Selma Aronsbach née Goldemann

Location 
Große Präsidentenstraße 8
District
Mitte
Stone was laid
2008
Born
29 December 1895
Deportation
on 19 October 1942 nach Riga
Murdered
22 October 1942 im Ghetto Riga
  • Selma Aronsbach © OTFW
    Selma Aronsbach © OTFW

    Selma Aronsbach © OTFW

Sara Goldemann was born on 29 December 1895 in Berlin. Her father was Isidor Goldemann, a butcher; the name of her mother is not known. Very little information about Sara Goldemann’s family life, childhood, or youth in imperial Berlin exists, nor is it known whether she had any siblings. But it is most likely that her parents belonged to Berlin’s Jewish Community. From 1904 on, her father ran a stall (no. 178) selling meat products in the central indoor market in Mitte.

On 16 June 1921 Sara Goldemann married Paul Aronsbach, a merchant from Berlin twelve years her senior. Paul ran a wholesale scrap paper and cardboard business at Dircksenstraße 51 in Mitte. Sara moved out of her parents’ home at Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße 24 (now Karl-Liebknecht-Straße) and took an apartment with her husband at Raumerstraße 21. In 1924 their daughter Erika was born and in 1936 their son Manfred. In 1928 the Aronsbach family moved to Neue Königstraße 55/56 (now Otto-Braun-Straße) and in 1932 to an apartment at Alt-Moabit 105. Unfortunately, no records have survived to tell of the family’s life in Berlin during the Weimar Republic.

The gradual introduction of mechanisms to persecute Jews from 1933 on – or all those considered to be Jews under the Nazi state’s Nuremberg Laws – soon hit Sara Aronsbach and her family. They included numerous measures designed to exclude Jews from society and deprive them of their civil rights. 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 progressively stripped Sara Aronsbach of her rights. A police decree of 1 September 1941 “concerning the identification of Jews” was just one of the many new measures that had drastic repercussions. It meant that Sara could not leave her home without wearing a “yellow star” branding her as Jewish. In 1935 the Aronsbach family moved to Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße 12 (now Karl-Liebknecht-Straße) and, lastly, in 1940 to Große Präsidentenstraße 8 near the Hackesche Höfe. By the 1940s, at the latest, Paul, Sara and Erika were performing forced labour for various businesses in Berlin. Paul Aronsbach worked for Warnecke & Böhm at Goethestraße 15/16 in Weißensee. A key enterprise in the defence economy, the firm supplied protective coatings for the Nazi armaments industry and at times used over 350 Jewish forced labourers. Sara Aronsbach was a forced labourer at Firma Martin Michalski Uniformbetrieb, based at Große Frankfurter Straße 137. Erika Aronsbach was made to perform forced labour in the munitions factory Deutschen Waffen- und Munitionsfabrik Borsigwalde at Eichborndamm 103–122 in Wittenau.

Having been stripped of their rights, the Aronsbach family then faced deportation. Sara Aronsbach received a deportation notice in autumn 1942 and was interned with her husband Paul and children Erika and Manfred in one of Berlin’s assembly camps. On 19 October 1942, the family of four was deported from Berlin to the Riga ghetto, with the “21st transport to the East”. 46-year-old Sara, her husband, and her daughter Erika were labelled “able to work” on the deportation list. It is possible they were selected to perform forced labour in Riga before they were murdered in the ghetto, while part of a work crew, or in a Nazi extermination camp. In any case, none of the four members of the family were among the few survivors of the Riga ghetto.