The life and death of Kurt Julius Paechter, family man and Deutsche Bank executive

The life and death of Kurt Julius Paechter, family man and Deutsche Bank executive

We'll now turn to the younger child of Isaak and Friederike Paechter, Kurt Julius, born in Crossen in April 1888. Sometimes Kurt's name is rendered as Curt, but more often it is with a "K" so that is what I will use. 

There are two great sources of biographical information: a Stolpersteine memorial for his in-laws, the Salomon Landau family of Halle, Germany, and a University of London family history posting by social scientist Carrie Paechter with stories she had heard about a grandfather she never met.

I will give those in full in upcoming posts. This will be a summary of what we learn from those documents and records sourced by Ancestry. 

Kurt was seven years old when his father Isaak Paechter died. Sometime after that, his mother moved with Kurt and his sister Rosa to Berlin. He must have excelled at school, given what we know of his career success. 

He came of age in Germany in the run up to World War I. Like most German Jews, he proudly supported the German state and military. On obtaining his undergraduate degree in 1910, he served for a year in the German Imperial Army and was then in the Army reserves. 

He studied the law for the next three years. I don't know if he obtained his doctor of law degree at this time or after his war service. 

He served the entirety of World War I in a calvary division of the German Army, and was awarded and Iron Cross First Class. His granddaughter's essay includes an anecdote about his bravery under fire. 

There is also a description of him attributed to his sister-in-law Anneliese Landau. 

[He was] a slender, middle-sized  young man with steel-blue eyes, a slightly balding head and a blond moustache. The erect figure seemed to be a model of a Prussian [Iron Cross] officer of the First World War: correctness all over, a face that seemed set for making decisions...

He may have been finishing his degree in 1919, or he may have had a first legal position. The following year, in 1920, he joined Disconto-Gesellschaft in its legal department and worked his way up to become the head of that department. 

He married Grete Landau from Halle (100 miles southwest of Berlin), the first of two daughters of a cultured Jewish family. The younger daughter Anneliese survived the Holocaust and became a prominent music educator in Los Angeles. I'll have more about her in upcoming posts. 

Grete and Kurt lived first on Meineke Strasse just off the Ku'damm, where they had their first son Hans, then moved to a larger apartment at Nassauische Strasse. Two more children, Gerd and Lise Ruth would be born there. 

In 1929, Disconto merged with Deutsche Bank to form Germany's biggest banking conglomerate. Kurt must have played a role in that transaction and he stayed with Deutsche Bank Disconto Gesellschaft, as it was know post-merger, until he was forced out of his post sometime after Hitler came to power. 

After Kurt lost his job, the family managed on their resources while conditions got worse for Jews in Berlin. Then, shortly after Kristallnacht, Kurt was arrested and sent for a time to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Grete's parents came to live with the family. 

There were still ways to get out in 1939. Kurt and Grete made the difficult decision to send their three children out of Germany on the Kindertransport to England. The older generation, Grete's parents and also Kurt's mother Friederike Paechter, wouldn't consider leaving—they would stay until the end. 

Anneliese left in 1939—first to England, where she was able to see the three Paechter children in their foster homes, and then to the U.S., where she worked tirelessly but unsuccessfully to obtain visas for her family. 

Conditions continued to worsen for Berlin's Jews. The deportations of Jews from Berlin began in September 1941. Grete succumbed to the hardships of forced labor on December 31. The elder Landaus were sent by transport to Thereienstadt on October 3, 1942. Friederike Paechter went there, too, but I don't have the date. 

Kurt Paechter was arrested at the Nassauische Str. apartment on October 30, and was also sent to Theresienstadt. A month later, he was sent to Auschwitz, where he probably perished, although Anneliese evidently believed he ultimately died at Bergen-Belsen. 

The elders all lived for a time at Theresienstadt and eventually died there. Salomon Landau died June 13, 1943. Friederike Meyer Paechter died on July 23, 1944. Rose Landau died December 21, 1944.

I'll look into what happened with Annaliese Landau and the three Paechter children in upcoming posts.