Jakob Bergoffen was born on May 15th, 1892 in West Prussia in a town called Podgorz in the province Thorn (today: Podgórze/Poland). He and his wife Felli, née Singer, had two sons: Max was born in 1921 and Leo was born in 1922. The family lived in a spacious apartment in the yard VIII, staircase H in the big building of the Hackesche-Hof complex in the Rosenthaler Street 40/41 in Berlin. Jakob Bergoffen had a paint and varnish store in the nearby Oranienburger Street 12, where his wife, too, worked.
As many others, the economic and social pressure hit the Bergoffen family after 1933 – customers stayed away, and the turnover and benefit figures sank continuously. Finally Jakob Bergoffen was forced to sell his enterprise. Due to the economic emergency the negotiated price was, as usual, far lower than the equity. But even the agreed minimum price should never be paid in total by the acquiring party.
Because of the increasing harassments and attacks against Jewish inhabitants, the couple decided to emigrate to an alleged safety abroad. In the summer of 1938 the family moved to Prague. When the Wehrmacht marched into the city in the wake of the Munich Agreement and the break-up of the rest of Czechoslovakia in the following March, the couple and their younger son Leo managed to reach one of the last trains to France. Their son Max remained in Sudetenland for some months and visited a school for the time being. He then managed to reach England with a refugee transport. There he enlisted voluntarily for the Air Force and fought on the British side.
The second flight of Jakob, Felli and Leo Bergoffen ended in the city of Angers (Loire), where the family settled down and was able to live a fairly undisturbed life for some years. But in the middle of July 1942, they were arrested by French gendarmes and were deported from the station Angers-St. Laud to Auschwitz on July 20th, 1942. In this “convoy Nr. 8” more than 800 people were carried off from the occupied zone in France to the East, amongst them 200 French citizens. For the moment 390 women and 411 men were registered in the labour camp; 26 people died immediately after their arrival in the gas chambers.
The elderly couple Bergoffen was also murdered in Auschwitz. Jakob Bergoffen died on August 31st, 1942, the date of death of his wife Felli remains unknown.
Their son Leo managed to survive till the liberation of the camp on January, 27th 1945. He returned to Angers after the end of the war.
Max Bergoffen and his wife emigrated to Canada after the war.