The Family of Rudolph Seeberger

Seeberger, Rudolph (1860 -1922) (Foto: © Stadtarchiv Gunzenhausen)
Seeberger, Rudolph (1860 -1922) (Foto: © Stadtarchiv Gunzenhausen)

Rudolph Seeberger was born in Gunzenhausen on 31.08.1860, the son of Samuel Seeberger and Jeannette Oberdorfer.  His great-grandfather Samuel Neumark of Gunzenhausen had taken the name of Seeberger in 1813.  The Seebergers were an active family with many children so there were many businesses with this name just in Gunzenhausen.

The Seeberger family tree can be downloaded as a pdf file.

Rudolph married Jeannette Blum from Würzburg in 1887 and they had five children, all born in Gunzenhausen

Klothilde *17.07.1889  
Moritz Raphael *17.08.1890  
Marta *11.02.1893  
Joseph *11.10.1894  
Meta *12.09.1896 + 30.01.1897

On his marriage, on 19.08.1887, Rudolph Seeberger acquired citizenship and on 25.04.1889 he registered a business dealing in glass and earthenware products. In 1891 he had a house built at Ziegelgasse 23, which is now the Hensoltstrasse. Two years later he opened a wholesale business for glass, earthenware and ceramics in the upper part of the Ziegelgasse (now Hensoltstrasse).

Hensoltstrasse and Burgstallstrasse as they are today.
Hensoltstrasse and Burgstallstrasse as they are today. The Seeberger family owned the houses at Hensoltstrasse 19, 21 and 23, Seckendorffstrasse 4, Burgstallstrasse 9 and Marktplatz 35 (photo: aerial view by Hans-Peter Lautner, Gunzenhausen

In 1911Rudolph Seeberger constructed a pottery workshop and warehouse and in 1913 he took over the "Frankonia" ceramics manufacture from Georg Schumayr, a neighbour.  Shortly before he had invented a new form of glazing machine.

Source : Altmühl Bote 15. February 1913

Gunzenhausen, 15th February : Rudolph Seeberger, wholesale merchant, has invented a glazing machine which he has protected under patent. Ceramic manufacturers have long been looking for this kind of machine, which produces excellent results yet is astoundingly simple to use. Our congratulations to the successful inventor.
Source : Altmühl Bote 15. February 1913

But Seeberger also had an active political and social life.  In 1902 he became Chairman of "Harmonie", the Association of Jewish History and Literature.  He was also a member of the Plenipotentiary College and was elected deputy secretary in 1910.  He was chairman of the Bavarian Beekeepers' Association and was a Town Councillor in Gunzenhausen from 1919 until his death in 1922, as a member of the German Democratic Party.  Following his death on 23.10.1922 the Frankonia ceramics manufacture was discontinued, while his sons Raphael and Josef continued to manage the glass, china, earthenware and ceramics business until 1st July 1931.

The older son Raphael Seeberger had already taken over the house number 19 in 1920 - today known as Seckendorffstrasse 2. The house at number 23 went to the son Josef Seeberger in 1922. He had married Franziska Kohn on 15.12.1920 - she had been born in Ansbach on 09.09.1898 and was the daughter of the well known district rabbi Dr Pinchas Kohn and his wife Rosalie, née Moses.

Josef and Franziska had two children.

  • Siegfried *09.09.1921 in Gunzenhausen
  • Rudolph *08.09.1924 in Gunzenhausen
Josef Seeberger and wife Franzi born Kohn are delighted to announce the birth of a healthy boy. Source : Altmühl Bote (local newspaper) September 1921

The family lived at Hensoltstrasse 23 until 1931 and moved to Ansbach on 22.01.1931 where they lived with Dr. Kohn. Josef Seeberger emigrated to Palestine on 08.10.1934, followed by his wife and two sons on 03.11.1935.

Klothilde Seeberger - Gunzenhausen municipal archive
Klothilde Seeberger - Gunzenhausen municipal archive

A newspaper report over daughter Klothilde's tragic fate
Newspaper article dated 09.06.1914 in the Altmühl Bote

29 year old tradesman Hugo Weglein, married, born in Neustadt a.d. Saale, co-owner of the Frankonia ceramics factory, took his own life yesterday morning. He was found lying on his back in his house, he had shot himself in the mouth with a Browning pistol and death was instantaneous. Nobody had witnessed this suicide. When his mother in law entered the room around 11.45 h, she found him lying in a pool of blood. It is not known what drove him to this act, on Sunday evening he had been in company and in a happy mood, however it seems that a family dispute was the cause.

This suicide is even more tragic as Weglein's young wife, a daughter of Rudolf Seeberger and with whom he had been married for about three years, had since Christmas completely lost her sight. There was general compassion for this poor woman and her child.

Four months later Klothilde's second child was born. She and her two children lived with her brother Josef's family in the family home until she moved to Fürth in 1930, where Lina and Herbert were meanwhile living. She was registered at the Jewish hospital in Würzburg in 1939. Her patient's card which was issued in Würzburg notes that she moved away on 23. September 1942. She is counted as missing without trace from the Auschwitz concentration camp. Her two children Lina and Herbert had been able to leave Germany in time and were living in Israel. Lina was married to a Mr. Rothschild.

Source . Personal documentation of Gunzenhausen Jewish Residents, by Werner Mühlhäuser.

The daughter Martha married Mr Simon Höchster from Fürth on 1. July 1919 in Ansbach. The couple had two sons

  • Emil Elieser *1920 in Gunzenhausen
  • Siegried *1922 in Gunzenhausen

Her husband died early, in 1923, and Martha became co-owner of K. Höchster, Oil and Fat Products in Fürth.  Emil Höchster told us that both boys spent every summer in Gunzenhausen with their grandparents.

The younger brother Siegfried caught polio in 1927 and Emil had to spend several months in Gunzenhausen and go to school there to avoid being infected. His teacher here was Max Levite. He also remembered Aunt Klein at Marktplatz 35 and Uncle Josef from Burgstallstrasse 9. Emil Elieser left Fürth on 11th July 1937.  He was in Munich in 1938 and experienced the destruction of the synagogue there on 9.11.1938. He was taken to safety in England in 1939. From England he was sent to a camp in Australia, as the English feared a German invasion and didn't believe the Jewish children would be safe in England. He arrived in Palestine after a year in Australia and today lives in Jerusalem.

There is an interesting record on the internet of Emil Höchster's time in Australia "Wie es den Fürther Emil Höchster in die australische Wüste verschlug" (Emil Höchster from Fürth in the Australian desert)

His younger brother Siegfried was sent to Holland in 1938. From there he was sent to Auschwitz and survived, although seriously ill. He had to spend 2 ½ years in hospital in Switzerland after the war in order to regain his health. He too lives today in Israel and has 9 children.  Their mother Martha had stayed in Fürth and in 1939 had tried to get an emigration permit to the USA. She wasn't successful and was deported to Auschwitz on 22nd March 1942, where she disappeared without trace (the Fürth archives mention the Izbica concentration camp). Emil Höchster later worked for some years in Geneva for the United Nations Organisation and his eldest son learned German there.

In Jerusalem he was head of the civil service of all Israel, I e responsible for all civil servants. Today he is an Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem and very socially active, for instance he is the Chairman of a school with 2200 pupils.

Emil Eliezer Höchster and his three children visited Gunzenhausen in 1991. He discovered the sign of his grandfather's, Rudolph Seeberger's, business up in the right hand corner of the house at Hensoltstrassse 23. Unfortunately it no longer exists. There's no longer anything at Hensoltstrasse 23 which would remind one of a pottery. The house is still owned by the Lanz family.  Mrs Lanz has lived in the former house of the Seeberger family since 1933.


We were able to learn a lot from her:

The whole area from Hensoltstrasse 23 to Seckendorffstrasse 4, including the large garden behind, all belonged to the Seeberger family.  This all passed to the Banker Gerst in 1931 as bankruptcy estate. Justin Gerst moved into the neighbouring house (Seckendorffstrassse 2). Mrs Lanz' parents purchased the house at Hensoltstrasse 23 in 1933. The Fränkische Überlandwerk was located there too, as Mr Lanz was its manager for Gunzenhausen.

The Dommel family bought the pottery workshop and the offices in 1936. Mr Dommel was a coal merchant and used the buildings as a storehouse. After the war it was turned into accommodation for refugees. The Lanz family did not have to pay any compensation after the war when restitution claims were introduced, but the Dommel family did as they hadn't paid the purchase price to the Gerst family.  As a child Mrs Lanz had often played in the courtyard with the girls from the Gerst family.  There was a tabernacle there for the Jewish ritual Feast of Tabernacles. Mr Lanz had promptly pulled it down and built garages and offices there for Überlandwerk. In the night of 9th November (Reichskristallnacht) they heard the Gerst girls screaming as the SS men had forced their way into the neighbours' house and had dragged the people outside. Mrs Lanz remembered that they stood in their entrance and listened, really afraid. Her mother said "sooner or later it will happen to us catholics too". They didn't know anyone from the Seeberger family, they'd all already moved away.

The Gerst family was able to emigrate to America in 1938.  Mr Gerst came back once to Gunzenhausen after the war, he walked through the town to see what had changed. The only person he visited was Mr Albrecht at Hensoltstrasse 29. He had been head of the Labour Office and had always got on well with the Jewish citizens.