Therese Felicia Rothholz was the youngest child – after her sister Bertha and her brother Alfred – of Martha and Julius Rothholz and was born on March 23, 1906, in Berlin. We do not know whether she learned a profession, but she spoke fluent English, as well as Spanish. Therese Rothholz married Franz Joseph Unger, who was born on April 27, 1899, in Schrimm (in the Prussian province of Posen) as the youngest son of Siegmund and Johanna Unger. Franz Joseph Unger was a mechanical engineer and had become the joint owner of a wholesale business in Berlin in 1924. Their only child, Heinz Joachim, was born on September 26, 1928.
In 1930 Therese and Franz Joseph Unger went into business for themselves with a laundry in Charlottenburg, at Leonhardtstrasse 20, and one in Halensee, at Johann-Georgstrasse 10. Both laundries were completely destroyed in the “Night of Broken Glass” in 1938 and could not be reopened. After that, Therese and Franz Joseph Unger worked as sales clerks – she at Kaufhaus des Westens and her husband at Karstadt in Neukölln.
They planned to emigrate to Chile or Bolivia with their little boy and were able to get visas. However, Franz Joseph Unger had paid the middleman with stocks and foreign currency he had not declared in the statement on assets that all Jews were required to submit, for which he was arrested at the beginning of 1939 and sentenced to eight months in prison in Plötzensee. After his release on September 30, 1939, he was put to work as a welder on road construction, while Therese Unger was ordered into forced labor in a factory.
They were unable to leave for Bolivia or Chile, since both countries were now refusing entry to Jews. The Ungers decided to send their eleven-year-old son to the Netherlands on a “Kindertransport,” a train taking Jewish children to supposed safety, and moved in with Therese’s mother, Martha Rothholz, at Friedbergstrasse 7. After Martha Rothholz was deported at the end of 1941, the house was confiscated and the Ungers were evicted and sent to live at Spandauer strasse 17 (today called Spandauer Damm).
In an operation on February 27, 1943, known as the “factory action,” the last approximately 11,000 Jews still living in Berlin – most of whom were forced laborers in arms factories or Jewish spouses of “Aryans” who had so far been spared – were arrested at their workplace in mass raids. Therese and Franz Joseph Unger were among those arrested that day.
Therese Unger was deported to Auschwitz on March 2, 1943, along with 1,755 others, from the Moabit freight station on Putlitzstrasse with the 32nd “Osttransport.”
She was just 38 years old at the time. She apparently first did forced labor in the Monowitz labor camp near Auschwitz. Her husband was among the 1,726 people who were sent to almost certain death one day later on the 33rd “Osttransport” to Auschwitz; a letter he wrote to his sister shows that he worked at the Monowitz camp in April 1943.
Therese Unger and her husband were murdered in Auschwitz.