The Family of Philipp Sommer

Translated by Lesley Loy

Philipp Sommer was born on 12.09.1874 in Heidenheim. He was the son of the merchant Abraham Salomon and his wife Helene, née Lippmann. In 1905 he married Jette Löwensteiner from Markt Berolzheim and the couple moved to Gunzenhausen two years later. In the same year he registered a business there as livestock and goods handler. Three children were born.
  • Lina * 8.6.1906
  • Josef * 24.4.1910
  • Philippine * 23.3.1914

However Philipp Sommer died on 20.11.1913, before the birth of his youngest child. His brother Bruder Salomon moved to Gunzenhausen and also worked as a livestock merchant. At the beginning he lived in the house Gartenstraße 8, later moving with his family to Hensoltstraße 15.

Jette Sommer © Stadtarchiv Gunzenhausen

The widow Jette Sommer continued to live at the address in Gartenstrasse, despite the fact that her children left Germany quite early and moved to Argentina and England. At the beginning of 1938 she offered to sell her house to the Master Painter Oskar Tränkler, who was working for her at the time. She wanted to emigrate to Argentina to join her son Josef and daughter Lina. Her daughter Philippine was living in England. The quota fixed her departure date for around Christmas 1938. The family would only be able to move in then. Oskar Tränkler accepted Mrs Sommer’s offer as the property included a barn where he could install his workshop.

His daughter Barbara Tränkler told us:
"My father received the house documents from the Land Registry Office and paid the mortgage for a field in Laubenzedel. Already in the summer he began to install his workshop at Gartenstrasse 8. On 10th November 1938, after the pogrom night, he was on the way to his workshop when he saw SS soldiers taking Mrs Sommer away. He tried to intervene but was then threatened himself. People from the neighborhood were already in the house, carrying off furniture and other objects. Mrs Sommer was taken away and Gunzenhausen Municipality took over the house, although it had already been promised to my father and he had paid part of the purchase price. In 1939 he had to buy it back from the town, however they kept a field in the Wolfgang-Krauss-Strasse which belonged to it. The Hensoltshöhe Kindergarten stands there now. We were able to move into the house in January 1939. At the end of the war, around 1946, the Restitution Office IRSO confiscated the house, my parents had to pay rent and did not know if they would be allowed to keep it."

The family tried to take contact with Mrs Sommer and her children, searched in Ansbach and Nürnberg for their addresses but were unsuccessful. Several years later they had to pay an additional sum of money and were able to stay in the house.

Barbara Tränkler has lived there all her life. She said Jette Sommer moved to Memmingen on December 1, 1938 and was really able to travel to Argentina before Christmas.

Sources :
Personal documentation on the Jewish residents of Gunzenhausen, compiled by municipal archivist Werner Mühlhäußer and Barbara Tränkler

Thanks to Daniel Burmann's great research work, we now know that Mrs. Sommer did not move to Memmingen but to Munich and lived there in 1939. Her departure was therefore later. Apparently she lived in Buenos Aires until old age. Her two daughters changed their first names abroad. While they are still referred to as Lina and Philippine here in the archive, they later called themselves Lena and Philippina. We also know this from the remarkable book that Daniel Burmann wrote about the 'Jews in Markt Berolzheim'.