Martha Senftleben and Deutsche Gotterkenntnis (Society for the Knowledge of God) in the Karkonosze Mountains

On the tombstones of two individuals buried in the forest cemetery in Michałowice, there are inscribed runes and a triskelion. One of them will be our focus today, although you’ll soon see that her story is about to be eclipsed by a certain couple. But let’s start from the beginning.

Tombstone of Martha Senftleben at the cemetery between Michałowice and Piechowice / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Martha Binner was born in Niemcza (Nimtsch) on October 1st, 1859, as the daughter of Herman Oswald Binner, a master painter, and Ernestine Dorothy née Burgstadt, both Evangelicals. She married Bruno Senftleben, a technician from Świdnica (Schweidnitz). The couple settled in his hometown and had one son, Herbert, and one daughter, Margarethe. The years 1916 and 1917 proved tragic for Martha – first her husband passed away, followed shortly by her 22-year-old son, who died on August 8th, 1917, on the front in Bukovina. Interestingly, Herbert’s death was registered in Piechowice, where he was said to reside before his death, while according to the record, his mother still lived in Świdnica. I suspect he might have been staying with his sister, who married Alfred Georg Poludniok, a writer, in Piechowice in 1915.

Gravestones at the cemetery between Michałowice and Piechowice / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Going back to Martha – we know she passed away on December 25th, 1939. According to her death certificate, she passed away in her apartment in Piechowice (Petersdorf) 96, and her religion was listed as… Deutsche Gotterkenntnis, which literally translates to German Knowledge of God. And now the most intriguing part begins.

Death certificate of Martha Senftleben / Source: The State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch

The religious movement Deutsche Gotterkenntnis was established by the controversial General Erich Ludendorff and his wife Mathilde von Kemnitz (Spiess). In the early 1920s, Erich was dubbed “the most dangerous man in Germany” and by others – the forefather of Nazism. He was the author of the controversial book “The Total War”, wherein he asserted that Germany’s fundamental objective was perpetual war and conquest.

In 1924, Erich established the Tannenbergbund association, which focused on political activities and “promoted a mystical pantheism with a Germanic-racist flavor.” In 1926, he married his second wife, Mathilde, a psychiatrist, who took charge of the religious aspect of Tannenbergbund – Deutschvolk, founded in 1930. Mathilde formulated its ideological principles, which were pantheistic, anthropocentric, and nationalist. The movement was extremely right-wing, anti-Semitic, and anti-Christian, to the point that even the NSDAP was considered too soft on this faith for them. Despite her involvement in the volkist movement, Mathilde opposed occultism and astrology, labeling them as a “Jewish distortion of astronomy,” and criticized theories suggesting the Indo-European origin of Germans. She aimed to create a new, genuine German religion.

Erich and Mathilde Ludendorff

Because some of her views were extremely radical and bordering on conspiracy theories, the movement wasn’t universally regarded as credible. Mathilde Ludendorff asserted, among other things, that the Dalai Lama was guiding Jews in their supposed efforts to undermine Germany through Marxism, Catholicism, capitalism, and Freemasonry. She argued that Christian beliefs were incompatible with the Aryan ideal and that the Bible and Christianity themselves were fraudulent.

Despite this, in the early 1930s, the community boasted 320 local groups comprising approximately 15,000 members across the Reich. In 1933, the movement was outlawed by the authorities, but just 4 years later, in 1937, Erich gained approval to revive the religious movement, this time under the name Deutsche Gotterkenntnis, which continued the legacy of Deutschvolk. Consequently, German Knowledge of God became a state-sanctioned belief.

Erich passed away at the end of that same year. Meanwhile, in 1951, Mathilde established the Association for Gotterkenntnis, which had 12,000 members, and in 1955, she also founded a school. The association faced another ban from 1961 to 1977. It continues to operate today; as of 2010, it reportedly had around 240 members.

Erich and Mathilde Ludendorff

And circling back to the Karkonosze Mountains – new findings raise new questions. How did Martha become involved with Deutsche Gotterkenntnis? Could it be linked to her son-in-law’s artistic profession? Where did the community meetings take place? Did all those buried in Michałowice belong to the same movement, or perhaps different ones? Hopefully, we’ll uncover the answers soon!

Nazi Bishop in Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój (Bad Warmbrunn)

In 1927, at 70 Hermsdorferstrasse in Bad Warmbrunn (now Cieplicka 70 in Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój), lived Josef Galle, a senior tax secretary, Ernst Kuhlig, a chimney sweep, and Max Klein, a porter.

Contemporary view of the building / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

I know very little about Josef and Max; by 1937, their names no longer appear in the address book. However, I managed to find out a bit more about the chimney sweep and one controversial figure, about whom I will tell you shortly.
 
Ernest Kuhlig was born on December 15, 1895, in Goldberg (Złotoryja). On April 23, 1921, he married Agnes Alwine Selma Hornig in Cunnersdorf (in the area of Mała Poczta in Jelenia Góra), a 24-year-old saleswoman from Dziwiszów Górny (Ober Berbisdorf). The groom lived at Hermsdorfstrasse 62 in Bad Warmbrunn at the time, while the bride resided at Dorfstrasse 210 in Cunnersdorf. The wedding was probably organized hastily because less than 4 months later, on August 17, 1921, their first daughter, Ilse, was born; the second would be named Inge. Unfortunately, 6 years later, on April 12, 1927, Ernst passed away, leaving Agnes and the girls alone. They likely had to move shortly thereafter because there is no trace of them at that address in the address books from the 1930s.

The first page of Ernst Kuhlig’s marriage certificate / Source: Landesarchiv Berlin

In 1939, Agnes Ludwig, a widow, resides in the villa alongside Bishop Fritz Kessel, who will be staying there at least until 1941. Upon further investigation, it seems likely that this refers to the controversial clergyman who, among other things, co-founded the pro-Nazi religious movement known as Deutsche Christen (German Christians). Fritz Kessel, born on March 10, 1887, pursued studies in Protestant theology at Königsberg (Królewiec), Heidelberg, and Breslau (Wrocław).

Address book from Bad Warmbrunn, 1941

After his studies, he participated in World War I. In 1917, he was ordained as a priest, and three years later, in 1920, he was sent to Brazil where he served as a pastor in Badenfurt (Santa Carolina). After another three years, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, and in 1925, he returned to Germany. He then became a parish priest in Parchwitz (Prochowice), and in 1928, he additionally took on a role in the parish of St. Nicolai in Berlin-Spandau. In 1932, he co-founded the aforementioned Deutsche Christen movement, and in 1933, he was appointed Bishop of East Prussia with headquarters in Königsberg – against the will of Gauleiter Erich Koch.

Archival photo of the building / Source: Fotopolska eu

In 1936, due to internal disagreements, Kessel resigned from his position and left East Prussia. With the assistance of the party, he received a research scholarship the same year, which he used to analyze his botanical research from Brazil, and it is likely that he lived in the house at Cieplicka 70 during this time.
 
During the war, he volunteered in the Luftwaffe’s construction battalion. Following the war, he lived in Osterode am Harz, where he later passed away.

Contemporary view of the building / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Sources:

The Last Apartment at “Pod Lwem”

When I saw that advertisement, I couldn’t just pass by indifferently. Tiled stove, space, light, layout… One can only imagine how beautifully life must have been here once.

Interior of the building on Mornicka Street / Photo by Dudek Real Estate Agency

Morcinka Street in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg) was originally known as Kirchhofweg, then changed its name to Friedhofstrasse in 1921, and finally Uhladstrasse from 1935. Before 1922, this area was a distinct village called Cunnersdorf.
 
As of 1916, records show that Drosdek, the owner of the Löwen Apotheke on the ground floor, resided here. Today, in the same location, there is still a pharmacy that pays homage to its former name, “Pod Lwem” (Under the Lion).

Historical view of the building / Source: Polska-org.pl

In that same building, there were residents like barber Meßner, Pastor Ratsch, and the Rosemann couple – Curt, a bank board member, and his wife Martha.

In 1939, Hermine Seidel still resided here along with legal trainee Werner Loecher, court inspector Georg Loechel, painter Paul Krause, pharmacist Odo Wanke, and, of course, Heinrich Drosdek, the owner of the pharmacy.

On July 28, 1928, 69-year-old Heinrich married 56-year-old widow Anna Luise Maria Pelz née Mannigel, originally from Nysa (Neisse). She was the daughter of merchant Richard Mannigel and Maria née Vietz. They shared 11 beautiful years together – unfortunately, on February 18, 1939, Anna Luise passed away due to diabetes and kidney failure.

Death certificate of Anna / Source: State Archives in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch

Heinrich lived here until his death. On July 22, 1944 his son, Dr. Walter Drosdek, a medical doctor, reported to the Civil Registry Office that his father, a Catholic and the son of the gunsmith Anton Drosdek and Katharina née Stanek, born on November 10, 1858, in Gliwice (Gleiwitz), had passed away on July 21, 1944, at 8 a.m., due to heart failure.

Death certificate of Heinrich / Source: State Archives in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch

And shortly after, both the apartments and the pharmacy changed ownership, marking a new chapter in the building’s history. Do you happen to know anything about the people who lived there after the war?
 
I hope this remarkable 160 m2 apartment finds a new owner who will give it a second chance at life.

Interior of the building on Mornicka Street / Photo by Dudek Real Estate Agency

Photos of the apartment: Dudek Real Estate Agency (Biuro Nieruchomości Dudek)

Źródła:

  • Polska-org pl
  • Archiwum Państwowe we Wrocławiu oddział w Jeleniej Górze (State Archives in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch)
  • Biuro Nieruchomości Dudek (Dudek Real Estate Agency)

Friedrich von Bernhardi – author of the book that started World War I and his villa in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg)

I felt that someone exceptional lived in this house, but I did not expect that the pre-war owner of the villa at today’s ul. Tkacka 19 in Jelenia Góra (pre-war Warmbrunnerstrasse 104 in Cunnersdorf) would turn out to be the author of the book that supposedly triggered World War I.

Contemporary view of the villa formerly owned by Friedrich von Bernhardi / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

The first German who passed through the Arc de Triomphe after the Prussians entered Paris. One of the most controversial German militarists. Friedrich von Bernhardi lived and died in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg), specifically in Cunnersdorf, a village annexed to Hirschberg in 1922.

Friedrich Adam Julius von Bernhardi

Friedrich was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on November 22, 1849, as the son of diplomat and historian Felix Theodor Bernhardi and Charlotte Friederike Julie (née Krusenstern), Baltic Germans. His maternal grandfather was Admiral Adam Johann Ritter von Krusenstern (Baltic Germans were recruited into the Russian administrative apparatus and the officer corps of the Russian army), the commander of the first Russian circumnavigation expedition and a co-founder of the Russian Geographical Society.
 
When Friedrich was 2 years old, the family moved to Cunnersdorf, an area known as the Little Post Office District in Jelenia Góra.

Friedrich’ s grandfather, Adam Johann Ritter von Krusenstern

During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), he served as a cavalry lieutenant in the 14th Hussar Regiment of the Prussian Army. At that time, he had the honor of leading the parade that marched under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. From 1891 to 1894, he was a German military attaché in Bern, later the head of the military history department at the Great General Staff in Berlin, and then became a commanding general the VII Corps of the Army in Münster, Westphalia.
 
In 1909, he retired and devoted himself to writing, focusing on his favorite subject, which was military affairs.
 
His most famous work, Deutschland und der Nächste Krieg or Germany and the Next War, published in 1911, is considered a book that supposedly triggered World War I. In it, Bernhardi openly advocated for Germany to attack France and Britain, anticipating their moves.
 
Friedrich was also considered one of the most controversial militarists. He asserted, among other things, that war is a “biological necessity” and is in accordance with the “natural law upon which all laws of nature are based, the law of the struggle for existence.”
 
He also believed that war ensures development and that it was war that “forged Prussia hard as steel.” The rallying cry was to be: “World power or downfall,” and he advocated for an aggressive stance for Germany.
 
When the war finally broke out, Bernhardi was reinstated into active military service. Initially stationed in Poznań, in September 1915, he was transferred to the Eastern Front, where he commanded near Slonim and later in Volhynia. In 1918, due to health reasons, he retired from military service and returned to his family estate in Cunnersdorf.

Contemporary view of the house and photos of preserved historical interior details / Source: private archive

Friedrich was married twice. His first wife, Helene Agnes von Klitzing, whom he married in Berlin on January 19, 1881, hailed from Lüben, present-day Lubno in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland), and was the daughter of Max von Klitzing and Louise, owners of the now-ruined manor in Kłębowiec.
 
Helene Agnes passed away at the age of 31 on July 6, 1890, and 2 years later, Friedrich married for the second time. At the age of 44, on July 19, 1893, he married Katherine von Colomb in the Evangelical Church in Cassel. Katherine was born in Berlin and was the daughter of Prussian General Wilhelm Günther Von Colomb and Klara Louise von Binger.

Friedric’s father-in-law, Wilhelm Günther von Colomb

Katharine also passed away first – on April 5, 1929, in her home at Warmbrunnerstrasse 104 (today ul. Tkacka 19), having lived for 75 years. Friedrich, at the age of 80, departed a year later – on July 10, leaving no descendants.

Death certificate of Katharine von Bernhardi (left) and Friedrich von Bernhardi (right) / Source: State Archives in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch

Thank you very much to the owners for sharing these beautiful interior photos.

Sources:

  • private archive
  • Archiwum Państwowe we Wrocławiu oddział w Jeleniej Górze (State Archives in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch)

Zur Eisenbahn Inn in Piechowice (Petersdorf)

At ul. Przemysłowa 6 in Piechowice (Przemysłowa Street 6, Petersdorf), there was an inn called Zur Eisenbahn, which, in the 1930s, was operated by the Deckwerth couple – Emil and Elsa. After Emil’s death, Elsa took over the management of the restaurant, a world of business and inns that had been familiar to her since childhood.

Zur Eisenbahn Inn, source: Polska-org.pl

The couple got married on March 12, 1928, in Piechowice (Petersdorf). Emil Deckwerth, a restaurant manager, was born on December 24, 1897, in Osiecznica (Wehrau kreis Bunzlau). Elsa Walter, née Werner, also a restaurateur, and a widow five years his senior, was born in Szklarska Poręba (Schreiberhau) on January 9, 1892. Her previous marriage took place on December 15, 1913, in Szklarska Poręba. Her first husband, Richard Adolf Kurt Walter, was a brewer and lived in Cieplice (Warmbrunn). He was the son of economic inspector Adolf Walter and Marie Lonny, née Frommhold, who both originally came from Legnica (Liegnitz), and eventually settled in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg).

On the left side, the first page of Elsa Werner’s marriage certificate; on the right – the first page of the marriage certificate of Elsa Werner and Emil Deckwerth.

From the marriage certificate, we can find out that Elsa was the daughter of Hermann Julius Werner, a restaurateur from Szklarska Poręba, and Anna Maria née John. The old Werner was the owner of Werner’s Gasthaus, an inn located at the site of today’s Museum of the Jizera Mountains (Muzeum Ziemi “Juna”, ul. Jeleniogórska 9, Szklarska Poręba; the building burned down in 2015 and was reconstructed). Interestingly, the original building was over 300 years old and stood on the foundations of an old watchtower. It housed the so-called Hunger Tavern, associated with the period of great famine. During public projects like building a mountain road along the Kamienna River, workers could receive, among other things, a loaf of freshly baked on-site bread.

Werner’s Inn, source: Polska-org.pl

Hermann Werner, as stated in the death certificate, originally came from Barcinek (Berthelsdorf), and passed away on October 3, 1922, at the age of 74, in house number 681 in Szklarska Poręba Górna. After Hermann’s death, the restaurant was taken over by Paul Kulas, a restaurateur residing in Pobiedna (Meffersdorf) at house number 30.

Emil Deckwerth’s death certificate

Returning to Piechowice and Elsaher second husband, Emil Deckwerth, passed away on October 14, 1936, at the St. Hedwig Hospital in Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój (Bad Warmbrunn) at the age of 55. Elsa continued to run the Zur Eisenbahn Inn until at least 1939, as documentation from the W. Schimmelpfeng Information Office from that year has been preserved. It is unknown whether they had children or if Elsa survived the war.

Zur Eisenbahn Inn, source: Polska-org.pl

Today, the building serves a residential purpose. Does anyone know if there was a restaurant in the building again after the war? Let me know!

Contemporary view of the building that once housed the Zur Eisenbahn Inn / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Sources:

  • Polska-org.pl

The Engel Family from Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój

The Engel family lived in the building at Hermsdorferstrasse 2 in Bad Warmbrunn, now at Pl. Piastowski 31 in Cieplice Śląskie Zdrój. The living quarters were upstairs, and downstairs is where Joseph Engel, a Jewish merchant from Rawicz (Rawitsch), ran a textile shop established in 1868. His wife’s name was Johanna, née Wermer, and she hailed from Ziębice (Münsterberg).
Zdjęcie kamienicy w Cieplicach

The tenement at Pl. Piastowski 31 in Cieplice Śląskie Zdrój / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Joseph and Johanna had 7 children: two sons, Walter and Otto (the first passed away at the age of one, and the second son would later inherit his father’s textile business), and five daughters: Gertrud, Rosalie, Elsa, Henrietta, Margarethe, and Paula.

Otto and his unmarried sister, Elsa, lived in their Cieplice apartment until the war. The remaining sisters got married and moved to larger cities: Henriette married Siegmund Schiftan and settled in Wrocław (Breslau), Rosalie moved to Żytawa (Zittau) with her husband Hermann Seiler, Gertrud lived with Gustav Schlesinger, and Paula with Willy (Wilhelm) Engel in Berlin. Margarethe, about whom the most is known, also moved to Berlin. On February 6, 1906, she married Georg Basch, a veterinarian from Wolsztyn (Wollstein), and they lived at Grosse Frankfurter Strasse 118 (now Karl-Marx-Allee). Their first son, Martin, was born on August 7, 1907.

Photos from the building at Pl. Piastowski 31 in Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Reklama sklepu Josepha Engela

Advertisement for Joseph Engel’s store in Warmbrunner Nachrichten from 1910

During World War I, Georg Basch decided to volunteer for the army as a veterinarian, leaving Margarethe alone for four painful years. In 1915, her father passed away, and two years later, she lost her son Martin, who died in Cieplice due to blood poisoning.
 
Georg returned from the war as an officer decorated with the Iron Cross. He continued his work as a veterinarian, and in 1918, along with Margarethe, they welcomed their daughter Ilse, and two years later, their son Josef Martin. Due to the economic crisis, life became financially challenging, and to maintain their previous standard of living, Georg had to conduct additional inspections of slaughter animals and meat at the nearby municipal slaughterhouse, a task he, as an animal lover, found difficult to bear.
 
Margarethe, on the other hand, assisted him in everything. Their daughter, Ilse, later recalled:
 
„My mom helped in the veterinary practice in Berlin, wrote reports and invoices in the evenings, enjoyed listening to my dad playing the piano, cello, or flute for relaxation. She had time and patience for many people to ease their troubles. A school friend with marital problems was immediately invited to stay with us for some time. In winter, she brought coal to a poor cobbler. She visited tuberculosis patients in sanatoriums. Playfully, they called her the community nurse.”

The first page of Margarethe Engel’s marriage certificate with a note regarding the adoption of the name Sara in accordance with the Nazi law – you can find more information about it in this article

On August 29, 1930, Georg passed away due to kidney disease. The veterinary practice had to be leased. In November of the same year, Margarethe’s mother, Johanna, who lived in Cieplice, also passed away.
 
When the Nazis came to power, Margarethe Basch moved to Sybelstraße 18 in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin. Her son, Josef, fled to London and then to the United States. Her daughter, Ilse, remained in Berlin. She married interior designer Werner Rewald and managed to survive the war in hiding.
 
Margarethe Basch continued to live in the apartment on Sybelstrasse with her sister Paula and her husband Wilhelm. Wilhelm died there on May 19, 1941, and less than a year later, on January 13, 1942, both sisters were deported to the ghetto in Riga. Ilse received the last sign from her mother on November 23, 1943. Of the transport, 15 people survived, but Margarethe Basch and her sister Paula never returned. Their sister Elsa was murdered in Theresienstadt in 1942, and the fate of the remaining siblings—Otto, Hedwig, Henriette, and Gertrud—is unknown.
 
Stolpersteine were placed in front of the house on Sybelstrasse in Berlin as a memorial for Margarethe and Paula.
 
Margarethe’s daughter, Ilse Rewald, passed away in 2005.
Drzwi do kamienicy przy Sybelstrasse 18 w Berlinie
Stolpersteine upamiętniający Paulę
Stolpersteine upamiętniający Margarethę

The door to the building at Sybelstrasse 18 in Berlin and Stolpersteine commemorating Margarethe and Paula / Source: stolpersteine-berlin.de

 

Sources:

  • stolpersteine-berlin.de
  • Landesarchiv Berlin
  • Archiwum Państwowe we Wrocławiu

The Story of Rosel Aptekmann from Jelenia Góra

Today is the anniversary of Rosel Aptekmann’s death, so her story will be the first in a series dedicated to people buried in the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg). Only a few tombstones with readable inscriptions have survived, just seven in total. Let’s learn about Rosel Aptekmann.

Nagrobek Rosel Aptekmann

The gravestone of Rosel Aptekmann at the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra / Photo: Marta Maćkowiak

Rosel Aptekmann née Hirschstein

On November 23, 1938, Leo Aptekmann came to the Civil Registry Office to report the death of his wife. Rosalie passed away on the same day at the age of 46 in the Martin Luther Evangelical Hospital in Jelenia Góra (formerly Hirschberg-Cunnersdorf). Presently, the building houses a Caritas care and medical facility (located at ul. Żeromskiego 2).

Two weeks after Kristallnacht. Perhaps this event had an impact on her health.

Rosalie Aptekmann’s death certificate / Source: Landesarchiv Berlin

Dawny szpital Martina Luthera w Jeleniej Górze

Former Martin Luther Evangelical Hospital in Jelenia Góra, now Caritas care and medical facility at ul. Żeromskiego 2 / Source: Polska-org.pl

Leo and Rosalie lived at Hermann Göringstrasse 43 (formerly, before 1933, Warmbrunnerstrasse, now ul. Wolności), 600 meters from the hospital. According to available sources, it seems that the numbering of buildings has not changed.

The building on ul. Wolności (formerly Warmbrunnerstrasse/Hermann Göringstrasse) in Jelenia Góra / Source: Polska-org.pl

Kamienica przy Wolności 43 dzisiaj

The building at ul. 43 Wolności 43 in Jelenia Góra today / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak.

The Aptekmanns were married for just under two decades, having tied the knot in Jelenia Góra on August 12, 1919.

Leo Aptekmann arrived in Jelenia Góra from Ukraine, specifically from the city of Smila, where he was born on February 25, 1892, as the son of Israel Aptekmann, a merchant, and Sophie née Brodski, residents of Kiev.

Rosalie, née Hirschstein, came into the world in Jelenia Góra on December 19, 1891, as the daughter of Julius Adolph Hirschstein, a merchant, and Rosalie née Moritz, who lived in Jelenia Góra in a house at plac Ratuszowy 4.

Leo and Rosalie initially resided at today’s ul. Wolności 32, in a house adorned with David’s stars on the veranda. Today, in addition to apartments, there is a shop and a Pentecostal church at that location.

Akt ślubu Leo Aptekmann i Rosalie Hirschstein
Dom przy Wolności 32 w Jeleniej Górze
Gwiazda Dawida na budynku przy Wolności 32 w Jeleniej Górze
Wejście do budynku przy Wolności 32 w Jeleniej Górze

Building at ul. Wolności 32 in Jelenia Góra / Photo: Marta Maćkowiak

Kamienica przy placu Ratuszowym 4 w Jeleniej Górze

Tenement at plac Ratuszowy 4 in Jelenia Góra, fragment from the exhibition at the Karkonosze Museum / Source: polska-org.pl

From Mainz to Hirschberg

Rosalie’s father, Julius Hirschstein, was a native of Jelenia Góra, while her mother, Rosalie Moritz, came from Mainz, nearly 700 km away. Their wedding took place on July 8, 1878, in Mainz. Rosalie was the daughter of Hermann Moritz, originally from Kórnik in Greater Poland, and Regine Metzger, while Julius Hirschstein was the son of leather merchant Kaspar Hirschstein and Johanna née Brann. After their marriage, they settled in Jelenia Góra, where they raised seven children.

Marriage certificate of Julius Hirschstein and Rosalie Moritz in Mainz / Source: Mainz City Archive

It is unknown whether Leo and Rosalie Aptekmann had any descendants. So far, I haven’t come across any trace of them, and it is also unclear whether Leo remarried.

However, it is certain that after Rosalie’s death, her husband lived for some time at Jägerstrasse 6 (today ul. Wyczółkowskiego) until he was deported and killed at Majdanek concentration camp.

Building at ul.Wyczółkowskiego 6 in Jelenia Góra / Photo: Marta Maćkowiak

Sources:

  • Archiwum Państwowe we Wrocławiu oddział w Jeleniej Górze (State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra Branch)
  • Landesarchiv Berlin (Berlin City Archive)
  • Polska-org.pl
  • Mainz City Archive

Masonic Lodge in Karpacz (Krummhubel)

Chrobry Recreation House – now a ruin, once the Preussischer Hof hotel. Located 711 meters above sea level, with excellent cuisine, situated directly by the forest. As it turns out, it also served as a meeting place for members of the local Masonic lodge.

Dom Wypoczynkowy Chrobry w Karpaczu

Chrobry Recreation House in Karpacz (formerly Hotel Preussischer Hof in Krumhubbel) / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Hotel Preussischer Hof w Karpaczu

Chrobry Recreation House in Karpacz (formerly Hotel Preussischer Hof in Krumhubbel) / source: Polska-org.pl

Loge zur Schneekoppe

Loge zur Schneekoppe, or Lodge beneath the Śnieżka. Preussischer Hof, known as Chrobry after the war, was the weekly meeting place for members of the Carpathian lodge, gathering every Monday at 8:15 pm.

The Lodge was founded on November 29, 1924, and by 1931, it had 21 members.

Loge zur Schneekoppe

Fragment of the list of members of the Masonic Lodge in Karpacz

Grand Masters

The Grand Masters of the Carpathian Lodge were Dr. Max Eisner and Hugo Reizig. The latter owned the Reitzig café and confectionery, located in the villa at today’s ul. Obrońców Pokoju 1 in Karpacz.
Kawiarnia Hugo Reitziga w Karpaczu

The building of the former confectionery and café owned by Hugo Reizig, today ul. Obrońców Pokoju 1 in Karpacz / Source: Polska-org.pl

The interior of the former confectionery and café owned by Hugo Reizig, today at ul. Obrońców Pokoju 1 in Karpacz / Source: Polska-org.pl

Max Eisner from Zabrze

Dr. Max Eisner was born into a Jewish family on December 28, 1863, in Zabrze (Hindenburg), the son of Wilhelm Eisner and Friederike née Boehm. On June 7, 1891, he married Margarethe Graetzer in Strzelce Opolskie, the daughter of another doctor, Aron Graetzer, and Lina Hoffmann. Max and Margarete had one son, Curt Otto, born a year after their wedding on September 20, 1892, in Miłków (Arnsdorf). The boy would later follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, becoming a medical doctor as well.
 
Margarete passed away on January 12, 1937, at the age of 66 in Berlin. According to the death certificate, Max and Margarete were living in Karpacz (Krummhubel) at the time, in house number 182.
 
Akt zgonu Margarete Eisner

Death certificate of Margarete Eisner / Source: Landesarchiv Berlin

Max had only five more years to live because on September 22, 1942, he perished in the Theresienstadt camp, much like most of the Jewish residents of pre-war Karkonosze. His son, Curt Eisner, was liberated from the Dachau camp on June 13, 1945. He was transported to the Benedictine monastery of Sankt Ottilien in Eresing, where former Dachau prisoners were treated, and unfortunately, he died there two months later on August 7.
Akt zgonu Maxa Eisnera

Death certificate of Max Eisner

Sources:

  • Archiwum Państwowe we Wrocławiu (State Archives in Wrocław)
  • Landesarchiv Berlin
  • Polska-org.pl

Flora Sachs – the Chairwoman of the Masonic Lodge in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg)

During my August visit to the State Archives in Szczecin, I came across an interesting collection – a file of Masonic lodge members compiled by the Main Security Office of the Reich from 1939 to 1945. In this collection, I found the record of a woman a Jewish woman from Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg), Flora Sachs, who served as the chairwoman of the Sisters Association of the Victoria Lodge.

Karta Flory Sachs z kartoteki członków loży masońskiej
Karta Flory Sachs z kartoteki członków loży masońskiej

Card of Flora Sachs from the file of Masonic lodge members / Photo: Marta Maćkowiak, State Archives in Szczecin

Flora Sachs from Jasna

The main headquarters of Victoria Loge was located in Goerlitz (specifically at Bismarckstrasse 13), and contrary to common belief, its activities did not revolve around esoteric knowledge. Instead, it primarily focused on educating about Judaism and promoting values such as tolerance, goodness, and humanity.

According to the aforementioned card, Flora lived precisely at Lichte Burgstrasse 21 in Hirschberg, which is now Jasna Street in Jelenia Góra.

She was born on October 11, 1878, in an apartment at Drahtzieher Gasse (ul. Druciana 1). She was the second of eight children of Adolf Nathan, a merchant originally from Cieplice (Warmbrunn), and Lina née Cohn. At the age of 20, she married Simon Sachs, a merchant from Kępno, who was four years older, the son of Michael Sachs and Marie née Markus, residing at Plac Ratuszowy 38. A year later, on May 16, 1899, their first son, Max, was born in the apartment at ul. Jasna 18, and on January 17, 1904, their second son, Lotar, was born in the apartment at ul. Jasna 3.

Parents of Flora Sachs née Nathan – Adolf Nathan and Lina née Cohn / Photos courtesy of Mr. Stephen Anthony Giesswein

Akt urodzenia Flory Sachs

Birth certificate of Flora Sachs / Source: Bundesarchiv in Berlin

In 1911, Flora became the owner of a tenement house at Jasna 21. According to the building documentation in the Yearbook of Jelenia Góra:
 
“The tenement had a facade width of 8.5 m, with a wide gate on the ground floor’s left side (Eastern), leading to a passage. In the middle, there were doors leading to the shop, and a display window. The depth of the tenement from the street to the backyard was 17.5 m, and its height was approximately 15 m. It consisted of four floors (ground floor and three upper floors) and a functional attic. The staircase was located in the central part of the building. The renovation project in 1911 was carried out by the well-known architectural company in Jelenia Góra, ‘Gebruder Albert Architecten’ – Albert Brothers Architects. Flora reinforced the building’s structure, renovated sanitary facilities (bathrooms, toilets), and the display window on the ground floor shop.”
 
In 1916, Flora’s husband, Simon Sachs, became the owner of the tenement. In 1923, he reconstructed the stairs in the utility building at the back, erected a chimney 9 meters above the ground, and in 1927, took care of a new facade.
Budynki przy Lichte Burgstrasse (dzisiejszej Jasnej) w Jeleniej Górze

The no longer existing tenements on Lichte Burgstrasse (today’s Jasna Street) in Jelenia Góra / Source: Polska-org.pl

The Sachs family also ran a business here, specializing in tanning leather and trading leather goods, while Simon served as a member of the Jewish community board in Jelenia Góra.

Reklama Simona Sachsa w Arbeite Zeitung, rok 1931

Advertisement of Simon Sachs in the Arbeiter Zeitung, 1931

Hitler in Power

Unfortunately, with Hitler coming to power, the situation for the Jewish community in Jelenia Góra became increasingly difficult. From around 360 members of the community in 1932, the number of Jewish residents dropped to about 144 in 1938. After Kristallnacht on November 9-10, 1938, during which Nazi militia destroyed the synagogue, cemetery, and Jewish shops, this number dropped even further to 67 people in 1939.
 
Flora and Simon perished in the Theresienstadt camp. Simon on April 5, 1943, and Flora a year later, on March 13, 1944.

Cards of Flora and Simon from the Theresienstadt camp.

Oświadczenie o śmierci Flory zamieszczone przez jej siostrę

Statement of Flora’s death posted by her sister / Source: Yad VaShem

Together forever, married 45 years

Two sisters of Flora survived and emigrated to Israel. Lothar, the younger son of Flora and Simon, managed to emigrate to the United States with his wife in 1938. Having lived to the age of 69, he was buried in Florida, and 22 years later, his beloved wife was laid to rest beside him, with the inscription: Together forever, married 45 years 🖤
 
Nagrobek Lothara i Hildegarde

One page of the passenger list featuring Lothar and Hildegarde Sachs. They departed from Hamburg on June 29, 1938.

Statement of intent by Lothar Sachs, son of Flora and Simon, regarding becoming a U.S. citizen.

Sources:

  • Landesarchiv w Berlinie
  • Rocznik Jeleniogórski, tom XXXIX 200 APJG, AmJG, sygn. 5442. IVO ŁABOREWICZ 28 AP JG, AmJG, sygn. 5442 („Bau akten betr. Lichte Burgstarsse nr 21, Grundbuch nr 192“, za latach 1875-1926)
  • Żydzi niemieccy w Jeleniej Górze tuż po zakończeniu II wojny światowej, Marek Szajda
  • Polska-org.pl
  • Archiwum Państwowe w Szczecinie
  • Yad VaShem

Hedwig Krause from Bad Flinsberg and a car accident

On September 12th, 1926, Hedwig Krause, a 33-year-old resident of Bad Flinsberg (Świeradów-Zdrój), the wife of a butcher’s master, dies in a car accident on a bend leading from Seidorf (Sosnówka) to Baberhäuser (Borowice).

There are many articles about the stone commemorating the tragic event at Liczyrzepa Street. But there is nothing about Hedwig herself – who was she? Where was she from? It turns out that there is an interesting story behind the monument.

Kamień upamiętniający śmierć Hedwig Krause w Sosnówce

Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Hedwig Krause from Bad Flinsberg

Hedwig Krause from Bad Flinsberg (Świeradów-Zdrój – but was she, really? Hedwig was not born there. She also did not die on the day of the accident, on September 12th, as the inscription on the monument commemorating the event states. It is unknown what happened exactly, whether she was run down or there was a collision between two vehicles, or the driver lost control over the steering wheel – but it is certain that Hedwig did not die on the spot.

She was transported from the place of the accident to the hospital in Hirschberg (Jelenia Góra), where the death was confirmed the next day, September 13th, 1926, at 11:00 p.m.

Hedwig did not come from Bad Flinsberg or Seidorf, or from any other nearby town. She had lived in the vicinity of the Jizera Mountains for at least 6 years because on January 20th, 1920, she got married in Bad Flinsberg. Her husband was the butcher, Wilhelm Gustav Krause, 16 years older than Hedwig.

Hedwig Emilia Minna née Schulze was born on June 2nd, 1893, in a town 200 km away from Flinsberg – in Frankfurt on the Oder. She was the daughter of a butcher’s master, Richard Schultze and Minna née Frikel, who lived even further away, in Küstrin (Kostrzyn nad Odrą). Richard and Minna lived in the Old Town in the house at number 115. However, there is no trace of the house today apart from a few bricks and a piece of the foundation that have survived. But certainly nothing more because the Old Town of Kostrzyn, called by some the Pompeii on the Odra River, was razed to the ground in 1945.

The groom, rather older than younger, as he was 43 on his wedding day, was born on December 11th, 1877, in Bad Flinsberg. He lived in house number 149, probably on Hauptstrasse (today ul. 11 Listopada), according to the information from the address book dated as 1930, Gustav was the son of the glazier Erdmann Krause, who started renting guest rooms at the end of his life in his house in Schreiberhau (Szklarska Poręba), and Augusta née Männich.

Księga adresowa z 1930 Gustav Krause

A piece of address book from Bad Flinsberg, 1930 

Akt zgonu Hedwig Krause w Jeleniej Górze

A death record of Hedwig Krause née Schulze

Gross Iser and Isermühle

Wilhelm Gustav Krause had at least three siblings, two older brothers, Julius Erdmann and Gustav Oskar and a sister, Anna.

On November 12th, 1917, Anna Krause née Günter, reports to the Registry Office that her mother, Auguste Louise Krause née Männich died the day before at 11:00 a.m. in her house at number 98 in Schreiberhau. She also added that Auguste was 74 years old and was born in Gross Iser as the daughter of Johann Traugott Männich and Johanne Friederike née Hoffmann. The daughter of Johann, the owner of the mill and a house in Gross Iser. And as it turned out later – the founder of the now non-existent Isermühle shelter in the former settlement of Gross Iser.

In 1874, Auguste, Erdmann and their newborn son Julius stayed with their grandparents in this small village in the Jizera Meadow. Later, however, they will move first to Bad Flinsberg and finally to Schreiberhau.

Akt zgonu Augusty Krause Mannich
Schronisko Isermuhle w Wielkiej Izerze

Hostel Isermühle / Source: Polska-org.pl

Nieistniejące schronisko Isermuhle w Wielkiej Izerze

The Isermuhle’s remains / Source: Ragnar, Polska-org.pl

The fate of the Krause family

On July 15th, 1921, Julius Erdmann Krause, a forester living at Erlenweg 828 (today’s Zdrojowa Street) in Szklarska Poręba Górna, reported the death of his 80-year-old father, also Erdmann. He rested next to his wife, Auguste, in the Evangelical cemetery in Szklarska Poręba.

Going back to Gustav and Hedwig – it is unknown whether they had any offspring within 6 years of living together. It is also not known what happened to Gustav after the tragic death of his wife.

However, I came across an interesting information – namely the remark about Wilhelm Gustav Krause from Bad Flinsberg, the father of three children, who died on November 29th, 1939, in Cieplice Zdrój, the husband of Dorothea Schulze, born on March 24th, 1907, in Küstrin.

The question is – is it a coincidence or Hedwig’s younger sister?

Cmentarz ewangelicki Szklarska Poreba

The Protestant cemetery in Schreiberhau (Szklarska Poręba) / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Sources:

  • State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch
  • Ullrich J. Groß Iser Ortsteil von Bad Flinsberg, Selbstverlag, Bodnegg 2019, s. 221

Końcowy raport składa się z kopi odnalezionych dokumentów, tłumaczeń, zdjęć oraz podsumowania. Wyjaśniam pokrewieństwo odnalezionych osób, opisuję sprawdzone źródła i kontekst historyczny. Najczęściej poszukiwania dzielone są na parę etapów i opisuję możliwości kontynuacji.

Czasem konkretny dokument może zostać nie odnaleziony z różnych przyczyn – migracji do innych wiosek/miast w dalszych pokoleniach, ochrzczenia w innej parafii, lukach w księgach, zniszczeń dokumentów w pożarach lub w czasie wojen.  Cena końcowa w takiej sytuacji nie ulega zmienia, ponieważ wysiłek włożony w poszukiwania jest taki sam bez względu na rezultat.

Raporty mogą się od siebie mniej lub bardziej różnić w zależności od miejsca, z którego rodzina pochodziła (np. dokumenty z zaboru pruskiego, austriackiego i rosyjskiego różnią się od siebie formą i treścią).

 

Na podstawie zebranych informacji (Twoich i moich) przygotuję plan i wycenę – jeśli ją zaakceptujesz, po otrzymaniu zaliczki rozpoczynam pracę i informuję o przewidywanym czasie ukończenia usługi. Standardowe poszukiwania trwają około 1 miesiąca, a o wszelkich zmianach będę informować Cię na bieżąco.

Na Twoje zapytanie odpiszę w ciągu 3 dni roboczych i jest to etap bezpłatny. Być może zadam parę dodatkowych pytań, dopytam o cele albo od razu przedstawię propozycję kolejnych kroków.

Warto pamiętać, że im więcej szczegółów podasz, tym więcej rzeczy mogę odkryć.

Podziel się ze mną:

  • Imionami i nazwiskami przodków (wszystkich, o których wiesz)
  • Miejscami urodzenia i zamieszkania (jeśli jest inne np. wojnie)
  • Datami urodzenia, ślubów i zgonu (mogą być orientacyjne)
  • Informacjami o rodzeństwie, kuzynach, emigracjach.
  • Legendami i historiami rodzinnymi

I najważniejsze – jeśli masz niewiele informacji, zupełnie się tym nie martw, w takich sytuacjach także znajdę rozwiązanie.