The beginning of the end of German Jewry

1933

< 8 JUNE 1933
19 JUNE 1933 >

Wednesday
14 June 1933

Memorial album for Louise Goldschmidt

Louise Goldschmidt, née May, came from a long-established Jewish family in Hamburg. She married a man whose family had roots in Berlin, kept a traditional Jewish household and was blessed with children and grandchildren. After her husband, Oscar Goldschmidt, died in 1906, she became the respected head of the family.

On the occasion of her death in Breslau on 14 June 1933, the family had a small memorial album made, in which they pasted a portrait photograph of her along with her death notice and recorded the dates of her yahrzeit—the annual anniversaries of her death. Such days, on which a candle is lit and the deceased is remembered, are calculated according to the Jewish calendar. Louise Goldschmidt died on 20 Sivan and the album lists the corresponding dates in the Gregorian calendar for the next fifty years. The family wanted to observe her yahrzeit for two generations.

Loosely inserted into the album is the funeral speech that Louise Goldschmidt’s son-in-law Arthur Marcus delivered two days later at the ceremony in the Jewish cemetery in Weissensee, Berlin. It reflects the uncertainty that had been gripping the lives of German Jews for quite some time.

Arthur Marcus portrays his mother as representative of a generation that, while not denying their Jewish identity, managed to become recognized members of society by dint of hard work and education. He uses the word Bodenständigkeit to describe this achievement. Meaning “rootedness in the soil,” it has a special resonance in his speech: “We Jews, who immediately feel all political upheaval and must often flee our homes, have a special appreciation of Bodenständigkeit. It allows families to develop undisturbed over generations and also confers a certain independence of thought.”

Arthur sensed that this period was now over: “With our dear mother, a woman has gone to her grave who represents not only her own generation, but an older era that has now come to an end, an era, I must say, that was much kinder. A new and difficult time has begun.”

Arthur Marcus acted on this knowledge: together with his wife, Erna, he immigrated to Palestine in 1936, joining their son, who had left Germany in 1934. Louise Goldschmidt’s daughter Cäcilie Landsberg—with whom the matriarch had spent the final years of her life in Breslau—died in the Treblinka death camp in 1942.

Henriette Kolb

Categorie(s): Berlin | Breslau | religious life
Memorial album for Louise Goldschmidt, Berlin, 14 June 1933
Gift of Shimshon S. Marcus
CREDITS