What do we know about the Jewish family Banemann who lived at Burgstraße 16? The photograph of their daughter Inge in which she is wearing a light summer dress and smiling at us is well known and has been published often.
The story of Inge’s prayer book, which was discovered after she was murdered, is also well known. On a foto Inge is seen within a group of children in Metzgerstrasse. It was taken in front of the “Judenhaus” , the house where they were forced to stay . It is more difficult to get familiar with her older brother Erich.1929 at Chanukka the children of the Jewish community in Göppingen performed little stage-plays. A foto with the title “Prinzess Vergissmeinnicht´s Hochzeit” was taken. There Erich appears made up as little dwarf. Within the same period of time another foto of Erich exists, where he is seen with his class mates. He was a student at the Evangelical Boys’ School (Evangelische Knabenschule; today Uhland - Grundschule) where Karl Baun was his teacher. We could not get hold of any fotos of the parents, Hedwig and Stephan Banemann.
Mila Baumann’s memoirs, which she wrote in 1960, are often quoted. She writes about the Banemann parents: “Inge’s mother was a Göppingen citizen. They lived in a house in Burgstrasse crossing Freihofstrasse, where the bookbinder Dittus is located today. She (Hedwig Baumann) was a very pretty girl and later a very pretty woman. Mr. Banemann wasn’t originally from here, blond, didn’t look Jewish. They lived next to her parents’ house in the big house which is now the public health office.”
Company Josef Einstein & Sons
Her information about the properties are certainly correct. The house at Burgstrasse 12 (‘Dittus’) and the duplex at Burgstraße 14/16 both belonged to the Banemann / Wortsmann / Einstein family. The requirement for owning a house or property was a successful company. In this case it was the company “Felle und Pelzwaren Josef Einstein & Söhne” (Furs by Josef Einstein and Sons), which was founded by Hedwig Banemann’s grandparents Josef and Jette Einstein in 1867. Josef was from Jebenhausen and was a furrier by profession. In 1873 he moved his store to Göppingen and bought the above-mentioned house at the conjunction Burgstrasse 12. It even might have been that he himself had built the house. The couple’s sons were Adolph and Alfred, their daughter was Julie. In 1889 she married Mr. Nathan Wortsmann from Burghaslach in Bavaria. Wortsmann and his brother-in-law Alfred Einstein joined the company. Alfred’s younger brother Adolph soon took his place. After the founder Joseph Einstein died in 1898, they (Adolph Einstein and Nathan Wortsmann) took over full responsibility. The business probably prospered in the last decade before World War I. In 1908 the duplex at Burgstrasse 14/16 was built and across the street a piece of property with a storage building was bought.
Two deaths were probably the reason that the business declined. Adolph Einstein died in 1916, his brother-in-law and business partner Nathan Wortsmann two years later. The widows Karola Einstein and Julie Wortsmann took over the company after World War I at an economically difficult time.
Hedwig und Stephan Banemann: Handbag made of pearls & some Mole problems
Julie’s daughter Hedwig also got involved in the business. In 1916 she began to make hand-knitted beaded bags – a form of art quite common in Göppingen. She still continued her handicraft after marrying Stephan Banemann in 1921. Stephan Banemann was born in the Franconian city of Burgkunstadt in 1891. In the same year that he married Hedwig he became a partner in the family fur business. In 1926 Josef (Joe) Einstein, son of the late Adolph Einstein, joined him to help. In 1923 at the latest Josef Banemann learned about the abysmal depths of his new job. It was then that he was fined 5000 Marks for violating the mole protection law. What was this all about? Stephan Banemann sent out 6000 flyers that, among other things, detailed the conditions for purchasing mole skins. He innocently used the same promotional literature that the company had used the year before. At time being he knew nothing of the mole protection law from 1920.
Family bliss (?)
However this setback did not seriously disrupt their family bliss – in 1922 their son Erich Siegried was born and their daughter Inge Gudrun in 1930.How did the Banemann family live at that time? Ms. Frida Spindler who started working as a housekeeper for the Banemanns in May 1933 remembers the affluence in the household and the civilized and friendly atmosphere. Religion didn’t play a big role in the family and they seldom went to the synagogue. The family socialized with the Heimann and the Guggenheim families. Lilo Guggenheim talked about remembering boring Sunday afternoons, where the children had to join their parents on the promenades.
Dr. Wolfgang Esslinger, who grew up in the neighborhood, remembers the Banemanns as rather poor. He often observed Erich pulling a wagon full of packages with leather goods or skins to the post office. He especially remembers the situation when the company went bankrupt. The Banemanns offered to sell Mr. Esslinger’s father a piece of land and the deal went through. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been possible to determine the exact time that this took place so that the question of what role the Nazi laws played in this transaction remains unclear.
Erich Banemann visited the official Primary School. In 1936, when his sister Inge got to schoolage, the situation tightened up. Jewish children often got bullied of their ‘Aryan’ mates. Besides of that the curriculum confronted them with anti-semitic ideology. So the Jewish community founded a comparable school of general education for their Jewish offspring. The school was located within the Rabbis´ house in Freihofstrasse 46. The classmate of Inge, Beate Dörzbacher, kept a farewell present with the signature of Inge, confirming that she indeed had been a scholar to that new invented school. (See Stumbling Stone biography Fritz Erlanger)
It is known that as of 1937 Jewish businessmen and manufacturers were greatly discriminated against and forced to sell their companies. In this case it was the Württemberg financial administration (Staatsrentamt Ulm) that took action and was listed as owner of the house at Burgstraße 14/16, which used to belong to Karola Einstein (widow of Adolph) = Burgstraße 14 and Stephan Banemann = Burgstraße 16. The house at Burgstrasse 12 also changed owners – but for very different reasons. The owner, Hedwig Banemann’s mother Julie Wortsmann, took her own life in 1937. The Nazi hate sheet “Flammenzeichen” scoffed about it in January 1937: “The old junk collector and Jewess Wortsmann recently fell into the water on a cold day in January and accidentally drowned.” The heirs sold the house to the bookbinder Dittus. There are no clues available to prove her suicide was provoked by the oppressive political situation. However, historical witnesses tellingly place Ms. Wortsmann’s death in the year that the republic was founded.
Night of the Pogrom 1938
The next terrifying date for the family was certainly November 9, 1938. We read in Mrs. Baumann’s memoirs: “On a November night in 1938 Mr. Banemann was severely mistreated; it was hardly 30 steps from the synagogue to his house. On Monday after that night I saw Mrs. Banemann on the street. She was completely disfigured and looked like a madwoman.” It is sometimes deduced from these memoirs that Mrs. Banemann was also physically abused that night. The question arises whether Mr.and Mrs. Banemann suffered more than other Jews from the Nazi terror during the Pogrom Night.
Stephan and Erich Banemann are not mentioned in the documents and lists of Dachau Concentration Camp. Could be Stephan was so seriously harmed at the Progrom - Night that it was most unlikely that he was able to get be custodied for imprisonment. A similar case of another Jewish family is known and documented.
After the Pogrom - Night the Nazi government issued numerous anit-Jewish ordinances including one to “eliminate Jews from economic life”. The last Jewish inhabitant of Burgstrasse 14 was Karola Einstein, widow of Adolph Einstein, the last inhabitant of Burgstrasse 16 was Stephan Banemann. The financial ministry of Württemberg, “Staatsrentamt Ulm” confiscated the buildings in Burgstrasse 14 and 16 in 1939. The building of Burgstrasse 12 had already been sold in 1936 to family Dittus. 1938 Stephan Banemann and his son Erich were forced to work in a factory in Stuttgart, So the Banemann family had lost their property, they could still stay within their previous home in Burgstrasse 16 in Göppingen by renting it.
1940 Mr. and Mrs. Fetzer and their five children moved into the apartment above the Banemanns. Mr. Wilhelm Fetzer remembers stories his mother told, including how the renters in the ground floor heckled her, “Don’t talk to Jews!” Mrs. Fetzer didn’t listen or give in and after that she found unkind warnings in the mailbox and under the door mat.
Because of a Nazi directive from 1935 which forbid “Aryan” domestics from working for Jewish families, Mrs. Spindler, the christian housekeeper, had to quit working for the Banemann family. But Mrs. Spindler secretly met Mrs. Banemann in a store in Göppingen, Haug Home Textiles (Aussteuerhaus), and gave her food to help the family get by in their time of need. The owner, Elisabeth Haug, tolerated these secret meetings. Mrs. Banemann always had to cover her Yellow Star with her handbag. Was there no opportunity for the family to flee Germany? Mrs. Spindler remembers that they wanted to emigrate to America, but they couldn’t get a guarantor. The family asked her if she had any relatives in America. But this time Mrs. Spindler couldn’t be of any help.
Deportation to Riga
In the middle of November 1941 the “deporation of the Jews” was prepared in Württemberg – this was the code name for the planned robbery and murder of the Jews. Mr. Fetzer remembers that Nazi officials forced their way into the Banemanns apartment prior to the deporation so that they could see what spoils were waiting for them. Frida Spindler remembers the farewell. “My last visit in November 1941 was on the evening before their deportation. Mrs. Banemann has already gotten a mattress for each family member ready. But as far as I know they had to leave the mattresses behind the next day.” Erich, Inge Hedwig and Stephan Banemann had to leave their apartment on November 27. Their possessions were expropriated. Passing through the ‘collection points’ Schillerschule and Killesberg (Stuttgart) they were deported to Riga by train with others from Göppingen on December 1. The conditions in the train were already life threatening. The camp ‘Jungfernhof’ near Riga was a site for murder. Cooped up in trucks, the deportees were driven to the forest Bikernieki in March 1942 and thousands were shot. Richard Fleischer had been friends with Erich in Göppingen. He was the only one who survived the deportation. He remembered Inge being on the deportation to Bikernieki as well as Erich dying later from the deprivations on the “death march” headed to the port of Klaipeda (Memel). Nothing is known about the parents; the whole family was officially registered as “missing”.
Other relatives of the Banemanns died in German extermination camps as were Stephan Banemann’s sisters:
-Therese Blaubaum and her son Siegfried
-Bella Liebmann and her spouse Emanuel
-Karolina Wortsmann, her spouse Alfred and their daughter Susanne
In May 2009 Gunter Demnig laid four Stumbling Stones for the Banemann family in front of the house at Burgstrasse 16. Students from Uhland Realschule gave a report on the fate of the family and also contributed to the financing of the stones for which they took over sponsorship.We would like to thank late Mrs. Guggenheim, late Mrs. Spindler, Mr. Fetzer and late Dr. Esslinger for the information they provided. Also we would like to thank Mrs. Auerbacher, Mrs. Greenberg (Beate Dörzbacher) and Mr. Wascher for the fotos provided.
(7th of December 2016 kmr / ir)