Ernst Ritter von Marx
“The grandparents’ names undoubtedly suggest Jewish origins”
by Angelika Rieber
Named district commissioner by the Kaiser
Ernst Ritter von Marx, born March 12, 1869 in Vienna, is known as commissioner (“Landrat”) of the Obertaunus district. Germany’s first flyover bridge in the district seat of Bad Homburg is named after him.
Von Marx grew up in Frankfurt, where he received a classical education. His parents converted to Protestantism when he was baptized. He obtained his doctorate in law after studying in Geneva, Leipzig and Berlin. In 1897, he entered the Prussian civil service as Assessor for the Obertaunus district office in Homburg vor der Hoehe. Just four years later, in 1901, he was elected mayor of the town; since 1902, he held the title of a Lord Mayor (“Oberbürgermeister”).
At the behest of Kaiser Wilhelm II., who resided at Bad Homburg’s spa several weeks every year, Ernst Ritter von Marx was named district commissioner (“Landrat”) of the Obertaunuskreis in 1904. He held this office until 1921.
He lived at Kaiser-Friedrich-Promenade 111a with his wife, who also came from a Jewish family, and their children. The family belonged to the Reformed church.
h3. “Auf zum Taunus”
As a local administrator, Ernst Ritter von Marx made valuable contributions to the structural and economic development of the spa town of Homburg and the surrounding Obertaunuskreis, a district of the Rhein-Main metropolitan region. He ran the “Project for increasing tourism and settlement in the southern Taunus,” which drew many wealthy residents to the hillside district. 5000 copies of the high-end brochure “Auf zum Taunus” (“Off to the Taunus”) were printed.
Ernst Ritter von Marx’s driving habits were notorious. In 1906, he was caught in a speed trap near Kehl. The police charged him of speeding through the town at 20 km/h. The limit was 12 km/h. Because exemplary reverence for laws and regulations was expected of civil servants, he was sentenced to the considerable penalty of 50 Marks.
In 1921, von Marx retired at his own request. It is likely the war and the tumultuous years that followed had made him weary of his post. After a sojourn in Switzerland, he moved to Zeppelinallee in Frankfurt.
“Very urgent; requires immediate attention”
Because of his Jewish ancestry, the former district commissioner was forced to emigrate to England in 1935, 2 years after Hitler’s inauguration. On May 1, 1936, the bridge built on his initiative was renamed to “Schlossbrücke”. It had initially been named after Georg Speyer, a banker of Jewish origin. In 1941, Marx was forced to accept the cutting of his pension payments.
Archives show that the Gestapo investigated in 1943, whether the former district commissioner should be classified as „racial Jew pursuant to the first ordinance of the Reich Citizen Act of Nov. 11, 1935 due to four volljüdisch grandparents.” The regional kinship office (“Gausippenamt”) had given the orders, because the names of von Marx’s grandparents indicated Jewish origins.
“Very urgent; requires immediate attention.” The hastily compiled family tree meticulously lists the former commissioner’s Jewish ancestry. Ernst Ritter von Marx died in British exile on June 1, 1944, one day before his golden wedding.
Remembering a legendary district commissioner: Ritter von Marx Bridge in Bad Homburg
His widow, Nelly von Marx, returned to Germany several times. Together with a grandson, she followed the invitation of Bad Homburg’s Lord Mayor Karl Horn and attended the renaming of Schlossbrücke into Ritter-von-Marx-Brücke. She died on Nov. 16, 1957.
Ernst Ritter von Marx, born on March 12, 1869 in Vienna. Christian of Jewish ancestry
• Mayor and Lord Mayor of Bad Homburg, commissioner of Obertaunus district (1904-1921)
• Addresses: Bad Homburg: Kaiser-Friedrich-Promenade, Frankfurt: Zeppelinallee
• 1935 emigration to England
• 1944 Ernst Ritter von Marx dies in British exile
• 1955 Schlossbrücke in Bad Homburg, to whose construction he greatly contributed, renamed after Ritter von Marx
• Grosche, Heinz (1991): Geschichte der Juden in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe,
• (1993): Geschichte der Stadt Bad Homburg, Band IV, Verlag Waldemar Kramer: Frankfurt
• Walsh, Gerta: Große Nehmen in Bad Homburg. Ein Gang durch die Straßen der Kurstadt, Sozietätsverlag: Frankfurt
• 100 Jahre „Auf zum Taunus!“ Frische Luft nicht nur für reiche Frankfurter, FAZ vom 7.1.2008
• Ein trauriges Kapitel, TZ vom 18.6.2014
• Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Wiesbaden
• Stadtarchiv Bad Homburg
• Stadtarchiv Oberursel