Erwin Leo Buchwald

Torstr. 126
Historical name
Elsässer Str. 95
Stone was laid
August 2010
08 April 1892 in Berlin
on 01 March 1943 to Auschwitz
in Auschwitz

Erwin Leo Buchwald was born on 8 April 1892 in Berlin. His parents were Moritz Ludwig Buchwald, a tailor and merchant, and Klara Buchwald, née Baerwald. Erwin had a younger sister named Charlotte Alice, who was born on 15 April 1893 in Berlin. At the time of Charlotte’s birth, the Buchwald family lived in an apartment at Magazinstraße 12 (now Neufertstraße) in Charlottenburg. No further records have survived to tell of the home life, childhood, and youth of Erwin Buchwald and his sister in imperial Berlin. But it is most likely that their parents belonged to the city’s Jewish Community.  

After completing his schooling, Erwin Buchwald embarked on a commercial career and worked in trade in Berlin. On 14 May 1911, when he was 19, his father Moritz died in Berlin. Erwin lived at Kufsteinerstraße 14 in Schöneberg at the time. In 1913, Erwin Buchwald was registered as resident in The Hague in the Netherlands. The exact length of his stay in The Hague, or the Netherlands, has not been documented but records show that by 1919 he had returned to Berlin.

After World War I his sister, who by that time was working as an office clerk, married Siegfried Glück, a merchant from Charlottenburg. Erwin, who then shared an apartment with his sister at Landsberger Straße 31 in Friedrichshain, was best man at the wedding. Two years later, in September 1921, Charlotte divorced and took her maiden name again. Erwin Buchwald was to remain single and childless. In the 1920s and 1930s he lived in his Friedrichshain apartment at Landsberger Straße 31. Unfortunately, no further sources exist to tell of his life in the German capital during the Weimar Republic.

The mechanisms gradually introduced from 1933 on to persecute Jews – or all those considered to be Jews under the Nazi state’s Nuremberg Laws – soon hit Erwin Buchwald 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. While Berlin had seen anti-Semitic riots during the Weimar Republic, by the early 1930s, open violence had massively increased, with street fights, assembly hall brawls, and SA marches becoming regular occurrences. The Nazi state ensured that racism became institutionalized, issuing various decrees and special laws that increasingly stripped the Jewish population of their rights. After the pogroms in June and November 1938, Erwin Buchwald’s sister managed to leave the country and arrived in Great Britain around New Year 1939. It is not known whether Erwin also planned to flee Germany. If he took any concrete steps towards leaving, they came to nothing. In 1939 he lived in an apartment at Elsässer Straße 95 (now Torstraße 126) in Mitte. By the early 1940s his life in Berlin had become a struggle to survive. 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 Erwin Buchwald could not leave his home without wearing the “yellow star” branding him a Jew.

Having been stripped of his rights, he faced deportation: On 1 October 1941 the Gestapo informed the Berlin Jewish Community of the imminent “resettlement” of Berlin’s Jews. Erwin Buchwald, who had been forced to give up his apartment in Elsässer Straße and last lived as a subtenant of Mr or Mrs Mondschein at Bayreuther Straße 20 in Schöneberg, was arrested in Berlin in late February 1943, during the Nazis’ “factory campaign” to deport the last Jews officially remaining in the capital. He was taken, aged 50, to one of the assembly camps in Berlin and deported on 1 March 1943 with the “31st transport to the east” to Auschwitz extermination camp and murdered there, probably immediately on arrival.

Erwin’s mother had died on 23 April 1941 in the Jewish hospital on Schulstraße. His sister survived the Nazi regime in exile in England.