Benno Simon was born on 13 December 1882 in the small East Prussian town of Labiau (now Polessk, Russia), north-east of Königsberg. He attended primary school there and later moved with his family to Berlin. His sister Gertrud had been born in August 1895.
In 1911 he married Lina Schwarz. A native of Berlin, she was six months his senior and Jewish, like him. Benno Simon became the commercial manager of ‘Apollo’ textile hire and laundry at Tempelhofer Ufer 17. He joined the company, employing some 200 members of staff, when it was founded in 1912 and was chiefly responsible for paying the drivers and managing the warehouse.
He and his wife had two sons, born either side of the First World War. Julius was born on 16 August 1912; Rolf Samuel on 2 May 1921. They lived in Prenzlauer Berg; at Raumer Straße 35 around the time their first son was born and later at Prenzlauer Allee 49 for many years, followed by number 41 from about 1932 to 1934. From here they moved into a 4-room apartment at Grell Straße 62. A short time later, in 1935, their elder son Julius emigrated to Argentina. He called himself Julio and worked as a chauffeur in Buenos Aires. The Simons lost contact with him in 1939 and Benno Simon never found out about the birth of his first grandchild in the early 1940s.
In late 1938 the Jewish owner of the ‘Apollo’ laundry company, Julius Moser, was forced to leave his business under the “decree on the elimination of Jews from the German economy”. As the business was completely “Aryanized”, Benno Simon was also sacked in March 1939. At about the same time, he moved with his wife and almost 18-year-old son Rolf Samuel to a ground-floor, courtyard apartment at Solinger Straße 10. His two unmarried sisters Ella and Gertrud moved in with them. In October the same year, Rolf Samuel emigrated to Palestine. He settled in Kiyat Haim near Haifa and worked as a docker.
Benno Simon, who remained unemployed after losing his job, was made to perform forced labour for the Adolf Saxen railway construction company at Lynar Straße 8 in Berlin-Grunewald. His wife also performed forced labour. On 31 August 1942, his sisters Ella and Gertrud were deported to Riga on the “19th transport to the east” (often dated as taking place on 5th September) and murdered shortly after their arrival.
On 26 February 1943, Benno Simon was deported with his wife on the “30th transport to the east” to Auschwitz and murdered there. His date of death is not known.