From Germany to Bolivia and Back: A Patented Stamping Hammer with Counter and Its Inventor

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This stamping hammer with an automatic counter was invented by the Leipzig furrier Gustav Maletzki (1884–1947). The nails on the head of the hammer stamp a mark on the inside of an animal pelt. A joining rod transfers the force of every blow to a mechanical counter, which conveniently shows the number of furs stamped and delivered to the tannery.

Travels as a Journeyman

The stamping hammer was made around 1930 and is one of the patented inventions for which Maletzki earned several awards. Maletzki's father was also a furrier, and in 1895 he moved with his family from Sieradz, Poland, to Leipzig. For centuries the German city, famous for its fairs, had been the center of the international fur trade, and many Jews worked in the industry. Gustav Maletzki spent several years as an apprentice and journeyman in Berlin, Brussels, Paris, and New York.

Return to Leipzig

Maletzki returned to Leipzig as an apparel furrier and founded his own company around 1910. Thanks to his innovative fur finishing methods, his business became highly successful and exported fur products to many countries in Europe. Even after the Nazis took power, Maletzki continued to apply for invention and utility model patents related to fur processing.

Escape to Bolivia

In autumn 1938, the German government ordered all Polish Jews to be deported. Facing the threat of forced expulsion, the Maletzki family gave up their company and fled to Bolivia in October 1938. There, Gustav Maletzki continued to work as an apparel furrier until his death in 1947.

(9) Selected Objects from the Material Culture Collection Alle anzeigen

Selected Objects from the Material Culture Collection

Flag with the Star of David

In 1935, Martin Friedländer hung a blue and white flag from his window, making a confident statement against the racist Nuremberg Laws.

Frieda Neuber's Leather Pouch

Shortly before being deported to Theresienstadt, Frieder Neuber gave this leather pouch to her niece. The letters inside it document her desperate attempts to leave the country.

Memmelsdorf Genizah

In February 2002, workers renovating a house discovered a burlap sack filled with papers and personal items when they opened up a section of the ceiling. The house had been owned by Jews from 1775 to 1939.

Model of the Cargo Steamer Max

The Hamburg shipowner Arnold Bernstein received this model of his first ship in 1929 as a gift for his company's tenth anniversary. Eight years later, his career ended abruptly. He was detained and only managed to escape Germany at the last minute.

Max Haller's Collection of Medals

Max Haller fought in the First World War for the Imperial German Navy. When SA members threatened him during the April Boycott of 1933, he pointedly placed a velvet cushion with his military distinctions in the shop window.

Dr. Oscar Hirschberg's Office Signs

A total of seven office signs used by Dr. Oscar Hirschberg document both his career as a practicing physician and the political changes and antisemitic exclusion during the period of Nazi rule.

The Sommerfelds’ Thirty-One Keys

Thirty-one keys – that's all that remains of the luggage the Sommerfeld family took with them when they emigrated from Berlin. They only managed to leave for England at the very last minute – just before the Second World War broke out.

Challenge Trophy from the Oberspree Jewish Rowing Club

The member of the Oberspree Jewish rowing club who logged the most kilometers in the water over the course of a year was awarded a challenge trophy. Fred Eisenberg won the award three years in a row.

Stamping Hammer, Invented by Gustav Maletzki

This stamping hammer, made around 1930, is one of the patented inventions for which the apparel furrier earned several awards. In 1938, Gustav Maletzki was forced to escape Germany and brought the hammer to exile in Bolivia.

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