Herbert Sänger was born on 3 May 1905 in Wongrowitz (now Wągrowiec, Poland) in what was then the Prussian province of Posen. He was the third of six children born to Jewish husband-and-wife Isaak (c. 1868-1949) and Sara (née Nathan, 1872-1957) Sänger. After completing his school education, he trained to become a furrier. His father was a master shoemaker and ran a shoe-shop in Wongrowitz. After the First World War, the town fell to Poland under the Treaty of Versailles and the Sänger family moved to Berlin in 1923.
In around 1933 Herbert Sänger moved with his parents into a newly built apartment at Landsberger Straße 92 in Mahlsdorf. Here he ran a furriers’ workshop with his business partner Michael Wilpert. At first, business was brisk; their clients included the department stores Karstadt, Jandorf and KaDeWe as well as various fur-trade companies. Herbert Sänger’s father had not been able to start a new business in Berlin but Herbert was able to provide for his parents.
In around 1937/38, Herbert Sänger married Gertrud Golde, a qualified chemical engineer, born in Berlin in 1912. In late 1938, he was forced to give up his business under the Nazis’ “decree on the elimination of Jews from the German economy”. His business partner, who was also Jewish, emigrated to England the same year. The following year, a large part of Herbert Sänger’s family also managed to leave Nazi Germany. His parents, his brother Alfred and his sisters Lucie and Ruth (both named Adamski after marrying) emigrated to Brazil. They all settled in São Paulo apart from his youngest sister Ruth, who settled in Porto Alegre. His elder sister Jenny (whose married name was Stern) emigrated to the United States and later lived in Chicago.
Herbert Sänger stayed in Berlin, where he lived with his wife and, for a time, his second youngest sister Edith (whose married name was Markus) at Wallnertheater Straße 31 (a parallel street to Holzmarkt Straße in Mitte, which no longer exists) and later at Dresdner Straße 97 in Kreuzberg. His last occupation was on a building site, probably performing forced labour. On 19 February 1943, his sister Edith was deported to Auschwitz. Shortly afterwards, during the Nazis’ “factory campaign” in late February 1943, Herbert Sänger was also arrested and deported with his wife Gertrud on the “33rd transport to the East” on 3 March 1943 to Auschwitz. Here, they were exploited as work-slaves. The last time family members heard anything from his wife was in autumn 1944. Gertrud Sänger, like her sister-in-law Edith Markus, was murdered in Auschwitz. Herbert Sänger was taken to the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp on 29 January 1945. He was murdered there, aged 39, shortly before the camp’s liberation.