Jewish citizens had lived for two-and-a-half centuries in the small Baden town of Königsbach, located between Karlsruhe and Pforzheim, and represented a considerable portion of the population.
Lothar Dreifuss was born there on April 24, 1916, in the house that still stands at Schulstrasse 9. His father Jakob was a cattle dealer. Lothar was the second child of his parents Jakob and Selma, born four years after his sister Norma. Lothar is described as a “large, clumsy and simple-minded fellow” in the 'Heimatbuch' [regional record book] of the Königsbach community.
On November 10, 1938, the Jews of Königsbach were also persecuted during the nation-wide pogrom 'Kristallnacht'. As was usually the case, Nazi storm troopers came from out-of-town to Königsbach, and then their work of destruction began. They found plenty of locals who willingly pointed out where the Jewish citizens lived, and then their houses were attacked. The synagogue was ordered to be burned down, but the mayor would not allow it because there was too much danger of the surrounding houses catching on fire. Instead, all the interior contents of the synagogue were dragged outside and burned in a bonfire at the square in front of it. Jewish men were forced to assist with the destruction of the sacred objects, and one of them was beaten and badly injured. Then the Nazis decided to tear off the roof of the synagogue because its outside was hardly damaged. Some of the spectators objected because there were lots of good shingles that would be lost. According to the 'Heimatbuch', local Jewish citizens were forced to participate in the destruction, among them the handicapped Lothar Dreifuss. A witness from that time remembered that Lothar “was terribly afraid that he would have to go up on the roof.”
Even though Lothar was not transported to the Dachau concentration camp like his father, the family decided to flee Germany after this Pogrom. They prepared for emigration to Brazil and were lucky enough to receive visas – everyone except Lothar. In the 1964 restitution files, his sister Norma is quoted as stating: “He was not allowed to emigrate with his parents because he did not meet the health stipulations for an immigration visum. He was mentally handicapped.” Of course his parents did not want to leave their son behind without some protection. A chest was packed for him which was described in correspondence as a “hope chest”. In 1951, Jakob Dreifuss made the following official statement in Rio de Janeiro: “I hereby certify under oath that I have spent the amount of RM 7.500,-- for outfitting my son Lothar Dreifuss for emigration. A chest had been prepared for him, officially sealed and was ready to be shipped.” This shows that the family had plans to bring Lothar to Brazil in the future, but until that time they wanted to find a safe home for him.
His aunt Lotte Sinn, the older sister of his father, lived in Göppingen. In the summer of 1939 she became a widow at the age of 59. Her own children had not lived for quite some time in her large house at Gartenstrasse 2, where her deceased husband had had a horse trading business. Not much is known about Lothar's time in Göppingen. After a few months, he and his aunt were forced to leave the house in the Gartenstrasse and move to Geislinger Strasse 6 with the Dörzbacher family who had to take in many of their fellow Jews. Lothar often spoke about his upcoming emigration, and his fantasies centered around his hope chest. He assumed that besides clothing, pillows and shoes it contained valuable jewels – however, that would have been highly unlikely because of the very restrictive export regulations. But Lothar's hopes were dashed, and his family was unable to save him.
On November 28, 1941, Lothar and his aunt Lotte were deported to Riga, where he led a miserable life at Jungfernhof camp. He was probably shot at the end of March 1942 in the Bikernieki woods, like most of the inmates of the camp. Other members of the Dreifuss family were also murdered by the Nazis: his cousin Elsa Kooperberg, along with her husband Abraham and children Theodor and Bethrina; also his uncle Hermann and his wife Victoria. Lothar's mother died in 1948, and his father died in Brazilian exile in 1954. His sister Norma married and had two children.
The Stumbling Stones-Initiative was able to make contact with Lothar's niece, Mrs. Marion Gideon, who lives in the USA. We thank her for the photos she made available.
On November 25, 2011, Gunter Demnig placed a Stumbling Stone in front of the house at Gartenstrasse 2 in memory of Lothar Dreifuss.