The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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31 JANUARY 1933 >

30 January 1933

Letter from Rosa Süss to her daughter Liselotte and her son-in-law

In the middle of a letter the brief mention of Adolf Hitler‘s appointment as chancellor: "So Hitler became Reich Chancellor today – a fine crowd. Well, they won‘t be any different from all the others. We‘ll have to wait and see what happens!" The letter was written by Rosa Süss in Mannheim and sent to her newly married daughter Liselotte and her son-in-law Manfred (Meyer) Sperber, who were in Italy on their honeymoon. It expresses not only the hope that things will not turn out so badly, but also the writer‘s concern about the future. Hope and anxiety—feelings that were to play a large role in the lives of German Jews in the following years.

When the Sperbers returned to Berlin, they did not have to wait long to see "what happens." On 1 April, the day of the nationwide boycott of Jewish shops, lawyers and doctors, Manfred, who held a doctorate in law, lost his job as auditor at the DeFaKa department store. As an Austrian citizen he was able to move with Liselotte to Vienna, where he ran a furniture store until Germany annexed Austria in 1938. Thereafter he worked as an accountant for the Jewish community. The couple‘s daughter was born in 1935.

In May 1939, Liselotte attempted to emigrate to Cuba with her daughter from Cherbourg, France, but their ship never left port. Fortunately, she was able to obtain a visa for the United States and departed five months later. Manfred Sperber joined her in the U.S. in February 1940.

Rosa Süss left Mannheim in 1934 with her husband, Julius and moved to Paris, where she died of cancer six years later at the age of fifty-six. Julius survived the war and remained in France. Manfred Sperber‘s parents were deported to Theresienstadt in July 1942. His father Abraham died in May 1943. His mother Malka was liberated and joined her son and his family in the U.S. in 1946.

Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): boycott | Mannheim
Excerpt from a letter written by Rosa Süss to her daughter Liselotte and her son-in-law Manfred Sperber, Mannheim, 30 January 1933
Leo Baeck Institute, Liselotte Sperber Collection, AR 10251