The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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26 May 1933

Message from the Zionist organization Hehalutz to Julius Brünn

Julius Brünn (1913–2001), a young retail salesman living in Berlin, had already been a member of the Zionist Youth League as a boy scout while at school in the East Prussian city of Allenstein. In 1933 he once again sought contact with the Zionist movement, in this case with the aim of immigrating as soon as possible to Palestine. He became a member of Hehalutz (Hebrew for "pioneer"), an international Zionist organization whose German branch had been established eleven years previously.

Hehalutz organized emigrations to Palestine and arranged for young Jewish people to enter communal training programs in skilled trades or agriculture in so-called Hakhsharah camps, which aimed to prepare would-be emigrants for the life of a so-called pioneer in Palestine (Hakhsharah means "preparation"). After the National Socialists seized power, Hehalutz developed into the largest Jewish youth organization in the German Reich, with a membership that at times numbered as many as 15,000.

On 26 May 1933, Julius Brünn received a postcard with the following message: "On Saturday 27 May, 9 a.m. come with your passport to Lützowstrasse 16, front building, right-hand stairway, first floor, door to the left." For the young man, this brief, rather conspiratorial-sounding message held the promise of bringing him closer to his goal. And indeed, the organization was planning to send him to Palestine, not directly but via France, from where the Aliyah, the emigration to the "Holy Land," was to take place.

The Berlin office of Hehalutz was located at Meinekestrasse 10 in the district of Charlottenburg, where, until 1942, around 30 Zionist organizations had their headquarters. However, Julius Brünn was told to go to Lützowstraße 16 in the Tiergarten district. At this address, the Jewish community rented rooms in the front building and a liberal synagogue was located in the back. On 27 May, Julius was to find out here what plans Hehalutz had for him.

Franziska Bogdanov

Categorie(s): associations | Berlin | emigration | white-collar employees | Zionism
Postcard from the Zionist organization Hehalutz to Julius Brünn, back side with message, Berlin, 26 May 1933
Gift of Avi Brünn

On the way to Palestine

We do not know precisely when Julius Brünn left Germany. However, it must have been shortly after the postcard arrived, since on 31 May 1933 he received a typed reference from his employer, which states: "Herr Brünn is leaving us due to the current political situation in order to establish a new life for himself abroad."

His employer was the Deutsche Kleinwarenhaus GmbH, known by its abbreviation DEKLA. Julius Brünn had held the position of assistant manager in the firm‘s textile warehouse in the Berlin district of Schöneberg since November 1932. Only five months after taking the job, on the day of the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933, he had been forced to take refuge in the warehouse cellar due to the threat of arrest. Moreover, the firm‘s management had strongly suggested that he stay away from work over the subsequent weeks. A Jewish firm, DEKLA continued operating until 1938, when it was seized by the government.

In France, Julius Brünn, who had now taken the name Jehoshua, initially stayed in Paris before moving to the south in the summer, where he received training in farming. Finally, in January 1934, he was informed that he was now ready for the Aliyah. Before the end of month he embarked on French steamer the "Marietta Pacha" in Marseille and reached Haifa six days later. Julius Brünn was accepted into the Ejn Charod kibbutz – which, with 700 members, was the largest kibbutz in the country – and spent the following years as a pioneer in his new homeland.

Reference from the DEKLA firm (Deutsches Kleinwarenhaus GmbH) for Julius Brünn, Berlin, 31 May 1933
Gift of Avi Brünn