The Ernst Lehmann Family

Ernst und Julie Lehmann (1934)  © Hazel Green
Ernst und Julie Lehmann (1934) © Hazel Green

By 1930, three generations of the Lehmann family had already resided in Gunzenhausen. Grandfather Gietel Lehmann came to Gunzenhausen from Burghaslach. Like his son Abraham (* 10.12.1845 + 10.08.1909 in Gunzenhausen), he is a hops dealer.

Abraham is married to Julie nee Iglauer (* 03.07.1850 + 15.09. 1917). Her grave stone still exists in our Jewish cemetery.  She ran a fabric and clothing store with her uncle David Lenkersheimer.

This couple had six children and initially lived at Rathausstraße 11, later at Burgstallstraße 4, then at Burgstallstraße 12.

One of her sons, Ernst Lehmann, born July 20, 1878 in Gunzenhausen, is also registered as a merchant, but he does not deal in hops, but rather in fabrics and cut goods, like his mother Julie. In 1900 he started as secretary of the newly founded bowling club in Gunzenhausen. In 1901 he is mentioned as the head of the smoking club. This shows how integrated he was into Gunzenhausen's social life. In 1906 he became the owner of his mother and uncle's business.

On October 25, 1909 he married Julie Dörzbacher in Göppingen, born on October 31, 1884 in Göppingen. The couple continued to run the fabric and textiles shop at Gerberstrasse 10.


When the First World War began in 1914, he was called up for military service. As a frontline fighter, he puts his life on the line for Germany. Fortunately, he survives the war and is able to return to his family.

For this effort he was awarded the Cross of Honor for Front Fighters in May 1934. Hitler has been in power for more than a year.

Initially the couple resides at Hensoltstrasse 4. Presumably their six children are born there:

Susi * 29.08.1910
Gertrud * 18.09.1911
Lisbeth * 10.11.1912
Walter * 31.03.1914
Leopold Ludwig * 24.11.1917
Ilse * 12.04.1921

Children of the Lehmann family
Children of the Lehmann family: Gunzenhausen probably late 1920s Back: Leopold and Walter Front: Gertrud, Ilse, Susi and Lisbeth © Hazel Green

From the life of Ilse Lehmann and her daughter Hazel

Ilse Lehmann an her family
Ilse Lehmann an her family in September 1950 Left to right: Ilse Lateman (née Lehmann), Baby Hazel, Israel "Ben" Latemann (Ilses husband), Susi Sadler (née Lateman). Front: Julie Lehmann. © Hazel Green
Ilse Lehmann´s 70th Birthday
April 12th,1991: Ilse Lehmann´s 70th Birthday. Left to right: Colin Green (Ilse's son-in-law), Samuel Green (Grandson 8 years), Carole Lateman (Younger daughter), Hannah Green (Granddaughter 6 years), Ilse, Ilse's husband
Hazel Green and Eric Rosenthal, November 2004
Hazel Green and Eric Rosenthal, November 2004 in New York when I met my grandmother Julie Lehmann's first Cousin Eric Rosenthal for the first time. However, Eric has no connection with Gunzenhausen; © Hazel Green

From Hazel Green we received a lot of information about the fate of all descendants of the Lehmann family. Among other things, she reports why Walter Lehmann later lived in Hamburg, because the city archives state that he and his wife Ingeborg Ruth Neu are said to have stayed there in 1964. For reading this Click here.

Later the family moved to Burgstallstrasse 7 as tenants of Max Rosenau. There they experienced the first pogrom against Jews on Palm Sunday, March 25, 1934.

In the files of the court (Spruchkammer) we found the following judgment pertaining to that event:

'Pertaining to the death of Max Rosenau, the court has been convinced beyond doubt that he had remained alone in the living room after the Lehmann family, with the mob’s approach, fled into the bedroom. The witness Liesbeth Lehmann’s testimony has been made under oath and appears credible. The light had been turned off, and Mr. Rosenau turned it back on. The witness noticed through the bedroom door, opened about a quarter of the way, that he stood next to the piano with a knife in his hand. She asked him to put down the knife because she worried that he might defend himself.  When a moment later, she looked out through the door again at Rosenau, she saw how he was still holding the knife in his hand, already bleeding.  His vest and shirt were opened and folded back. Shortly afterwards, she heard him cry out: 'I’m already dead, you won’t need to do me any harm anymore.'

Shortly thereafter he collapsed next to the piano where he had still been standing. The expert Dr. Kraus testified that Rosenau had 5 knife wounds on the left side of his chest which could have been caused by the knife that is in possession of the court. The third cut penetrated into the tip of the heart and was deadly, while the other cuts would not have caused death .... The definitive proof with a Jewish witness of death could not be determined. It cannot necessarily be assumed that death occurred by someone else’s hand ... The definite proof with a Jewish witness as the key witness does not allow for a different conclusion.

As for the reason for the suicide ... nothing definite could be determined. It must be assumed that the fear of being arrested and maltreated must have driven both persons to commit suicide. This is particularly likely since both had a guilty conscience because during the years of struggle, they had taken a particularly hostile stance toward the national socialist movement. This has been determined in the main sessions of the court. In 1923, Rosenau is said to have taken in several wounded Communists after a fight at a lecture hall.

In the publication „Old Gunzenhausen“, a different picture is being presented:
... They also looked for Max Rosenau, a businessman, in his apartment. When they couldn’t find him there, they forcefully entered the apartment of his neighbor Lehmann. Mr. Lehmann’s daughter offered them to be arrested in her father’s stead because he suffered from a heart ailment. However, she was beaten, her father and brothers arrested. Later, Max Rosenau was found in a room of the Lehmann apartment, with five knife wounds (jabs?) in his chest.

Mrs. Hellmann from Baltimore wrote us with regard to this matter:
“Max Rosenau was killed when he opened the door to his house on Palm Sunday and a Nazi slashed him with a sword.”

The resident registration card shows that after this tragic incident, the members of the Lehmann family leave Gunzenhausen and try to get out of Germany.

On August 9th, 1935, Walter emigrates to Argentina.
His brother Leopold Ludwig follows him to Buenos Aires on September 21st, 1936.

Both parents Ernst and Julie Lehmann move to Frankfurt/Main on May 30th, 1938 and follow Leopold to Argentina.

The youngest daughter, Ilse, moves to Goeppingen on June 9th, 1933 but returns to Gunzenhausen on January 29th, 1936. Just like her parents, she moves to Frankfurt/Main on May 30th, 1938. She doesn’t go to Argentina with her parents but moves to England by herself. First she lives in Manchester, then in London, and from 1958 on in Bournemouth. On December 23rd, 1945, Ilse marries Israel “Ben” Lateman. She passes on January 31st, 2002.

Lisbeth emigrates to Sao Paulo on September 21st, 1936.

The oldest sister Susi, who in 1932 had married Otto Sadler in Nuernberg, moves to Waidhaus on April 4th, 1932. With her husband and daughter Eva, born in 1935, she emigrates to Kenya in Africa.

Gertrud moves to Cham in Oberpfalz on October 23rd, 1934. She and her family first go to Israel. Ten years later they move to New York. She dies in 1998.

In 1945, Ernst Lehmann dies in Buenos Aires.

The resident registration card
The resident registration cards of the city of Gunzenhausen offer detailed information on the Lehmann family’s moves to and from Gunzenhausen. © Gunzenhausen City Archives

From a letter written by Gertrud around 1959 to Fred Dottheim in St. Louis (Burgstallstraße 1) we learn quite a bit about the fate of the Lehmann family:

Dear Fredi,
You probably can’t imagine just how much we, my dear mother and I, enjoyed your kind words. When I arrived in the U.S. about eight years ago, I tried to find out about your whereabouts, but in vain. Nobody knew anything about you until Mrs. Katten (Herta Rosenfelder, Marktplatz 16) actually managed to find you ... Hopefully you’ll be able to read this letter which I’m writing in our native tongue. It would take me far too long to write in English since I’ve never attended school here and only learned to speak casually. We spent 10 years in Israel and as I’ve said before, we haven’t been here very long, just like many others. My husband and I are in the catering business and I’m sure you can imagine how busy I am during the main season. We have an 11-year old boy. My mother has been visiting for 5 months and will travel to Buenos Aires on March 16th, where Walter and Poldi live. She, too, has lived there for the past 17 years. My father died there in 1945. Susi lives in Congo (better Kenya), East Africa, and Ilse is married in England. Sadly, Lisbeth died in her 31st year in Brazil. Now you have a brief idea about everything ...

A Witness reports

In 2006, Mrs. Elsa Röthenbacher came to visit the Stephani School to tell the students about her memories of the fabric and haberdashery shop of the Jewish Lehmann family.

“My mother used to buy fabrics from the Lehmanns on Gerberstrasse and went there even after you were no longer allowed to buy from Jews. When you left a Jewish shop, you were photographed, and they then hung up these pictures publicly in a box to denounce the 'Jewish friends'.

To avoid this embarrassment, I was secretly sent as a little girl through the alley behind the locksmith Krauss to the back door of the Lehmannshop to pick up the goods she had bought. On one such occasion, a Lehmanns' daughter took me to the fabric store, showed me three bolts of fabric, and told me to choose an apron fabric. I shyly decided on a simple fabric, but then got a whole piece cut off from the nicer one. It was only much later that I realized that this was a parting gift, because shortly afterwards we heard that the Lehmanns had 'gone away'."

Mrs. Röthenbacher brought two aprons that she had sewn from this fabric and the girls were allowed to try them on. She has kept them all her life, always trying to find out how the family fared after she left. For years she had been following the newspaper reports about the Gunzenhausen Jews, hoping to find out something about the Lehmanns as well.

And so she was very happy when the students gave her a printout of the entire family history and she learned that the six Lehmann children and their parents Ernst and Julie survived.

After this moving story, the young people understood Elsa Röthenbacher's appeal that they should get to know people from all over the world in order to see: “They are all diligent, work hard and love their families. Go abroad to see how other people live and how they are just like all of us!”

When there was a report about this visit in the local daily newspaper 'Der Altmühl-Bote', Mrs. Röthenbacher received many calls from citizens of the city and the region. They all wanted to let her know how happy they were to finally learn about the Lehmanns and know that they survived.