To conclude our series on the Jewish history of the house at 35 Käthe-Niederkirchner-Str. and the Silent Bell Board there, this is a topic that is directly connected to the deportations that took place in 1941-43 and all the steps of disenfranchisement in the years before: Suicide of the persecuted people concerned, for many a last self-determined way out before the forced "evacuations to the East".
Stolpersteine paraphrase it as "ESCAPE TO DEATH". Similarly, the Bell Board reads "Murdered and driven to death and emigration". Of the 83 former Jewish residents whose names appear on the plaque, 65 were deported and murdered. Eight managed to escape abroad, four probably died of natural causes, one fate remained unknown. Five residents of the house committed suicide in 1942 before their deportation: the sisters Hulda (51) and Margarete (44) Glasfeld, the couple Rita (34) and Edwin (36) Löwenberg, and the pharmacist Caesar Loewinsohn (64).
All of them find their final resting place at the Jewish Cemetery Weißensee. No gravestone is erected for Cäsar Loewinsohn, the other four are commemorated today by so-called war gravestones (initiated by the War Graves Commission with Senate funds in 1999 and 2001, respectively). These uniformly designed stones list the names and dates of birth and death and conclude with the abbreviation .ת.נ.צ.ב.ה for the blessing "His/her soul shall be bound in the bundle of life!" At the time of researching the house in 2018, these stones were hidden under a thick layer of ivy.
It is assumed that in this cemetery alone there are 1,650 people who committed suicide in order to escape tyranny, deportation and extermination. In 1942 alone, 823 people were buried with the note "suicide", the number of unreported cases is probably higher.
Regine Buchheim wrote about Bianka Hamburger: "One day before her pending deportation, she took a life-threatening dose of sleeping pills. The next day she was admitted half-dead to the Jewish Hospital in Wedding - for resuscitation, according to the instructions given to the doctors by the perpetrators. The sale of the sleeping pill Veronal to Jews was punishable, as was any suicide attempt. All those who attempted the 'escape to death' before the impending deportation were still to board the trains bound for the East and were therefore to be made at least fit for transport."
Hulda Glasfeld and her sister Margarete, born May 4, 1890 and April 21, 1897, in Pogutken near Danzig, moved to 35 Lippehner Str. before 1940, listed in the telephone directories until 1942 as "Glasbach, H, seamstress."
In Barnimstraße, a short walk away, in the women's prison there (1864-1974, area today a traffic training ground), Hulda and Margarete Glasfeld were imprisoned for more than four months at the end of 1941 for "foreign currency offenses." During the National Socialist era, the prison served as a Gestapo pre-trial detention center and as an intermediate station to the Plötzensee execution site or to other detention centers and camps. Liselotte Herrmann was also imprisoned here, and Rosa Luxemburg previously served prison sentences here.
An interrogation protocol from May 31, 1940, preserved in the state archives has Hulda Glasfeld speaking:
"I am employed as a trouser stepper at the company of Heinrich Müller, Berlin, Dircksenstr. 38. My weekly income is approximately RM 11 to 20. I live together with my sister Margarete Sara
Glasfeld. [...] In about February or March 1940, Mrs. Schönfeld told me that Karger was able to provide sums of money in foreign currency abroad for Reichsmark amounts. After learning this, I
went to Karger's apartment (note: Lippehner Str. 12) and asked him if such a possibility existed. Karger explained to me that he could do this. On the same day I handed him 2,300 RM and was to be
given 125 or 127 USA dollars in Shanghai in exchange. I told Mr. Karger that the 125 or 127 dollars should be sent to the address of Mr. Max Schönfeld, Shanghai. Mrs. Schoenfeld emigrated to
Shanghai about the middle of March 1940. I told her beforehand that $125 or $127 would be sent to me through Karger to her husband's address and that she should then keep the amount for us. I
wanted to use this amount possibly as flash money because I want to emigrate as soon as possible. I have not yet received any notification as to whether the amount has been transferred to
Schoenfeld for me. [...] But we would like to emigrate and have no relatives abroad who can support us financially."
In the verdict of the district court of December 14, 1940 it states, among other things: "Both were born in Pogutken, Berent District, where they attended elementary school. Subsequently they learned the profession of a milliner. When their homeland came under Polish rule, they opted for Germany in 1920 and were expelled in 1925. They moved to Berlin, where they struggled through life as seamstresses."
The appeal filed by consultant Berl Coper (brother of Rosa Flachs, a resident of the house) on January 27, 1941 is rejected "in the name of the German people" and the sisters are imprisoned in the women's prison Barnimstraße from September 16, 1941 until January 22, 1942.
Their names are already on a list for the 13th OT (East Transport) to the Warsaw Ghetto on April 14, 1942, but for the Glasfeld sisters the death certificate of the Prenzlauer Berg registry office notes "death by poisoning" on March 27. They are buried on April 12, after registration by the relative Elli Misch (Elbinger Str. 58, today Danziger Str. 119-121 corner Greifswalder Str. - deported with husband Berthold with the 14th OT on June 2, 1942).
The Chief Finance President of Berlin-Brandenburg acknowledges as "Correctly Received" in May 1942 the receipt of the following valuables of the siblings: "410,-RM, 1 men's pocket watch
silver 800 stamped, 2 wedding rings yellow metal, 1 pair of glasses with case. The above mentioned committed suicide shortly before their evacuation."
In August, master carpenter Gottfr. P. Noack (furniture store 209 Greifswalder Str.) complains to the Chief Financial Office that the furniture purchased for 1,086.40 RM from the "evacuated" apartment (79 items meticulously listed by the commissioned appraiser of the Economic Group Retail Trade) has already been picked up by another dealer (Dingeldahl, 174 Schönhauser Allee).
Cäsar Loewinsohn, born on May 19, 1878 in Berlin, married to Gertrud Moses from 1919 and owner of the Pangritz pharmacy in Elbing until 1936, lives in the house with the Gutkind family. He is to be deported to Riga with the 18th OT on August 15, 1942 and is already in the Levetzowstraße collection camp, where he apparently makes sure to stay in Berlin - he dies the same day in the Jewish Hospital, officially of intestinal obstruction and heart failure. The Gutkind family is murdered in Auschwitz in 1943.
Rita Goldstein (b. March 8, 1908) and Edwin Löwenberg (b. January 31, 1906), both born in Berlin and married since 1937, live in the house with Fam. Samter, front house 1st floor. Rita's parents Betty and Eugen Goldstein flee to Caracas/Venezuela, while Edwin's parents Selma and Alex Löwenberg die in the Litzmannstadt ghetto. According to the death certificate, the Löwenberg couple commits "suicide by hanging" in the house on October 16, 1942. The burial on October 25 is announced by the brother-in-law Hans Joachim Baer, 48 Christburger Str. - today there is also a memorial plaque at this "Jewish house". The Samter family is also deported to Auschwitz in 1943.
Simon Lütgemeyer / M. Steinbach
If you have suicidal thoughts, please contact the telephone counselling service immediately: www.telefonseelsorge.de or free hotline 0800-1110111.