Open wide! A peek into the German Jewish collections

11 October 2016

By Samira Teuteberg

Mallachow practising dentristy, SxMs 170/3/2

Mallachow practising dentristy, SxMs 170/3/2

The German Jewish collections of the University of Sussex at The Keep can be full of surprises. When cataloguing one of these collections, I came across a small number of letters from Louis Mallachow, dentist in Bromberg (now Bydgoszcz in Poland) to his daughter Regina and his son-in-law, Siegfried Kroner. In the top left-hand corner of one of the letters, I found a very small image attached showing a dentist practising on a patient.

Although the picture is tiny and had the top-right and bottom-left corners removed, the scene is very clear. The patient’s face is not visible, but we can make out the chair he is sitting in and we can see some of the instruments Mallachow is using. The dentist himself is obviously proud of his work and, while we know he was an amateur photographer himself, we can only speculate on who took this image.

Letter from Louis Mallachow to his daughter and son-in-law, SxMs 170/3/2

Letter from Louis Mallachow to his daughter and son-in-law, SxMs 170/3/2

The letter the image is attached to is dated 31 July 1891 and was sent the same year, after the birth of Louis Mallachow’s granddaughter Eveline, who later brought it to the UK when she fled from Nazi rule in 1934.

Further correspondence reveals that Mallachow was very enthusiastic about photography and tried to pass this on to his son-in-law, who might not have been quite as excited. This extract from a letter of 30 December 1892 from Louis Mallachow to Siegfried Kroner states:

[…] ‘Was nun die Photographie betrifft, so muss ich mich über dein Kopfzerbrechen sehr wundern. Dazu gehörst du für schwere 20 Mark dem grossen Berliner Photographen Verein an?

Dazu unterhalte ich seit 2 Jahren mit dir einen lebhaften Briefwechsel über Photographie??

Dazu schickte ich dir selbstgefertigte Photographien u. machte dich auf meine Fehler aufmerksam???

Dazu habe ich dir für 25 Mark einen vorzüglichen Apparat kaufen u. dich unterrichten lassen ????’ […]

[…] ‘When it comes to photography I am very surprised about your queries. Given that you belong, for a hefty 20 Marks, to the great Berlin Photography Club?

Given that I have had two years of lively correspondence with you about photography??

Given that I sent you self-made photographs and showed you my errors???

Given that I have bought you an excellent camera for 25 Marks and paid for your course????’ […]

He continues to explain the best ways of lighting when taking pictures of people indoors and what can and can’t be done.

‘Ferner weiss u. muss jeder Laie wissen, dass wenn jemand – hier Frl. N. – dem einfallenden Licht vis-a-vis im Operationsstuhl sitzt, dessen schwach blaue Augen nicht noch schärfer sein können, wenn dem Photographen jede retouche darin verboten worden ist.’

‘Furthermore every amateur must know that if someone – in this case Miss N. – sits opposite the incoming light in the operating chair, her eyes will not come out any sharper if the photographer is not allowed to retouch the photo.’

Unfortunately, the image of Miss N[eumann] (who was Dr Mallachow’s housekeeper) in the operating chair does not survive, and neither do any of his other photographs. Nevertheless, the diaries, photographs and correspondence from the Mallachow family give a rich insight into the domestic life of a Jewish family in Germany before the Holocaust. If you would like to find out more about the collection, you can access the catalogue of the SxMs170 Gerda Sainer Collection and browse the hierarchy.

 

Restitution cases in the Ilse Eton Papers

2 September 2016

By Samira Teuteberg

Thanks to the work of the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex, Special Collections holds a number of collections of family papers donated by people who came to the UK as refugees in the 1930s and 1940s. Recently, the University has been able to secure project funding to catalogue and digitise these archives to make them more accessible and to invite researchers and educators to use them. Having worked on the German Jewish collections previously, I started by cataloguing the Ilse Eton Papers, which contain the paperwork of a number of restitution cases (claims for compensation by victims of Nazi persecution). I always assumed that restitution cases were mostly about formalities and legal jargon, but these were far more interesting and insightful than I had expected.

Photograph of Leo Einhorn, from his restitution papers

One story that stood out for me was that of Leo Einhorn, the successful owner of a furrier business (Pelzmoden Einhorn) in Berlin. His son, Bruce Eton (formerly Bruno Einhorn), had arrived in the UK before the outbreak of war and joined the British Army. At the end of the war in 1945, he was stationed in Berlin, where he found his father Leo, who had been living in hiding throughout the war. In 1946, Bruce was demobilised and returned to the UK, and his father Leo followed to London a few months later, where he eventually settled.

After the war, some restitution claims were dealt with by the Allied Forces, before West Germany instated the first Bundesentschädigungsgesetz (restitution legislation) in 1953, which evolved until its final version in 1965. Once the law had come into existence, Leo Einhorn made his claims and his son helped him with the correspondence. As a result, the paperwork in the collection consists mostly of correspondence between Leo and the United Restitution Office (URO) in London, which advised him and represented his case in the German courts.

Leo’s letters show how difficult and frustrating it was for the victims of persecution to bring evidence for their losses at a time when the legislation remained in a state of flux:

 ‘Als ich wie ein gehetztes Tier mich in Deutschland umhertrieb, habe ich [mich] nur damit befasst mein naktes Leben zu retten, und nicht eine Aktentasche mit Dokumenten mit mir herumzutragen.’

‘When I was roaming Germany like a hunted animal I focused on saving my life, not on carrying a briefcase full of documents with me.’ [1]

In this restitution case paperwork, we also get a glimpse of Leo’s life during the war. For him, as for many others, living in hiding meant finding people who would let him to stay in their homes at night or let him sleep in shops or warehouses. During the day, he had to be out in the streets – all day and every day. Occasionally he was picked up by police, but he was able to always come up with a good story. During this insecure time, when he depended on the kindness of others, he suffered a hernia through severe malnutrition, had ulcers and was in a very bad state of health. When in 1963 he claimed for damages to his health resulting from a life in hiding, he had difficulty proving to the authorities that this had been a direct result of persecution and his life in hiding.

‘Die Röntgenuntersuchungen des Dr G. F[] macht es ganz klar, dass die Narben von frueheren Geschwueren vorhanden sind. Da Herrn Einhorn waehrend der Verfolgungszeit der Luxus von Roentgenuntersuchung und aerztlicher Beratung nicht zur Verfuegung stand, sind diese Geschwuere erst spaeter entdeckt worden. Jeder Arzt weiss, das Zwoelffingerdarmgeschwuere durch Sorgen und Aerger verursacht weren, denen Herr Einhorn, wie sie wissen waehrend der Nazi-Zeit in grossem Masse ausgesezte war, da er ja die ganzen Kriegsjahre in Berlin verbrachte.’

‘The X-ray examinations by Dr G. F[] clearly showed scarring from previous ulcers. Since, during the time of persecution, Mr Einhorn did not have the luxury of X-ray examinations or medical advice, these ulcers could only be discovered much later. Every medical practitioner knows that a duodenal ulcer is usually caused by worries and concerns, which Mr Einhorn, as you know, had plenty of during the Nazi time, considering he lived in Berlin throughout the war.’ [2]

One day in April 1944, Leo Einhorn was picked up by the police in Berlin. When questioned, he pretended to be non-Jewish and gave his name as Heinz Schulz, who had lost his paperwork due to the bombings. He was questioned as to why he was not with the Wehrmacht and they examined his suitability for the army – but he was rejected from any kind of service on medical grounds. In 1944, Leo Einhorn saw that the army drafted every male they could possibly find, including amputees, children and the elderly. Therefore, in 1963, this rejection document was to him clear evidence of his terrible state of health, but legal advisors at the URO in London considered a reliance on this medical record totally absurd.

Correspondence relating to Leo Einhorn’s restitution claims, including an Ausmusterungsbescheid or rejection statement, SxMS169/4/5

 

Having been intrigued by Leo’s story, I looked up the address of his Pelzmoden business, which he gave as Friedrichstrasse 46, at the junction with Zimmerstrasse. If I had been more familiar with Berlin, I would have known straight away that this is the place where, later, the famous Checkpoint Charlie stood between East and West Germany. As I am now moving on to catalogue the next German Jewish collection, I hope someone else will find out more about Leo Einhorn’s story.

If you would like to see the originals of his restitution case, search The Keep’s catalogue for the Ilse Eton Papers SxMs169 and Browse the Hierarchy.

 

[1] SxMs169/4/3 letter Leo Einhorn to Dr J Goldstein United Restitution Office (URO) London, 3 December 1954.

[2] SxMs169/4/5 letter Bruce Eton to the URO not to accept a previous ruling on Leo Einhorn’s claim for damages to his health, Hastings, 19 January 1962.