upheimand its Annihilation
Book Pages 189 - 195
Livestock Trade, 27 Radstrasse
DR . UDO BAYER , KARL NEIDLINGER
Sigmund Hirsch Einstein, born November 26, 1870 in Laupheim, livestock and horse trader, died January 13, 1939 in Stuttgart, OO Selma Einstein, née Laupheimer, born March 22, 1878 in Laupheim, deported on April 24, 1942 to Izbica (General Government-occupied Polish territories).
- [Gisela Einstein, born July 3, 1903 in Laupheim, 1923 married in Stuttgart, 1939 emigrated to Shanghai],
- Lilly Einstein, born July 3, 1909 in Laupheim, 1933 emigrated to France, died 2000 in the USA.
There are few things more tragic and dramatic than the fate of this family, who left no trace at all. The racist fanaticism of the NS dispersed this four-member family all over the world. No one was buried in the graveyard in Laupheim and their former home on Radstraße became a company’s parking lot after the war.
Sigmund was the sixth of fourteen children of Hirsch Einstein and his wife Bertha. Mina Einstein is one of his ten cousins that lived in Laupheim, as described on the previous pages. In June 1900 Sigmund married Selma Laupheimer; they had two daughters: Gisela, born in 1903, and Lilly, born in 1909. Sigmund Einstein traded in livestock as well as horses and was therefore considered one of the better livestock traders. The text on the next page from the Laupheimer Kurier of February 6, 1937 could only be referring to him. It is a good example of the methods of distortion routinely used by the NS-press to poison relations between Christians and Jews and to cut Jewish entrepreneurs out of the economy.
Nazi propaganda: How to turn livestock trade into a crime
The “non-Arian trader Einstein” made a pretty good deal with a farmer from Rot, and both sides were apparently satisfied. It could have only been his inferior competitor who complained to the newspaper that he had not received the cow. The author of an article in a Nazi-newssheet then turned the most normal trading routine – farmers initially setting prices high for their livestock, leaving room to barter in the hopes of gaining as much as possible, and the smartest and most trustworthy trader winning – into a “dishonest trade ”. At the end of the article, Volksgenossen (fellow Germans) are cautioned not to “consider business relations with Jewish traders more valuable than with German traders”.
Between the World Wars
Gisela Einstein, born in 1903, married Friedrich Levy from Buttenhausen in 1923. They moved to Stuttgart together. The following announcements taken from the Laupheimer Verkündiger unfortunately do not reveal any further information. Presumably, Friedrich Levy had an academic profession in Stuttgart, but due to time constraints no further research in Stuttgart was possible.
The younger Einstein daughter, Lilly, immigrated to France in 1933. She had been working as a nanny for a Jewish family in Cologne and moved with them to Paris. Once a year she visited her parents who still lived in Laupheim. During her last visit in 1937 someone, from a window, poured a bucket of water over her head and yelled profanities at her while she was on a neighborhood sidewalk. As a consequence, she no longer felt safe in Laupheim and this would be the last time she would visit or ever see her parents again.
Sigmund und Selma Einstein gave their notification of a change-of-address to the town hall of Laupheim in February 1938 and moved to their older daughter Gisela Levy in Stuttgart. Sigmund, 68 years old, had been so badly beaten and injured by two citizens of Laupheim in the winter of 1937/38 that from then on he was in need of constant care and he never completely recovered. After this unrectified mistreatment, he died in Stuttgart on January 13, 1939 as one of Laupheims first victims of NS racial fanaticism. It is plausible that this assault was a direct response to the previously described hate campaign that had been launched against him by the NS-press.
Escape to Shanghai
The Levy family were so shocked by their father’s fate and the horrible events of the pogrom of 1938 that they had only one goal: Leave Germany as fast as possible! However, as other countries misjudged and underestimated the danger for German Jews, they did not loosen their strict immigration policies despite the November Pogrom. Shanghai in China was the only place in the entire world in 1939 where Jews were allowed to enter without a visa. Gisela Levy’s family of four took their only chance and escaped with their two children to Shanghai. They were not the only German Jews who made that desperate decision, but it saved their lives. Thanks to relatives, Gisela Levy and her two children were allowed to enter North America and went to San Francisco, whereas her husband Friedrich was not allowed to enter and had to stay in Shanghai until 1947. His son visited him in 1945 when he was a soldier of the US army and had fought against the Japanese. In 1947 Gisela wrote a letter to her sister Lilly in France urging her to come to San Francisco, too.
From October 2, 1939, the widow Selma Einstein was re-registered in Laupheim, probably because she did not want to go to Shanghai. However, she was not allowed to live in her former apartment in the Radstraße, but was forced to relocate to the rabbinate. The picture shows Gretel Gideon, together with her former neighbor Babette Reiser, in an overcrowded, narrow room.
(Selma Einstein (on the left) and Thekla Nördlinger in the Jewish
retirement house, the former rabbinate, presumably in 1940.
Both women were deported to Izbica Ghetto in May 1942.)
In March 1942 the Gestapo of Stuttgart informed the county commissioner and the directors of the police about another imminent deportation of Jews to the East. Rather blatantly in the first sentence of the letter it is stated:
“The resettlement of Jews to the East is the beginning of the Final Solution.”
In April, the Gestapo announced another deportation from Stuttgart.
Three women from Laupheim: Hedwig Rosenberger, Thekla Nördlinger and Selma Einstein (all around sixty years old) were deported to Izbica in Poland on April 24, 1942 with approximately one thousand other victims. They were the youngest of those left after the first deportation in November 1941.
In the village of Izbica at Lublin the SS built new transition and transit camps for the Jews. There, the newly arrived people were detained for some time under dire circumstances. When “necessary”, they were brought to the extermination camps nearby, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka or Majdanek, and there they were murdered.
A Page of Testimony Yad Vashem
“We don’t hear anything about our classmate Selma Einstein,” wrote Lina Wertheimer from the Jewish home for senior citizens to Emma Gideon in a letter dated July 15, 1942. Probably, Selma Einstein was already dead, killed in one of the aforementioned extermination camps. At the memorial for the victims of the Nazi concentration camps in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, her Page of Testimony mentions Theresienstadt, with a justified question mark, as her place of death. Her daughter Lilly Koron who filled in the document did not have any more information. At the time, she was fighting for survival in France where on several occasions she was in harm’s way.
Lilly Koron, née Einstein
On May 10, 1940, the Wehrmacht attacked their western neighbors: Netherlands, Belgium and France. Within six weeks they had defeated their Western enemy in a Blitzkrieg. Hitler was at the height of his power and relished in being hailed as the “greatest general of all time”. On June 14, 1940 the Nazis occupied Paris and Lilly Einstein was again within the German’s area of control. Shortly afterwards she was deported along with other German Jews to the much feared camp Gurs at the edge of the Pyrenees. However, she managed to escape and found shelter in a small village named Morlaas, located by Pau near Lourdes, which was an unoccupied part of France. She worked as a maid at the village hotel, where she also lived; she barely had any clothes and earned seven dollars a month.
Alex Koron, a dentist’s son from Munich who immigrated to Paris in 1935, had registered for the Foreign Legion in Morocco in 1940 in order to avoid internment due to missing papers. Shortly after the capitulation, however, he had to go back to France where he got a work permit as a farmhand in the non-occupied part of Morlaas. He met his later wife Lilly Einstein at the village’s tavern; they became a couple and married in December 1941.
In August 1942 Alex and Lilly Koron, who lived in an Ausgedinghäuschen (a small house next to the farm), received a secret warning from the police: A raid was planned for the next morning and all of the village’s young people would be brought to German labor camps.
The two of them were in grave danger. They decided to hide in a neighbor’s barn, where they held out during the raid without being detected. Their friends, Gentiles who had not hidden, were seized and brought to German labor camps. With fake documents in hand, Alex and Lilly decided to flee. They wanted to reach the Swiss border, which was 1000 km away, on foot and by train.
They sold their few belongings and a bicycle, and actually managed to reach the shore of Lake Geneva without being apprehended. Now they had to find a reliable fisherman who was not cooperating with the police and was not offering bogus deals to refugees. Again, they were lucky.
One night, a helpful fisherman took them to Lausanne at the opposite shore, together with two other people.
In Switzerland, they were not treated with excessive kindness and although they were married, they were held for two years in separate labor camps.
At the end of the war in 1945, they went back to Paris on foot and stayed there for nearly three years. It was in Paris that Alex Koron found out that his father had been arrested in 1943 and deported to Auschwitz on the last transport in 1944.
Lilly´s sister Gisela Levy helped them to immigrate to the U.S.A. in 1947. Initially they lived in San Francisco.
In 2000, Lilly Koron died in Desert Hot Springs near Los Angeles. Before her death, she was able to visit Laupheim several times, together with her husband.
Lilly and Alex Koron before the home in Desert Hot Springs, 1995.
(Foto: Archiv Dr. Bayer)
Interview Dr. Udo Bayer mit Alex und Lilly Koron, Aug. 1995, Museumsarchiv. Köhlerschmidt/Hecht: Die Deportation der Juden aus Laupheim, Laupheim 2004.