The beginning of the end of German Jewry

1933

< 30 JULY 1933
3 AUGUST 1933 >

Monday
31 July 1933

Letter from the Apolda city council revoking the Eisenschmidts’ residence permit

Mendel Ajzenschmidt (1891–1970) was born in the Polish town of Blaszki near Kalisz and moved to Germany at the age of twenty-four. After settling in Berlin, he changed his name to Max Eisenschmidt. Together with his younger brother, Hermann (1894–1942), who had followed him to Germany in 1919, he ran a shoe stitching shop, which he eventually expanded into a small shoe factory with three sales outlets. The brothers were assisted by Rosa Eisenschmidt, née Silberstein (1892–1978), whom Max had married in Poland. The couples’ three daughters—Therese, Helen und Ruth—were born in Berlin, but none of the family members took on German citizenship.

The family business eventually failed, probably due to the economic crisis in the early 1920s. The brothers parted ways: Hermann Eisenschmidt built up a successful business selling men’s wear while Max worked as a sales representative and continued to run the stitching shop. In 1930 Max decided to make a fresh start in the Thuringian city of Apolda, known for its knitwear and knitted fabrics. As a Polish citizen, he required a residence permit, which was issued to him in April 1930. While Max pursued these commercial ventures, his energetic wife opened a store under her maiden name, Rosa Silberstein, selling goods on credit

In May 1933 uncertainty arose as to whether Rosa would be permitted to stay in the city, and then in late July—initially for reasons inexplicable to the family—their residence permit was revoked. Just before the family received notification of their expulsion, the authorities had searched the Eisenschmidts’ home for subversive writings, during which Max had unfortunately remarked that he would hardly be so foolish as to hide communist writings in his home if he were a member of the party. The authorities took this as an admission of guilt and used it as a pretext for expelling the family.

Even before 1933, the Nazis enjoyed especially strong support in Thuringia. Following regional parliamentary elections in December 1929, the NSDAP formed a coalition government and in Apolda party members served on the city council. In August 1932 the first Nazi regional government was elected in Thuringia. Since Apolda was an independent city, it was permitted to perform sovereign functions normally assigned to the federal state. In the case of the Eisenschmidts, it showed little willingness to compromise.

Despite repeated interventions by the Polish consulate, the family was forced to leave the city in early 1934 and return to Berlin. There they were served with an additional expulsion order. That same year they resolved to immigrate to Palestine.

Ulrike Neuwirth

Categorie(s): businessmen
Letter informing Max Eisenschmidt (Mendel Ajzenschmidt) that the Apolda city council had revoked his and his family’s residence permit, 31 July 1933
Gift of Therese Flesch
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