Liesbeth Brandenburg

Rolandstraße 4
Stone was laid
03 July 2010
03 January 1885 in Kolberg (Pommern) / Kołobrzeg
on 15 June 1942 to Theresienstadt
15 April 1943 in Theresienstadt

Speech by Raymond Fromm (grandson of Julius Fromm) on the occasion of the laying of the Stolperstein on September 4, 2010

"Dear attendees!

Today, almost exactly 71 years after the outbreak of World War II, we are here in front of the villa where my grandfather Julius Fromm lived until 1938. In 1893, at the age of ten, he came to Berlin with his parents and seven siblings as a poor immigrant family from Konin in what was then Russian Poland. Here in the German capital he invented the first seamless condom and founded his innovative manufacturing company in 1919, which he brought to its peak thanks to his genius, tireless hard work and modern, inventive spirit. In the same year he founded the company, he moved here to Rolandstrasse 4 with his wife Selma and his young sons Max and Herbert, and my father Edgar was soon born here in this house on October 26th of the same year.

However, Julius' flourishing company soon became the object of envious robbery during the Third Reich, and so in July 1938 he had to submit to the forced sale and Aryanization of everything that he had built alone.
As compensation, so to speak, the Nazi authorities allowed him to save his life and emigrate from the German Reich to England, where he later died, four days after the end of the war on May 12, 1945, without seeing his villa again.
His three sons were already abroad, so there was no one to look after the house. Julius decided not to sell the house, but instead left it to Elvira Fromm, the wife of his older brother Salomon, as well as his sister Else (also called Esther) and her husband Willy Brandenburg.

From 1939 onwards, these three used and looked after the villa, and it didn't take long before the city authorities turned the villa into a so-called "Jewish house", i.e. other Jews living in the local area were forcibly quartered here until they were either sent to... committed suicide or were deported from this house east to the extermination camps.

We would like to remember the names of the three people who did not belong to the Fromm/Brandenburg family and for whom it was not possible to lay stumbling blocks today: the widowed Jenny Steinfeld née Blum, born in Eylau, West Prussia in 1865. She had to have hers
He left his middle-class apartment at Freiherr-vom-Stein Strasse 6 on September 29, 1941 and “with a heavy heart” moved to a room in Fromm’sche Villa. On August 27, 1942, she took her own life in despair. We also remember Charlotte Malinowski née Citron, born in Berlin in 1890, and her husband Wolf Malinowski**, a lawyer by profession, born in Pleschen near Posen in 1882. The Malinowksi couple had to move into the “Judenhaus” on Rolandstrasse in 1942 and had to vacate their room in the house at the end of February 1943. Three months later on May 18, 1943, they were deported to Auschwitz.

Not only did my grandfather's highly profitable company become the object of Nazi robbery, but after the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, which sealed the fate of European Jewry with the atrocity of the Final Solution, so did his Rolandstrasse Villa. At the end of 1942, the authorities decided to evacuate the house of its Jewish inmates in order to then hand it over as an attractive home to a favorite of the Nazi state, namely the war hero and SS Colonel Wolf Hagemann, who wore the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves. Despite construction stops due to the war, Hagemann ordered construction and additional work, for which he did not pay himself, but which was paid for from Julius Fromm's blocked bank account. In the summer of 1943, Colonel Hagemann and his family moved here and stayed until the end of April 1945, when he had to flee westward as quickly as possible from the advancing Russian army. In contrast to the Jewish inmates of the villa, Hagemann lived for almost four decades and died of natural causes in Bavaria at an old age in 1983. He never paid back the construction costs to the Fromm family!

A few months before Colonel Hagemann moved in, the authorities had cleared Rolandstrasse 4. Early on March 3, 1943, the Gestapo took away the three residents who were still living in the house:
firstly, Elvira Fromm née Silbergleit, sister-in-law of Julius Fromm and mother of Ruth Fromm, who is 90 years old and who, at the age of 90, made the long journey from New York to return to the city of her birth and to take part in the laying of the stumbling blocks today;
secondly, Else Brandenburg née Fromm and,
thirdly, her husband Willy Brandenburg, who was co-owner of another family company, Fromms Kosmetik. According to a report from a porter next door at the time, the three left the house with “only a little bundle and a travel blanket.” What little they took with them was not of use to them for long, as all three were deported to Auschwitz on March 6, 1943 on the 35th Eastern Transport.

The train arrived in Auschwitz on the morning of March 7, 1943. It is documented that 153 men and 65 women from this transport were selected for forced labor during a selection process that was carried out in Auschwitz immediately after a train arrived. The others were gassed on the same day, including Elvira Fromm, Else and Willy Brandenburg.
We are also laying a stumbling block here today in memory of Liesbeth Brandenburg, Willy Brandenburg's unmarried sister. Born in 1885 in Kohlberg, Pomerania, she lived at Rolandstrasse No. 4 from November 1941. She had to leave the house on July 5, 1942 and was then deported to Theresienstadt on the 22nd Berlin “Alterstransport”, where she died on July 15 April 1943 died.
Last but not least, today we also remember Berthold Fromm, Ruth Fromm's brother. His was a different, almost more tragic fate than gassing in an extermination camp. Berthold was arrested on November 20, 1941 for unknown reasons and taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Six months later, on May 18, 1942, the resistance group led by the Jewish communist Herbert Baum carried out an ineffective arson attack against the hate exhibition “The Soviet Paradise,” which was being shown in the Berlin Lustgarten. Soon afterwards, Heinrich Himmler personally ordered that 250 Jewish hostages be shot in retaliation for this Jewish atrocity. At the
At lunchtime roll call in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on May 28, 1942, orders were given that all Jews should come out. Berthold Fromm was among this group of Jews and was immediately selected for execution. For May 28, 1942, the officer in charge of the Oranienburg municipal registry office noted: “Shot on orders,” and gave the time of death
he arrives at 7 p.m.

None of the five we recall here were buried, but rather, in deliberate violation of Jewish custom that the dead should not be cremated, their remains were consigned to the flames. So they have no grave and therefore no tombstone that can serve as a memorial to their former existence. The stumbling blocks that we are laying here today should therefore serve as their gravestones.

The Fromm family is now scattered all over the world and today consists of my aforementioned cousin Ruth from New York, my cousin Henri-Jean and family from Paris and my own family who lives in London. We are all loyal to the sculptor Günther Demnig and the Teltow Evangelical Church District.
Zehlendorf, especially the head of the Stolperstein project, Mr. Michael Rohrmann, for their support. They made it possible for us to build a small, simple but important memorial to the five victims of the Holocaust here in front of their last place of residence.
We would also like to thank the current owners of Rolandstraße 4, Volker and Saskia Isensee, from the bottom of our hearts for their always positive support for our project. Unfortunately, Volker would no longer see this project being carried out because he was taken away from us too early six weeks ago due to a brain tumor. He would certainly have been very happy to see the stumbling blocks lying in front of his house, and we remember him today too.

Dear those present, one can only understand the present in terms of the past, in the great hope that there will be a better future without hatred, without murder, without envy, without robbery and without any racism.
The laying of these stumbling blocks will certainly commemorate the terrible events of the Third Reich and stand as a small but important memorial. Because anyone who intentionally overlooks and consciously forgets the events of the past will sooner or later be condemned to repeat them.

Thank you. Raymond Fromm"