When we last left Julius Loewenthal, he was still a successful businessman, living in Eschwege, Germany, with his wife Elsa, but he was worried about the dark clouds of anti-Semitism and the economic disasters that were feeding it.
In this next section, Julius writes about the period between 1933, when the Nazis took control of Germany, and the death of his daughter Ruth and son-in-law Leonhard Fulda in October 1937. This section was obviously painful for him to write, and I had to do a bit of reorganizing to tell his story in chronological order. The text is so powerful that it needs no images, which would only detract from it.
When I look back today on my life, I must say that I made every effort, spared no money to give my children the opportunity to learn and obtain an education in some trade. My daughter Ruth went to business college, Herbert went to other plants in Germany and England, Hilde went to the famous Art College in Berlin and Basel, Switzerland, and Karl Werner [Garry] went to the Textile College in Leicester, England as well as having served an apprenticeship in our factory for some years. The small town we lived in forced us to send our children away at an early age as they did not have the opportunity in Eschwege.
To describe the time between 1933 and our final departure from Germany causes my hand to hesitate. The wounds are too deep. Only an expert writer could describe the torture and the poison with which the German Fuhrer persecuted the Jews wherever they were. It started already in 1933 and the events were such and so often and so horrible that I will not recount the same here, and they are and will be well documented in the time to come. Little by little the personal life, the business activity was choked off with rules, laws and regulations that in the end nothing was left, and no Jew could work. The congregations which existed for 1000 years became mere shadows. … No one in the beginning was able to understand or to comprehend. After all we were descendants of people who had lived in the communities throughout Germany for 1000 years.
… When I traveled to Palestine (Israel) in the year of 1933, I received news of the Nazi takeover of Germany. Our business still operated, and the profit was no smaller. However, the political events cast a very dark shadow. At first the peace between employer and employees was being disturbed by a daily dose of stories of the unmoral character of the Jews. One would think that mature men who had been with us for long times, many 40 years, were mature enough to form their own opinions. It was, however, different. Little by little the whole German nation was saturated with the antisemitic poison, a steady unrelenting barrage. Thus, we were eventually forced to sell our business as we no longer were masters in our own house.
….[In 1933] I was forced to sell my home in Bad Sooden. It was a sad hour for me as I had spent many happy hours there. We rented a small house in Frankfurt where we spent many happy hours in seclusion. However, the pressure of the German Internal Revenue was such that we were forced to give up the house in 1937. Frankfurt had become a disappointment for me. The many once well established relatives, the many wealthy and substantial families had become poor, and many lived in worse than pleasant circumstances. Many had left or wanted but did not have the funds to do so as the tax levied on leaving the country meant leaving absolutely everything behind.
…We made the salient mistake of not leaving Germany in 1933. It was a most difficult decision, and no one anticipated the murderous and vicious intentions and its consequences in a Nation of such high culture. In 1934, I fell [and broke both legs] and was confined to a hospital for better than one year and that also contributed in not making a decision. We bought property, land, and a house, in Israel in order to have some possibility of having funds or roots abroad, but as it turned out the Company who sold us the land was operated by Jews abroad who would prey on the adversity of others, and the whole huge amounts of money were fleeced except for the land itself. It was later sold.
… In 1935 my son Herbert left Germany. He recognized the situation better than we did. It was a blow because I had hoped that some day he would take over the reins of the business. He went to New York where he became active in the business world at once. Unfortunately [he was afflicted by] a lingering ever progressing sickness which might have been overlooked because of the troubled and unstable times with its unbelievable personal and survival problems, together with the limited medical knowledge which was available at the time….
[In October 1937, My daughter Ruth, her husband Leonhard Fuld and I] traveled together to Muensingen in Switzerland in order to find a Sanitorium for Herbert. …. We arrived in Zurich, where we stayed over, then on to Muensingen, then Interlaken, and after Shabbos we started back to Germany…. We remained in our room because the place was full of Nazis.
The following morning on October 2nd, 1937, we continued the trip toward Rottweil when a Truck with an empty trailer came toward us, and it was speeding. The trailer swung around like a huge baseball bat and hit us. Ruth, who was driving, and Leonard, who was sitting behind her, had both their heads crashed in. Ruth fell dead in my arms, and Leonard died on October 4, 1937, in the hospital in Rottweil. … The death of my beloved children was a terrible blow to all of us and to the Jewish community of Germany…. …. We were forced to travel to America in January 1938 and escort [Herbert] to Switzerland where he was confined to a Sanitorium….
The world had grown dark for us. We had to bear this burden and much more what was to come toward us. Today when I write this almost 3 years have passed, and I am convinced that the good Lord arranged it so, as much pain and suffering was spared my children as the destiny of the Jew in Germany was to end in tragedy.
It was not long after the tragic deaths of Ruth and Leonhard and the commitment of Herbert to a sanitorium in Switzerland that Julius and Elsa made the heart-wrenching decision to leave Germany. More about that in the next post.