Max Keller (photo 1930's) © Collection 2002.296, Case Nr. 2779, US Holocaust Memorial Museum Washington
Max Keller (photo 1930’s) © Collection 2002.296, Case Nr. 2779, US Holocaust Memorial Museum Washington
The course of the war had been decided by the beginning of 1945. It was only a matter of time until the allied forces had ended the Nazi government. Nevertheless, the Gestapo’s zeal to deport the Frankfurt Jews did not let up. 200 male non-Jewish partners of “mixed marriages” and “half Jews” were ordered to report for work in January 1945 by the “Organization Todt”. On 14 February 1945 the remaining persecuted who still remained in Frankfurt were ordered to report “for a foreign work assignment”, which really meant deportation to Theresienstadt. Only six weeks remained before the Americans arrived in March 1945,but none-the-less, 191 Frankfurt residents were deported, while 100 persecuted went into hiding at this time. The population was also much more prepared to provide the persecuted with a place to hide.

Max Keller contacted the Quaker Center in 1939 and offered the representative Rudolf Schlosser to help him find solvent citizens in the USA because the financial resources of the affidavits, which had been submitted to date were insufficient.

Charlotte Keller (photo 1930’s). © Collection 2002.296, Case No. 2779, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C.
Charlotte Keller (photo 1930’s). © Collection 2002.296, Case No. 2779, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C.
Max Keller and his catholic wife Charlotte had had a good chance to emigrate, because based on their number in the queue it would have been “their turn” in March 1939. However, despite the Quakers’ involvement it was not possible for them to emigrate. “By coincidence, I did not belong to the Jewish mixed marriage partners who were deported and killed in 1942/43”, he wrote after 1945. When the last big deportation took place in February 1945 he went into hiding on 14 February 1945 along with Friedrich Stein and Adolf Rothschild. They hid in a garden hut in Frankfurt-Rödelheim, which had been provided by Margret Stitz. Their wives provided them with food supplies. The numerous Gestapo interrogations intimidated the wives, but Mrs. Keller was strong enough to withstand the interrogation and continued to deliver the food supplies. The three men survived the liberation.

 

Sources: Studienkreis Deutscher Widerstand 
1933-1945 Frankfurt/Main and US Holocaust 
Memorial Museum Washington D.C.

 

 

Erich and Emmi Gerber (1940’s). Daughter Erika supplied her mother in her hiding place in February/March 1945 (1942). © Dr. Bettina Sandritter
Erich and Emmi Gerber (1940’s). Daughter Erika supplied her mother in her hiding place in February/March 1945 (1942). © Dr. Bettina Sandritter
For two years Erich Gerber “bribed” an informant who “watched over” his wife at the Gestapo. This concerned in reducing the number of hours his wife had to work by forced work assignments and to provide sufficient warning about a planned deportation. However, Erich Gerber did not trust the informant’s services. As a precaution he furnished a room in a partially bombed out house located at Feldbergstrasse 10. Shattered windowpanes were sealed with cardboard; there was no longer any heating. It was there that Emma Gerber escaped. The husband Erich, who had refused to divorce his Jewish wife had been transferred to the forced labor camp in Clausthal-Zellerfeld in Harz in January 1945. Their daughter Erika who was the only person remaining in the parents’ house supplied her mother with food in her hiding place. She submitted a suicide to the Gestapo, in which her mother referred to her intention to commit suicide. Erika was placed under greater pressure, when as of 1 March 1945 two Gestapo civil servants were quartered in her parents’ house. During the day she worked in armaments factory; at night she supplied her mother with groceries. Friends helped her. A load dropped from her shoulders when the Americans liberated Frankfurt on 26 March 1945. She would remember this burden for the rest of her life.

The crossed out names on the deportation list dated 14 February 1945 refer to people who decided to go into hiding at the very last minute. For example there was Irene D. and her son who were hidden in the basement in Wielandstrasse by their former neighbor Berta Gies. Marianne M. was taken out of the deportation train by her uncle; father Müller hid his twins; mother Rosenberg brought her ten year old daughter to the Ries family in Steinau. The list of people, who managed to evade deportation at the last minute, is like a local directory: hidden by friends on Günthersburgallee, went into hiding in Offenbach, illegally in Stockheim, went into hiding with son in Röllshausen, hidden by the brother-in-law in Ulfa, by farmers in Rhön or found refuge in a small cellar. Most of the persecuted moved out of the city. They disguised themselves as refugees from the eastern regions, which had been conquered by the Red Army or as people fleeing air raids and hoped in this way to find acceptance amongst the rural population.

Several managed to avoid having their name appear on the list. In Elfriede Schöps’ case the manager of Franz Wagner & Sons got involved on her behalf. He convinced the Gestapo inspector Hummel that her work was crucial for the company. She was not deported, in contrast to other people forced to wear the yellow star. The employer August Weimer und the Gestapo informant Hans Baumann managed in the same way to save Ernestine Hoffman from being deported. Lili Scholz had already managed to get her mother released from Gestapo imprisonment through her connections and persistent discussions. It was an effort which lasted many weeks. Her mother’s name was crossed off of the deportation list after she agreed to forced sexual services.

In April 1945 the exile newspaper “Aufbau” printed the names of the 155 Jews who remained in Frankfurt after the city’s liberation by the Americans. They were almost all elderly persons who had been designated as “not transportable” by the doctor Dr. Alfred Goldschmidt.

Sources: Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Wiesbaden, Studienkreis deutscher Widerstand 1933-1945 in Frankfurt am Main. US Holocaust Memorial Museum Washington D.C., Conversations with contemporary witnesses and private photos. My heartfelt thanks to all those who lent photos.

[german version]

One thought on “Go into Hiding Prior to the Big Deportation in February 1945

  1. Untertauchen vor der letzten großen Deportation im Februar 1945 – rettungs.widerstand

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