Ditmar Danelius

As a child, Ditmar Danelius and his family lived in Christburger Straße 38, where they had been living since 1914. When the First World War broke out, Ditmar Danelius was seven years old. Ditmar Danelius’s father, Max, worked as a construction plumber. Of the 5 children, Ditmar Danelius and his two older siblings were the ones who had to help their mother earn money when their father left for the war. They sewed button loops into army tarpaulin. At the age of ten, Ditmar helped his mother Laura haul sacks full of coffee beans from a factory to the shops. His parents left Pomerania for Berlin at the beginning of the 20th century– they were Jews, but not orthodox. Apart from the bank holidays, religion therefore barely played a role in their everyday life.

Ditmar Danelius went to the community school at Christburger Straße 14. He played the violin in the school orchestra. This was how he earned money later on, during his exile in Paris. In January 1931, at the age of 24, he became a member of the German Communist Party (KPD) and later an organising secretary of a KPD street cell on Christburger Straße. In early 1931, Therese’s (also referred to as Resi) husband opened a little ice cream parlour on the Immanuelkirchstraße. Ditmar worked there for a year and a half until the shop was closed. From time to time, he and his brother in law also hid weapons for the forbidden Alliance of the Red Front-Fighters.

In 1933, Ditmar Danelius and his brother Gerhard, who was eight years younger, were taken into custody. Their flat was searched. They had printed and distributed leaflets with the headline “SA-Killer“ after their friend, who was a 17-year old Communist, was beaten to death by the Brown Shirts. They got lucky and after a few days, they were released. With help from the Jewish community, they left the country and initially went to the Netherlands and then to Paris. Since they did not have a work permit, Ditmar played the violin at different events organised by the French Communist Party, Red Aid and labour unions. In 1934, Gerhard returned to Germany and later worked against the National Socialists, which was illegal.
In 1936, Ditmar was threatened with deportation from France, so he fled to Algeria, a French colony at the time. There, he worked for the Algerian Communist Party. In 1939 he was arrested for activities in the party, because the party was prohibited. He was sentenced to death, but in the summer of 1943 he was released. After the war, Ditmar married his party comrade Lucette.

In 1946, he tried to contact his brother. One year later, he received an answer and found out that hardly anyone in his family of almost 30 people had survived the Nazi regime. In 1948, Ditmar and his wife Lucette returned to East Berlin, where his brother lived. Until 1953, he was the chairman of the Association of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime (VVN), which was dissolved in 1953. In the 1960s, he worked as secretary for the Society for German–Soviet Friendship. He also fulfilled different functions as a party official of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), just like his brother Gerhard. Ditmar Danelius died in October 1997.

Literature: Jeanne Pachnicke, Regina Scheer: Brüder, in: Leben mit der Erinnerung. Jüdische Geschichte in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin 1997, pp. 89-96.

Leonore Samuel (née Buchsbaum)

Leonore Samuel’s parents moved from Przemyśl, Poland to Berlin after the First World War, since it was impossible for her father Herman, a qualified accountant, to find work at home, as anti-Semitic pogroms were occurring frequently. During the First World War, Leonore's father served as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He studied at university and was a well- educated man who spoke many languages fluently. Gusta Buchsbaum (née Brenner), Leonore's mother, didn't go to school and wasn’t given the chance to learn a profession.

Once in Berlin, her father worked as a night guard and a trader - he travelled a lot. Doing needle work from home, her mother also helped out a befriended family in Berlin. Leonore Samuel was born on 23 August 1923, and her brother Bernhard a year and a half later. The Buchsbaum family led a very modest life. Like many other families in the Wörtherplatz area (today Kollwitz Platz), they could not afford their own flat and shared a one-room sublet. Leonore's first happy memories were of the Jewish kindergarten in Fehrbelliner Straße 92, where she spent a lot of time. She continued to go there in her spare time even after starting school.

Ever since she was a child, much of Leonore's life took place outside. In 1930, Leonore enrolled in the 110th public school in Schönhauser Allee 166a. She enjoyed her first school years, but when the National Socialist party seized power, the atmosphere changed abruptly.

The party's anti-Semitic and nationalistic educational ideology was implemented quickly. In the summer of 1934, Leonore Samuel transferred to the Jewish school on Rykerstraße. The Jewish community paid her tuition fees. At the same time, she became a member of Makkabi, a Jewish sport association, which allowed her to be out on the streets although it became increasingly dangerous as the anti-Semitic laws imposed more and more restrictions. During those days, she spent a lot of time with her friends, two other girls and three boys.

Eventually, by 1936, her father was banned from any professional activities and was subjected to forced labour. Her mother continued to secretly sew at home. The family would not have survived without the support of the Jewish community. One early October morning, in 1938, her father was arrested by the Third Reich Protection Squad, SS, and was deported to Poland.

The 15-year-old Leonore was bedridden and did not go with her mother to say goodbye to him. This is something she would regret for the rest of her life as she was never to see her father again. After Herman's arrest, Gusta Buchsbaum struggled to bring her children to safety but eventually succeeded: in May 1939, Leonore Samuel left for Great Britain on a Kindertransport, her brother Bernhard followed her in August of the same year. Both of them were sent to Whittingehame Castle, on Lord Balfour's estate in Scotland. Leonore never saw her parents again - they were both murdered by National Socialists.

In 1941, Leonore Samuel got married for the first time, but the marriage didn’t last. She lost her unborn child and shortly after that the couple got a divorce. Leonore Samuel moved to Glasgow where she worked as a seamstress. In 1951, she got married for a second time - she and her husband had three children.

Literature: Bernt Roder: Vier Staatsbürgerschaften, in: Leben mit der Erinnerung. Jüdische Geschichte in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin 1997, pp. 62-67.

Max Nesher

Max Nesher, née Max Raubvogel, grew up with his three younger siblings in Metzerstraße 18. His parents, Selig and Regina moved there in 1919, a year before Max was born. After the First World War they left Tarnow, Poland, for Berlin. Selig Raubvogel started working as a fabric trader before becoming an accountant in clothing shops, run by his wife’s brothers.

The Raubvogel family was well-known in the Metzerstraße where many Jewish families used to live at the time. The reason for this was that Selig Raubvogel spoke German fluently and was therefore often consulted prior to communicating with the authorities.

In the 1930s, the Raubvogels moved several times within Prenzlauer Berg, a district of Berlin. First, to Weißenburgerstraße (today Kollwitzstraße) and finally to Lothringerstraße (today Torstraße).

In 1926, Max started going to school at the 174th primary school on Schönhauser Allee. He was one of only two Jewish pupils and it sometimes terrified him because he was treated badly by his teacher. Unlike his time at school on Schönhauser Allee, Max had good memories of his school on Rykestraße. In 1933, due to the political situation, his father decided to transfer his son to the Jewish primary school on Rykestraße. Here, the children were already being prepared for emigration to Palestine. In his spare time, Max Nesher was an active member of the Zionistic youth movement and played football at the Jewish sports club Hakoach-Berlin. After he finished school in 1936, Max visited a Hakshara camp, which helped to prepare emigration through the Palestine Office. However, the emigration issue had been discussed in the family for a long time and his father was against it at first. After some time, the issue was discussed openly.

On 28 October 1938, civil servants knocked on their door and told Max to follow them. They took him to a collection point on Senefelder Platz, where he was forced to stay all day and march up and down the square together with other Jews. In the evening, they were told that they would be deported to Poland. At night, they were loaded onto trucks and taken to the Silesian Station. Max met his father there and they were taken to the Polish border town Zbaszyn by train, where Jewish relief organisations initially took care of the deported. At that time, roughly 17,000 Jews of Polish descent were deported to Poland during the so-called Polenaktion. His mother and Max’s three siblings fled to relatives in Belgium.

In Kraków, the emigration of adolescents to Palestine was being organised in secret. After having spent a couple of months in Zbaszyn, Max Nesher travelled to Palestine via Italy hidden away on a ship alongside other Jewish youths. Upon their arrival in April 1939, the Jewish underground organisation Haganah smuggled them into the country. The British mandatory power enforced strict entry requirements – a ban on immigration had taken effect.

First Max Nesher fought in the Jewish Liberation Army of the Haganah in Palestine and then in the British Army against the German North African Campaign. After the war, Max Nesher worked for the bus cooperative “Egged”, where his last position was as staff manager. His family did not survive the war. His father was murdered by Polish nationals at the beginning of the Second World War. His mother and siblings were arrested in Belgium and deported to a concentration camp.

Literature: Bernt Roder: Sammelstelle Senefelder Platz, in: Leben mit der Erinnerung. Jüdische Geschichte in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin 1997, pp. 121-126.

Simon Mandel

Simon Mandel was born in 1925. He grew up in one of Berlin’s central quarters, Berlin-Mitte, behind the Volksbühne (“People’s Theatre”) near what is today the Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and just a few meters from the regional boundary of Prenzlauer Berg, a district of Berlin. His parents Mindla and Josef had come to Berlin after the First World War. His mother originally came from an area near the Polish city Katowice and his father was from Galicia. The brother of Simon Mandel’s mother opened a shop for ladies’ wear with Simon’s father.

In 1931, Simon Mandel was sent to the Jewish primary school on Kaiserstraße, today referred to as Jacobystraße, near Alexanderplatz. In 1933, the Mandel family moved to Weißenburgerstraße 13 (today Kollwitzstraße 26). As of 1936, Simon Mandel attended the Jewish secondary school on Große Hamburger Straße. With the increase of anti-Semitic laws, which also affected school attendance, more and more Jewish students chose to go to Jewish schools. In his memoirs, Simon Mandel described the changes after 1933 – former friends didn’t want to meet him anymore and he experienced the anti-Jewish atmosphere in different shops as well as on the street. One of Simon Mandel’s hobbies was football. He was a big fan of the German football club Hertha BSC and also played football in the Jewish club Bar Kochba Berlin.

In August 1938, Simon Mandel celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in the synagogue on Rykestraße. Shortly before the Night of Broken Glass in November 1938, the family fled into the apartment of one of the father's employees as they feared for their life. When they came back after 9 November, they found the shop destroyed and had to close it down. Simon Mandel's parents tried to help their son emigrate and put him on a waiting list for a Kindertransport to Palestine, where two aunts with their families had already emigrated to. On 10 December 1939, Simon Mandel and 50 other young people boarded a train to Munich, which passed through Italy and eventually arrived in Palestine nine days later. The parents tried to emigrate, too. However, they didn’t accept an offer of an illegal departure because it would only have been possible under the condition that Simon's sister Ruth, who was born in 1936, was left behind. Simon Mandel and his parents stayed in contact through letters until February 1943; after that they lost contact. On 26 February, Simon's parents and his sister were deported to Auschwitz.

In the same year, Simon Mandel volunteered to join the Royal Navy and worked on a British supply ship. After the war, he joined the Israeli Merchant Navy for several years. In 1953, he married his wife Henni who had also fled from Berlin to Palestine. Up until his retirement in 1986, Mandel worked in the administration department of the national ocean carrier. In 1982, Simon Mandel and his wife travelled to Germany for the first time after the war and visited West Berlin. While reading some documents, he learned a lot about the circumstances of his parents’ and sister’s deportation. Nine years later, Simon travelled to Berlin again and this time, he visited the streets on Prenzlauer Berg where he grew up.

Literature: Bernt Roder: Nachrichten von Onkel Gershon, in: Leben mit der Erinnerung. Bernt Roder: Nachrichten von Onkel Gershon, in: Leben mit der Erinnerung. Jüdische Geschichte in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin 1997, pp. 127-146.

Walter Frankenstein

Walter Frankenstein was born in 1924 in the Polish town Złotów, which at the time was part of West Prussia and was called Flatow. In 1929, when he was four years old, his father died during a flu epidemic. Subsequently, his mother continued to run the family’s inn and agricultural business on her own. The business was taken away from her in 1938 due to Aryanisation - the transfer of Jewish property into "Aryan" hands.

In 1936, Walter had to leave the Christian school in Flatow because of the National Socialists’ anti-Semitic policies. As his mother placed great value on her son’s education, she asked Walter Frankenstein’s uncle Selmar Frankenstein for help. With the death of Walter’s father, Selmar became his legal guardian. During the First World War, Selmar Frankenstein was a high-ranking medical surgeon under the Prussian-German field marshal Hindenburg and was awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Class. Because of his high position, he maintained good relations with influential people such as Jonas Plaut, director of the orphanage in Auerbach. Thus, Walter Frankenstein was given a place at the Baruch Auerbach orphanage, although admittance was far from easy. In addition, he attended the local Jewish school. Walter left school in 1938 and, was denied access to higher education. He started an apprenticeship as a bricklayer in a building construction school in the Jewish community.

Because of his job as a bricklayer in the Jewish community, he had to work for the Gestapo and to repair bomb damage and rebuild or build bunkers. Nevertheless, he was able to stay at the Baruch Auerbach orphanage until 1941. This was also where he met his future wife Leonie who was two years older than him. In order to marry her, he hasdto ask his mother for permission because, being only 18, he was not of legal age yet. Their first son Uri was born on 20 January 1943. Shortly afterwards, in the course of the Polenaktion, the young family decided to go into hiding.

Walter and Leonie Frankenstein and with their two sons Uri and Michael managed to survive for two years, until the end of the war, thanks to the support of their friends, who hid them or arranged hiding places. His mother could not be rescued; in 1943 she was deported and murdered. His uncle Selmar Frankenstein was deported to Theresienstadt and murdered in 1942.

After liberation, his wife and sons travelled to Palestine thanks to support of the Jewish Brigade of the British Army with Walter supposedly joining them four weeks later. It turned out that immigrating to Palestine was extremely difficult so instead of four weeks he had to wait for two years.

Initially, he worked as a PE teacher in an Israel preparation camp in Greifenberg near Lake Ammer in Bavaria. Afterwards, Walter Frankenstein worked for “Bricha” which helped Jews illegally cross the Palestinian borders. On his way to Palestine, he was held in Cyprus and did not see his family until 1947. When he arrived in Israel, he was hired as a craftsman in a kibbutz.

Later, he set up business with an American engineer and built irrigation systems in the Jordan Valley and by the Dead Sea. With the help of his best friend, Rolf Rothschild from the Baruch Auerbach orphanage who lived in Stockholm, he was able to move to Sweden with his family and start studying for a degree in technology. After his studies, he worked as an engineer until his retirement in 1984. During their retirement, the married Frankenstein couple travelled to Berlin several times and told their story. They both wanted to ensure that the Auerbach orphanage would never be forgotten.

In 2009, Leonie Frankenstein died; in June 2014 a place of remembrance for the Auerbach orphanage was built. The initiative was supported by Walter Frankenstein.

The names of the children and educators who were deported to Auschwitz and murdered there are engraved in the brick wall.