The beginning of the end of German Jewry


< 1 APRIL 1933
1 APRIL 1933 >

1 April 1933

Letter suspending Sergius Reiter from his duties at Telefunken

The engineer Sergius Reiter (1879–1958) was a highly valued employee of Telefunken, an electronic communications company. To mark his tenth anniversary at the firm in 1931, Telefunken thanked Reiter in writing for his "diligence" and "enthusiasm" and awarded him a one-time bonus equal to a month‘s salary. But on 1 April 1933 he was suspended "due to the boycott." Why?

The boycott mentioned in the letter had officially begun throughout the German Reich at 10 am the same day. This meant that the anti-Jewish violence and destruction were in full swing when the letter was written. The state-organized, propagandistic "Jewish boycott" targeted Jewish businesses, department stores, doctor‘s offices and law firms.

Sergius Reiter did not work in any of these fields. He was a salaried employee in the patents department of a large international company. Was the letter a response to pressure or even orders from the government? Or was it merely a precautionary measure designed to protect Reiter from the lawlessness and violence reigning on Berlin‘s streets?

The documents in Reiter‘s estate do not provide any answers to these questions. All that is certain is that Reiter was allowed to return to work a few days later.

Leonore Maier

Categorie(s): Berlin | boycott | white-collar employees
Letter suspending Sergius Reiter from his duties at Telefunken, Berlin, 1 April 1933
Gift of Ada Kamil

Sergius and Luba Reiter

Sergius Reiter was one of the thousands of Russian students who began enrolling at Germany‘s universities, particularly its technical institutes, in the late nineteenth century. He originally came from Odessa and studied electrical engineering in Karlsruhe. His wife, Luba, née Kronrod (1879–?), was a native of Moscow. The couple had two sons, Alexandre, born in 1904, and Julius, born in 1906, and they spoke Russian at home.

Reiter became a German citizen in 1927, but his citizenship was withdrawn on 23 November 1934 under the Law on the Revocation of Naturalization and the Annulment of German Citizenship.

Sergius Reiter and his wife, Luba, in 1935. The photos were taken either just before they emigrated from Berlin or after they arrived in Tel Aviv.
Gift of Ada Kamil