Karl Neuhof was born on 25 November 1891 in Friedberg, Hessen. His parents were August Neuhof, a master butcher, and Helene Neuhof, née Siesel. He was of the Jewish faith.
In 1913 Karl Neuhof volunteered for one-year, senior military service. His stay in the army was prolonged due to the outbreak of World War I. He fought in various skirmishes and battles and was injured several times. He received several decorations during the war, including the Iron Cross 2nd Class, which was awarded to him by Kaiser Wilhelm II personally.
After the war, on 28 April 1919, Karl Neuhof moved to Berlin. On account of his recent experiences, however, he soon found himself taking up arms again, providing resistance against the Kapp Putsch and joining the volunteer Red Ruhr Army. The goal of this movement was to introduce Socialism to German society. It was put down by the SPD government of the day under Reich Chancellor Noske.
Subsequently Karl Neuhof began working for a grain dealing company, Bick. Here he met his wife Gertrud (née Jaffke). They married in 1923. On 30 July 1925 their son Peter was born. In 1926 the family moved to Frohnau.
In view of the widespread poverty and destitution in the 1920s, Karl and Gertrud Neuhof were drawn to Communism. Karl was successful in his career, going on to work at the stock exchange as a grain merchant and dealer for the company Neufeldt & Co. in Berlin-Mitte. Earning an annual salary of 18,000 Reichmarks, Karl Neuhof soon became known as a “salon Communist”. But Karl used his professional standing to help the less fortunate, organizing, for example, collections of beans, peas, lentils and potatoes from his grain-dealer friends for a soup kitchen in Glienicke near Berlin. At this time, in 1932, the Neuhof family lived in a spacious apartment at Oranienburger Chaussee 55.
After the Nazis came to power in 1933, the company Neufeldt & Co. was among those to suffer from the boycott of Jewish businesses. Karl Neuhof lost his job. He was reinstated by Neufeldt & Co. a year later but on a drastically reduced salary. As a result, the Neuhofs could no longer pay for their large apartment and moved to a cheaper one a few streets away.
From 1934 Karl Neuhof helped and supported his childhood friend Wilhelm Beuttel from Friedberg, who represented the KPD in the Hessian state parliament and was involved in illegal underground political activity.
In 1938 Neufeldt & Co. was finally forced to close down. Karl Neuhof took manual jobs on various building sites to feed his family. Later he was made to perform forced labour in a so-called “Jew gang” for the company Warnecke and Böhm in Berlin-Weissensee.
From 1942 Karl Neuhof hid his friend Wilhelm Beuttel in his home in Berlin. In October 1943 Beuttel and the Neuhof family were arrested. Wilhelm Beuttel was sentenced to death and executed in Düsseldorf in 1944. Karl Neuhof was taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp where he was shot on 15 November 1943.
Gertrud Neuhof was given a prison sentence and taken to Ravensbrück concentration camp. She survived and was liberated by the Red Army in 1945. Gertrud Neuhof lived in Berlin-Frohnau until her death on 19 November 1987.
Their son Peter Neuhof also survived. While in custody, he was given a diary and letters from his parents. Later he processed these experiences and events in a book, “Als die Braunen kamen – Eine Berliner jüdische Familie im Widerstand”.