the chamber of commerce and industry, Karl Gelpcke, made unfounded anti-Semitic accusations.

Commercial register file: Deletion of the firm Nissim Zacouto in 1941


In 2010/11 a biography of Nissim Zacouto was pubslihed in English, German and Turkish.

In 1939 Zacouto emigrated to Paris but fled to Nice in 1940 to escape the German troops. To avoid falling into the hands of the Gestapo, he and his family went into hiding on the farm of a school-friend of his wife in the Pyrenees. On France’s liberation, the Zacoutos returned to Paris, where Nissim ran a carpet business to an advanced age. This photo of Nissim and Norma Zacouto was taken on their son Fred’s balcony in Paris in 1985.

Today the department store Galeries Lafayette stands on the site of Jäger Strasse 61 and the adjacent land in Berlin-Mitte 75

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Theaterkunst Archive of the Jewish Claims Conference: AZ 119375 Hermann J. Kaufmann

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Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Handelsregister: HR B 90, 57478

Bezirksamt Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf von Berlin, Bau- und Wohnungsaufsichtsamt, Archiv: Akte Kurfürstendamm 26

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde: Entschädigungsakten Nr. 309.474 (Karl Kutschera) and Nr. 11.413 (Josefine Hildebrandt, widow of Karl Kutschera)


Heike Stange: Balance zwischen Kunst und Kommerz. Eine quellenkritische Chronik des Kostümhauses „Theaterkunst“, in: Uwe Schaper (ed.): Berlin in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Jahrbuch des Landesarchivs Berlin, Berlin 2007, p. 111-133 Heike Stange: Hermann J. Kaufmann, in: HansMichael Bock (ed.): CineGraph. Lexikon zum deutschsprachigen Film, Munich 2008

Zacouto Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Handelsregister: HR A 91, 94858, 1941 Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Potsdam: BLHA, IHK Rep. 70, IHK Berlin, Abgabe 2001, 163/55,6; BLHA, Rep. 36 A II, G 4115 Nissim Zacouto Ingeborg Böer, Ruth Haerkötter und Petra Kappert (eds.): Türken in Berlin. Eine Metropole in der Erinnerung osmanischer und türkischer Zeitzeugen, Berlin 2002 Corry Guttstadt: Die Türkei, die Juden und der Holocaust, Berlin 2008

All photographs without indication of copyright are from the collections of Bettina Kubanek and Petra Müller (museumsfreunde)

Acknowledgements We would like to thank the following institutions for their assistance:

We would also like to thank the following for their support, help and advice:

Akademie der Künste Berlin, Archiv

Hannah Ahlheim

Monika Nakath

Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Handelsregister

Michael Albrecht

Benno Nietzel

Archiv Deutsches Theater, Berlin

Lena Bätz

Dagmar Oehler

Autosattlerei Werner Schäfer & Sohn, Berlin

Ines Bartsch-Huth

Thomas Pavel

Bezirksamt Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg von Berlin

Ulrich Baumann

Hans Pfau

Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

Marion Beckers

Ingo Püschel

Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesittz

Gerhard Beiten

Birgit Raabe

Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Potsdam

Nirit Ben-Joseph

Adelheid Rasche

Bröhan-Museum, Berlin

Armin Bergmann

Frank Reppenhagen

Bundesamt für zentrale Dienste und offene Vermögensfragen, Berlin

Jürgen Bogdahn

Thomas Richter

Bundesarchiv, Berlin

Julia Danielczyk

Joachim Rissmann

Bundesarchiv, Koblenz

Klaus Dettmer

Silke Ronneburg

The Central Archive for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem

Anne Dudzic

Lisa Roth

Das Verborgene Museum, Berlin

Susanne Franke

Hans Rübesame

Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin

Monika Fröhlich

Krystyna Schade

Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Frankfurt a. M. and Leipzig

Uri Geva

Jan Schleusener

Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

Miriam A. Grese

Wolfgang Schöddert

Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin

Ludolf Herbst

Brigitte Schomann

Heimatmuseum Treptow-Köpenick, Gedenkstätte „Köpenicker Blutwoche Juni 1933“, Berlin

Peter Heuss

Hermann Simon

Jewish Claims Conference, Frankfurt a. M.

Gerhard Honigmann

Monika Sommerer

Gedenk- und Bildungsstätte Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz, Berlin

Dietrich Jacob

Roland Startz

Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen – Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten, Oranienburg

Andrea Karst

Maria Stephan

Jüdisches Museum Berlin

Detlef Krenz

Wolfgang Theis

Kreuzberg Museum, Berlin

Sabine Krusen

Thomas Ulbrich

Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten Berlin, Entschädigungsbehörde

Ursula Kube

Martina Voigt

Landesamt zur Regelung offener Vermögensfragen/Landesausgleichsamt Berlin

Anita Kühnel

Jutta Weber

Landesarchiv Berlin

Brigitte Kuhl

Barbara Welker

Leo Baeck Institute, New York

Veronika Liebau

Bianca Welzing-Bräutigam

Mimi – Textile Antiquitäten, Berlin

Lucia van der Linde

Hanna Wichmann

Museen Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Berlin

Ingo Loose

Angelika Winkler-Wulkau

Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Berlin

Martin Luchterhandt

Ralf Wohlfeil

Museum Folkwang, Essen

Frank Mecklenburg

Peter Woitkowski

Museumsverbund Pankow, Berlin

Sonja Miltenberger

Rita Wolters

Österreichisches Theatermuseum, Vienna

Elisabeth Moortgat

Martina Zadrazil

Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes, Berlin

Aljona Mozorova

Barbara Zibler

rk-Fotoservice, Vienna

Gaby Müller-Oelrichs

Sammlung Rissmann, Hotel Bogota, Berlin Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz Stadtarchiv Nürnberg Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum Theaterkunst GmbH, Berlin ullstein bild, Berlin VVN-BdA Köpenick, Berlin Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin Wienbibliothek im Ratshaus, Handschriftenabteilung

Our special thanks go to the family members of the Jewish business owners profiled, who placed additional information and material from their private collections at our disposal:

The Wiener Library, London Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin, Zentrum für Berlin Studien

Rosemary Allsop Katharine Boswell Barbara Dick John Myer

The research project Small and Medium-Sized Jewish Businesses in Berlin 1930 –1945 was generously supported by:

Gustav Oser Caroline Robinson Siegbert Weinberger Fred Zacouto

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung Hamburger Stiftung zur Förderung von Wissenschaft und Kultur Der Regierende Bürgermeister von Berlin, Senatskanzlei – Kulturelle Angelegenheiten Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum


Imprint Final Sale. The End of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin (Verraten und Verkauft. Jüdische Unternehmen in Berlin 1933 – 1945)

Project team Eva Balz Christine Fischer-Defoy Gerd Herzog Stefan Hördler Ulla Jung Jonas Kreienbaum Christoph Kreutzmüller Bettina Kubanek Christine Kühnl-Sager Henning Medert Petra Müller Kaspar Nürnberg Anne Paltian Monica Puginier Heike Stange Elisabeth Weber Björn Weigel


Exhibition catalog

Humboldt University Berlin, foyer Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin October 24 – December 13, 2008

Editors Christoph Kreutzmüller Kaspar Nürnberg

Landesarchiv Berlin Eichborndamm 115-121, 13403 Berlin March 26 – June 19, 2009

Co-editor, New York Renata Stein

Humboldt University Berlin Faculty of Business and Economics Spandauer Strasse 1, 10178 Berlin October 14 – December 11, 2009 Leo Baeck Institute 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 December 9, 2010 – March 31, 2011 Project coordination Christoph Kreutzmüller Kaspar Nürnberg Design Bettina Kubanek Petra Müller (museumsfreunde) Picture archive research: boycott and pogrom photos Monica Puginier Printed by Multimediaservice des CMS der HU Berlin

The German exhibition was produced with the kind support of


The New York exhibition was produced with the support of German Federal Foreign Office

Aktives Museum Faschismus und Widerstand in Berlin e.V. Stauffenberg Strasse 13 –14 10785 Berlin Tel + 49 (0)30 26 39 890-39, fax -60

Design Bettina Kubanek Printed by Brandenburgische Universitätsdruckerei with the kind support of

HBB Handelsverband Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Department of Modern German History Unter den Linden 6 10178 Berlin Tel + 49 (0)30 20 93 17 55

First impression in English 500 copies English translation copyright © 2010 Leo Baeck Institute New York 15 West 16th Street New York, NY 10011 Tel + 1 212-744-6400


Final Sale. The End of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin  

Exhibition catalogue