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Meta Pohle (born Silberstein)

Stolperstein für Meta Pohle, Foto: OTFW
Bismarckstraße 108

Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf – Charlottenburg

04/15/1898 in Neumark (Westpreußen) / Nowe Miasto
on the 26th of October 1942 to Riga
10/29/1942 in Riga

Meta Pohle, b. Silberstein, was born on 15 April 1898 as the eldest surviving child of Schmul and Ernestine Silberstein in Neumark (Nowe Miasto) near Löbau / West Prussia. After the birth of two other children, the family moved to Berlin. One of the brothers was Hermann; the other died from pneumonia as a young man. Exactly on Meta's 9th birthday the twin siblings Bianka and Martin were born.

Meta's father was a self-employed in the clothing business; the family was well-to-do and lived in a large flat in Charlottenburg's Fritschestraße. The eldest brother Hermann soon established himself as a successful merchant and manufacturer for women's garments. He enlarged his stores several times and at last count had around 10 employees. On November 10, 1938, he and his father experienced the “Reichspogromnacht" in his store on Kronenstraße in the clothing district. Hermann narrowly escaped the cudgeling mob with severe head injuries; covered in blood, he was taken to a clinic by a taxi driver. Hermann survived, but nearly deafened due to inner bleeding; his store and warehouse were looted and destroyed. The few items that his father barely managed to save from destruction were ordered to be sold by the authorities way below value a short time later.

This may have been one of the most dramatic experiences the family had to suffer, marking not only the climax of systematic deprivation of rights and humiliation, but also the onset of drastic social decline and the disruption of the family. Hermann, Martin and Bianka managed to flee from Germany between in 1938 and 1940. Later, all three took on the family name “Spencer”. Bianka lived on in London as Bianca Spencer. Hermann first fled to Shanghai; after nearly 10 years in that exile he was permitted to immigrate to the United States. As Herman Spencer he first lived in New York and finally moved to San Francisco. Martin Spencer managed to emigrate to the US directly; during his last years he lived in Los Angeles. All three surviving siblings' lives remained heavily encumbered by the loss of livelihood and lack of career prospects, economic hardships and significant persecution-related health problems.

Meta was the only sibling remaining in Germany, presumably to take care of her parents. Meta was divorced when she met Bruno. Her last employment was at the Jewish retirement home Artilleriestraße 31, where Bruno's mother was accommodated during her last years. Meta and Bruno married in 1942. Shortly afterwards, on October 8, 1942, they were forced to move to Philippistraße 8. Only two weeks later, on October 26, 1942, the couple was crammed into a freight train with 798 other people and taken to Riga. Those, who had survived the three days' journey, were shot dead in a forest near Riga on the day of their arrival.

Meta's parents had to witness the deportation of their daughter. But their suffering would not end there. Less than two months later, on 16 December 1942, they were deported to Theresienstadt in one of the 123 so-called “Alterstransporte”. The mother died from an alleged "heart muscle degeneration" in August 1943; the father survived until May 1944.

Stolpersteine for Meta's parents, Hermann, Bianka, Martin and his wife Kato will be laid in front of the family home in Fritschestraße in 2019.

Biographical Compilation

Kerstin Pohle ergänzt von Helmut Lölhöffel

English Translation

Kerstin Pohle