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Charlottenburger Str. 1

Charlottenburger Str. 1

This three-story residential building not far from the large Jewish cemetery in Weißensee contained about twelve apartments. Two of them were used as forced homes. Another of the apartments had been home to a Jewish family since before 1939. A total of 14 Jewish people lived here. Ten of them were murdered.

In 1933, Gustav Nathan, a Jewish boys’ fine clothing manufacturer, bought this 1915-built property from the City of Berlin. Gustav Nathan left Germany with his wife Cläre in early 1935. One of his brothers and his former confidential clerk then ran the business until it was liquidated in early 1937. Nathan entrusted the management of the property at Charlottenburger Straße 1 and another he owned to Paula Birnstiel, his long-time non-Jewish employee. In early 1938 she, too, fled abroad after being interrogated by the Gestapo and threatened with concentration camp imprisonment. In the early 1950s, Nathan wrote in a statement for his compensation application that he had bought the property to secure his old-age provision. On the first floor there had been a branch of the Reichsbank and, until about 1940/41, a dermatologist’s practice, run by a certain Dr. Birnbaum who was probably not Jewish.

View of the corner of Parkstraße 108 and Charlottenburger Straße 1 (façade drawing), 1914. Source: Bauaktenarchiv Pankow, Bauakte zum Grundstück Charlottenburger 1 Ecke Parkstr. 108 - Bd. I
Ground plan for the new residential building on the corner of Charlottenburger Straße and Parkstraße (first floor), 1914. There were two 4-room apartments on the second floor of the street-facing building and two 3-room apartments in the rear building. Where exactly the Jewish tenants lived was not documented. Source: Bauaktenarchiv Pankow, Bauakte zum Grundstück Charlottenburger 1 Ecke Parkstr. 108 - Bd. I
Berlin-Weißensee branch of the Reichsbank, Charlottenburger Straße 1 (ground plan, first floor), 1934. The drawing shows the premises of the Reichsbank, an apartment, and a doctor’s office and practice, comprising three rooms, at the back. Source: Bauaktenarchiv Pankow, Bauakte zum Grundstück Charlottenburger 1 Ecke Parkstr. 108 - Bd. I


Street-facing building, 1st floor

Apartment Zutrauen

Emilie Zutrauen, a widow, moved into a first-floor apartment with her two adult sons in 1934/35. Her elder son Rudolf was a lawyer. Her younger son Hans had passed his examinations in medicine with commendation in early 1934, but was refused a license to practice because he was Jewish. He could only treat patients on a voluntary basis in Berlin’s Jewish hospital. His wife Alice Jeanette, a trained classical singer, had her performance permit withdrawn by the Reich Culture Chamber in 1935. Like other Jewish artists, she was only permitted to perform at Jewish Cultural League events. Seeing no future for themselves in Germany under these circumstances, they emigrated to the United States in early 1937. Emilie and Rudolf Zutrauen joined them there in spring 1941. Rudolf Zutrauen became a soldier in the United States army. He died fighting the Japanese army on the Philippines in February 1945.

Emilie K. Zutrauen’s grave, Adas Israel Cemetery, Whitesboro, Oneida County, New York, USA, undated, photo: Jim High. Source: Find a Grave, memorial site page for Emilie K. Zutrauen

Salomon Weiß, a master stonemason, and his wife Frieda also lived on the first floor from 1936/37 on. They were forced to sublet two of their apartment’s four rooms to other Jewish tenants from 1938 on until their deportation. Who these subtenants were can no longer be ascertained. Salomon Weiß had built up his “sepulchral art workshops” at Lothringenstraße 8 (now Bizetstraße) from humble beginnings to become one of the Jewish Community’s main gravestone suppliers. In 1922, he and his wife had been able to move with their two children to a villa with a large garden at Parkstraße 94. But their life changed when the Nazis came to power. Salomon and Frieda Weiß had to sell their villa in 1935. Following the November pogrom of 1938, Salomon Weiß was forced to hand over his business to a non-Jew. He subsequently liquidated his life insurance policies and tried all he could to leave Germany. His and Frieda’s son Edgar had already emigrated to Palestine in 1937; their daughter Lilli and her husband Walter Brünn, a department store owner, emigrated in 1939/40 to Sweden. Walter Brünn tried in vain to help his over 70-year-old widowed, suicidal father to join them. Lilli could not achieve her parents’ emigration either. In spring 1942, Salomon and Frieda Weiß were deported to the Piaski ghetto. They managed to send a letter to their loved ones, describing their transportation to and the terrible conditions in the ghetto.

“My dears, we had to leave so quickly that we didn’t have time to go the hospital and say goodbye. I hope that Papa [Walter’s father Adolf Brünn] has been treated successfully at home. We got Papa’s last card from the hospital. If we didn’t keep hoping to see you again our existence now would be unbearable.”
Quotation source: LABO Berlin, BEG-Akte Salomon u. Frieda Weiss, Lilli Brünn, née Weiss, Reg.-No. 77 963, letter by Frieda and Salomon Weiß from the Piaski ghetto

Street-facing building, 2nd floor

Apartment Jakubowski

Kurt Jakubowski, a tradesman and druggist, moved with his wife Johanna and their son Klaus into a 4-room apartment with a maid’s chamber on the second floor of the street-facing building in October 1941. They were forced to sublet parts of the apartment to several other tenants. One of them was Kurt Jakubowski’s physically disabled mother Bertha. Sie had previously lived alone at Raabestraße 11. The Jakubowski family had been pressurized to leave their former home at Grellstraße 60 by the “Eintracht” housing association. They had then lived for a year as subtenants of Willy Riese, a former bank clerk, and his wife Käthe at Winsstraße 40 in Prenzlauer Berg. When Willy and Käthe Riese were deported in early November 1941, the Jakubowskis moved to Charlottenburger Straße 1.

Bertha Jakubowski, around 1935, photographer unknown. Photo album with family photos from the Hans Jakubowski collection. Source: Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Inv.-No. 2009/248/0, donated by Rita Jakubowski
Johanna, Kurt and Klaus Jakubowski, 1937, photo: Walter Frankenstein. Source: Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Inv.-No. 2008/311/20/002, donated by Leonie and Walter Frankenstein

The Jakubowski family tried desperately to emigrate to the United States. Their first attempt failed because Johanna’s relatives in the United States could not raise enough money for the affidavits of support. Kurt Jakubowski had worked part-time for many years as a cantor for the Liberal Norden Synagogue in the Auerbach orphanage. In spring 1939, he heard that a former colleague, Rabbi Erwin Zimet, had managed to emigrate to the United States and worked as an assistant rabbi at the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York. Hoping for a job as a cantor in the United States, Kurt immediately contacted Zimet. But this second attempt to emigrate also failed. Dismayed by Zimet’s negative response, Kurt wrote: “We have only the one remaining wish – to see everyone again in good health over there in the USA.” His wife, he wrote, could work as a household help or a doctor’s assistant. He himself would even join the US army and go to war, if only he could get his wife and son to safety. In 1941, Kurt started working as a housing agent for the Jewish Community of Berlin. He also conducted the burials on the Jewish Cemetery in Weißensee together with Rabbi Martin Riesenburger. Johanna Jakubowski, a trained office clerk, worked as a forced laborer for the arms producers Ehrich & Graetz. 13-year-old Klaus became a cemetery assistant. Kurt, Johanna and Klaus Jakubowski were deported in late November 1942 to Auschwitz, where they were murdered. Klaus’ grandmother Bertha had been deported almost two months previously to the Theresienstadt ghetto, where she died in March 1944.

Kurt Jakubowski in cantor‘s vestments in front of the bimah in the Auerbach orphanage in Prenzlauer Berg, 1937, photo: Walter Frankenstein. In 1935, the Liberal Norden Synagogue was renamed Hermann Falkenberg Synagogue in honor of its late founder. Source: Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Inv.-No. 2008/311/21/002, donated by Leonie und Walter Frankenstein
ID photo of Johanna Jakubowski as a forced laborer for Ehrich & Graetz AG, c. 1936–1942, photographer unknown. Source: Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Inv.-No. FOT 89/500/236/001
ID photo of Hans Rosenthal as a forced laborer for Ehrich & Graetz AG, around 1940–1942, photographer unknown. Source: Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Inv.-No. FOT 89/500/425/001

The subtenants living in the apartment initially remained there. They included Hans Rosenthal, a tradesman, who also worked as a forced laborer for Ehrich & Graetz. He had been friendly with the Jakubowskis. Their deportation and the death of his elder brother in December 1942 before his own deportation in spring 1943 must have been very hard for him to bear.

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“It is no doubt time for me to write these lines. I no longer have the slightest hope of escaping my fate. […] The hours I spent together with the Jakubowskis and you will remain forever in my memory.”

Two of the apartment’s rooms were occupied by the Keil family. Johanna Keil had been a street-trader at the time of her marriage. Her husband Reinhard, originally a market trader, worked from 1936 on as a cemetery gardener for the Jewish Community and later as a collector. They had two sons, Horst and Manfred, who were aged 15 and 11 when they moved in here in summer 1941. Manfred, the younger brother, started school at the 5th Jewish elementary school in Pankow and later changed to a school for children with speech defects. Lastly, he attended the 7th Jewish Community School for “difficult and subnormal children” up to 6th grade. His elder brother Horst left state school, probably – like most Jewish schoolchildren – due to antisemitic harassment, and changed to a Jewish school at Kaiserstraße 29/30. After completing the eighth grade, he started training as a carpenter with the Jewish Community. He was then forced to leave his apprenticeship under threat of “capital punishment”, as he wrote in a statement under oath for his compensation application in 1966, and report to the employment office. He was assigned work at the “Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken” (DWM) arms factory in Reinickendorf, where the conditions were grueling and humiliating, just like at Erich & Graetz. Finally, he appears to have worked for a time in the Jewish Community kitchen at Gormannstraße 3. On May 7, 1943, he was arrested in his parents’ apartment. Ten days later the entire family was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto. Johanna and Manfred Keil were murdered in Auschwitz the following year. Horst Keil survived several concentration camps and emigrated to the United States in 1946. His father Reinhard Keil lived to see liberation in a subcamp of Dachau concentration camp but died a short time later.


Most residents of the building at Charlottenburger Straße 1 were not Jewish. How the Jewish and non-Jewish neighbors interacted is not known in any detail. But one incident was documented: When the court appointed receiver came to evaluate the Jakubowskis’ belongings after they had been deported, he found that their apartment had only been closed but not sealed off as was usual. The caretaker had evidently told him that the “expatriated [sic] had left behind very valuable clothes, fine linens, and rugs”. He was allegedly informed by their former subtenant, Johanna Keil, that the “Jewish aid” had collected the belongings – perhaps a Jewish Community domestic aid whom the Jakubowskis helped. The court appointed receiver then wrote that he presumed the “Jewish aid” was evaluating the items. The receiver’s brief comment at the bottom of the inventory does not allow the precise events to be reconstructed. But it does shed light on the interest of both the non-Jewish caretaker and the court appointed receiver in easily available, high-quality goods, as well as the attempt to pin the blame for their disappearance on an unnamed Jewish person, the “Jewish aid”.

Source: Akte Kurt, Johanna, Klaus und Bertha Jakubowski, BLHA, Rep. 36A (II) No. 17333, p. 53


Jeanette Jakubowski

In remembrance of the Jewish residents of Charlottenburger Straße 1 

Bertha Jakubowski, née Gutstadt

Born January 24, 1872, in Stettin (Szczecin)
Deported October 4, 1942, to the Theresienstadt ghetto, died March 1944

Johanna Jakubowski, née Marcus

Born February 24, 1902, in Berlin
Deported November 29, 1942, to Auschwitz, murdered on arrival

Klaus Jakubowski

Born June 24, 1929, in Berlin
Deported November 29, 1942, to Auschwitz, murdered on arrival

Kurt Jakubowski

Born July 10, 1905, in Berlin
Deported November 29, 1942, to Auschwitz, murdered on arrival

Horst Heinz Keil

Born July 11, 1926, in Berlin
Deported May 17, 1943, to the Theresienstadt ghetto; September 28, 1944, to Auschwitz; to Landsberg concentration camp; October 10, 1944, to Kaufering subcamp
Survived, emigrated June 1946 via Deggendorf DP camp and Bremen UNRRA center to the United States, died 2020 in the United States

Johanna (Hanna) Keil, née Herpe

Born November 22, 1901, in Berlin
Deported May 17, 1943, to the Theresienstadt ghetto; October 4, 1944, to Auschwitz, murdered

Manfred Keil

Born February 15, 1930, in Berlin
Deported May 17, 1943, to the Theresienstadt ghetto; October 4, 1944, to Auschwitz, murdered

Reinhard Keil

Born October 25, 1901, in Finsterwalde
Deported May 17, 1943, to the Theresienstadt ghetto; September 29, 1944, to Auschwitz; October 10, 1944, to Dachau concentration camp, liberated April 29, 1945, in Kaufering subcamp, died soon after

Hans Rosenthal

Born May 3, 1894, in Berlin
Deported March 3, 1943, to Auschwitz, murdered

Frieda Weiß/Veisz, née Witt

Born June 6, 1878, in Berlin
Deported March 28, 1942, to the Piaski ghetto, murdered

Salomon Weiß/Veisz

Born September 28, 1879, in Vármezö
Deported March 28, 1942, to the Piaski ghetto, murdered

Emilie Zutrauen, née Kochmann

Born August 11, 1884, in Breslau (Wrocław)
Fled March 27, 1941, to the United States
Survived, died January 14, 1958, in the United States

Hans Alfred Zutrauen

Born January 29, 1910, in Berlin
Fled 1937 to the United States
Survived, died October 14, 1982, in the United States

Rudolf Zutrauen

Born June 27, 1908, in Berlin
Fled March 27, 1941, to the United States, died February 4, 1945, as a soldier of the US army in Luzon, Philippines