Four members of the Rothschild family lived in the house at Yorck Strasse 88 until their deportation in the years 1942/43: Else Ruhemann, who was born Else Rothschild, and her son Kurt, along with her brother Georg and his daughter Charlotte.
The family tree of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founder of the bank of the same name, does not shed any light on how these four former residents of the house at Yorck Strasse were connected to their more famous relation. Up to their generation, the Rothschild family had extended branches in several countries, including Germany. In the list of Shoah victims, there are 559 people named Rothschild.
Moritz Rothschild, the father of Else Ruhemann and Georg Rothschild, came from Radegast. For much of their lives, Else Ruhemann and her brother Georg Rothschild lived together in the same building or even apartment. The home they shared the longest was at Kleinbeeren Strasse 4, north of the Landwehr Canal, roughly where there is now a multi-storey carpark behind a high-rise post office building. The family moved here in 1888, one year after the building’s construction.
Moritz Rothschild, Georg’s father, ran a “banking and commissions business” at nearby Wilhelm Strasse 144 (where the Willi Brandt house stands today). Subsequently, the family lived for ten years in Königgrätzer Strasse (now Stresemann Strasse 66), where Else and Georg were born.
Georg Rothschild was born on 4 October 1877. After completing an apprenticeship as a textiles wholesaler, he found employment with the company Peeck & Cloppenburg in Roß Strasse. On 20 August 1911, his daughter Charlotte was born. His wife Recha, née Hess, died just a short time later, in January 1913. The declaration of assets submitted by Kurt Ruhemann, Georg Rothschild’s nephew, contains information concerning a relation named Alice Rothschild who emigrated to Holland. So far it has not been possible to clarify the nature of her relationship to the other four, or establish what happened to her later.
In 1931, the family apparently suffered a major setback. Perhaps because of the Great Depression, Georg Rothschild was forced to give up his job and henceforth worked for the Reichsbahn railways. In addition, ownership of the house where the family lived was passed to a trust company and the entire family moved in to the neighbouring house at number 5.
They only stayed here for two years. In 1932, they moved to the house at Yorck Strasse 88. As the two children are not listed in any of the Berlin directories under their own addresses, it seems likely that the family all lived together from this point onwards. Else and Kurt Ruhemann lived on the first floor, staircase 5, in one room with a kitchen. They probably shared an apartment with Georg and Charlotte Rothschild, who occupied two rooms.
Georg Rothschild was the first of the four to be hit by Nazi terror. He apparently fell victim to a retaliatory action on 27 and 28 May 1942, in which 154 Jewish residents of Berlin were deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and shot, together with 96 Jewish prisoners of the camp. Various sources cite two possible reasons for this action. One is an attack by the Herbert Baum resistance group on the Nazi propaganda exhibition “The Soviet Paradise” (Das Sowjetparadies) in Berlin’s Lustgarten; the other, more likely, cause is the assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich, which had occurred a short time previously.
25 June 1942 is entered as Georg Rothschild’s date of death in the “secondary death book” of Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Georg’s daughter Charlotte was deported on 3 March 1943 on the “33rd transport to the East” – the fifth major transport after the launch of the “factory campaign” affecting a total of 1726 people – to Auschwitz. All trace of her is lost after her arrival on 4 March; she was probably immediately murdered. Following the “selection” procedure in Birkenau, 517 men and 200 women were sent to the camp as prisoners. All the other new arrivals – 1009 people – were taken straight to the gas chambers and killed.