„If we want to help the people who really need housing [...] then we have to remain selective. [...] We can't say that all pensioners must be given preference when it comes to allocating such housing as this would place large families and the sick at a disadvantage.“
Martha Henschke to the city council in a debate on the allocation of newly-built council accommodation, 3.4.1930
Martha Meyer came from a Jewish family and studied economics. She married the general practitioner Isidor Henschke and worked as a teacher at Sophien Gymnasium secondary school in Berlin during the First World War. She joined the DDP (German Democratic Party) and ran for Prenzlauer Berg council in 1920. She was not elected but replaced another councillor the same year and stayed on the council until 1933. She was her party's chief representative in the Berlin constituency and was elected to the DDP party committee several times. In 1929, her husband died and she became matron of Hufeland hospital. In 1933, she was dismissed for political and anti-Semitic reasons. Shortly afterwards, she became head of the central office of the Jewish community’s 14 old people's homes. Both her children, Ruth and Gerhard, emigrated to the US. In 1939, Henschke moved into a flat in Tiergarten which she was later forced to vacate because she was Jewish. She then lived in the Jewish hospital in Wedding. On 1.10.1942, her property was confiscated by the German Reich. According to Lucie Adelsberger she was taken away with Hannah Karminski, the head of the welfare department of the Reich Association of Jews, on 9.11.1942 and deported to Auschwitz in the 24th Osttransport on 9.12.1942. The death of Martha Ida Sara Henschke, born 19.6.1879 in Berlin, was recorded in the death books of Auschwitz on 3.6.1943. But according to Dr F. Hirschfeld, a friend of the family who worked at the Jewish hospital and survived, Martha Henschke was taken with him from the Jewish hospital to Lichterfelde on 9.11.1943. When Henschke's daughter Ruth Anselm Herzog applied for compensation after 1945, she declared that: an insane Gauleiter had demanded that 15 Jews be brought to him. When 17 people arrived, he made two stand back and had the other 15 shot before their eyes. One of the two was Dr. F. Hirschfeld. Tiergarten district court accepted this account, which Herzog had been told by Dr. Hirschfeld, and registered Henschke’s date of death on the basis of Herzog’s affidavit in 1961. Going by this version of events, Henschke must have been seized during the “Community Operation” of autumn 1942, in which 533 people who worked for the Jewish community and the Reich Association of Jews were selected by the Gestapo for deportation. They were ordered to report with their families to the assembly camp in Grosse Hamburger Strasse on 22.10.1942. For each person missing, a hostage was to be shot. When 20 of those summoned failed to arrive, the Gestapo detained 20 hostages, a few of whom were soon released. Seven leading employees of the Reich Association were shot dead on 20.11.1942 in Lichterfelde or Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Their names were recorded. Martha Henschke is not one of them.
Martha Henschke was a city councillor; 1929 nominated for election (DDP); 1930 nominated for election (DDP/Staatspartei); 1931–1933 nominated for election (Staatspartei).