The Ringels in Berlin—the Nazi years

The Ringel family endured Nazi persecutions in the 1930s leading up to Hermann's sudden death in July 1938 on the eve of his family's planned flight from Germany. In October, Elly and Helga escaped the country, leaving behind their German legacy. The Nazi authorities seized and sold the assets of the Hermann Ringel Co. 

The Ringel sisters and their children lived in adjacent apartments on Lothringerstraße

We already knew that Betty Twiasschor and her two daughters Edith and Gina were living at Hermann's old address at Lothringerstraße 4A in the late 1920s and early '30s. Today we discover from Berlin address directories that Betty's sister Rosa Schattner and her children Margot and Wolfie (Zeev) lived in 1929 and 1930 at Lotheringerstraße 4B. 

Both sisters were evidently widowed already by 1929. (I have yet to learn the histories of their two husbands.) Hermann lived there himself before his marriage, which we now know was in the spring of 1922. Their mother Fanny Ringel had lived there too until her death the year before. I'm thinking that Hermann held on to the property and later set up his sisters there where they were each widowed.  

Actually there is a slight anamoly with the address. In the earlier records, it is recorded as I have shown. In the later telephone directory records, the address is given as Lotheringstraße 54-4a and Lotheringstraße 54-4b. I think it is the same place but that the number 54 was added to the address some time in the mid-1920s. Also, the 4a and 4b seem to suggest adjacent apartments on the fourth floor.

I didn't know about the 54 business when I tried to find the place when I was in Berlin in 2018. Lothringerstraße had been renamed to Torstraße after the war, and it is a major avenue on the north border of the old Scheunenviertel district. At the time, I couldn't find a good candidate for No. 4, but when I look now on Apple and Google Maps, I see that Torstraße 54 is right at the place where Rosa Luxembourg Straße and Alte Schonhauser Straße come together, which was perfectly located close to Hermann's several places of business.

Mostly there are new buildings at that busy intersection today, but the image above from Google Street View shows a building at Torstraße 56 that looks like it could go back to the 1920s or before. Could that be similar to the building, or the exact right one, where our Ringels lived in two apartments on the top floor?

Margot Schattner was born in 1917-18

I wrote yesterday that Ze'ev Sharon (Wolf Schattner) was born in 1913, which Walter found surprising and possibly in error, primarily based on his understanding of the age difference between our mother and her cousin. 

Helga was born in October 1924. Walter had believed that Ze'ev was only a few years older than Helga, and certainly not as many as 11 years older as my information suggested. So I told him I would go check my sources and try to update the information. 

I should say here that ihere is one person in our family, Ze'ev's grandson Ahikam Finkel in Israel, who would know this and other family facts. So far, I have not touched base with Ahikam about my new findings. I plan to contact him by email soon, as soon as I have written up more of my information.

But back to Ze'ev's birthday. I find that I do not have a solid source for the 1913 date. I searched online thinking I might find a death announcement that would have his birth information. So far this morning, I have not turned up anything. 

One thing I did do was to review the Yad Vashem testimonies that I have seen before for Ze'ev's mother Rosa and sister Margot, that document their deaths in Belgrade in April 1942. These testimonies were submitted in Israel in 1955 by Dr. Artur Hendel, a relative of the Schattner family in Belgrade.

I'll report more about these records in a separate post, but the information I want to highlight here is that Margot's age is given as 24 at the time of her death in April 1942. That would put her birth date in 1917 or early 1918. Yesterday we learned that her father died in May 1917. So she would have been a classic case of a war baby born after her father's death.

From this I conclude that Ze'ev had to have been the older sibling. So until we get more definitive information, we know that Ze'ev was born in 1916 or earlier. Since his parents were married in 1911 (I have the marriage record), it would not be surprising if their first child was born in 1913 or thereabouts. 

Maybe Ze'ev was so vigorous and heroic in Walter's eye that he seemed more youthful than he actually was.

Update: I just found Ahikam's family tree on Geni. He gives Ze'ev's birth date as March 11, 1917, which is precisely two days after his father's death in Pecs, Hungary. Margot's birth is given as 1913. So maybe Artur Hendel testimony is wrong concerning Margot's age, and thus she would be the older sibling.

Their father David Schattner has a nickname "Drago" in Ahikam's tree. I see that there is not a date of death given for Drago,, so the death record I found yesterday will definitely be news to him.

The Shatner family of Belgrade

Before getting back to the Twiasschor story, let's dig deeper into the family of Rosa Ringel's in-laws, the Schattners from Belgrade. First of all, in Serbia the name seems to be rendered as Shatner, the same way that actor William Shatner spells it. In fact, here is a relevant clip from Shatner's Wikipedia page:

Shatner was born in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood of Montreal, Quebec, Canada to a Conservative Jewish household.[3] .... His paternal grandfather, Wolf Schattner, anglicized the family name to "Shatner."[7]

Wolf Schattner, by the way, was Ze'ev's name at birth. Ahikam Finkel's family tree on Geni shows us all the Shatner family members in Belgrade. The family elders are Samuel and Flora Shatner. Samuel's name is also given as Satner, and he is the son of an Adolf Jakov Satner. Samuel and Flora had five children. Their exact birth dates and birth order are not given in the Geni tree. David "Drago" Schattner is one of them and he has two brothers, Heinrich and Alfred, and two sisters, Regina (married name Hendel) and Tereza (married name Bihaly). Each of these Shatners had one or more children, except for Heinrich who died in 1913.

One of the Hendel children is Artur, who will later report the fate of family members to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. His testimonies are all there in the Yad Vashem Shoah Names Database. All together in 1955, Dr. Hendel reported on 35 of his family members who were murdered by the Nazis in Belgrade. Five of them are Shatners. Besides Rosa (spelled Roza) and Margot, the others were David's brother Alfred and his wife Mica and their son Rihard. 

Regina Hendel, Artur's mother and David's sister, is also on the list, along with Artur's sister Hedwiga. 

The "fate" of these individuals that is given in the database is simply "murdered." For somewhat more detail we can view the source documents in Hebrew and (I think) Serbian. To understand better how and when they were murdered, we'll turn to the history.  


The fate of the Belgrade Jews

I'm sure there are better sources on the German occupation of Serbia in 1941-44, but the Wikipedia article on The Holocaust in German-Occupied Serbia has all we need to know. I'll go through the key points. 

Yugoslav Foreign Secretary Anton Korošec, who was Roman Catholic priest and leader of Slovenian conservatives, stated in September 1938, that "Jewish issue did not exist in Yugoslavia…. Jewish refugees from the Nazi Germany are not welcome here." In December 1938 Rabbi Isaac Alkalai, the only Jewish member of government was dismissed from the government.

This would be the situation in the critical months before Kristallnacht when Berliners like our grandmother were scrambling to escape the country. Elly and Helga fled to Belgium and then France. Despite the unwelcome attitude of the Yugoslav government to Jewish refugess, Elly's sister-in-law, Rosa Ringel with her daughter Margot, fled to Belgrade to be with other members of the Shatner family. 

In April 1941, axis forces led by Nazi Germany invaded Yugoslavia and installed a puppet government, setting the stage for implemention of anti-Jewish measures. 

The destruction of Serbian Jews by the Nazi Germans was carried out in two distinct phases. The first, which lasted between July and November 1941, involved the murder of Jewish men, who were shot as part of retaliatory executions carried out by German forces in response to the rising anti-Nazi, partisan insurgency in Serbia.

Altogether some 30.000 people were executed by the Nazi's during the first 2 months of this policy, including nearly all Serbian Jewish males, as well as tens of thousands of Serbs.[10] Despite executing tens of thousands of Jewish men, the Wehrmacht in Belgrade refused to kill women and children because that would have been "dishonourable".[11]

Such niceties were not observed for long.

The second genocidal activity, between December 1941 and May 1942, involved the incarceration of the women and children at the Semlin concentration camp and former fairgrounds in Belgrade and their gassing in a mobile gas van called a Sauerwagen. The German concentration camp, the old fairgrounds or Stare Sajmište, near Zemun was established across the Sava river from Belgrade, on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia, to process and eliminate the captured Jews, Serbs, Roma, and others. 

This second period encompasses the April 1942 date given by Hendel for the killing of Roza and Margot Schattner. Referring to the Zemun camp, SS-commander Harald Turner, Chief of the German military administration in Serbia, described the operation in a letter that month to a Nazi colleague. 

Already some months ago, I shot dead all the Jews I could get my hands on in this area, concentrated all the Jewish women and children in a camp and with the help of the SD (i.e. Sicherheitsdienst – Nazi Security Services) got my hands on a "delousing van," that in about 14 days to 4 weeks will have brought about the definitive clearing out of the camp...

So that is how it went for the Shatner family in Belgrade. The men were killed first, primarily by roundup and gunshot, in the second half of 1941. The women and children came next, sent first to a local concentration camp and then killed a truckload at a time in mobile gas vans. 

Emanuel Schäfer, commander of the Security Police and Gestapo in Serbia... famously cabled Berlin after last Jews were killed in May 1942: Serbien ist judenfrei.[19]


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