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Emma Baruch (née Katz) * 1873
Hallerstraße 24 (Eimsbüttel, Rotherbaum)
Emma Baruch, née Katz, born on 2 July 1873 in Göttingen, deported to Theresienstadt on 19 July 1942, died there on 1 June 1944
Emma Baruch could no longer stay in Bad Segeberg after the night of 9 to 10 November 1938; rocks had been hurled not only into the shop windows of the Leo Baruch department store, but also into the bedroom windows of the apartment above. Emma Baruch left Bad Segeberg, the place where she had lived for 37 years and where, together with the Leo Baruch department store, the center of her and her family’s life was located. She went to Hamburg, perhaps because she expected more anonymity, more protection from discrimination and stigmatization in the big city, an assumption that soon proved to be a mistake.
Emma (Emmi) Katz was born on 2 July 1873 in Göttingen. She was the fifth of six children of Levy (later Louis) and Fanny Katz, née Oppenheim. Levy Katz was born in 1827 in Mollendorf, a small village southwest of Göttingen. In 1869, he moved to Göttingen, where he died in 1917. His wife Fanny was born in Bebra in 1835, and she passed away in Göttingen in 1899.
In 1885, Levy Katz founded a company at Groner Strasse 44, a busy shopping street. The Levy Katz department store was initially opened in a two-storey half-timbered building; it stocked yard goods, beds, and furniture. The clientele came from the town and mainly from the rural district with its farmers and peasants. Quality, affordable prices, and fair payment conditions made the department store popular, and a circle of regular customer was quickly built up. In 1899, it was possible to realize great plans: The half-timbered house was demolished and a representative four-storey "Waarenhaus” (department store) was built in its place. Both sons received commercial training at the company. After the death of Levy Katz, his older son Moritz continued the business together with Adolf Rosenthal, the husband of his daughter Gertrud.
Emma Katz married the merchant Leopold Baruch from Segeberg in Göttingen on 4 June 1901. Until her marriage and move to Segeberg, Emma Katz lived in her parents’ home at Rosdorfer Weg 15 in Göttingen; it is conceivable that she also worked in the department store and that she was familiar with the business processes and operations.
Leopold Baruch was born on 31 Dec. 1871 in Segeberg. At Kirchstrasse 1/3 (after 1933, Horst-Wesselstrasse) he owned a flourishing department store, founded in 1900, making him one of the few wealthy Jews in town. The Leo Baruch department store featuring a storefront of five shop windows offered yard goods, clothing, footwear, china, toys, and fashion accessories. Leo Baruch was a devout Jew and actively involved in the Jewish Community. Emma Katz married into a merchant environment similar to that of her parents’ home and certainly familiar to her.
With her marriage, she also became a member of the Segeberg Jewish Community, which had been formed around the middle of the eighteenth century. Probably since 1756, the Segeberg Jews had a prayer room and in 1792, a cemetery was established. From then on, the deceased no longer had to be laboriously taken to distant Altona by horse and cart, but could be buried in the Jewish Cemetery at the intersection of Kurhausstrasse and Eutiner Strasse, opposite the old Lohmühle. In 1842, a synagogue was consecrated. The Segeberg Jews belonged, with few exceptions, to the poorer families of the city, and during its existence, the Jewish Community could cover their expenses only with difficulty. The furnishing of the synagogue was made possible by the generous donation of the Jewish merchant and philanthropist Isaak Harvig von Essen from Hamburg.
Leopold Baruch had been a member of the Jewish Community Council since 1912. He was the head of the fraternal burial society (Sterbegilde), Chevrah Kadisha, which was founded in 1792, dedicating itself voluntarily to the ritual burial of the deceased. In 1927, the 135th anniversary of the society was celebrated in his house.
Emma and Leopold Baruch had three daughters, Elsa, born on 27 Sept. 1902, Alice, born on 28 Aug. 1904, and Gerda, born on 30 July 1908. As Gerda Baruch later wrote, she first attended elementary school, then secondary school for girls, followed by boarding school in Marburg for one year. Then she was employed in her parents’ business, worked as a saleswoman and accountant, supervised the decorations in the shop window, and later took over the business. Her sister Alice received a similar education, descriptions that initially pointed to untroubled middle-class developments.
In Bad Segeberg (in 1924, Segeberg was renamed Bad Segeberg), however, according to the C.V. (North German regional section of the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith [Centralverein deutscher Bürger jüdischen Glaubens]), "a particularly strong anti-Semitism” prevailed, which had already begun before 1933; in the 1930 Reichstag elections, the NSDAP achieved 40.4 percent of the votes in the Segeberg district. In 1925, only 94 Jews lived in the district of Segeberg, by 1933 their number had already fallen to 32. Leo Baruch died on 29 Aug. 1930. At his funeral, mourners were pelted with rocks, and the grave was removed a few years later by Segeberg Nazis. The fraternal burial society dissolved formlessly with the rise of National Socialism, and within a few years, all members of the society had left the city.
By this time, Emma Baruch ran the Leo Baruch department store as a widow together with her daughters. Thanks to the good business management and maintenance of its regular customers, it was able to survive despite the Nazi attacks and assaults; tradition has it that Emma Baruch and her daughters were once taken into "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”) for three days.
Boycott measures were targeted specifically against department stores operated by Jewish owners. The party program of the Nazi party (NSDAP) already called under point 16 for "the municipalization of large department stores in favor of small traders, which should be given special consideration when awarding public contracts.” Department stores were generally regarded as "Jewish inventions” and were subject to numerous repressions under National Socialism from 1933 onward.
A particularly infamous method of defamation was invented by the NSDAP in Bad Segeberg at the end of 1934. The Baruch family was accused of donating all sorts of torn and soiled clothes to the winter relief organization. At the instigation of the NSDAP district leadership, the Segeberger Kreis- und Tageblatt reported on 13 Dec. 1934 about the alleged donation as a front-page story under the heading of "An den Pranger” ("To the pillory”). The garments were carried to city hall in a protest march with a sign reading, "Das gab der Jude” ("This is what the Jew gave”) carried along and then displayed in a shop window. On 5 Feb. 1938, the local newspaper published a call not to purchase from Jews. This article did not only refer to Bad Segeberg, but criticized for all of Schleswig-Holstein "... that the attitude to buy only in German stores has not yet become common place, especially among many housewives.” At that time, the Leo Baruch department store was probably the last Jewish shop still existing in Bad Segeberg. During the Pogrom Night of 9 November, the shop windows were thrown in, the goods partly stolen or burned on the street. In the synagogue, at Lübecker Strasse 2, NSDAP members started a fire, which was quickly extinguished, however. There was a risk that the opposite headquarters of the district NSDAP, the "Brown House,” would go up in flames due to flying sparks. After Emma Baruch left Bad Segeberg, only a few Jews lived there. On 11 Nov. 1938, it could be read in the newspaper that there were no more Jewish shops in the district of Segeberg.
Daughter Gerda Baruch later wrote that she and her mother had found accommodation with acquaintances in Hamburg, probably with her middle daughter Alice. At that time, the oldest daughter Elsa no longer lived in her parents’ house. Married to Heinrich Löwenstein, she lived in Beverungen, where daughter Matilde was born on 10 Nov. 1938, the day after the Pogrom. Heinrich Löwenstein, born on 18 Nov. 1891, came from a Höxter merchant family; he was the older son of Jacob and Minna Löwenstein. The Löwensteins ran a large department store at Westerbachstrasse 5. Dry goods and woolen goods, toys, household and yard goods, clothing, curtains, and carpets were sold on three floors. At the end of the 1920s, the cheap articles of the "Wohlwertgesellschaft” [a discount article company] for between 25 pfennigs and one mark were also included in the product range. Heinrich Löwenstein’s father was head of the Jewish Community in Höxter for many years. The mother took over the chairmanship of the "Israelite Women's Association,” whose aim was "to ensure the support and care of its needy members, to perform or have performed services of love for dying members until they were buried and, under certain circumstances, also to provide material support to non-members.” The Löwenstein department store was known as an employer committed to the social welfare of its 25 employees. The caring attitude of the family was also known. It supported poorer families by clothing their children at Holy Communion, provided catering for women in childbed, and organized lunch for poorer children, irrespective of their religious affiliation.
Heinrich Löwenstein first attended the Catholic Bürgerschule [a secondary school for the middle classes], began an apprenticeship as a pharmacist, then volunteered for war, rose to staff sergeant (Vize-Feldwebel) and was awarded the Iron Cross. Elsa and Heinrich Löwenstein took over the branch of the Höxter department store in Beverungen.
Emma Baruch’s daughter Elsa married into a Jewish merchant family in a distant town, as she herself had once married from Göttingen to Segeberg. Perhaps it was a rather frequent practice: The fathers knew each other, cultivated trade relations, the sons learned in their own company and took it over, the daughters were familiar business and trade, and the Jewish faith connected them. Perhaps it was also a Jewish marriage broker called "Schadchen” who introduced families to each other when they had descendants of marriageable age. It seems that everyone felt like integrated members of the German bourgeoisie and the German nation, where they had their sphere of life, their field of business, and their responsibilities.
Even before the night of the 1938 November Pogrom, on 7 Oct. 1938, the Nordmark Regional Finance Administration (Finanzdirektion) in Kiel issued a "security order” ("Sicherungsanordnung”) on her assets because of the "Jewish descent of the owner Emma Baruch;” in Dec. 1938, Emma Baruch was stripped of control over her business and a "liquidator” was appointed for Baruch’s assets. The Leo Baruch department store in Bad Segeberg was later "Aryanized” and sold at a relatively low price. The sale of the store furnishings and stock on hand was taken on by the former tax consultant, who initially kept the store under lock and key. In the subsequent restitution proceedings (Wiedergutmachungsverfahren), he estimated the profits of the business to be astonishingly high until 1937. When the store was liquidated, the shelves and the remaining goods were sold to the later owner, while "gold and silver items” were auctioned off. A Segeberg bank kept an account for the proceeds from the "settlement,” which was later confiscated, however. The tax consultant held an account for Emma Baruch in trust, from which the monthly living expenses of 250 RM (reichsmark) and probably also the "home purchase contract” ("Heimeinkaufsvertrag”) for Theresienstadt were paid.
Emma Baruch paid a contribution to the Jewish Religious Community in Hamburg from 1939, and her move to the city is indicated on her Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card for Nov. 1938. Her residential addresses were Schäferkampsallee 27; from 4 July 1939, Isestrasse 67 with Salomon; and from 19 Jan. 1942, Ostmarkstrasse (Hallerstrasse) 24.
In addition to the worries about her everyday life and the uncertain future, there was certainly also concern about her relatives in Göttingen, Höxter, and Beverungen.
In Göttingen, the store windows in the Levy Katz department store, run by her brother Moritz, were smashed as early as 28 Mar. 1933, when an SA parade took place on the occasion of the imminent boycott of Jewish shops throughout the Reich. The business continued on Groner Strasse until 8 July 1938. Moritz Katz died in Göttingen on 27 Apr. 1939. His wife moved to Berlin and died there in 1943, Gertrud, one of the two daughters, died in Auschwitz.
The Löwenstein department store in Höxter was also devastated in the Pogrom of November 1938. The owner, Heinrich’s brother Ernst, was put into "protective custody” ("Schutzhaft”) and when he returned, the department store had already been "Aryanized” and sold to former employees for a small sum of money. The events in Beverungen were similar. All emigration plans came to nothing, and in Mar. 1942, Elsa and Heinrich Löwenstein were deported "to the East,” probably to Warsaw; one piece of evidence leads to Lodz. Brother Ernst and his family were probably on the same deportation train, and then all traces of them disappear. Elsa Löwenstein was declared dead in Beverungen as of 8 May 1945.
Whether Emma Baruch wanted to leave Germany is not known, but her daughters Alice and Gerda quickly prepared for their departure.
The youngest of the daughters, Gerda Baruch, resided in Hamburg with friends of her mother for a short time after her escape from Bad Segeberg. She volunteered in the Jewish soup kitchen. In June 1939, she fled to Britain; entry was possible because she had tried to find work there as a domestic help. British immigration policy permitted this regulation, which was intended to counteract the shortage of domestic servants in response to a resolution of the "National Council of Women.” For taking along emigrant’s moving goods, Gerda Baruch had to pay an amount of 1,000 RM in special expenses, which her mother Emma Baruch paid. Gerda Baruch later wrote that she first worked as a maid in Scotland and later found a job in London as a warehousewoman at H. Weiss & Co., which produced clothing. In 1952, she married Isidore Norden at Hampstead Synagogue and then worked in the business of her husband, the company director of a furniture store. She was a British citizen by then.
The middle daughter, Alice Baruch, probably lived in Hamburg with her mother Emma. She married Max Henry Reyersbach in a marriage by proxy on 11 Mar. 1940 in Rio de Janeiro. Her distant husband, born in Hamburg in 1900 with a residential address at Hansastrasse 22, had emigrated to Brazil in 1926. Despite the wedding ceremony, Alice Reyersbach did not receive an exit permit at this late date. She died of peritonitis at the Israelite Hospital in Johnsallee on 1 July 1942, a few weeks before her mother Emma Baruch was deported.
According to the Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card, Emma Baruch’s "outmigration” ("Abwanderung”) took place on 19 July 1942. The Theresienstadt Memorial Book registers the arrival of Transport VI/2 from Hamburg in Terezin (Theresienstadt) on 20 July 1942. Emma Baruch received the prisoner number 26 during the transport, and with this, all traces of her disappear. The circumstances in Theresienstadt are known: Complete overcrowding of the camp, accommodation of the older Jews in the attics of the barracks, malnutrition, exhaustion due to hunger and illness. The date of death indicated was 1 June 1943.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: September 2019
© Ursula Erler
Quellen: 1; 2; 7; 8; StaH, AfW Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 351-11, 33242, 29159, 2221; Gleiss, Jüdisches Leben; Paul/Gillis-Carlebach (Hrsg.), Menora, S. 333–336; Goldberg, Abseits, S. 271 u.a.; Bruns-Wüstefeld, Lohnende Geschäfte, S. 173–174 ; Schäfer-Richter/Klein, Die jüdischen Bürger, S. 120–121; Jacob Pins Gesellschaft (Kunstverein Höxter e.V.), Die Löwensteins; Kushner, Heimat, Hrsg. Stiftung Jüdisches Museum Berlin/Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, S. 72–75; Stadtarchiv Göttingen, Angaben über Emma Baruch, Familie ihrer Eltern und Geschwister; Stadtarchiv Beverungen, Angaben über Elsa Löwenstein, geb. Baruch; Wikipedia 4.3.2014: Das 25-Punkte-Programm der Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Arbeiterpartei vom 24. Februar 1920.
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