The collection concerns the Kuttner, Godlewsky, Speyer and Marx families.
Kuttner family: Dagobert (1877-1953), Waldemar (born 1881) and Emil (born 1885) Kuttner were the sons of a Polish Jewish merchant family. Dagobert married Margot Scholz (born 1879), Waldemar married Gertrud Loewy (1885-1944) and Emil married her sister Cäcilie Loewy (born in 1888). During the First World War the brothers fought at the front line.
The Kuttners worked as successful iron ware merchants with their own companies in Durlach and Pforzheim, Baden-Württemberg. Shortly after the Nazis came to power, Dagobert and his wife Margot emigrated to Amsterdam where they were soon arrested with other German Jewish refugees and taken to Westerborg transit camp. In April 1934, the couple was transported to Theresienstadt concentration camp where Margot died in September 1944 of sickness. Dagobert survived the war.
Initially Waldemar and Emil Kuttner were allowed to continue their business after 1933 as they traded with European countries and foreign currencies were urgently needed by the government. In the night of the November pogroms on 9 November 1938 their shop was destroyed. Waldemar and Emil were taken to Dachau concentration camp for several weeks. The brothers had to sell their business and property. On 22 October 1940, during the Sukkoth festive holidays, the two Kuttner couples were arrested and transported to Gurs concentration camp in France. They were taken to Drancy transfer camp near Paris in October 1942. In August 1943 they were taken to Auschwitz concentration camp where all four people died.
Waldemar and Gertrud's children successfully emigrated in 1939. One of Emil and Cäcilie's daughters, Ruth, managed to take the last train crossing the Belgian border to go to England before the outbreak of the Second World War. Her younger sister, Ursula Jenny, however, tried in vain to emigrate. She was sent to Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp in 1943 where she perished.
There are also two family histories of the cousins Arthur and Fanny of the Godlewsky's, a family of Jewish cantors and religious teachers in Bavaria.
Arthur and Elsa (née Lemberger) Godlewsky: Arthur Godlewsky was born in 1892 in Sulzbach, Bavaria. After his Jewish teacher training in Cologne he fought on the frontline during the First World War and was awarded several medals. After the war he fought as a member of the Freikorps (voluntary paramilitary right wing units) against the Spartacus League (communist revolutionary movement).
In 1921, Arthur married Elsa Lemberger, born in 1895. The couple lived in Rülzheim, Rhineland-Pfalz, where Arthur worked as cantor, religious teacher and kosher butcher. The couple also ran a sports article shop until they moved to Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, in 1930. He lost his position at public schools in 1934 after the passing of new anti-Jewish legislation. In 1938 Godlewsky was transferred to Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, to replace a cantor who had emigrated.
On 10 November 1938, on the night of the November pogroms, Godlewsky was mistreated and imprisoned at Dachau concentration camp for several weeks. In October 1940 Arthur, Elsa and Sara, Arthur's father's second wife, were deported to Gurs concentration camp in France. In March 1941 Sara, and in January 1942 Arthur and Elsa, were transferred to Noé concentration camp near Toulouse in France. Following another transfer to Drancy transit camp near Paris in August 1942, they were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp in the same month, where they were murdered in the gas chambers immediately after their arrival. Arthur's stepmother survived the war at Noé concentration camp.
Siegfried and Fanny (née Godlewsky) Speyer: Siegfried Speyer was born in 1876 in Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Fanny was born in 1883 in Hirschaid, Bavaria. They got married in 1911 and moved to Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, in 1923, where Siegfried was cantor and taught religion to the Jewish community at synagogues and schools. Their children Gertrud, Lothar and Alexander emigrated to England and Palestine in the 1930s.
The Speyer family survived the November 1938 pogroms unharmed. As Jewish children were prohibited from attending public school after these events, Speyer started organising private religious lessons for the Jewish community.
On 22 October 1940, during the Jewish religious holiday of Sukkoth, Siegfried and Fanny Speyer were arrested by the Gestapo and transported to Gurs concentration camp in France. In April 1941 the couple were transferred to Récébédou concentration camp near Toulouse. They were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp in August 1942 where they were gassed.
Marx family: Dr Ludwig Lehmann Israel Marx and Regina Marx's son Robert was sent to a British school in 1937. Ludwig Marx was incarcerated at Dachau concentration camp in November 1938 from which he was released on the understanding that he would emigrate to America. Ludwig and Regina Marx emigrated to England with a transit visa for the USA in 1939 but stayed in the UK as with the outbreak of the Second World War travelling became difficult. They were naturalised together with their son in 1947. In 1952, Ludwig and Regina Marx had to return to Germany due to economic circumstances whereas their son stayed in Britain.