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Rolf Arno Baruch * 1920
Grasweg 72 / Schule (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)
ROLF ARNO BARUCH
MITTELBAU - DORA
Georg Baruch, born on 21 Feb. 1881, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Marion Baruch, born on 18 Mar. 1919, deported on 8 Nov. 1941 to Minsk
Rolf Arno Baruch, born on 1 June 1920, deported on 19 Apr. 1943 to Auschwitz, death in the beginning of 1945 in Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp
Hirtenstraße 17 (formerly: Hirtenstraße 18)
"Dad, Marion healthy, as soon as word again, I will write. Have been married since January. No reason to worry, Walli, myself, nice work. Send me word immediately,” telegraphed "Rolli” (Rolf Arno) Baruch on 21 Nov. 1941 to his sister Helga in Tel Aviv. She received the telegram only months later, after the International Committee of the Red Cross had released it.
By "Dad” the author meant Georg Baruch, born on 21 Feb. 1881 in Hamburg, by "Marion” his sister Else Marion, born on 19 Mar. 1919. Both had been deported to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941. At the time he wrote the telegram, Rolf Arno Baruch, born on 1 June 1920, was at the Neuendorf hachshara Center in Fürstenwalde/Spree. He had gone there in the course of his preparation toward emigrating to Palestine, which now was no longer possible, however. There he had met the "Walli” mentioned in the telegram and just recently married her. Walli, née Hirschfeld, was born on 28 Oct. 1921 in Graudenz (today: Grudziadz). The recipient of the telegram, Helga Arna, née Baruch, had emigrated with her husband to Palestine in 1936.
In 1910, Georg Baruch became an independent broker trading with sausage casings and other offal from slaughterhouses. He had finished his one-year graduating class ("Einjähriges”) at the Realgymnasium, a high school focused on science, math, and modern languages, subsequently completing a commercial apprenticeship.
On 5 Apr. 1914, he married Irma Lucas, born on 1 Mar. 1887 in Bochum. By 1915, his business had become established, and he was assessed in the German-Israelitic Community for tax payments. He fought in the First World War as a member of the Hamburg 38th Armierungs-Bataillon [labor or pioneer battalion]. The sum of his tax debts with the Community accumulated; he paid them off by 1922. From World War I, he brought home a Hanseatic Cross Second Class but also pulmonary asthma.
In the meantime, the three children had been born. In the following years, Georg Baruch expanded his business, making deals with major foreign companies such as Swift, Perking & Co., his training company, Armour, as well as Morris Packing.
In 1928, Georg Baruch left the Community, though rejoining again later. He belonged to the Temple Society on Oberstraße. With Rabbi Bruno Italiener, the family celebrated Rolf’s bar mitzvah there in 1933.
The family was well-to-do, until their situation changed in the course of the Great Depression and the boycott of 1933. In 1935, the Baruch family moved to Isestraße 61.
Helga and Marion attended the private "Lyzeum Johnsallee 33,” the so-called Löwenberg girls’ high school named after its principal. Helga finished her school education there in 1931 with the intermediate secondary school certificate (Mittlere Reife). Marion switched to the Caspar-Voght-Oberrealschule (a secondary school without Latin) in Hamm. Rolf attended the elementary on Pröbenweg, then enrolled in Heinrich-Hertz-Realgymnasium, a high school focused on science, math, and modern languages, and then switched to the Talmud Tora School in 1934. He would have liked to become a high school teacher but did not see a chance any longer of realizing that idea by 1936, and went for a practical job. He began an apprenticeship as a cooper.
Helga started commercial training at the Karstadt department store, and she was dismissed on boycott day, 1 Apr. 1933, though she was able to continue her apprenticeship with the Robinsohn Company.
Helga and Rolf felt attracted to the Zionist German-Jewish Youth Movement and maintained contacts to the Hechalutz. For years, they prepared in facilities of the hachshara for emigration to Palestine. In 1935, Helga attended housekeeping school at Heimhuderstraße 70, completed a gardener’s apprenticeship in Rissen, and emigrated to Palestine on 1 Sept. 1936. She was not able any more to attend her mother’s funeral on the Ohlsdorf Jewish Cemetery one month later.
Rolf abandoned his apprenticeship in Nov. 1938 in order to prepare for emigration to Palestine. Among other things, he went to the hachshara Center of the Jewish Maccabi-Hazair scouts union in Ahrensdorf near Trebbin, established there by the "Reich Association of Jews in Germany” ("Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland”) in a former hunting lodge in 1936. During a two-year course, the adolescents were trained in agriculture and livestock farming, gardening, and the trades. Rolf Baruch’s sister Helga later gave the following reasons for the fact that he did not emigrate to Palestine after completion of his training: "Taking into account his skills and abilities, the administration of the training center held him back.” Apparently, in the meantime he was deployed to another hachshara center.
Following the dissolution of the Ahrensdorf center in the first half of 1941, Rolf Baruch reached, together with remaining young adults, including Esther Loewy, whose later married name was Béjarano, Neuendorf im Sande, which continued to exist as a forced labor camp. In 1943, this last hachshara site was closed as well, with the persons staying there for training brought to Berlin for the time being.
Although Marion was the most prominent of the three children, little is known about her educational background. She was a pianist and artist drawer, active in the Jewish Cultural Federation (Jüdischer Kulturbund). Among other things, she accompanied the cellist Jakob Sakom on the piano during private concerts. Even in her childhood, her artistic talents were noticed. When she was as young as four years old, she reportedly played the piano in an impressive way. While Helga spent her energies doing sports, Marion practiced at home on the Bechstein piano.
Marion left Caspar-Voght School, attended a private school, and got training as a fashion illustrator and designer. After the death of her mother, she took over the homemaking duties.
In 1937, she moved with Rolf and her father to Klosterallee 11. She obtained a job as an advertising and decoration illustrator at Robinsohn Bros. In 1938, she was dismissed.
In Sept. 1938, Marion applied for a passport. She wanted to travel to Amsterdam to get to know a potential husband in person. The engagement did not materialize. Later Helga recalled that Marion once confided in her that she was prone to "picking out such hopeless things all the time.” This involved not only possible partners, as her plan for Sept. 1939 to emigrate to Britain failed because the war started. She had intended to work as a domestic help there.
Her sister suspected that Marion hesitated in order not to leave their father alone. After the November Pogrom of 1938, he had spent six weeks in "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”) in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and was released with severe frostbite on his hands. On 20 Jan. 1939, Georg Baruch wrote to his daughter Helga:
"My dear and deeply beloved children.
To speak about my own person first, as befits an old patriarch, I can provide you with the pleasant news that the convalescence of my hand is progressing to the satisfaction of the physician at the Jewish Hospital, where I still go every other day to get the bandages changed, and that the bandaging and obliging nurse told me today that next Monday, the bandage will be replaced by a band-aid. I have to practice constantly to flex the still stiff fingers, which I manage with God’s help, and so it is touching to see how God helps both in small and big matters.”
He then announced that he would move with Marion to Heinrich-Barth-Str. 8 into two furnished rooms after having looked for accommodation for over a month.
Marion remained active in the Cultural Federation. She drew and painted movie posters pinned up in the Community Center. On 14 Sept. 1939, she received the tax clearance certificate for her emigration to Britain. An aunt had obtained the necessary certificate for her. With Britain entering the war, the departure became impossible. Afterwards, she looked for a neutral country but also in vain.
On 15 Sept. 1939, Georg Baruch’s enterprise, founded in 1910 and entered in the company register on 20 Jan. 1911, was struck from the register on the request of the Chamber of Commerce. Georg Baruch had been, from time to time, "practically the unrivaled broker within the industry in Germany,” as was determined after the war. Georg and Marion Baruch lived on the small rest of their assets until their deportation to Minsk on 8 Nov. 1941.
Helga Arna’s hope for a reunion did not come true. Nothing is known about Georg Baruch’s death, but certainly about Marion’s, since a survivor of Minsk, Heinz Rosenberg, describes it in his memoirs: "June 1942 saw a change at the commandant’s office: SS-Hauptscharführer [SS rank equivalent to master sergeant] Rübe was very brutal. When he saw a nicely written sign one day, he asked who had drawn it. He ordered Marion to see him, talked to her briefly, and then led her to the cemetery. There he shot her dead.”
The Gestapo sent Rolf and Walli Baruch to Auschwitz on the 37th Osttransport ["east transport”] leaving Berlin on 19 Apr. 1943. Of the 688 deportees, 153 arrived from the former Landwerk Neuendorf labor camp. The married couple was separated. Walli Baruch’s whereabouts remain unknown, Rolf Baruch was "selected” as able to work and came to Auschwitz Monowitz, where he performed forced labor for the IG-Farben company.
His sister Helga wrote in 1990, shortly before her death, to the district archive (Stadtteilarchiv) in Hamm: "By chance, it was also only several months ago that I received news from a woman living in Weil/Rhine that he had reported at every roll call until the very end. He must have been killed on the so-called death march.”
Helga Arna, née Baruch, died in Tel Aviv on 17 Aug. 1991.
Recent research has concluded that Rolf Baruch came from Auschwitz to Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, where he was registered as a gardener with prisoner number 107085 on February 2, 1945. The camp was overcrowded, offering neither sufficient work nor food nor health care. Those who were not fit for work were transported to the Boehlke barracks near Nordhausen, where the SS also directly directed newly arriving death marches from April 16. Rolf Baruch was registered here without further details.
How he came to his death there is not known.
He was probably buried in a mass grave on the neighboring hill by the local population on the orders of the US liberators.
Epilog: The Swiss author Urs Faes followed the trail of Rolf Baruch and published his photograph with Lucie Hahn from their time spent in Ahrensdorf on the cover of his novel Liebesarchiv ("Archive of Love,” 2008), also basing his latest novel, Sommer in Brandenburg ("Summer in Brandenburg,” 2014) on Rolf Baruch’s fate.
Translator: Erwin Fink /Changes: Beate Meyer
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: November 2021
© Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: 1; 2 R 2938/2088, FVg 5893, 4; 5; 8; 9; StaH, 522-1, Jüdische Gemeinden: o. Sign. Mitgliederzählung der DIGH 1928; 390 Wählerverzeichnis 1930; 391 Mitgliederliste 1935; 992 e 2 Deportationslisten, Bd. 2; 351-11 AfW 42017, 43430; Panstwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau w Oswiecimiu, Aufnahmebogen 20.4.1943, Lagerlisten, dankenswerterweise 2006 von Rüdiger Pohlmann zur Verfügung gestellt; Das jüdische Hamburg. Ein historisches Nachschlagewerk. Hrsg. vom Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden, Göttingen 2006, S. 170; Faes, Urs, Liebesarchiv, Berlin 2008; ders. Sommer in Brandenburg, Berlin 2014; Fiedler, Ruth und Hermann, Hachschara, Berlin 2004; Müller-Wesemann, Barbara, Theater als geistiger Widerstand. Der Jüdische Kulturbund in Hamburg 1934–41. Stuttgart 1996, S. 500; Christiane Pritzlaff, Schülerschickssale in Hamburg während der NS-Zeit, z. B. Rolf Arno Baruch (1.6.1920–1945). In: Die Juden in Hamburg 1590–1990. Wissenschaftliche Beiträge der Universität Hamburg zur Ausstellung "Vierhundert Jahre Juden in Hamburg", hg. von Arno Herzig, Hamburg 1991, S. 527–536; Heinz Rosenberg, Jahre des Schreckens, Hamburg 1985, S. 43; www.statistik-des-holocaust.de/list_ger_ber_ot37.html; http://forge.fh-potsdam.de/~SWABD/. Freundliche Hinweise von Rüdiger Pohlmann, Hamburg, und Matthias Frühauf, Berlin, Februar/März 2014. https://baruchfamily.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/the-death-of-rolf-baruch-an-end-to-a-family/; https://baruchfamily.wordpress.com/2019/04/26/the-murder-of-marion-baruch-in-the-summer-of-1943/.
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