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Beethovenstr. 29

Beethovenstr. 29

Beethovenstraße No. 8-13, view towards Löwenbrucher Weg (formerly Lisztstraße), around 1935, photographer unkown. Source: Ralf Schmiedecke Collection, Berlin
This detached house on Beethovenstraße was built in 1934. It stands in Lichtenrade in the southernmost part of the district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. Between 1939 and 1945, people classified and persecuted as Jewish lived in the street-facing bungalow and the rear building in the garden. Exactly how many is unclear, but they included the couple for whom the house was built, Julius and Gertrud Braun.

The house had five rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. There was also a rear building in the garden. People were forcibly rehoused here after tenant protection for Jews was revoked. The Brauns’ son, Gerhard Braun, recalled in an interview in 1986: “A family lived in every room. By the end – 1945 – that meant three more families as well as my parents and I. The families were constantly changing as couples were always being taken away.” (Geschichtswerkstatt Berlin-Lichtenrade (eds.): Direkt vor der Haustür. Berlin-Lichtenrade im Nationalsozialismus. Aktion Sühnezeichen/Friedensdienste 1990, p. 228)

The surviving sources allow three Jewish people to be identified who were forcibly housed at Beethovenstraße 29 after 1939. Deportation lists name the Braun family members and another occupant: Clara Feininger, née Fürst.


Street-facing building

Apartment Julius and Gertrud Braun

Felix Julius Braun and Gertrud Martha Hedwig Braun, née Kulke, lived with their sons Werner and Gerhard in this detached house at Beethovenstraße 29. Julius and Gertrud Braun had married on October 10, 1907, in Berlin-Schöneberg and moved to Lichtenrade in 1928. On marrying, Gertrud Braun had converted from the Protestant to the Jewish faith. She and her husband raised their sons Jews.

Julius Braun, date and photographer unknown. Source: Braun family private collection
Gertrud Braun, date and photographer unknown. Source: Braun family private collection

Julius Braun and his sons were required to wear the “yellow star” from September 1, 1941, on, to mark them out as Jews. Gertrud Braun did not have to wear one, so she attended to most of the family’s errands. The other members of the family only left the house and grounds if it was strictly necessary, to avoid drawing attention to themselves. From 1941 on, the Brauns’ younger son Gerhard was made to perform forced labor in the Ehrich & Graetz metal factory in Berlin-Treptow. In March 1943, when the Nazis’ carried out their “Factory Action”, he was at home with influenza. He was taken from his home to the assembly camp on Große Hamburger Straße and from there to the prison on Rosenstraße.

Gerhard Braun, date and photographer unknown. Source: Braun family private collection

Ursula Kretschmer, his later wife, was among the women who courageously protested the imprisonment of their husbands and male relatives outside the jail on Rosenstraße. After ten days, Gerhard Braun was released. He was then made to perform forced labor for the Deutscher Glasermeister trade cooperative. Whenever he heard through acquaintances and contacts that a deportation was imminent, he went underground for a while, hiding in as wide a range of places as possible. In this way, he managed to survive to the end of the war, in 1945. He married Ursula Kretschmer the same year. Later, he studied at West Berlin’s Academy of Arts and was made Professor of Visual Communication in 1961.

In the memoirs that Gerhard Braun and his wife later wrote, he mentioned a couple who had lived with them, the Zeidlers. He recalled that they had also survived and visited the Brauns in Berlin after the war. The name Fred Zeidler appears in the city’s old directories, noted as resident at Ringstraße 7 in the district of Steglitz, until 1938.

“Fear is not a permanent state. So, after my release, I tried to lead a ‘normal life’ despite all the adverse circumstances. Here is a snapshot of the three weeks I didn’t work in March 1943: The weather was extraordinarily warm and summery, and we relaxed in deckchairs in the garden and played chess. Fred Zeidler and I. Both of us are now preoccupied with thoughts of how to checkmate the other. An almost idyllic seeming moment in which we definitely felt at ease – that’s how I remember it.”
Quoted from: Eine Woche im Winter 1943. Unsere Erinnerungen auf Spurensuche. Ursula und Gerhard Braun. Manuscript, Braun family private collection, undated

Julius, Gertrud and Gerhard Braun were not evicted and survived the Nazi period at home. Julius Braun is listed as the resident owner in the Berlin directories up to the year 1941; from 1942 on, they noted “O[wner] unknown” at this address. But the house remained the property of the family and Gerhard Braun later reported in an interview:

“In retrospect, it is not clear why some things turned out the way they did and not differently… We could never understand why my parents were able to keep their house in Lichtenrade and weren’t forced to hand it over to Nazi big shots. […] Somehow, we always guessed, somebody was keeping a protective hand over us. At one time, three or four interested parties came to have a look at the house but apart from that nothing happened.”
“Nazi-Bonzen”, quoted from: Nina Schröder: Hitlers unbeugsame Gegnerinnen. Der Frauenaufstand in der Rosenstraße, Munich 1998, p. 72
Architectural site map of the new building at Beethovenstraße 29, 1934. Source: Bezirksamt Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Bauaktenarchiv, Akte Beethovenstraße 29+29a

Rear building

Apartment Werner and Hildegard Braun

Werner Braun was Julius and Gertrud Braun’s elder son. A member of the German Communist Party (KPD), he had been attacked by the SA several times even before the Nazis came to power. On November 9, 1938, he married Hildegard Kretschmer, who had been raised a Catholic but whose mother was Jewish. The young couple lived in the rear building in Werner’s parents’ garden. They planned to emigrate to the United States and had already applied for the necessary documents. But the birth of their daughter Ruth on February 16, 1940, meant they needed to re-apply and their emigration was delayed.

In 1941, Werner Braun was arrested on the street for being an “enemy of the Reich” and jailed in Moabit prison. In March 1942, Hildegard Braun was instructed by the Gestapo to report with her daughter to the assembly point in the old synagogue on Levetzowstraße in preparation for a transport on March 28, 1942. Here, she was reunited with Werner. They were deported together via Trawniki to the Piaski ghetto, where it seems they were separated on arrival.

Ursula Braun, Hildegard's sister, later said in an interview that she had worked for a construction firm that was active in the German-occupied territories and was therefore fully aware of the fate that awaited her sister:

“We were turned down from most jobs because you needed an Aryan certificate to do them. So, I ended up working for the construction firm. It was terrible because this construction firm worked in the East in the occupied territories and I overheard all out about what was happening in the concentration camps – and how thoroughly they were persecuting Jews. [...] When they took my sister away, I knew the transport would end in death. How did I know? The men in my firm boasted about their ‘heroic deeds’ when they came back from the East.”
Ursula Braun, “Schicksal der Schwester”, quoted from: Nina Schröder: Hitlers unbeugsame Gegnerinnen. Der Frauenaufstand in der Rosenstraße, Munich 1998, p. 75

Werner Braun was registered as a prisoner in Majdanek concentration camp, a few kilometers from Piaski. He survived only a few months in the camp. His date of death is recorded as September 17, 1942, in the Majdanek death book; cause of death, “shot”. The dates of death of Hildegard and her daughter Ruth were not recorded. But they did not survive the Nazi era.

Hildegard Braun, date and photographer unknown. Source: Braun family private collection
Ruth Braun, date and photographer unknown. Source: Braun family private collection
Werner Braun, date and photographer unknown. Source: Braun family private collection

The pianist Clara Feininger, born February 15, 1879, moved in as a subtenant in 1940 or 1941. She was the artist Lyonel Feininger’s first wife. In her “declaration of assets” she stated that she had been forcibly housed in the cellar, and paid a quarterly rent of RM 35. The Nazis classified and persecuted her as “racially Jewish” because she had two Jewish grandparents and had previously been a member of the Jewish Community. She had married Lyonel Feininger in 1901, and had two children with him – Eleonore (Lore) Helene and Marianne. They divorced in 1907. On January 10, 1944, Clara Feininger was deported to Theresienstadt and from there, on October 23, to Auschwitz, where she was probably murdered on arrival. Gerhard Braun later said in an interview:

“I remember Frau Feininger very vividly: She had an extremely characteristic face, not unlike the master pianist, Franz von Liszt. I recall her standing in our house’s cold kitchen – she could conjure tasty cookies out of all sorts of improvised ingredients.”
Gerhard Braun, quoted from: Eine Woche im Winter 1943. Unsere Erinnerungen auf Spurensuche. Ursula und Gerhard Braun. Manuscript, Braun family private collection, undated
Inventory and Evaluation, from Clara Feininger’s declaration of assets, January 8, 1944. Source: BLHA, Rep. 36A (II) No. 8902

Unknown location

Rosa and Martin Matthias

In 1941 Martin Matthias and his wife Rosa took lodgings in the house at Beethovenstraße 29. Martin Matthias died on January 24, 1942; Rosa Matthias was deported on June 13, 1942, to Sobibor, where she was murdered.


In the 1990-published findings of a Lichtenrade local history workshop, “Juden in Lichtenrade”, Gerhard Braun is quoted as describing an occasion when a woman from the neighborhood flung her arms around his neck, relieved to see him return home safe after being arrested. Gerhard and Ursula Braun also recalled in their family memoirs that neighbors often left care packages for the family on their fence on Beethovenstraße, and that contacts of their wide circle of friends and acquaintances in Berlin often helped them by providing information, shelter, or food. But they also recalled neighbors, schoolmates, and former acquaintances who shunned them. The Lichtenrade history workshop’s publication quotes a neighbor who recalled driving Hildegard and Ruth Braun to Levetzowstraße, where they had been instructed to report to an assembly point, and how he carried their cases into the synagogue on Levetzowstraße and saw a large crowd gathered there. However, the same publication quotes older residents of the area around Beethovenstraße who claimed not to remember any Jewish neighbors or persecution.


Katharina Kretzschmar

In remembrance of the Jewish residents of Beethovenstraße 29

Gerhard Braun

Born May 24, 1922, in Berlin

Gertrud Braun, née Kulke

Born August 3, 1880, in Berlin

Hildegard Braun, née Kretschmer

Born November 22, 1912, in Hirschberg in the Giant Mountains (Jelenia Góra)
Deported March 28, 1942, to the Piaski ghetto, missing

Julius Braun

Born April 28, 1877, in Freystadt, Silesia (Kożuchów)

Ruth Braun

February 16, 1940, in Berlin
Deported March 28, 1942, to the Piaski ghetto, missing

Werner Braun

Born May 8, 1909, in Berlin
Deported March 28, 1942, to the Piaski ghetto, murdered September 17, 1942

Clara Feininger, née Fürst

Born February 15, 1879, in Berlin
Deported January 11, 1944, to the Theresienstadt ghetto; October 23, 1944, to Auschwitz, murdered

Martin Matthias

Born July 17, 1880, in Koschurin
Died January 24, 1942

Rosa Matthias, née Proskauer

Born October 13, 1884, in Leipzig
Deported June 13, 1942, to Sobibor extermination camp, murdered