Fotofex Kameras – Fritz Kaftanski – HR A 73480

Due to limited resources the research project left the data of many companies unfinished in 2012. Over the years, we managed to fill many gaps. Yet, we still miss lots of information, especially about the companies that were deleted from the register in 1938.

Preparing a chapter on photographs from Berlin for my book on daily life in the Nazi capital, I found that the owner of the camera company, Felix Kaftanski, was Jewish on a fascinating – albeit outdated – website. When I looked the company up in the database, I found we only had the conformation the company was deleted from the register in October 1938 – published in the state gazette (Reichsanzeiger) on November 3rd, 1938.

Berliner Handelsregister (1931), p. 114

According to our standard procedure, the first step is to look up the company in the handbook of Berlin companies: Berliner Handelsregister. Published for the last time in 1931 by the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce, it lists the basic data of all the registered companies in Berlin. For Fotofex it gives the registration Number, the year of registration (1929), address and the name of the sole owner, Fritz Kaftanski.

As we went through all changes published, but did not register any entries for the company until 1938, we can assume that the structure of the company had not changed between 1931 and 1938. What had changed, however, was the name of the street. After his untimely death, the Königgrätzer was given the name of the liberal German foreign minister Gustav Stresemann in 1930 – and was renamed Saarland-Straße – after the Saar region had opted for Germany in 1935.

Advertisement for the Minifex taken from the Website Fritz-Bedrich-Fréderic Kaftanski. History of a Camera Manufactorer: http://kaftanski.free.fr/

Kaftanskis produced respectively assembled a wide range of cameras – from simple box cameras to a very special camera called Minifex. Introduced in 1932, the Minifex was advertised as the smallest camera in the world. Despite also being one of the most expensive camera in the world, it became a long-lasting commercial success. Among others it was known as a spy camera.

Photo of a Minifex with kind permission by Boris Jamchtchick, Zell am See 2024

Under the pressure of the Nazis, Kaftanski moved first to Prague and after the German invasion to France. As his biographer Wim Luijt states, he survived in France and continued producing cameras such as the Minifex well into the 1970s.

Further reading:

Fritz-Bedrich-Fréderic Kaftanski. History of a Camera Manufactorer: http://kaftanski.free.fr/

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

Leo Libowski, Soap Dealer (BHR A 59300/ 98027)

The merchant Leo Libowski, born in Schirwindt in 1893, moved his Cologne-based business to the migration metropolis of Berlin in 1921.[1] The Berlin address book for 1922 noted Libowski to be a tobacconist.[2] At first, the business was located in the Friedrichshain district, in Grüner Weg (Green Lane) – a street that would later be renamed Brauner Weg (Brown Lane, as a nod to the colours of the Nazi party).

Cover Sheet of Leo Libwoskis File in the Commercial Register in Berlin, State Archive Berlin A Rep 342-02

Over the next few years, the East Prussian merchant conducted his business in Berlin with success and even extended the nature of his stock. By the end of the 1920s he was trading not only “tobacco and foodstuffs,” but also soap products.[3] In the middle of the economic crisis, Libowski relocated his business closer to the centre of town, to Elisabethstraße 36 – close to Weberstraße.[4] Whether or not his soap shop was blockaded or attacked by the SA on the 1st of April 1933 is impossible to ascertain from the sparse historical evidence. Libowski was able to maintain his business, however, and then became engaged to his future wife, Jenny Teckel, in October 1937.

It can be assumed that the soap business did not go unscathed during the days of the November Pogrom in 1938. In the wake of the SA followed a shockingly high number of the Berlin population, eager to participate in the looting of their Jewish neighbours.[5] If the soap shop was spared then it would surely only be by chance. However, Libowski succeeded in continuing to run the wholesale part of his company; as wholesalers were not included in the sweeping anti-Semitic prohibitions that were brought in on the 12th of November 1938, on Libowski’s 45th birthday. Despite the situation, the revenue office valued the soap company’s inventory at 10,100 RM in 1940.[6] The business was also still to be found in the city address book of 1941.[7] However, one year later, and for unknown reasons, Leo Libowski would be arrested and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.[8]
His wife was made to carry out forced labour as a seamstress at the Kurt Seidel military equipment company, located at Bülowstraße 66. On the 27th of October 1942, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Industry informed the district court that the Leo Libowski soap company had ceased operation.[9] Consequently, the bureaucrats working within the commercial register department made the usual enquiries into the place of residence of the business owner.[10] In response to a letter sent to the ascertained address, Libowski’s wife Jenny informed the officials on the 19th of November 1942 that her husband was being held in Sachsenhausen concentration camp and that she had not heard from him in several weeks.[11]

When after two months she had still received no reply to her letter, she engaged the services of her lawyer, Dr Kurt Sachs. A few days later, on the 25th of January 1943, the deletion order which had been sent by the district court for the imprisoned Libowski to fill in and sign was sent back uncompleted by the commandant of Sachsenhausen, along with the explanation that Libowski had been “transferred to  Auschwitz concentration camp, near Kattowitz” on the 22nd of October 1942.[12] If we believe the information by the camp administration to be true, Libowski died just a few days after his arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau, on the 5th of November 1942.[13] However, it was only after Sachs wrote yet again to the commandant of Sachsenhausen to request information on Libowski’s whereabouts that he was told of the transfer to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The fact that Leo Libowski had been dead for some time was not mentioned![14] Instead, they sent an ordinance for the ex officio deletion of the company, unless an objection was posed within three months. Considering the district court was aware that Libowski, even had he still been alive, would hardly have been in a position to object to the decision, this act was in reality a meaningless formality.

What happened to the soap business’s stock is a mystery. Perhaps it was sold off to the W. Strauch soap shop which had been located at Elisabethstraße 66 since 1936 and had shared an address with Libowski’s soap business since 1940.[15] Unlike Libowski, W. Strauch’s business would continue to exist after the war – at least until 1947.[16]
On the 28th of February 1943, Jenny Libowski was forced to fill out a declaration of the property in her forced house (Judenhaus) in Alte Schönhauser shortly before her deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Notably, the unknowing widow explicitly mentioned that her “husband is in Auschwitz camp.”[17] She evidently remained unaware of her husband’s death, and perhaps hoped she would be reunited with him upon her arrival. This hope was tragically never to be realised, and Jenny Libowski, like her husband a few months earlier, was murdered.

The Aktive Museum Faschismus und Widerstand is currently researching the so called Judenhäuser in Berlin. The Alte Schönhauser 4 will be one of the houses featured in the online exhibition, due to be released in Oktober 2023.
 

[1] Commercial register supplement to the Reichs- und Preußischen Staatsanzeiger, 8th of October 1921, p. 11, URL: https://digi.bib.uni-mannheim.de/viewer/reichsanzeiger/film/020-8980/0510.jp2 [Accessed: 15.5.2022].
[2] Berlin address book (BAB), 1922, part I, p. 1889, URL: https://digital.zlb.de/viewer/image/34115495_1922/1945/ [Accessed: 15.5.2022]. On migration metropolis: Anne-Christin Saß, Berliner Luftmenschen. Osteuropäisch-jüdische Migranten in der Weimarer Republik, Göttingen 2012; Stiftung jüdisches Museum Berlin/Gertrud Pickhan (Ed.), Berlin Transit. Jüdische Migranten aus Osteuropa in den 1920er Jahren, Göttingen 2012.
[3] BAB, 1931, p. 655, URL: https://digital.zlb.de/viewer/image/34115495_1931/5512/ [Accessed: 15.5.2022]; Berlin commercial register, 1931, p. 255.
[4] BAB, 1932, part IV, p. 197, part II, p. 531, URL: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:kobv:109-1-4111925 [Accessed: 15.5.2022]; Histomap, http://histomapberlin.de/histomap/de/index.html [Accessed: 7.3.2021].
[5] Christoph Kreutzmüller, Theresa Polley, “Geplündert und gelistet, Eine Fallstudie zum Novemberpogrom in Berlin“, in: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, 11/2018, pp. 931–946.
[6] Letter from revenue office Rosenthaler Tor to the chief finance president, 17th of September 1943, Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, Potsdam (BLHA), Rep. 36 A II, 23144.
[7] BAB, 1941, part IV, p. 193, URL: https://digital.zlb.de/viewer/image/34115495_1941/4680/ [Accessed: 15.5.2022].
[8] Letter from Jenny Libowski to the district court of Berlin, 3rd of December 1942, Amtsgericht Charlottenburg (AGC), HR A 91, 98027, 1943 (Leo Libowski).
[9] Letter from the chamber of commerce and industry to the registry court, 23rd of October 1942, AGC, HR A 91, 98027, 1943.
[10] Letter from the registry court to the registry office, 2nd of November 1942, Ibid.
[11] Letter from Jenny Libowski to the Berlin registry court, 19th of November 1942, Ibid.
[12] Letter from Sachsenhausen concentration camp to the district court, 25th of January 1943, AGC, HR A 91, 98027, 1943.
[13] Letter from Auschwitz camp to the district court, 18th of January 1943, AGC, HR A 91, 98027, 1943.
[14] Order on the letter from Dr Kurt Sachs to the Berlin district court, 26th of January 1943, Ibid.
[15]BAB, 1936, part IV, p. 197; BAB, 1931, part IV, p. 195.
[16] BAB 1946/47, p. 831.
[17] Declaration of property of Jenny Libowski, 28th of February 1943, BLHA, Rep. 36 A II, 23144.

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.

Fur-Confection Loeb & Sutheim (BHR A 44470 / A 94765)

The pelt confection and fur trading business Loeb & Sutheim was entered into the Berlin commercial register in 1916. The company was based in Jerusalemer Straße 63/64, then later in the 1930s, it could be found at Kommandantenstraße 5a, in the immediate vicinity of Dönhoffplatz and the main shopping street of the time, Leipziger Straße

Photo by an unknown Photographer, undated (around 1930), in private ownership of the family.

In 1930, the business partners of this general partnership company were the cousins Josef and Ludwig Loeb from Merxheim. The latter would be badly wounded in the First World War, leading to the amputation of his left arm.

Photo by an unknown photographer, undated (around 1930), in private ownership of the family.

For an almost classic owner portrait, the two bosses pose at a tidy double desk on which two telephones are on display. While Ludwig Loeb looks to the camera, Joseph Loeb studies the industry magazine “Die Pelzkonfektion” (Fur Confection). For another photograph, the two can be seen amongst a workforce of more than 20 employees in a well-stocked warehouse, in which even leopard pelts can be seen.

Photo by an unknown photographer, undated (around 1930), in private ownership of the family.

Like many other companies, Josef and Ludwig Loeb were able to successfully operate their business for a long time in an increasingly hostile environment. Then, in May 1938, the business would be publicly vilified by the vulgar anti-Semitic magazine “Der Stürmer.”[1] Aware that the National Socialist state would eventually heavily engage in a policy of “dispossession” (“Entbesitzung”) which was proceeding at a creeping pace in Berlin, the Loebs decided to sell. Here, as a Dresdner Bank employee noted, they had a plan:

“During today’s visit to the company, Messrs Loeb [the business partners Josef and Ludwig Loeb; annotation by CK] informed us that they intended to aryanise their company. There are 2 longstanding employees available as specialists, one of whom works as a confectioner and the other as a representative, who, in the opinion of Messrs Loeb, certainly possess the skills and knowledge necessary to run such a business. Messrs Loeb then intend to take over the company’s purchases and sales from abroad, so as to guarantee the correct purchase of goods.”[2]

The business was transferred over to the company Kreuzberg & Kreuzberg. While Josef Loeb emigrated to London, Ludwig Loeb and his family fled to the Netherlands, from where many of his family members would be deported and murdered.

For more information visit Berlin Aktuell.

Thanks to the family who helped us with information and photos – and trusted us!

Christoph Kreutzmüller

(translated by Bethan Griffiths)


[1] “Aus der Reichshauptstadt“ [“From the Imperial Capital“], Der Stümer 16/21, May 1938.

[2] Brief der Depositenkasse 35 an die Zentrale der Dresdner Bank [Letter from Depositenkasse 35 to the head office of Dresdner Bank], in: HADB, 29997-2001.BE, Liste A.

From Database to exhibition into the Berlin History App

In 2008 the as yet unfinished database served as a starting point for an exhibition presented in the foyer of the Humboldt University. Made in cooperation with the Aktive Museum Faschismus und Widerstand, Berlin, “Final Sale. The End of Jewish owned businesses in Nazi Berlin” presented the fate 16 all but forgotten enterprises. As the participants of the working group – members of the research team as well as volunteers of the Aktive Museum – all could choose “their” business freely, the scope of businesses was wide; an art school was presented next to garlic product specialist and a Turkish carpet trader. By way of example not only the stages and processes by which Jewish business people had their rights withdrawn and livelihoods destroyed but also the counter-strategies they developed in response were shown.

Foyer of the Humboldt University, Photo by C. Kreutzmüller, 2008

The exhibition was a real success. After the presentation in the Humboldt University, it a was shown in the State Archive (2010) and Chamber of Commerce of Berlin (2013). When presenting the exhibition, both the district museum of Steglitz and of Pankow added more local businesses.

Leo Baeck Insitute, New York, Photo by B. Kubanek, 2010

In 2010 the exhibition was translated and subsequently shown in the Leo Baeck Institut in New York (2010); the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (2012) and in Boston University (2014)

In due time all these businesses were added to the Active Museum’s layer in the Berlin History App. Thus, today, any flaneur or tourist, who has this app installed on his mobile, can stumble across the fate of the Jewish owned businesses and find out more about their fate.

Christoph Kreutzmüller & Marion Neumann

Exiner & Ehrenfried – Ladies’ Clothing

The Exiner & Ehrenfried ladies’ clothing company was established on the 1st of October 1905 and was named after the company’s owners, Hugo Exiner and Leo Ehrenfried. By 1926, the clothing store could be found on the Hausvogteiplatz, known as a hot spot for the fashion industry. It would move just before Hitler was named chancellor, but only a few minutes away, to the corner of Kronenstraße/Charlottenstraße.

Letterhead for Exiner & Ehrenfried, 26th of October 1935, LArch: A Rep. 342-02, Nr. 40350

It is highly unlikely that the Jewish-owned business would be able to go unscathed during the anti-Semitic blockade which took place two months after Hitler became the German chancellor. This blockade on the 1st of April 1933 would be one of the first of many policies introduced to force Jews out of business and out of German society as a whole. Soon after the company was transformed into an open trading company in January 1938, Ehrenfried would leave the partnership on the 4th of April and Exiner continued to manage the company alone.

A letter dated 13th of January 1940 from the district court informed Hugo Exiner that his partner’s exit from the company would warrant an audit, the result of which arrived on the 15th of August the same year, declaring that the business had ceased operation since January 1939.[1] The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, therefore, decided to remove the company from the commercial register. On the 5th of December 1940, the company was liquidated. In the meantime, the district court had been attempting to find Exiner’s current address and was informed in September 1940 that he was registered at Sächsischestraße 72.

Although their son, Herbert, was able to flee to Haifa and their daughter Gerda was able to escape the country and go to London (thanks to the help of a close relative working at the Palestine and Orient Lloyd GmbH travel company), Hugo and his wife Erna were unable to leave the country in time.[2] A total of 44 people, Hugo and Erna among them, were deported from this address, making it likely that this final address was a “Judenwohnung” – a forced accommodation closely connected to the Nazi plans to permanently remove the Jewish population from Germany.[3]  They were both deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on the 26th of February 1943 where they were murdered. There is a “Stolperstein” (stumbling stone) to them at their former non-forced apartment in Jenaerstraße 18.

Bethan Griffiths


[1] Letter from Chamber of Commerce and Industry to the district court, 15th of August 1940, LArch, A Rep. 342/02, Nr. 40350.

[2] Rosemarie Jacobsohn, “Erna Exiner (born Wolff)”, in: Stolpersteine in Berlin, URL: https://www.stolpersteine-berlin.de/en/biografie/8152 [Accessed: 15.5.2022].

[3] Transportliste v. Hugo und Erna Exiner, 1.2.1.1 / Doc ID, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives.


 [FJ1]This reference is missing in German version

Oscar Winter – Departement Store

Oscar Winter’s textile department store was entered into the commercial register in 1927 after Winter bought an already established company, E. David & Co., to save it from bankruptcy. After a little trouble with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s initial resistance to Winter’s use of the label “Kaufhaus” (department store), the Oscar Winter Kaufhaus was established. This store “sold everything that was sold in such general textile stores, namely, ready-to-wear ladies’ clothing, underwear, gentlemen’s items, clothing material, linen, haberdashery, woollens and all similar goods.”[1] The company was initially located in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin, at Grünbergerstraße 11, but would later move down the road to number 71.[2]

Signature of Oscar Winter, 25th of July 1925, Landesarchiv Berlin, A Rep. 342-02, 43644

Despite Oscar Winter’s hopes of expanding the company, the business began to struggle after Hitler was named chancellor and anti-Semitic policies were brought into place as a consequence. Winter was eventually forced to change his name to Oscar “Israel” Winter, due to the Nazi anti-Semitic law introduced in August 1938, and then sell his business to Siegfried Tembrock in December 1938. By the time of the popular census in May 1939, Oscar was living in the building next to his former business, at Gabriel-Max-Straße 6, before managing to emigrate to Santiago.[3] The company was liquidated on the 9th of January 1939.

After his death, Winter’s family would claim compensation for the damages done by the Nazi regime, including the forced sale of the business.

(Bethan Griffiths)


[1] Letter from Dr. jur. Leonard Holz to the district court, 25th of July 1927, LArch: A Rep. 342-02; Nr. 43644, p. 8, [tranl. BG].

[2] Letter from Chamber of Commerce and Industry to the district court, 19th of October 1938, LArch: A Rep. 342-02; Nr. 43644, p. 25.

[3] Tracing the Past e.V. (Ed.), Mapping the Lives, “Oscar Winter”, URL: https://www.mappingthelives.org/bio/9e4d3bba-b840-4790-a0db-3d6ad4c05492 [Accessed: 15.5.2022]; Landesarchiv Berlin, database for the Berlin Restitution Offices (WGA), 64 WGA 233-235/57 and 64 WGA 1034/60.

Arthur Wasservogel – Soap

Unknown Photographer, ca. 1916, private collection

 

At the beginning there is a old photo: It shows the 36th branch of Arthur Wasservogel’s soap shop – at Wörther Straße 35 in Prenzlauer Berg. [1] Sent as a war postcard on 22 March 1916, it was later pasted into a family album. The sender of the card was Karoline Fietz, who presumably worked as a saleswoman in the shop pictured. To her left, her daughter Helene. The recipient Franz Fietz died a little later at the Western Front. Helene later married a Nazi. The family was bombed out twice and even lived in the flat of a deported Jewish family, but managed to save the album.

The soap shop emerged from a soap factory that Arthur Wasservogel had built up at Schönhauser Allee 3. In 1908 he converted the business into the relatively newly introduced legal form of a limited liability company.[2]  This GmbH was located at Waldstr. 23/24 in Moabit, expanded rapidly and opened numerous branches. In the 1916 address book, it advertised that it had “about 120 branches” in Berlin and its own mail order department.[3]  In the course of the 1920s, Arthur Wasservogel withdrew from the operational business. Margarete and Julius Hirschfeld as well as Margarete Simonis and Max Brat took over the management.

At least the branch in Spandau was also blocked by SA on 1 April 1933. [4] Certainly other branches were also victims of blockades and assaults. In August 1937, the Stürmer report the “truth about the Wasservogel company” in the column Berliner Brief (Letter from Berlin). The ghastly Antisemitic weekly claimed that the founder of the company was falsely stated to be non-Jewish and that the new owners were now hiding behind his good name.[5]  Even though this was not true at all, it increased the pressure on the company. In December 1937, the Stürmer announced that the “Wasservogel company is becoming German”.[6]  On 31 December 1937, the current business was transferred to Heimchen KG Spielhagen und Benmann and the company was deleted from the commercial register.

The founder of the company was already deported from Vienna to Opole in the so-called Generalgouvernement on 15 February 1941 together with a total of 2,003 men, women and children. Of the Viennese Jews from the February 1941 trains, 28 survived the Holocaust. Alas, Arthur Wasservogel was not among them. [7]

 

Benjamin Hahn & Christoph Kreutzmüller

[1] Berliner Adressbuch, 1916

[2] Handelsregister, Berliner Börsen Zeitung, 7.11.1908.

[3] Berliner Adressbuch, 1916

[4] “Boykottliste”, Heimatmuseum Falkensee, 15/15.

[5] Berliner Brief, Der Stürmer 32/1937 (August 1937).

[6] Berliner Brief, Der Stürmer 50/1937 (Dezember 1937).

[7] Dokumentationsarchiv Österreichischer Widerstand, Eintrag Arthur Wasservogel

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