The December issue was about Isidor and Lina Lewy, long-time owners of the house at Lippehner Strasse 35. This article is dedicated to their daughters Hildegard and Charlotte and their grandsons Peter and Werner Gossels. The latter had come to Berlin from the USA three years ago with 10 family members for the unveiling of the Silent Bell Board at what is now Käthe-Niederkirchner-Str. 35.

In 1905 Isidor Lewy, selling his company for children's clothing and as a pension plan, acquires the newly finished tenement house in the Bötzow quarter. The family initially still lives on Schleswiger Ufer (Hansa quarter), then opposite the synagogue under construction at Levetzowstraße, but in 1916 moves into their own house, front building 2nd floor to the right.

On September 24, 1901 their first daughter Hildegard was born, on September 7, 1903 her sister Charlotte. While Hildegard remains single, her younger sister marries the judge and magistrate Max Gossels in 1929.

On August 11, 1930 their first son (Claus) Peter is born, on July 23, 1933 the second son Werner.

The young family lives at Tile-Wardenberg-Straße, not far from Levetzowstraße. Max Gossels' teaching position at the Humboldt University is immediately revoked in 1933 with the new legislation due to his Jewish origin. He is active in the Jewish Economic Aid, writes for the community newspaper and is listed in the telephone directory in 1935/36 as the administrator of his father-in-law's house. In 1936 Max and Charlotte separate. With the death of her father Isidor, Charlotte moves back into the parental home with both sons. From 1937 Peter, who is now denied public schools, goes to the 3rd Private Elementary School of the Jewish Community, whose rooms are located in the front building of the Rykestraße Synagogue.  

Left: Charlotte Gossels, right: Hildegard Lewy; Photos: Gossels family

While Max flees to Antwerp in 1939 and, after internment in France, escapes to Caracas/Venezuela in 1942, Charlotte and her sister struggle to support the family. Lina Lewy is forced to sell the house in 1939, has little access to the small proceeds, and is now a tenant in what was previously her own house. Charlotte advertises in the Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt paper and offers beauty care services in the salon she has set up at home. In this way, she manages to earn enough money to enable her two sons to emigrate to France, which is safe for the time being.


Advertisement in the Jewish News Bulletin, Source: Leo Baeck Institute

On July 3, 1939, Peter and Werner are seen off at the Potsdamer station in Berlin by their mother and grandfather Gottfried, who is deported to Riga two years later. Together with 37 other children, they are taken to Quincy near Paris, and with the arrival of German troops a little later to Chabannes further south in the unoccupied zone. Finally, on September 9, 1941, the brothers are able to board the ship "Serpa Pinto" in Lisbon and 15 days later they see the Statue of Liberty arriving in New York for the first time. 

They are taken in by different foster families, but remain close throughout their lives.

Charlotte is unable to raise the $1,000 required for a U.S. visa and in the meantime hopes to be able to bring her sons back to her. Just like Egon Heysemann, who also lives in the house, is in France with the boys, but returns to Lippehner Street in 1941 and is deported with his family to the Piaski ghetto in 1942.

Werner and Peter probably in (Park) Friedrichshain, 1936/37 and 2019 on the balcony of their former apartment at Käthe-Niederkirchner-Str. 35, VH 2nd floor right; photos: Gossels family

An emigration to Switzerland then seems possible, but is prevented by a nervous breakdown when her mother Lina is being deported to Theresienstadt on October 3, 1942. While Hildegard is finally forced to work at the AEG cable factory in Oberspree, Charlotte has to work for a pittance at the DEUTA factory at Oranienstraße 25.

With the so-called Factory Action, the sisters are then separated from each other by one day, first taken to the "Tattersall" of the Rathenow barracks in Feldzeugmeisterstraße and then deported with the 31st and 32nd "East Transport" from the Moabit freight station to Auschwitz, where Hildegard is probably murdered immediately on March 2 and Charlotte on March 3, 1943. Peter and Werner were not to receive certainty about their fate until 1991. 

The brothers study at Harvard and Yale, begin successful careers in business and law, and start their own families. Werner lives with his wife Elaine close to their five children in Wayland near Boston. Peter is a partner in a Boston law office and Town Moderator in Wayland until shortly before his death on October 25, 2019, and is survived by his wife Nancy and three children. Their daughter Lisa produces the 1999 Emmy Award-winning film "The Children of Chabannes". And Peter is last able to publish his book "Letters From Our Mother", Charlotte Gossels' letters to her sorely missed sons. In her last letter received, at the end of 1941, she writes: 

"Now another year has almost finished and the three of us want the firm will and the confidence that we will see each other again soon. Work hard in school and make your foster parents happy. As I heard, you will be placed with a family and not into a home, but I don't know anything exact about it, and I am waiting for your exact answer concerning this. In either case, whatever it may be, whether a home or a family, always be obedient and work hard! And always care for each other, because you both always belong together.

Simon Lütgemeyer / M. Steinbach