Chemical Plant Albert Mendel – BHR B 24778

Just before World War One pharmacist Albert Mendel, born near Bromberg (now Bydgoszcz) in 1878, moved to Berlin. There he took over the “Luisen Drogerie Eugen Totzeck successor” which supplied pharmacies and hospitals with pharmaceutical products of all kinds. In 1916 he renamed the company into “Albert Mendel Drug Wholesaler”.

Trademark, Berlin 1930

After the First World War, the company began to produce its own pharmaceutical products and market them with the suffix “AMAG”, which stood for “Albert Mendel AG”. Introduced in 1930, the cough syrup Tussamag was particularly successful.

From 1933, the successful pharmaceutical entrepreneur was accused of having expanded his sales by unfair means, including bribing the Association of Berlin Hospitals. Although this was not true, Mendel knew “that as a Jew I would have no opportunity to answer for my actions in a public trial and that they were simply looking for a way to safely expose me to Nazi ‘legal measures’.”[1]

The pressure was intensified by the fact that more and more public organisations were drawing up blacklists ousting Jewish suppliers.  In order to saveguard the company, Albert Mendel and his Jewish partner Hermann Goldberg officially resigned from the board of directors on 6 April 1933. One month later, the company was renamed “Chemische Fabrik Tempelhof”. Shortly afterwards, however, the non-Jewish managing director Paul Preuß informed his two Jewish colleagues that he could “no longer guarantee their safety” and gave them one hour’s notice to leave the company they had built up for good. 

Preuß gave the Westphalian entrepreneur Theodor Temmler a big stake in the company, which was recast in April 1936 under the name ” Chemische Fabrik Tempelhof Preuß & Temmler“.[2] Soon it‘s main product became „Pervetin“ the amphetamin many German soldiers took (and became dependent on) during the Blitz.

While the production of pervetin was discontinued after the war, Albert Mendel’s successful coughing syrup can still be found in German pharmacies.


[1] Sworn statement Albert Mendel. Nov. 7, 1951, Compensation Office Berlin 61434.

[2] Ibid.

For a detailed – albeit German – analysis see our paper “Vor dem Rausch” in Berlin in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 2020

Anne and Fritz Degginger, Fine Women’s Underwear (./. BHR)

The merchant Fritz Degginger, born in Regensburg in 1884, travelled all through Europe as a commercial agent for the high-end textile market. He was in Milan when he was taken by surprise at the news that the First World War had broken out. He travelled back to Germany through Switzerland and would receive a serious head injury while he was a soldier in Serbia. After the war, Degginger worked mainly in the women’s clothing branch, and in 1932, working alongside his wife Anne, and became independent through his shop at Kurfürstendamm 220 – a fashionable address directly opposite the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

Postcard, Poto of M. Krajewsky, Berlin ca. 1933, Entschädigungsbehörde Berlin, 251682

It was doubtless a coincidence that the photographer Hans Schaller happened to photograph Degginger’s business on the day of the blockade (labelled by the Nazis as a “boycott”) on businesses, doctor surgeries, and law firms regarded as Jewish. His picture shows a woman being turned away by an SA guard with a friendly smile.[1]

More than 20 years later, Fritz Degginger remembered how “3 Nazis in uniform” called on him to close his shop. After consulting the police, Degginger refused, resulting in the men returning to threaten him “with the words, that they would beat me on the head with their clubs until brain splattered the ceiling”.[2] Even though Degginger dated these events vaguely at the time after Hitler seized power, it can be assumed that they refer to the 1st of April 1933. The photo was probably taken after the return of the SA men. It can be seen how the curtains across the door are drawn and the shop within is closed. What is unclear, is whether one of the perpetrators perhaps deliberately posed as a friendly guard for the camera.

As the “situation against the Jews continued to escalate,” Fritz and Anne Degginger decided to specialise exclusively in women’s lingerie and moved a couple of doors down to the corner of Kurfürstendamm/Meineckestraße – an area which at this time would develop into a central location for institutions dealing with the emigration of Jews. The business developed very well. However, on the 10th of November 1938, the business was completely destroyed, and many wares were stolen.[3] Just like the other business owners that had been victims of the attacks, Degginger was forced to pay for the repairs to his shop himself. The Retzlaff glazing company sent him a bill of 485 RM on the 19th of November 1938 for changing the windowpanes. It is common knowledge that Jewish retailers were not allowed to reopen their shops after the pogrom. The remaining stock was sold off without the cooperation of the Deggingers, and the shop was rented out to somebody else.

Bill for the replacement of broken windowpanes, 19th of November 1938, Entschädigungsbehörde Berlin, 251682

In the weeks after the pogrom, Fritz and his son Roy Degginger were forced to go into hiding to avoid being transported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In May 1939, the family succeeded in fleeing across the green border to Belgium. Finally, after months of waiting, they were able to emigrate from Antwerp to the USA at the end of 1939. Why the company was not entered into the commercial register, despite having a yearly turnover amounting to more than 250,000 RM remains unknown.

Mert Akyuez & Christoph Kreutzmüller – with warm thanks to the family of Anne and Fritz Degginger!


[1] Photo by Hans Schaller, 1st of April 1933, bpk 30005414.

[2] Solemn oath by Fritz Degginger, 22nd of December 1954; CV of ritz Degginger, 1st of December 1954, Resititution Office of Berlin, 251682.

[3] Ibid.


Albert Rosenhain, Luxury and Leather Goods (BHR B 24987 (B 54916) and A 81633 (A 87112)

Albert Rosenhain was Berlin’s leading luxury and leather goods store. In addition to the flagship store on Leipziger Straße, at the time Berlin’s main shopping street, Rosenhain – like almost all major retailers – opened a branch on Kurfürstendamm in the 1920s. This store was located at Nr. 232 and was vis-a-vis the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

Entrance to the shop at Kurfürstendamm 232, photograph from the magazine „Sport im Bild” (Sport in Pictures), 24/1930.

Despite its standing, the house was subject to the brutal blockade of commercial enterprises considered Jewish on 1st of April 1933. Against the background of the economic ostracism at home, the company strengthened its export business. In 1933, the second eldest son of the family, Fritz Fürstenberg, opened the Revéillon. Het huis voor Geschenken (Reiwinkel. The House of Gifts) company in Amsterdam’s busy Kalverstraat. Almost at the same time, Fritz Fürstenberg’s six-year younger brother Helmuth also opened a branch in Alexandria.[1]

Parallel to this, the parent company in Berlin was restructured. In the summer of 1935, the old LLC (limited liability company) was converted into an open trading company and at the same time a new LLC was founded to take over the business of the Kurfürstendamm branch. The restructuring process was completed by the foundation of an independent Albert Rosenhain Export LLC. Quite obviously, the family tried to hold its ground in an increasingly hostile environment by doing business abroad and splitting up the business operations.

In September 1937, “Der Stürmer” reported in an absurd photo report on the allegedly untenable hygienic conditions in the company’s canteen.[1] In March 1938, Egon Fürstenberg and his son Paul, who had “always rejected the idea of selling the company,” decided to withdraw from the business.[2] On 5th of October 1938, Albert Rosenhain’s current business was acquired for far less than its value by the newly founded company Reiwinkel. Haus der Geschenke.[3] What happened next was summarised after the war by an involved accounting firm:

“Before the Aryanisation negotiations were initiated, an official audit of the Fürstenberg family businesses was carried out, which – as was often the case at the time with businesses still in Jewish hands – was carried out under the strictest interpretation of the tax law provisions, resulting in unusually high back taxes.”[4]

The ruins of the Rosenhain shop at Kurfürstendamm, photographed by Fritz Fürstenberg, 1947, Jüdisches Museum Berlin, L-2005/30/6030.

Fritz Fürstenberg, who had only narrowly escaped persecution, had himself naturalised in the Netherlands in 1948 and took the lead on behalf of the family in establishing restitution claims in Germany.[5] Apparently, in connection with this, Fürstenberg also visited his hometown of Berlin and photographed the ruins of the family’s business and private houses there. The restitution proceedings ended in a settlement in 1957.[6]

In Amsterdam, the Revéillon company remained, under Fürstenberg’s management, one of the leading houses until the 1960s. The family business tradition also lived on in Alexandria, Cairo, and Tel Aviv through the Rivolie la Maison de Cadeaux companies.

By Christoph Kreutzmüller; with thanks to Ronnie Goltz who provided information and the photograph from 1930!


[1] “Nachrichten aus der Reichshauptstadt“ [“News from the Reich Capital“], Der Stürmer 15/38, September 1937.

[2] Aktennotiz der Reichskreditgesellschaft [Memorandum of the Reich Credit Society], 18th of March 1938, BArch, R. 8136, 3390.

[3] Kaufvertrag [Purchase contract], 5th of October 1938, BArch B, R 8136, 2807.

[4] Brief der Berliner Revisions-AG an das Landgericht [Letter from the Berlin Revisions-AG to the district court], 10th of October 1953, LAB, B Rep. 025-06, 887/50.

[5] Gesetzesvorlage [Bill], 4th of June1948, Staaten Gerneraal, 4th of June 1948.

[6] Brief Hans-Georg Tovote an das Wiedergutmachungsamt [Letter from Hans-Georg Tovote to the compensation office], 5th of January 1956, LAB, B Rep. 025-06, 887/50.



[1] Exposé Reichskreditgesellschaft [Exposé of the Reich Credit Society], 9th of August 1938, BArch, R. 8136, 3390.

Kopp & Joseph Drugstore (BHR A 11673 / A 88293)

The pharmacists Emil Joseph and Emil Kopp founded their drugstore Kopp & Joseph in June of 1893 and entered it into Berlin’s commercial register in 1901. The company’s commercial register number was originally A 11673 but later, following the tidying up of the register and removal of incorrect and redundant entries in 1937, was given the number A 88293. The main office of the company was located in Postdamer Staße 122 and produced and sold perfume, bathing products, bandaging materials, and cosmetics – including the successful nail polish “Stein der Weisen” (“The Philosopher’s Stone” or “Stone of the Wise”). The production department was located in Lützowstraße. The business developed and flourished so that, before the First World War, two shops could be opened in Tauentzienstraße 12a and on the Kurfürstendamm.

Unknown photographer, April 1, 1933, Private

After the deaths of the company founders (Emil Joseph in 1913 and Emil Kopp in 1922) Joseph’s widow, Marie Joseph, initially took over the running of the company. She was supported by her eldest son, Curt Joseph. After Marie died in August 1929 Curt became the sole proprietor and took on his younger brother as his proxy and inactive partner.

Curt Joseph was born in 1899 and had fought with distinction both in the First World War and later in the Freikorps. The call for a “boycott” of Jewish businesses at the end of March 1933 struck him as a personal insult, especially given the fact that the Nazi regime claimed to particularly honour the so-called “front-line fighters.” For this reason, Joseph wore his war medals on the morning 1st of April 1933 and declared to his colleagues that he believed the “so-called Nazi victory to be the beginning of the end for Germany.” He also announced that he would not voluntarily dismiss his Jewish employees.[1]

Joseph then copied the award certificate for his war medals and pasted it on the inside of his shop’s display window, directly underneath the boycott poster that had been stuck on the outside. Soon, however, the certificate had been removed and the window was smeared with the star of David and the word “Jude” (“Jew”) in white paint.

Joseph was threatened with violence by some colleagues (who now openly admitted to being National Socialists) and was forced to fire his Jewish staff. He was quickly able to recover his Jewish employees, however, due to the fact he had full power over employment. The company nevertheless suffered considerably from the informal trading boycott of the Berlin hospitals. The sinking business was forced to reduce its staff to survive, including its long-term authorized signatory. What’s more, Joseph relocated some of his businesses into companies that were not connected with the parent company, now labelled as Jewish. At the end of 1938, the company was named in the index of Jewish businesses for the administrative district of Tiergarten, with an additional comment that there remained 13 employees, 5 of whom were Jewish.[2]

During the November Pogrom that followed the main shop of the parent company was plundered and destroyed. Joseph was deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and, shortly after his release, sold the rest of the business far below its worth. Kopp & Joseph was liquidated in July 1939 by the “tax expert” Hans Rosenberg. Curt had left for Britain before the company’s liquidation and he remained, working as a chemist, until he died in 1963. His plan to bring his family over to the United Kingdom was “made impossible due to the war,” his wife and two children were deported to Auschwitz and murdered.

Christoph Kreutzmüller


[1] Curt Joseph, NS-Betriebszellen in Aktion, in: Margarete Limberg, Hubert Rübsaat (Ed.), Sie durften nicht mehr Deutsche sein: Jüdischer Alltag in Selbstzeugnissen 1933–1938, Frankfurt am Main 1990, p. 95.

[2] Verzeichnis jüdischer Gewerbebetriebe im Verwaltungsbezirk Tiergarten, Nr. 91, o. D. [1938/1939], LAB, A Rep. 005-03-02, 2.

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