Arthur Zwirn worked as a lawyer and notary at Neukölln local court and Berlin regional court, among other places. From around 1919 to 1922, he acted as secretary for the Neukölln Jewish Community. His wife Martha, née Cohn, with whom he had a son, Hermann, helped him run his office. Later they were divorced.
Zwirn was a popular defense lawyer and earned enough to afford a spacious apartment in Neukölln as well as an office at Bergstraße 6 (Karl-Marx-Straße 112), “consisting of a very elegant dining room, a tasteful study, bedroom, kitchen, and workroom with equipment for bookbinding activities etc., which he pursued when he could no longer work in his profession. He also had a large library and a valuable gramophone record collection,” as a relative later recalled. After September 1938 at the latest, when Jewish lawyers were banned from practicing their profession, Arthur Zwirn was unemployed. He had evidently lost his notary’s office as early as 1933. His last job was performing forced labour for the Berlin firm Pose at Boxhagener Straße 16.
Five of his siblings managed to emigrate and tried to help their brother Arthur leave the country from the United States, unfortunately without success. Arthur’s sister Minna Lachmann had sent him a large amount of money but his access to it was restricted by the anti-Jewish laws in Nazi Germany. In his desperation, he apparently tried to circumvent these laws. Proceedings were sought against him for a currency offence, which probably posed an additional obstacle to him leaving the country. In 1952 his sister Minna stated in a letter to the compensation office: “My brother Arthur Zwirn was waiting for his visa to America in spring 1941. He had already received permission from the foreign exchange board to send his things. They were transported […] first to Switzerland”. Arthur Zwirn’s household and personal effects remained there until his heirs paid to take them out of storage after the war.
Arthur Zwirn was arrested during the last major raid targeting Jewish forced labourers, known as the “Fabrikaktion”, in late February 1943. Subsequently, the owner of the house where he lived at Bergstraße 6 (Karl-Mark-Allee 112), a master butcher named Grottke, kept Zwirn’s door key for himself and let his family use the street-facing apartment on the second floor. In January 1945 Grottke applied for compensation for the loss of rent payments from Arthur Zwirn, who had been “expelled by the Gestapo” from his house.
On 4 March 1943, Arthur Zwirn was deported to Auschwitz, never to return. His son Hermann, who was a student living with his wife Ruth and mother Martha at Innstraße 37 in Neukölln, was deported to Auschwitz with his wife and mother in early March 1943 and murdered there.