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 Lundendorff

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 Lundendorff

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!

Źródła:

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:

Haus Wunsch at ul. Złoty Widok 1 in Michalowice (Kiesewald).

Haus Wunsch currently / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

As indicated on the plaque next to it, the building was constructed in the years 1928-1928 by Otto Wunsch – a glass grinder from Sobieszów (Hermsdorf). In the 1930s, this place was known for a restaurant run by the Wunsch family.

Archival photos of the building / Source: Polska-org

I wonder what the signature dish was?

Contemporary view of the building / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Do any of you happen to know any stories about this building? Post-war tales are welcome too; feel free to share them in the comments!

Sources:

  • Polska-org pl

Wilhelmshöhe Guesthouse in Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój

At ul. Ludwika Hirszfelda 15, you will find one of the most extraordinary buildings in Malinnik (Herischdorf), a village annexed to Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój (Bad Warmbrunn) in 1941. Before the war, Ludwig Raschdau, an imperial envoy, owned two remarkable buildings situated on a small hill, now in ruins. Ludwig lived in the lower villa, accessible from ul. PCK 12, while the second one, featuring a tower, housed the Wilhelmshöhe guesthouse with a restaurant.
Willa w Cieplicach

View of the Wilhelmshöhe villas from ul. Ludwika Hirszfelda / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Ludwig Rashdau aka Müller

Ludwig Raschdau, born Louis Alfred on September 29, 1849, into a bourgeois family in Rybnik was the son of Eduard Muller from Puttbus in Rugia and Maria née Brus from Bad Landeck, present-day Lądek Zdrój.
 
Ludwig was an incredibly ambitious individual. He studied law and oriental languages in Wrocław, Heidelberg, and Paris. He began his professional career with diplomatic translations and steadily climbed higher. From 1879, he served as a consul in Smyrna and, until 1882, as vice-consul in Alexandria, Egypt. He lived in New York and Havana, and from 1886, he became a member of Bismarck’s staff in Berlin, serving as one of his close advisers on foreign policy. He was also a prominent adversary of ‘Gray Eminence’ Friedrich von Holstein. Ludwig held the position of imperial ambassador, serving as a lawyer, diplomat, and president of the German-Asian Society and the Central Bureau for the Study of the Causes of War.

Ludwig Raschdau / source: Wikipedia

Marriage to the Baroness

On September 23, 1889, Raschdau married the wealthy Baroness Christine von Magnus in Berlin, who was seven years older than him. She was the daughter of Berlin chemist Heinrich Gustav Magnus and had previously been involved with her cousin, banker Victor von Magnus. After retiring, they lived together in Herischdorf, now known as Malinnik.
 
Christine passed away at home at Stonsdorferstrasse 6 (Krośnieńska Street) on August 4, 1936, at the age of 93. Ludwig spent his last years in the Berlin district of Wilmersdorf, residing at Lietzenburgerstrasse 28. He died at the hospital Elisabeth Klinik on August 19, 1943, at the same age as his wife, who had passed away 7 years earlier, both having lived to the age of 93.

Death certificate of Christine Raschdau / source: Landesarchiv Berlin

Death certificate of Ludwig Raschdau / source: Landesarchiv Berlin

After the war, the villas belonged to the Polish Red Cross, and there was a training and recreation center here. And today? The sight is heartbreaking.

View of the Wilhelmshöhe villas from ul. Ludwika Hirszfelda / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Widok na willę Wilhelmshohe w Cieplicach

View of the villa in the past / source: Fotopolska.eu

The Story of Mathilde Buttermilch from Jelenia Góra

Today’s protagonist is Mathilde Buttermilch – another of the seven individuals whose tombstones have been preserved in the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg), and whose life stories I want to bring closer. And this tale will be not only about Mathilde but also about her grandson, who gained fame at the age of 100. So, if you ever think you’re too old for something, remind yourself of Hans’s story. But first, let’s return to his grandmother.

Nagrobek Mathilde Buttermilch w Jeleniej Górze

Tombstone of Mathilde Buttermilch in the Jewish cemetery in Jelenia Góra / Photo by Marta Maćkowiak

Mathilde Buttermilch née Salisch

Mathilde died on February 1, 1920, in Jelenia Góra (then Hirschberg) in her apartment on Langstrasse, which is now Długa Street, at the age of 74. She was born in Kamienna Góra (Landeshut) as the daughter of the merchant Simon Salisch and Minna née Buttermilsch.
 
Akt zgonu Mathilde Buttermilch

Death certificate of Mathilde Buttermilch / Source: Landesarchiv Berlin

On September 12, 1876, she married Alexander Buttermilch, a trader from Lissa (Leszno), the son of the late Jakob Buttermilch from Landeshut (Kamienne Góry) and Colina née Gottstein, who lived in Leszno before her death. Considering that Mathilde’s mother’s maiden name was Buttermilch and she came from Lissa, there is a high probability that the spouses were related within a certain generation.

Alexander and Mathilde settled in an apartment in the tenement house at Plac Ratuszowy 34 (Markt 34), which would remain their home until their deaths. Alexander passed away first, on March 3, 1907.

Plac Ratuszowy 34 in Jelenia Góra / Source: Polska-org.pl

In the meantime though, let’s go back 29 years, to May 5, 1878, when Elsa, the daughter of Mathilde and Alexander, was born. She would live with her parents until the age of 26, when she decided to marry Max Keilson, the son of Nathan Keilson and Emilie née Mosessohn, a merchant residing in Bad Freienwalde.
 
They’ll make their home there, managing a lingerie shop, and soon enough, they’ll welcome two children – a daughter and a son, whom we’ll discuss shortly.
Akt ślubu Maxa Keilsona i Elsy Buttermilch

Marriage certificate of Max Keilson and Elsa Buttermilch / Source: Landesarchiv Berlin

Hans Keilson – An Extraordinary Centenarian

Hans Keilson, the son of Elsa and Max, was born in 1909. He was a doctor with a passion for writing, and in 1933, he published his first book. Unfortunately, just a few months later, it ended up on the list of books banned by the Third Reich.
 
Shortly thereafter, due to his background, he was deprived of the ability to practice as a doctor and sustained himself as a sports and music teacher. In 1936, Hans, along with his wife Gertrude, fled to the Netherlands, where he went into hiding while she, a Catholic, gave birth to their daughter, claiming that a “German soldier” was the father.
 
All three survived. Hans’ sister, who emigrated to Palestine, survived as well. Unfortunately, their parents, Elsa and Max, did not make it. The fact that Max considered himself a German patriot and was awarded the Iron Cross for his service in World War I did not save him and his wife from death in Auschwitz.
 
Hans never reconciled with this painful loss and dedicated his entire life to working with orphaned Jewish children suffering from post-war traumas. Meanwhile, he continued to write poetry and novels, and his efforts did not go in vain. Hans was rediscovered at the age of 100 when Francine Prose from The New York Times called him a genius, reviewing his two novels written 50 years earlier.
 
Hans passed away a year later in 2011 at the age of 101. He was buried in Hilversum, the Netherlands. I recommend reading interviews with Hans, the links to which can be found at the end of the article – a wonderful and sensitive individual.
 
And so, the tombstone of Mathilde Buttermilch, one of the handful preserved in the Jelenia Góra cemetery, allowed us to discover the extraordinary story of an extraordinary person.
Zdjęcie Hansa Keilsona

Photo of Hans Keilson / Photo by Herman Wouters for The New York Times

Hans Keilson w młodości

young Hans Keilson

Sources:

  • Landesarchiv Berlin
  • Polska-org.pl
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/04/books/04keilson.html
  • https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/hans-keilson-love-in-hiding
  • https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/nov/21/hans-keilson-novelist-holocaust

Elsa Baumm’s Villa Vegetarierheim – the Houses on Malinnik series

Out of love for Malinnik, once a village called Herischdorf, annexed to Bad-Warmbrunn (today’s Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój) before the war, I have created a special series dedicated to the beautiful villas in this area and their stories. I begin with the villa located at ul. Łabska 4, formerly Tannenberg 6 (and before World War I, Russische Kolonie), called Turm Villa and Vegetarierheim.

Willa przy ulicy Łabskiej 4 w Jeleniej Górze

Postcard of the villa located at Tannenberg 6 (Russische Kolonie), today ul. Łabska 4 in Jelenia Góra (Hirschberg) / Source: polska-org.pl

Elsa Baumm née Boeck

The house was run by Elsa Baum, née Boeck, the widow of a senior official. Later, the business was likely continued by her daughter Johanna (at least according to what can be inferred from the 1927 address book).

Information about Elsa on the pre-war map of Cieplice

At Vegetarierheim, they exclusively served vegetarian meals and non-alcoholic beverages. Smoking was, of course, prohibited. It was a truly comprehensive cleansing treatment, especially for those times.

And the villa had a wonderful motto in its advertisement:

 
„Allen Menschen recht gethan
Ist die Kunst, die kelner kann.
Und kannst Du sie, damn mit Vergunst,
Dann lehr mich diese schwere Kunst”
 
In free translation:
 
To cater to all people is an art that no one knows. And if you know it, please do me a favor and teach me.
 

Today, the building is a multi-family home.

The houses in Malinnik are beautiful, each of them unique and majestic, each hiding a special story. Almost each one belonged to barons, generals, officials holding higher positions, and factory owners.

 
Almost each one had a guesthouse episode due to the proximity to the spa, but ordinary people also lived in here – traders, bakers, bricklayers, blacksmiths, and gardeners. There’s still a lot to discover, so with this post, I open the second series – Houses in Malinnik. It will be interesting, I promise 🖤
Zdjęcie willi przy ulicy Łabskiej 4 w Jeleniej Górze (Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój) / fot. Marta Maćkowiak

Photo of the villa at ul. Łabska 4 in Jelenia Góra (Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój) / photo by Marta Maćkowiak

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

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

Gustav Kohler – the manager of the train station in Alt Kemnitz

The cemetery gate in Stara Kamienica clearly indicates that it was functioning here before the Second World War. At first glance, it can be said that all graves are modern. If you walk the main alley to the very end, you will pass a tiny chapel and reach the left corner. There you will find a storage site of pre-war tombstones – most in parts, some completely unreadable and some in quite good condition. One of them belonged to Gustav Köhler, the railway station manager.

The cemetery gate in Alt Kemnitz
The cemetery in Alt Kemnitz

Photos by Marta Maćkowiak

Gustav Köhler – the train station manager

Gustav died in his home in Stara Kamienica (German: Alt Kemnitz) on February 22nd, 1904, at the age of 78. According to his son, the merchant Willy Köhler, it happened at 8:15 p.m. He was survived by his wife, Augusta Ernestine née Seibt and children. Gustav’s father and grandfather were not the residents of Stara Kamienica – he came to this area from Nowa Rola (German: Niewerle) located 140 km away, where he was born on June 17th, 1825, as the son of Gustav Eduard Kohler and Johanna Christina née Zeimke. At least that’s the information provided to the civil registrar who recorded the death – according to the baptism certificate, Gustav was the illegitimate child of Johanna Christina Zeimke. Perhaps his parents got married after his birth, he was adopted by Gustav Sr., or perhaps he passed on such a story to his wife and children.

The tombstone of Gustav Kohler
The death record of Gustav Kohler

The death record of Gustav Kohler / Source: The State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch

16 years after Gustav’s death, on March 26th, 1920, at 11:00 a.m., his wife Augusta Ernestine also passed away at the age of 81. Her death was reported by her second son, Kurt Köhler. Augusta was born nearby, in Kopaniec (German: Seifershau), less than 6 km away. She was the daughter of Friedrich Seibt and Beate née Schroeter.

The death record of Auguste Kohler

The death record of Augusta Ernestine Köhler / Source: The State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch

In accordance with the list of residents of Alt Kemnitz dated 1930, Kurt Köhler lived in the house at number 62 – comparing the maps, it seems that the numbering remained practically unchanged, and the Köhler house was located at today’s Kasztelańska Street – 95 m from the station.

The question is – what happened to the sons of Gustav and Augusta – Kurt and Willie?

Building No. 62 in Stara Kamienica – then and now

Railway station in Stara Kamienica then and now / Source: polska-org.pl, photo: RobTur

Sources:

  • The State Archive in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra branch
  • Polska-org.pl
  • RobTur

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.