The Rosenfelder Family
Nathan Rosenfelder was one of seven children of Jakob Rosenfelder and his wife Fanny. He was born June 21,1868 in Dittenheim. Jakob was a merchant and confectioner/pastry baker. He and his family moved to Gunzenhausen and acquired the house at Kirchenplatz 2 for 2,650 florin. In 1878 he was awarded citizenship.
We don’t know which business Jacob ran at the Kirchenplatz 2 location, but in 1893 he passed the property down to his son Nathan.
It was probably the year of Nathan’s marriage to Babetta Braun, who was born March 25, 1869 in Niederstetten.
In that house eight children were born to the couple:
|born March 28, 1894 in Gunzenhausen, died June 25, 1937 in Frankfurt/Main
|born July 9, 1895 in Gunzenhausen, married April 11, 1935 in Frankfurt/Main
|born October 20, 1896 in Gunzenhausen, died January 12, 1975 in Nuernberg
|born April 21,1898 in Gunzenhausen
|Traveling salesman, married May 29, 1923 in Nuernberg
|born December 11, 1899 in Gunzenhausen, died November 25, 1923 in Gunzenhausen
|born March 30, 1901 in Gunzenhausen
|moved to Berlin 1929
|born January 10, 1904 in Gunzenhausen, died March 25, 1934 in Gunzenhausen
|born August 13, 1907 in Gunzenhausen, missing and presumed dead in Auschwitz Concentration camp
|on April 13,1932 he left Gunzenhausen
In 1906 the Nathan Rosenfelder family sold the house at Kirchenplatz 2 to the taylor Friedrich Schaffner for 9,000 Marks and bought the property at Bahnhofstrasse 12. There they ran a small business, we assume a grocery store and bakery.
This is what it says:
Gunzenhausen, December 4, 1910
This noon Bella arrived back home in a very good mood and she can’t stop talking about how attentive you, dear Martha and your relatives were. Please accept our heartfelt gratitude. As soon as you can come to visit us we will do our best to do the same for you. How do you like the picture of our house, and the little rascal next to his Papa. He is a sweet little fellow most of the time. Please let us know when you want to come, dear Marta. Love and kiss, and to your dear parents and sisters best wishes too.
With love, your sister-in-law Babetta.
Greetings and thanks,
In 1923 Nathan and Babetta’s son (5) Hermann Rosenfelder died.
Both parents Nathan and Babetta also died before the time of the third Reich in Gunzenhausen, Nathan in 1923 and Babetta in 1929. Apparently only the siblings (7) Jakob and (1) Fanny remained in the house Bahnhofstrasse 12.
When in the late twenties the anti-Semitic attitudes were beginning to develop, and the Jewish citizens began to feel it, (7) Jakob rebelled, and at one point defended himself against an SA member. He suffered the consequences on March 25, 1934, the day of the first Pogrom in Gunzenhausen.
In the Story about house Nuernberger Strasse 4 the happenings of that day are described as they were known then:
On that Palm Sunday in 1934 the 30 year old confectioner Jacob Rosenfelder was reported to have been at the inn belonging to Jewish citizen Simon Strauss. SA men led by Kurt Baer burst into the inn to pick up a non-Jew, who was a guest there. After they beat up the innkeeper’s son Julius Strauss, they bumped into Jakob Rosenfelder, who was known to be anti Nazi.
In the documents of the de-nazification tribunal we found more information details of the interrogation of witness Erich Klein:
'… so I went to the Strauss Inn, but did not enter the pub. At that point a considerable crowd had already gathered in front of the restaurant. I saw the young man Strauss … outside on the sidewalk … motionless. Then Kurt Baer appeared in the doorway … and made a speech ... I can only remember fractions of it: 'The Jews nailed Christ to the cross, they caused the war and they are responsible for the deaths of two million Germans. They wanted to nail the whole German population to the cross too. He also said that the Jew Julius Strauss had spit on him, and that an SA man could not tolerate this, because he is the representative of the nation.Toward the end of his speech Kurt Baer ordered the crowd of civilians to disperse and ordered the SA to line up. ...
We lined up in three columns. There were about 20 to 25 SA members and ‘Arbeiterdienst’ members. Some of the SA men were only partly in uniforms, I was dressed in civilian clothes. I can’t tell you the names of the SA men, because it was very dark in the area, and I was in the back row. At this point Jakob Rosenfelder suddenly stood in front of Kurt Baer at the entrance to the inn. I heard Kurt Baer taunt him :“Are you a coward?” Rosenfelder replied with a whimper, and Kurt Baer slapped him in the face several times. Then other people joined in and hit him with their hands. I don’t know who they were though. After this attack Kurt Baer ordered the SA man Ramspeck to guard Jakob Rosenfelder with his life and take him home, which he did.
In the meantime several people carried Julius Strauss off into the jail. At the same time his parents were taken by Kurt Baer into protective custody, because he (Kurt Baer) feared the crowd would commit atrocities against the Strauss family. I went into the jail too. I must mention, that the police were notified by Kurt Baer about what happened in the restaurant/inn.
I can’t comment on what happened inside the restaurant/inn, because I did not go inside. I entered the jail accompanied by police who had appeared eventually. I berated them for taking so long. In the meantime Julius Strauss was lying on the entry floor unconscious. At my suggestion Kurt Baer ordered the baker Hans Hermann to get the battalion physician Dr. Thiele to examine Julius Strauss. He did as he was told, but could not locate the doctor. Then Kurt Baer said, he had done his humane duty, but if no doctor could be found, there was nothing more he could do, and he had Julius Strauss placed into a cell.
After this incident Kurt Baer and I and a few others, whom I don’t remember, returned to the “Krone” inn, because the action that had been initiated by Kurt Baer had been completed. Kurt Baer did not mention, that there were other Jews who were going to be taken into protective custody. A little while later SA Member Heinrich Kraenzlein entered the “Krone” inn and told us that Jakob Rosenfelder had hanged himself. Where upon Kurt Baer and Kraenzlein and Rieger, and Lindner went to see about Rosenfelder, because they did not believe it. But they returned after a short time and verified it.'
Jakob’s oldest sister Fanny Rosenfelder described the further developments that evening at the hearing:
'Around 7:30 pm my brother Jacob came home from the Strauss restaurant/inn very agitated and told about the happenings there, and that several people had rushed in, and that shots were fired, and that he escaped out the back door with the help of Marie Strauss. He had then tried to run to the police station, but Kurt Baer grabbed him and gave him a going over. He told me that Kurt Baer asked him sarcastically if he needed help getting out of the restaurant. But my brother replied that that much help by so many people was excessive. Kurt Baer then proceeded to beat my brother up and attacked him viciously.
Then he ordered (Mr.) Ramspeck und (Mr.) Kaiser to take my brother home, which they did.
My brother was bleeding from his mouth and insisted it was internal bleeding. Besides, one eye was terribly swollen and black and blue, and his face and hands were badly scratched. He wanted to get away quickly to hide somewhere, but we held him back and told him that we were staying with the Hellmanns, and he should stay there too, so we wouldn’t be alone. He was in very bad shape and took off his clothes down to his pants, and lay down on Hellmann’s sofa. I asked him a few things, but he asked me to leave him alone, he was too weak and had trouble talking.
Miss Hellmann took a look out the window and lost her grip on the shutter hook. She asked my brother to help pull the shutter back. My brother did that, and when he got a glimpse of a mob coming our way he just jumped out of the window. I tried to hold him back, but I was too late. I watched him disappear. In the meantime the crowd had already entered the back door, which they had forced open. Then I realized that I had actually seen and recognized those people. ... A man then said, that if they couldn’t find my brother, they would beat us all to death.'
Police sergeant Busch of the police station in Gunzenhausen sent a written report about the further events to the district court:
'At 9:00 pm we got a call from the merchant Abraham Gutmann of Gunzenhausen, Bahnhofstrasse 14. He said people were in his courtyard with flash lights, and he was afraid to check it out himself.
We immediately went ... into the Bahnhofstrasse. On the way there in the Nuernberger Strasse, in front of the “Vereinsbank” we ran into a large crowd who were trying to rush through between the properties of the “Vereinsbank” and “Silo” and they shouted “He ran away, he is over there!” When we asked “who?” They said “Jakob Rosenfelder” We asked the crowd to back off, and they did. Because the passage between those two properties was blocked by a tall wall, we went into the Bahnhofstrasse. There, in front of the Rosenfelder house, was a large crowd trying to force their way into the building. We went to the second place after that, the Kaussler’s, where some SA men were. They blocked the access to the Kaussler’s house and explained, that someone had hanged himself on the property. We went into the yard and there, about 50 m from the street, we were shown the person who had hanged himself in the shed.
We recognized the body as that of the single merchant Jakob Rosenfelder, of Gunzenhausen. He was on his back and had a rope around the neck, that had already been cut ...
The physician Dr. Medicus was called. His opinion was, that death was caused by hanging. But he could not tell if it was a suicide or a criminal act by someone else.'
In the end, after testimony from all witnesses, it was decided that it was a suicide, but to this day there is doubt.
Jakob’s sister Fanny sold the house and business about 6 months later to the grocery company Thum of Noerdlingen. Then she left Gunzenhausen and moved to Frankfurt/Main, most likely to her sister Bella. But she died only three years later. We don’t know what she died of.
From the letters that Gertrud and Julie Lehmann (Burgstallstrasse 7) wrote to Fred Dottenheimer in St. Louis, we can assume that one of the Rosenfelder daughters and her husband emigrated to South Rhodesia. It was Martha, who had married a Mr. Cohen.
The youngest son (8) Samuel is missing and presumed dead in Auschwitz.
It is interesting to us, that son (3) Albert Rosenfelder died 1975 in Nuernberg, it would mean that he returned to Germany and Nuernberg from America.
The city archives in Nuernberg sent us this e-mail in August 2003:
'According to his Citizen registry Card ( Signatur C 21/III Nr. 1835) Albert Rosenfelder left Nuernberg on October 24, 1914 where he had lived with some interruptions since 1914 and went to New York from there. On January 17, 1947 he returned to Nuernberg. Here he owned the furniture store “Moebelhaus Albert Rosenfelder” (on Breite Gasse 86 and Faerberstrasse 14 - 20). The business at this Breite Gasse location already existed before 1933 when the Jew J. Ittmann ran a furniture store there. It seems that Mr. Rosenfelder returned to Nuernberg to continue the family business there. Another reason was most likely that his wife and three sons had been in Nuernberg all along, because they were not Jewish, they were Catholic. We are not able to publish the whereabouts of Albert Rosenfelder’s three sons to protect their privacy. Please honor this request.'
In the meantime we have made contact with Werner Rosenfelder, who still lives in Nuernberg. He told us the following:
His father Albert Rosenfelder was married in Nuernberg and had a furniture store there.
His and his wife’s three sons are
Norbert * 1932
Werner * 1934
Josef * 1938
From October 1938 to January 1947 Albert lived in New York, because it was too dangerous for him in Nuernberg. His wife and sons however stayed, because they were not Jewish, they were Catholic. But toward the end of the war their situations became precarious too. They were very relieved (to say the least) when the Nazi’s reign of terror came to an end.
After the war Albert Rosenfelder re-opened the furniture store in Nuernberg. It was located in the Breite Gasse untill 1989.
In about 1953 they even had a branch store in Gunzenhausen in the former “Hotel Gundel” in the Bahnhofstrasse across from the house of his parents.
His (Werner’s) father’s sister Martha, who emigrated to Rhodesia, and later to Johannisburg South Africa, where she died in about 1995.
Werner Rosenfelder also sent us the impressive photo of the store in the Bahnhofstrasse.
In October 2003 Werner and his brother Norbert visited us in Gunzenhausen. They provided some interesting details of their father’s life:
Before WWI he (Albert) had gone to Wertheim am Main (on the Main river) for an apprenticeship in a Jewish department store, to become a merchant. Then he went to Nuernberg to work in the furniture store belonging to relatives, the brothers Braun, who were his mother Babetta’s brothers from Niederstetten.
He volunteered to be a soldier in WWI and fought in the war, and had earned a medal.
He returned to Nuernberg and after a few years he and Mr. Uhlmann opened their own furniture store.
That is also where he met and married a Catholic girl, which his family in Gunzenhausen did not approve of.
The couple had three sons, and the business was doing well. But with the beginning of the Nazi regime it became increasingly difficult for Albert Rosenfelder to be in Nuernberg. In spite of that, he stayed until after the “Kristallnacht”, and after having spent 2 days in police custody. Then he decided to leave Germany. An aunt on the Braun side of the family had offered to sponsor him, so at the end of 1938 he left for New York.
He lived there for almost 9 years, while his wife struggled to survive with her three boys. Because their assets had been confiscated, she had to settle for odd jobs in smaller businesses to earn money.
On top of that, because the boys were half Jewish, they were not allowed to attend a secondary school. By 1944 even Half-Jews were threatened with deportation to concentration camps. The Catholic church in particular did a lot to protect and support the family at that time. The priest even had the boys act as altar boys/acolytes in his services.
On January 2nd, 1945 the family lost their home to a bombing attack and had to find emergency shelter.
When the war was over, they were glad to have survived, but it was still very difficult to support the family. But soon thereafter their started receiving CARE packages from their father in America.
He did not return to Germany till January 1947. His mother was waiting for his arrival in Bremen. She had made this special trip to meet and pick up her husband. But she was only able to greet him briefly, because he was taken to a “de-nazification “ facility. It is unbelievable, that the German authorities would do that to a Jewish person who had been persecuted by the Nazis.
But soon thereafter he was able to re-join his family in Nuernberg. There he used the period of reconstruction, during which the houses and businesses were being rebuilt, to restart his business and gradually enlarge it.
It is remarkable that he even opened a branch store in Gunzenhausen. For four years his family sold furniture to customers from all the surrounding villages.
The Rosenfelder Company had representatives all over Bavaria, and over 50 employees in the business.
On 10. January 1975 Albert Rosenfelder died and was the buried in the Jewish cemetery in Nuernberg. His two older sons, Norbert and Werner, continued to run the business. The youngest was able to go to the university become a chemist.
In 1988 the brothers sold the business and since then are enjoying their retirement.
In the state archives we found more references to the house at Bahnhofstrasse 12:
The house had been 80 % destroyed by bombs.
The heirs were Albert Rosenfelder Zufuhrstrasse, Nuernberg, and Martha Cohen, born Rosenfelder, Penhalonga, South Rhodesia.
The heirs asked for a retroactive additional payment for the property, since it had been sold under duress for less than market value. They received 1.000 DM, which is the lowest settlement amount recorded in the "restitution" files , we found.
Norbert and Werner Rosenfelder, Albert Rosenfelder's sons, visited us in 2003. They lived in Nuremberg at the time.
A visit from Richard Oppenheimer
Translated by Lesley Loy
Richard Oppenheimer, who lives in Florida, came to visit our school on 7th November 2011.
He is a descendant of the Rosenfelder family from Bahnhofstraße 12. He discovered the story of his ancestors on our homepage, and looking for further clues, his path led him to Gunzenhausen and direct into our classroom. Here he told us about his family and particularly about the fate of his mother, who as a young girl suffered a terrible time in a concentration camp. He still possesses the diary she wrote about these horrors, and he let us read it.
This is an excerpt of Erika Mannheimer’s diary.
Our road to freedom (20.1.45)
Day 1 : On Saturday 20th January 1945, at 11.00 in the morning, we marched off from "Waldlager" (Forest camp)and concentration camp "Thorn" (Warthegau) in the direction of Bydgoscs.
On that first day we walked 20 km in 30° cold. Without shoes or socks. Late in the evening we came to a large estate where we were able to spend the night. We slept in an enormous barn, without any straw, where we almost froze during the night.
Day 2 : Sunday morning at 6.00 , we started off again. We walked another 20 kilometres non-stop, without any time to rest. In the evening, in freezing temperatures and dead tired, we came to another castle where we were given sleeping quarters in the cold barn. And nothing to eat or to drink.
The story of her family and the entire text of the diary can be found under the following link http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/images/Images%20421/Bad%20Wildungen%20TB%20Erika%20Mannheimer.pdf
Nowadays it is difficult for us to understand how someone could survive this. It was through a sheer miracle that she escaped death in the extermination camp in Riga and was able to get to the USA after the end of the war. There she met her husband and had a son, Richard, who is now sitting in front of us and telling us their story.
He told us about his life in Florida, where he is retired, and about the situation of the Jews in today’s America. Although some Jews have attained high government positions, there are nevertheless anti-Semitic attacks in some states. Unfortunately we know that in our country too.
It was Richard Oppenheimer’s first visit to Gunzenhausen and of course he visited the former family home in the Bahnhofstraße as well as the Jewish cemetery, where some Rosenfelder family tombstones are still to be seen.