Clara Wollenberg, née Kessel, was born in Berlin on 24 May 1873, the eleventh child of Adolph Kessel, a businessman, and his wife Emilie, née Hirsch. The Kessel family lived on Alexanderstraße, not far from Alexanderplatz.
Around the turn of the century, Clara Kessel married Dr. Salo Wollenberg, a widower distinctly older than her, born on 30 April 1859 in Bobreck, Silesia. He was the father of three small children: Erna (born 1893), Rudolph (born 1894) and Caterina (born 1897).
Dr. Wollenberg was a medical practitioner. His surgery and home were at Pallasstraße 25 in Schöneberg. The Wollenberg family lived here until Salo’s death in 1928. Clara Wollenberg remained there for some time afterwards but moved to a three-room apartment at Alboinplatz 8 in Tempelhof in 1932. She is listed as the widow of a medical counsellor in the Berlin directories of the years 1932-1938.
In view of the Nazis’ increasing disenfranchisement and persecution of the Jewish population, Clara Wollenberg’s stepdaughter Erna emigrated to South Africa and her stepson Rudolph to Brazil. Her youngest stepchild Caterina had died in Naples, Italy, in 1924. Many of Clara’s siblings also managed to emigrate to the United States before it was too late, as did several of her late husband’s siblings. It is not known why she remained, virtually the only one of her family, in Berlin.
As the Nazis’ anti-Semitic measures intensified, Clara Wollenberg was forced to give up her apartment at Alboinplatz 8, and the costly furnishings were sold well below their real value. In 1939, Clara rented a room in the apartment of a family named Grund at Barbarossastraße 47 in Schöneberg. Two years later she was forced to move again. In May 1941, she moved into a partly furnished room at Giesebrechtstraße 18 in Charlottenburg. Here, she witnessed her fellow residents’ gradual deportation – 21 stumbling stones have now been laid for victims of the Shoah formerly resident at Giesebrechtstraße 18.
On 1 June 1942, Clara Wollenberg was ordered to complete a declaration of assets. She filled the form very conscientiously, knowing that her deportation was now imminent.
Seven days later, on 8 June 1942, Clara Wollenberg took her own life. She overdosed on sleeping pills.