The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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15 May 1933

Family celebration in the garden of the Sternberg villa

Those attending this convivial gathering posed for a group photo around an elderly lady who is sitting in a wicker chair: Rosa Sternberg (1853–1935) celebrated her eightieth birthday together with her children and grandchildren in the garden of the family's home. Her oldest son, Julius, can be seen on the far left, his right arm placed firmly on his hip; Susanne, his wife, is standing next to him. The two smiling children standing to the right of their grandmother are Hans and Hannelore, whom Julius at times jokingly refers to as his "mixed assortment."

Julius Sternberg (1879–1971) was a member of the third generation of the family to run the M.K. Sternberg department store in the historic center of Berlin‘s Spandau district. After the death of his father, he took over the clothing and fabric shop at Breite Strasse 21, not only modernizing but expanding it. He was also active in the Jewish community in Spandau, serving as its chairman from 1922 to 1935.

The nationwide boycott in April, which targeted Jews, took place a few weeks before this photo was taken. The sidewalk in front of the Sternberg department store was defaced and the customers were verbally abused and photographed. Members of the SA distributed leaflets in the historic center of Spandau calling for a boycott of Jewish shops. For Sternberg, this was just the beginning of persecution by the Nazis.

In 1938 Julius Sternberg was forced to sell the building housing the department store and most of Sternberg family emigrated to Colombia. His sisters Paula and Fanny, who also posed for this photograph (third and sixth from left), were deported and murdered.

In the mid-1950s Julius Sternberg returned from Bogotá to his "beloved Berlin" but was too old to run the business again. Today, a plaque on the building recalls the Sternberg department store and its last owner.

Monika Flores Martínez

Categorie(s): Berlin | boycott | businessmen
A meeting of the Sternberg family to celebrate Rosa Steinberg‘s eightieth birthday, Berlin, 15 May 1933
Gift of Hans Sternberg