Jenny Posner was born on 25 October 1870 in Berlin, the daughter of Jewish husband and wife Gustav and Elise (née Linde) Posner. Her father owned a factory near Alexanderplatz that made silk bands and ribbons for wreaths and supplied gardening shops across the country. In April 1894, aged 23, Jenny Posner married Simon Salzmann, a tradesman from Deutsch Eylau in West Prussia (now Iława, Poland). They had two daughters, Erna and Edith, born in March 1896 and March 1900. In around 1904, Jenny’s husband and brothers Georg and Martin took over her father’s business. Martin Posner was declared missing in action during the First World War and Simon Salzmann and Georg Posner were left to run the business alone. Jenny Salzmann and her family lived in Berlin-Mitte before moving to Karlshorst in around 1915.
In 1917, Simon Salzmann bought a house at Kaiser Wilhelm Straße 16 in Karlshorst (which became Lehndorff Straße 29 in 1934) that he named ‘Villa Jenny’ in honour of his wife. When the apartment on the upper floor became vacant, their daughter Edith moved in with her husband Walter Rosenthal and their daughter Beate, born in 1925. Jenny Salzmann’s mother also lived with them until she died, aged 91, in the mid-1930s. For several years, then, four generations lived under one roof. Religion was not a major issue in the Salzmann household. The family gathered for a meal on Sundays, not on the Sabbath, and did not observe kosher rules. Jenny Salzmann only attended services with her husband and son-in-law on High Holy Days, in the assembly hall of Karlshorst grammar school, which the Jewish Community hired for the purpose.
After the Nazis seized power, the family business’s sales plummeted. Jenny Salzmann’s son-in-law, who worked as a representative for the business, was increasingly told by customers that they feared repercussions if they continued buying from Jewish suppliers. At home in Karlshorst, too, the anti-Jewish climate grew steadily rougher. When a banner appeared over the entrance to the S-Bahn station with the words, ‘the Jew lives with lies and dies with the truth’, Jenny Salzmann’s daughter Edith and her husband Walter knew they had no future in Germany. In March 1936, they and their eleven-year-old daughter Beate boarded a ship bound for Palestine, where they lived as farmers in Naharija, a new settlement on the Mediterranean. Jenny and Simon Salzmann visited them in autumn that year but could not be persuaded to stay. They were too shocked at the starkness of their living conditions: a one-room metal hut.
Jenny Salzmann’s brother Georg also left Nazi Germany. He emigrated with his second wife and daughter Ruth to England in 1939. His son Gustav, who had studied medicine but been prevented from practising as a doctor under Nazi law, took his own life before 1937.
The Salzmann family got together one last time in February 1938, to celebrate Simon Salzmann’s 75th birthday. Even Edith came with her family from Palestine for the occasion. A few weeks later, the family business was sold, well under value. The following year, Jenny and Simon Salzmann were also forced to sell the villa in Karlshorst. They lived for almost two years as subtenants at Wullenweber Straße 9 in Berlin-Tiergarten. By late 1941, Jenny Salzmann had a heart condition and could no longer run a household, so the Salzmanns went to live in the Jewish home for the elderly on Iranische Straße. In July 1942, Simon Salzmann sent a card to his daughter Edith via the Red Cross. It had only one sentence written on it: ‘We have to go away soon’.
On 13 July 1942, Jenny and Simon Salzmann were deported to Theresienstadt. Two months later, on 19 September 1942, they were taken on another transport to Treblinka and murdered. On the certificate of inheritance, Jenny Salzmann’s date of death is given as 22 September 1942.
Their elder daughter Erna (whose married name was Grindel) managed to survive. In 1947 she lived in Berlin. All that is known of her fate during the war is that she was arrested by the Gestapo and the entire contents of her apartment at Lessing Straße 13 seized, as stated in her application for compensation for the stolen property.