Flora Flieg was born on 29 June 1869 in Berlin. Her parents were Michael Josef Flieg, a master tailor, and Amalie Martha Flieg, née Habermann. No records have survived of Flora Flieg’s family home, childhood, or youth, nor is it known whether she had any siblings. But it is most likely that her parents belonged to Berlin’s Jewish Community. After completing her schooling, Flora worked as a seamstress in Berlin.
On 8 October 1896, she married Leo Aronsbach, a bookbinder from Berlin, and took an apartment with him at Pestalozzistraße 71 in Charlottenburg. Here, on 9 November 1897, their daughter Margarethe was born. In 1899 the Aronsbachs moved to Große Hamburger Straße 33, where their daughter Lina was born on 21 June 1901. The family was struck by tragedy a year later when four-year-old Margarethe died in the Jewish hospital in June 1902. The couple’s third daughter, whom they named Ruth, was born on 27 July 1904. By that time the Aronsbachs lived at Auguststraße 26b, where Leo Aronsbach had also relocated the bookbinding and paperwork shop Buchbinderei, Perforier-, Paginier- & Etiketten-Schneideanstalt he had founded in 1896. The family was to move several more times before the end of World War I: to Große Hamburger Straße 29 in 1907; to Rosenthaler Straße 36 in 1910; to Rosenthaler Straße 10 in 1913; to Auguststraße 32 in 1914; and finally, to a third-floor apartment at Raumerstraße 9 in Prenzlauer Berg in 1918.
Soon after World War I, in October 1919, Flora’s father-in-law Moritz Aronsbach died in Berlin. Her widowed mother-in-law Ottilie lived at Raumerstraße 21 – within walking distance of Flora and Leo Aronsbach’s home – until her death in 1935; perhaps Flora and her husband cared for her in her last years. Flora’s daughter Lina divorced and remarried. She and her second husband Markus Hirschfeld, a master plumber from Strasburg an der Drewenz (Brodnica), had a daughter, Käthe Hirschfeld, born in Wiesbaden. Shortly after the birth, the Hirschfeld family moved to Palisadenstraße 55 in Friedrichshain, Berlin. Flora’s younger daughter Ruth began a commercial apprenticeship after leaving school and then worked as an accountant in Berlin. Unfortunately, no records have survived to tell of the family’s life in Berlin during the Weimar Republic.
The gradually introduced mechanisms to persecute Jews from 1933 on – or all those considered to be Jews under the Nazi state’s Nuremberg Laws – soon hit Leo Arensbach and his family. They included numerous measures designed to discriminate against and exclude Jews from society, to deprive them of their civil rights and oust them from the nation’s business and economic life. Anti-Semitic riots had already occurred in Berlin during the Weimar Republic; by the early 1930s, open violence had massively increased, with street fights, assembly hall brawls, and SA marches frequently occurring. From 1933 on, the Nazi authorities ensured racism became institutionalized; various decrees and special laws stripped Flora Arensbach of her rights. A police decree of 1 September 1941 “concerning the identification of Jews” was just one of many measures that had drastic repercussions. It meant that Flora could not leave her home without wearing the “yellow star” branding her as Jewish. In the 1940s, Flora’s husband was also made to perform forced labour. He worked at the Stolzenberg furniture factory at Lindenstraße 68 in Kreuzberg. Their daughter Ruth lived with her husband Kurt Herzog in her parent’s apartment at Raumerstraße 9, where she gave birth to their son Gideon on 19 December 1941.
Having been stripped of their rights, the Aronsbach family then faced deportation: Flora Aronsbach and her husband received a deportation notice in spring 1943. They were forced to leave the apartment at Raumerstraße 9 that had been their home for many years and were interned in one of Berlin’s assembly camps. From there, they were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto on 17 March 1943, with the “4th major transport of the elderly”. Flora Aronsbach was murdered in Theresienstadt in May 1943. Her 71-year-old husband Leo was deported further to Auschwitz extermination camp on 16 May 1944 and murdered there immediately on arrival.
Flora and Leo Aronsbach’s daughters and grandchildren were all deported to Auschwitz and murdered: Ruth, her husband Kurt Herzog, and their one-year-old son Gideon in February 1943; Lina, her husband Markus Hirschfeld, and their daughter Käthe on 17 May 1943.