The beginning of the end of German Jewry

1933

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Sunday
27 August 1933

Jewish marriage contract between Heinz Gottschalk and Liselott Feilchenfeld

On the afternoon of 27 August 1933 a large group of friends and relatives gathered in Daniel Feilchenfeld’s apartment in the Tiergarten district of Berlin. Ten days earlier Daniel’s daughter Liselott (1909–2006) had married her fiancé Heinz Gottschalk (1902–1987) at the registry office and the couple was now having their religious wedding ceremony. The marriage became legally binding once they signed the Jewish marriage contract shown here, known as a ketubah.

A quick glance reveals that the document was a preprinted form with various handwritten entries, including the date of the wedding, names of the bride and groom, the amount of money they were both bringing to the marriage, and signatures of the two witnesses making the contract valid. The text is in Aramaic and its phrasing has not changed for centuries. It establishes the groom’s duties and responsibilities to his bride during the marriage and in the event of his death.

The day after the ceremony, on 28 August, a small wedding announcement was published in the Jüdische Rundschau, the official organ of the Zionist Association of Germany. The newlyweds may have read it themselves on the train to Italy—as they made their way to Palestine.

Ulrike Neuwirth and Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): Berlin | emigration | religious life | Zionism
Marriage contract (ketubah) between Heinz Gottschalk and Liselott Gottschalk, née Feilchenfeld, Berlin, 27 August 1933
Gift of Ronit Vered

Departure and new beginnings

In August 1933, Daniel Feilchenfeld (1868–1968) had ample opportunity to reflect on the German proverb “Joy and pain are close companions.” His wife, Elsbeth, had died two years earlier—she never lived to see her only child’s wedding. How happy Daniel must have been when his daughter chose Heinz Gottschalk, a young businessman, as her husband. The couple were united not only by their similar backgrounds—both came from stable middle-class families—but also by the firm resolution to make Palestine the center of their new life together.

Both had been active in the Zionist youth movement since their childhood and were familiar with the idea of creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The far-reaching political changes following Hitler’s assumption of power were certainly one of the key factors influencing their decision to do pioneering work themselves in the newly founded Ramot Hashavim settlement. But this meant that Daniel Feilchenfeld’s joy was tinged with pain—on the day of their wedding, the young couple left Germany. Still, speaking on behalf of himself and the groom’s mother, he found encouraging words when bidding farewell to the newlyweds: “For both of us it is not easy to see you going to far-off shores, but I say ‘far-off’ and not ‘foreign’ since, for all of us, [Palestine] is now, more than ever, a Jewish land, a homeland in which, God willing, you will feel as if you are amongst family.”

Invitation from Daniel Feilchenfeld to his daughter Liselott’s wedding, Berlin, August 1933
Gift of Ronit Vered 
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