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Ruth Drucker *1919
© Yad Vashem

Ruth Drucker * 1919

Övelgönner Straße 25 (Altona, Altona-Nord)

1941 Minsk

Ruth Drucker, born on 21 Sept. 1919, deported to Minsk on 18 Nov. 1941, date of death unknown

Ruth Drucker was born as the daughter of a Hamburg Jewish family. Her father, Siegfried Drucker, a potato dealer, and her mother Martha, née Wolff, had a son named Heinz in 1920 and another daughter named Hannelore in 1924. The family lived in a large home on Heinrich-Barth-Strasse. However, under Nazi rule, Siegfried Drucker was forced to give up his business, and he moved with his family to a two-bedroom apartment at Bornstrasse 22.

In Feb 1939, Ruth Drucker’s father died. According to testimony by his granddaughter Mathel Gottlieb-Drucker, he had been imprisoned as a Socialist in Neuengamme and – suffering from acute diabetes – had not received any medication there; he had been released terminally ill.

That same year, Ruth Drucker met Leon Gottlieb. His Jewish father came from Belarus. A so-called "half-Jew” ("Halbjude”) and dedicated Communist, Leon Gottlieb was threatened by persecution in several ways. For political reasons, he had been detained for over two years in the Sachsenhausen, Dachau, and finally, Buchenwald concentration camps. Following his release from Buchenwald in Feb. 1939, he spent three months in Hamburg. During this time, he and Ruth Drucker got to know each other, and apparently, a stormy affair evolved, "a whirlwind romance,” as Mathel Gottlieb-Drucker puts it. At the end of May 1939, Leon Gottlieb left Germany from Bremerhaven. He managed to escape to Singapore. He intended to have Ruth Drucker follow him.

However, Ruth Drucker was not able to leave Hamburg before it was too late for emigration by the end of 1940. Her mother had contracted cancer. Since her siblings had already escaped by then – Hannelore on a "children transport” (Kindertransport) to Britain and Heinz to Australia in 1939 – Ruth Drucker postponed her emigration and stayed at Bornstrasse 22 to care for her mother until she died in the Israelite Hospital at the end of 1939.

In the meantime, Ruth Drucker had discovered that she was pregnant by Leon Gottlieb. On 19 Feb. 1940, their daughter Mathel was born by Caesarean section. The young mother had to stay in hospital after the delivery for several months. Leon Gottlieb’s parents, Anna Eliesabeth Gottlieb, née Machwirth, and the engineer Josef Gottlieb, took the infant into their home. After her discharge from hospital, Ruth also lived with them at Övelgönnerstrasse 25. Her friend Inge Klindwordt, born in 1922, remembers that Ruth was happy about the birth of her daughter and believed in a future together with Leon, whom she loved very much.

According to the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card of the Jewish Community, Ruth Drucker lived at Sillemstrasse 3 from Oct. 1940 onward, being employed part-time as a worker with only a small income; possibly, she had to perform forced labor. Before that, she had earned her living as a "commercial apprentice” doing office work. Now she cleaned in a Jewish retirement home.

Inge Klindwordt’s sister, Margrit Ammermann, born in 1931, also experienced as a child how Ruth Drucker’s situation got more difficult all the time. Even her parents had maintained a close friendship with Ruth’s parents. She recalls that "Rutchen” often came to visit in the evening when it was dark, with the "Jews’ star” hidden so that it could not be seen. "She was quite a beautiful woman, dark hair, cut short in a bob…” Despite the danger that friendship with Jews could mean, the parents kept in contact.

Eventually, Ruth Drucker received the deportation order to Minsk, the capital of Belarus in the German-occupied Soviet Union, for 18 Nov. 1941, sent to the address at Sillemstrasse 3. She left her nearly two year-old daughter Mathel behind with the Gottliebs. Inge Klindwordt remembers: "From her disposition, Ruthchen was life-affirming, she was a person thinking positive thoughts, and she did not believe anything bad would happen to her. To the very end, she thought she would go to a labor camp and would get out of that and return … that she would find and see Leon again.”

Mrs. Markiel, the mother of Margrit Ammermann and Inge Klindwordt, and Mrs. Gottlieb saw the 22-year-old off to the collection point on Moorweide. Ruth’s aunts, Jenny and Minna Drucker, her father’s sisters, were supposed to be transported off the same day. Mrs. Ammermann remembers that upon returning, her mother only said that it had been horrible, locked herself in, and cried. To her older daughter Inge she said, "I think we will never see her again.” Ruth Drucker and her aunts perished in Minsk.

Ruth Drucker’s daughter survived the war with her grandparents in a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”) for "mixed marriages” at Rutschbahn 25a. As she later learned from a great-aunt, her grandmother had prevented that she, too, was put on the deportation list in 1941. "Actually, I was supposed to be deported along with my mother. […] They came to get my mother. My mother happened to be home at the time, holding me on her arm, and I was to come along as well. And my grandmother said in a very loud voice, ‘That is my son’s daughter. And she is Aryan!’ So they took a look at me. They see that I am blond and blue-eyed. I am a kind of ideal for the Hitler period. And so they said: ‘Yes, indeed!’”

During the war, Mathel’s father, Leon Gottlieb, had been transported by ship as an "enemy alien” from Singapore to Australia and stayed there. He worked as an engineer and married a Jewish Communist from the Berlin resistance who had also emigrated. At the end of 1948, his parents also emigrated to Australia along with Mathel, and he took his daughter in.

Mathel Gottlieb-Drucker still lives in Melbourne to this day. She knows her mother only from stories. She remembers her post-war childhood, sheltered despite everything, with her grandparents, who raised her in the Jewish faith, as having been very happy.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Birgit Gewehr

Quellen: 1; 4; 8; AB Altona 1943; FZH/WdE, Archiv 663T, Gottlieb-Drucker, Mathel Miriam; Korrespondenz der Autorin mit Mathel Gottlieb-Drucker 2007; Gespräch mit Margrit Ammermann am 15.1.2007, Gespräch mit Inge Klindwordt am 20.9.2007.
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