Clara (Klara) Asch was born on 26 January 1877 in Frankfurt am Main, the daughter of Emanuel Falkenstein, a shoe-seller, and his wife Emma, née Cohn. In 1899 she married Martin Asch, a salesman, in Berlin. She and her husband had four children: Kurt (born on 10 January 1900), Hans (born on 16 July 1901), Ellen (born on 18 March 1909), and Rolf (born on 20 March 1918).
The Asch family’s first home was at Naunynstraße 69 in Kreuzberg. In 1920 they moved to an apartment at Barbarossastraße 41 in Schöneberg, where they lived until 1938. In 1939 Clara Asch and her husband were forced to leave their apartment and live as subtenants (of a widow, Fanny Fetter) at Münchener Straße 7.
Three of the Asch’s children – Kurt, Rolf and Ellen – were able to emigrate and so survived the Nazi period. Their son Hans, however, was deported to Riga on 5 September 1942 and murdered on arrival.
Clara and Martin Asch last lived as subtenants of Eugen Jacoby, a Jewish tradesman, and his non-Jewish wife Hedwig, at Motzstraße 27. On 2 March 1943, Clara and Martin Asch were deported on the 32nd transport to Auschwitz and probably killed immediately on arrival, on 3 March.
Their son Kurt, who worked as a commercial clerk at Tietz department store on Alexanderplatz, had married his non-Jewish colleague Johanna Karolina Kapaun (born 1907) in 1932. They left Germany for Belgium in August 1938. Their son René was born in Brussels on 14 March 1939. In 1940, Kurt Asch was imprisoned in the Gurs camp in the South of France but was able to escape in spring 1941 and return to his wife in Brussels. Their son René was temporarily placed in the care of nuns in the Belgian town Namur. After liberation, the family lived for some years in Coburg, Bavaria, before settling in 1950 in the United States, where Ellen Ash also lived. Curt Asch, as he was later known, died in Nebraska in 1986; his wife died in 1996. René Asch now lives in Berlin.
Hans Asch was born on 16 July 1901 in Berlin. His parents Martin and Clara Asch, née Falkenstein, also had three other children: Hans’ older brother Kurt (born 1900), his younger sister Ellen (born 1909) and the youngest of the family, Ralph (born 1918).
Hans Asch became a concert pianist. He married, but was divorced from his wife in the early 1940s. In 1939 he lived at Luther Straße 51 (now Keith Straße 14) in the Schöneberg district of Berlin, but on 21 July 1942 he moved to another apartment very close by, at Courbière Straße 1, also in Schöneberg, where he lived as a subtenant of Ms Sarah Elting. He was probably forced to move here.
He last worked at a textiles factory, Spinnstofffabrik Zehlendorf A.G., in Wupper Straße, Zehlendorf, as a forced labourer, paid 71½ pfennigs per hour.
On 28 August 1942, he diligently completed and signed a declaration of assets, as required before deportation. In the section on cash ownership, he declared “nothing”. His sole remaining assets were 7kg wood, 1kg potatoes, a two-part coffee set, a between-seasons coat, two ties, four collars and two pairs of socks. He did not fail to mention “approx. 2 undervests and 1 pair of mittens” that were still at his parents’ home at Motz Straße 27. He even took the trouble to add the following note of explanation under his signature: “Postscript: Slight variations are possible as the list was completed in absence of the apartment. Hans Israel Asch.”
Hans Asch was deported to Riga with the “19th transport to the East” on 5 September 1942 and murdered immediately on arrival, on 8 September 1942.