Born in 1918, two minutes from his parents’ perfumery on Kurfürstendamm

Fritz Scherk and the history of a family business in Berlin

Black-and-white photography of a laughing toddler sitting on a chair next to a birthday table.

Fritz Scherk on his second birthday, Berlin, May 26, 1920; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Irene Alice Scherk, photo: Jens Ziehe

A beaming toddler sits naked on a lavishly laid birthday table, apparently having the time of his life. A photo like this could easily have been taken today, I thought, when I saw it in the diary that Ludwig and Alice Scherk kept for their son Fritz. In fact, the happy child would have turned 100 today. Being born in 1918 didn’t exactly promise a peaceful life, especially not for a member of a German-Jewish family. Actually the family’s second child had been planned for 1916, three years after the birth of their first son, but the outbreak of war got in the way. But on May 26, 1918, the time had come: Fritz was born next to his mother’s Bechstein piano—by candlelight because of the war, and just two minutes away from his parents’ business, the Scherk Perfumery on Kurfürstendamm.  continue reading

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A New Home in Sweden

The sixth and final installment in our blog series “Memories from the Life of Walter Frankenstein”

In the black-and-white photo, the family is in a room with patterned curtains and houseplants. All four are smiling or laughing. The image is very lively.

The Frankenstein family in their apartment, Bandhagen (outside of Stockholm), around 1956–1957; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Leonie and Walter Frankenstein

To start from the beginning again: when I consider the path that Walter Frankenstein and his family took, I’m constantly astonished that they didn’t lose hope and always found new strength to confront the numerous changes in their lives. In 1956, the final big challenge in the lives of the four Frankensteins got underway.

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Not What They Expected

The fifth episode in our blog series “Memories from the Life of Walter Frankenstein”

Black and white photography: Leonie is sitting in the middle and laughs. Michael, who runs his tongue over the right corner of his mouth, is sitting on her lap.On the left is Peter-Uri with bright curls, also smiling broadly.

Leonie Frankenstein with her sons Peter-Uri and Michael, Hadera, 1947; Jewish Museum Berlin, gift of Leonie and Walter Frankenstein

Finally reunited after 19 months! —A summer 1947 photo of Leonie, Uri, and Michael Frankenstein makes clear how overjoyed the three were about Walter’s release. All three gaze relieved into the camera. At first, Walter moved into the one-room apartment in a public housing building in Hadera that had been allocated to Leonie and the children following their emigration to Palestine. In the mean time, Leonie had learned Hebrew and found employment at a chocolate shop. Her work had allowed her to support herself and her sons in her husband’s absence.  continue reading