The beginning of the end of German Jewry

1933

< 29 JUNE 1933
5 JULY 1933 >

Saturday
1 July 1933

Congratulatory address marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Gebrüder Becker glove company in Chemnitz

At first glance there is nothing unusual about the situation: a company is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary and using the occasion to look back on the successes of the previous decades. The employees of the Gebrüder Becker glove company in Chemnitz gave a fine gift to their “esteemed director”: a large, heavy, blue-leather album produced by a Chemnitz book artist. The sheets of handmade paper inside contain a congratulatory address in elaborate calligraphy, the personal signatures of forty-nine employees, as well as portrait photos of the deceased company founders Eduard and Adolph Becker and their successors, the brothers Arthur and Karl Becker.

But a closer look at the address makes clear that something is wrong. The director Arthur Becker (1893–1988) was not in Chemnitz on this “special day.” Due to “current conditions” he was unable celebrate with his employees and accept their gift. In April 1933 members of the Chemnitz SA had brutally murdered a member of the company’s supervisory board—the lawyer Dr. Arthur Weiner—and Arthur Becker and his brother Karl had fled to safety in the Netherlands with their families.

In the address the employees express their desire to have their director back with them as soon as possible “as the highly esteemed pioneer of the fabric glove industry in Germany.” However, their wish was never fulfilled. The Beckers remained in the Netherlands and managed to escape to Canada before the German army invaded the country in 1940. In 1938 the company was 'Aryanized' and after the war it was nationalized and run as two separate state-owned enterprises in East Germany.

The Chemnitz-born children of Arthur Becker and his wife Charlotte —Fred Becker and Liesel Becker Sabloff—were among the first donors to the Jewish Museum Berlin to come from families outside Berlin. Liesel Sabloff made contact with the museum in August 1999 after reading an article about the institution in the Canadian Jewish News. She donated the Becker family’s papers—including this album—in honor of her mother, Charlotte Frank Becker, who died at the biblical age of one hundred in 2001, and in memory of her father, Arthur, and her grandparents Lina and Eduard Becker, who are buried in the Jewish cemetery in Chemnitz.

Leonore Maier

Categorie(s): businessmen | Chemnitz | emigration
Congratulatory address marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Chemnitz company Gebrüder Becker, Chemnitz, 1 July 1933
Gift of Fred Becker and Liesel Becker Sabloff
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