Albert Müller, The Israelsohn Family, The Maier Family, The Katzenstein Family
One of the occupants of Wilhelmstrasse 18 was Albert Müller. He was the last Chairman of the Minden Synagogue Community. He was born in Groß Rhüden in the Province of Hannover on 26th March, 1869. Neither the date that he moved to Minden, nor the date that his wife died, are known. They had a daughter, Erna, born in 1899, who also lived, with her family, at this address. Albert Müller was married a second time, to Agnes Rosenthal who was born in Bielefeld in 1898, and died in Minden on 22nd December, 1940.
For many years Albert Müller was also the President of a Group that supported poor travellers.
He was the owner of a Firm that made fashionable clothes, especially hats, and employed several workers. It was first located at Bäckerstrasse 9 but in 1929 it moved to Hohnstrasse 23. He was also the owner of the house at Wilhelmstrasse 18.
When the National Socialists came to power the family and the business suffered because of anti-Jewish boycott. In 1937 Albert Müller was forced to sell his business as part of cleansing the community of Jewish businesses. It was ‘purified’ and stayed a Fashion House but was now run by a Mrs Kaster. Müller was also forced to sell his house to a Doctor Luisa Laup who was also from Minden. From the monies he received from the sale he was forced to pay 4,000 Reichsmark, as Jewish Capital Tax, to the German Government. The rest was paid into a Bank Account that was blocked so that no one could use it. This money also went to the German Government when the account holder was deported. The Müllers were forced to live in houses, especially for Jews, in Heidestrasse 21 and later in Königstrasse 37.
Agnes Müller died on 22nd December, 1940. There are contradictory stories as to what happened to Albert Müller. The only historically confirmed details are those taken from the International Lost Persons Tracing Service at Arolsen, which says that he was arrested at the end of July, 1942, was deported to the concentration camp at Theresienstedt, through Bielefeld. Two months later he was taken to the concentration camp, Treblinka where all trace of him is lost and where he was murdered on an unknown date.
After deportation his furniture and other belongings were seized and most of it was described in the records as disappearing without trace. The remainder was sold at auction for 139,50 Reichmarks, this amount going to the Finance Office, Minden.
One of his nephews, Hans Israelsohn, who later called himself John Sonn, survived the Nazi Regime. In the 1950’s he sued the now owner of the house for recompense. The buyer of his grandfather’s house had to pay him, as the only surviving relative, 28,000 Reichsmarks.
The Israelsohn Family
Also in the house belonging to Albert Müller at Wilhelmstrasse 18, lived the five members of a Jewish family called Israelsohn, also known as Sonn.
Julius, who was born on 29th October, 1898, moved to Minden from Vörden, near Höxter, after his marriage to Erna Müller, who also lived with their family at this address. She was born 5th March, 1899, and was Albert Müller’s daughter. She worked in her father’s Fashion Firm at Hohnstrasse 23 and made Hats. Her husband, Julius, also worked there, and became her father’s business partner.
The pair had three children, a daughter Gerda, born in 1925, a son Hans, born in 1927 and Günter born in 1928. All the children suffered under Nazi discrimination and persecution as Jews, were expelled from state schools. Gerda, who was expelled from girls Primary School attended the Jewish Domestic School in Ahlem near Hannover from May 1940 until December 1941, at which time she returned to live with her parents.
The clothes firm belonging to Albert Müller and Julius Israelsohn suffered, like all Jewish businesses, under the Jewish Boycott implementation which began in 1933 and which was organised by the Socialist Workers Party. They were forced to sell the firm in 1937 or ’38 and it became Elsa Kaster Fashions.
The family was now without income and reliant on support from Albert Müller.
After the 1938 November Pogrom Julius Israelsohn was arrested and taken to the concentration camp at Buchenwald but was released at the end of September, 1940. In 1941 the family was forced to leave it’s home and moved to the so-called ‘Jewish House’ at Heidestrasse 21, together with other Jewish families who shared the same fate.
In the Minden Town Administration Report 1941/42 it states that on 13th December, 1941, in compliance with exclusion of Jews from German Territory 25 Jewesses and Jews had been ‘evacuated from Minden to Riga. Among them were the whole Israelsohn family. The Family became separated in the Riga Ghetto, Julius and Erna being sent to the concentration camp Kaiserwald in August, 1943, where Juliuswas killed in 1944. Erna was sent to concentration camp, Stutthoff and died there in February, 1945. Gerda also died in Stutthoff but the date is unknown. Günther went from the Ghetto, Kowno, to Stutthoff and from there was deported to Auschwitz and is thought to have been murdered there, together with other children, in December 1944.
Hans Isrealsohn was transported from Riga to Stutthoff, Kaiserwald, Buchenwald und Theresienstadt where he was freed on 5th May, 1945. He was the only member of the family who survived the Nazi Regime and extermination. In 1945 he returned to Minden then lived in Osnabrück from 1947 until 1948 when he emigrated to the USA. There he changed his name from Hans Israelsohn to John Sonn and died there in 1988.
The Maier Family
Karl Maier and his wife, Jenny, only lived in Minden for one and a half years before they were deported and killed because of their Jewish religion.
Karl Maier was born on 20th April, 1879 or 1880, in Horkheim near Heidelberg and dealt in Livestock. His wife’s maiden name was Jenny Loebmann and she was born on 5th November, 1883, in Wollenberg in the district of Heilbronn. The couple had two children, son Justin, born in 1909, and Erna, born in 1912, whose married name was Levy.
The family lived, firstly, in Sontheim in the Heilbronn area and later moved to Wollenberg, where they owned and lived on a farm. The father and son had a successful livestock business which they ran from their farm, and in which Jenny probably dealt with the office side of things. In 1933 the business suffered badly under the anti-Jewish Boycott measures. In 1937 the concession for dealing in livestock was revoked which meant their financial ruin.
After the November 1938 Pogrom Karl Maier was arrested on the 11th of that month and taken to Dachau from where, on 15th December, 1938, he was released.
In the autumn of 1940 Karl and Jenny Maier left Wollenberg to stay with their son who had moved to Hausberge. At the beginning of January, 1941 they moved to Minden, at first to the Kleinen Domhoff and later to Wilhelmstrasse 18.
At the end of July 1942 they were arrested, together with many other Minden Jews and taken to Bielefeld from where they were deported to the concentration camp, Theresienstadt, where Karl Maier was probably murdered on 12th October, 1943. His wife, Jenny, was taken to Auschwitz on 15th May, 1944, where she was killed. Both were officially declared dead on 15th December, 1945.
Both of the Maier children survived, Erna managing to flee Germany. Justin was deported to the Riga Ghetto and returned after being set free.
The Katzenstein Family
The Katzenstein family, Sally and Gietha, also lived at Wilhelmstrasse 18 from 1935 until 1941.
Sally Katzenstein was born on 10th April, 1890, in Jesberg, North Hessen and Gietha Nußbaum, who later became his wife, was born on 5th August, 1891, in Rhina which is also in North Hessen. They married in 1913 and had two daughters. Elfriede was born in 1914 and her surname changed to Berliner on marriage and the ten year younger Ruth Rika’s changed to Rosenberg. Both daughters were able to leave Minden for other countries before the outbreak of war. They later lived in Tel Aviv and Glasgow.
Sally Katzenstein was a teacher and a preacher. He taught in an Israeli school in Breitenbach, North Hessen, from 1911 and from 1921 until 1934 at the state school in Soest. At both schools he also had the responsibility for teaching four hours each week at a school for further education. In Soest he was preacher to the Synagogue congregation.
Shortly after the National Socialists took over power on the 7th April, 1933, the law for the Reinstatement of the Career Civil Servants was passed. This was to enable the removal of unwanted officials, especially Jews, from governmental posts. Sally Katzstein also fell foul of this law and on 29th March, 1934, lost his occupation as a teacher.
On 1st September, 1935, the family moved to Minden and found a home in Wilhelmstrasse 18. Sally Katzenstein became the local representative for the National Association of Jews in Germany and later preacher to the Synagogue Community. As Jewish children were banned from State schools he held lessons in private rooms.
After the November Pogrom of 1938 Sally Katzenstein was required to pay 1.400 Reichsmark tax on his fortune. These taxes were cynically called ‘Jewish PunishmentTax’. With this money the Jews had to pay for damage that had been done to their property, by others, during the Pogrom
In 1939 the family tried to emigrate to Palestine but only their daughter, Ruth Rika, was given permission to leave. Her sister, Elfriede, had emigrated in 1936. In 1941 Sally and Gietha submitted an application to emigrate to the USA and permission was granted but then was foiled by the USA entering the war.
In 1941 the Katzensteins were forced to leave their home and to move into the so called Jewish house in Kampstrasse 6, The Jewish community house together with lots of other Jews, in very cramped conditions.
In the spring of 1943 Sally and Gietha Katzenstein were the last Jews living in Minden but they were arrested and taken to Bielefeld and from there were deported to Teresienstadt. From there they were taken separately to Auschwitz where they were both murdered in October 1944.