Elly Ringel listed in new Holocaust database of revoked citizenship and property seizures

Elly Ringel listed in new Holocaust database of revoked citizenship and property seizures

Elly Ringel listing in new Holocaust database.

A couple of days ago, I stumbled on this new Elly Ringel citation in the JewishGen Holocaust database. What do we learn from the database record? What is the source of the record and how did it recently show up on JewishGen?

First, the information itself. Besides the correct information listed for maiden name, gender, birth date and birthplace, the listing tells us her last residences were Berlin and Basel, and her "status" was "Reichsfluchtsteuer." The latter translates as "federal emigration tax."

To learn more about the term, here is the introduction to a comprehensive Wikipedia article about the history of the tax under German law.

The Reich Flight Tax (GermanReichsfluchtsteuer) was a capital control law implemented in order to stem capital flight from the Weimar Republic. The law was created through decree on 8 December 1931 by Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg. The Reich Flight Tax was assessed upon departure from the individual's German domicile, provided that the individual had assets exceeding 200,000 Reichsmark (ℛℳ) or had a yearly income over 20,000 ℛℳ. The tax rate was set at 25 percent. In 1931, the Reichsmark was fixed at an exchange rate of 4.2 ℛℳ per USD; 200,000 ℛℳ was equivalent to $47,600 USD (equivalent to $800,000 in 2019).

During the Third Reich, the use of the Reich Flight Tax shifted away from dissuading wealthy citizens from moving overseas and was instead used as a form of "legalized theft" to confiscate Jewish assets. The departure of Jewish citizens was desired and permitted by the Nazi government – even after the Invasion of Poland – until a decree from Heinrich Himmler forbade Jewish emigration on 23 October 1941. The tax was used as a "partial expropriation"[1]:12 to seize the assets of Jewish refugees who were persecuted and driven to flee their homeland.

Okay, it looks like our grandmother's citizenship was revoked for non-payment of the Reich Flight Tax. That is consistent with what we know of Elly's departure with Helga from Berlin in the months following Hermann Ringel's death in July 1938. However, it is significant to know that her flight was observed and recorded in an official government record. 

What about Basel? I want for Walter to weigh in on this. We know that reaching Switzerland offered a possible escape route for German Jews. We've heard about Elly and our family members attempting to get there via Lyon, France, in 1940, before encountering a Gestapo agent who was tracking them and caused them to change escape destinations. Could this Basel reference relate to that? Walter?

That is what we can read from the JewishGen database record itself. But what is the original source of the information and how did it just become available in a JewishGen search? I'll answer in the next post.