“It’s not true. He was murdered.”
by Angelika Rieber
“Seppl” was known for always helping others out
Josef Schwarzschild was born in Oberusel-Bommersheim on 21 Nov. 1908 to Abraham Schwarzschild and Amalie, née Gruenebaum. Abraham Schwarzschild had come to Steinbach in 1875. He became a signalman for the Prussian state railways and moved into a signalman’s hut with his family. In 1915, Josef entered the school in Steinbach and later apprenticed as a bricklayer and joined a trade union. From 1923, he became an active member of the football association Germania and until his exclusion in 1935, he drove the fire engine of the local fire brigade (member no. 145).
In 1931, Josef Schwarzschild married his school sweetheart Anna Maria Seitz and moved with her to Schwanengasse in Steinbach. His wife was not Jewish. Their fathers served as groomsmen. According to the Nazi definition, theirs was a “mixed marriage.” Abraham died in 1935 and is buried at the Jewish cemetery in Oberursel. “Seppel,” as Josef Schwarzschild was called by school friends, was known throughout Steinbach for always helping others out.
He worked at Deutsche Reichsbahn until 1932. According to his wife, he was dismissed during the Great Depression due a “shortage of work” and not re-employed later because of his Jewish origins. He remained unemployed from 1932 to 1939. A Jewish company also rejected him, because his wife was a gentile. Until the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 banned it, he was still able to volunteer as a fireman in his hometown of Steinbach.
After the Nuremberg Laws, the family was under enormous pressure. Non-Jewish partners were compelled to get divorced. At first, Jewish spouses in “mixed marriages” were exempt from the deportations that started in 1941/42. But in the Frankfurt Gau a criminalization campaign in April/May 1943 arbitrarily accused Jewish spouses of petty offenses, which gave the authorities formal excuses for arresting them. The victims and their families were made to believe that their own mistakes had led to their arrests.
In April 1943, Josef Schwarzschild was summoned by the Gestapo and arrested. He was accused of not properly wearing the yellow star imposed on Jews on 1 September 1941. In reality, he fell victim to a targeted campaign. On 20 April 1943, Josef Schwarzschild was first taken to the Offenbach jail, later to Darmstadt and then to the “reeducation through labor camp” in Frankfurt-Heddernheim. From here, he was deported to Auschwitz on 3 September 1943, where he was killed.
His wife remembers:
“On Hitler’s birthday, the Gestapo in Darmstadt summoned him. He never returned. On 15 Jan. 1944, I received the notice that my husband had died on 10 Dec. 1943 due to heart failure. […] It’s not true. He was murdered.”
Josef Schwarzschild, born 1908 in Oberursel
• Son of Abraham Schwarzschild and his wife Amalia, née Grünebaum
• Primary school in Steinbach
• 1931 – Marriage to a non-Jewish classmate
• Employee of Deutsche Reichsbahn, unemployed from 1932-1939
• 1943 – Summoned by Gestapo, imprisoned in Offenbach and Darmstadt, “reeducation through labor” camp in Frankfurt-Heddernheim
• 3 Sep. 1943 – Deportation to Auschwitz
• Date of death: 10 Dec. 1943
• Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Wiesbaden
• Stadtarchiv Oberursel
• Gespräche mit Zeitzeugen
• Private Dokumente und Fotos
• Hundt, M.: Querbeet 1. Ein Lesebuch nicht nur für echte Oberurseler, Steinbach 2002
• Rieber, A. (2004): Wir bleiben hier. Lebenswege Oberurseler Familien jüdischer Herkunft, Kramer-Verlag: Frankfurt
• Vorläufer-Germer, B.: Josef Schwarzschild aus Steinbach, das AEL Heddernheim, sein Arbeitskommando Köppern und die „Aktion Brandt“; in: Chronik des * Waldkrankenhauses Köppern
• Josef Schwarzschild, Source: private
• Josef Schwarzschild (right) with neighbors at Schwanengasse in Steinbach, Source: private
• Membership card of the Steinbach fire brigade, Source: private
• Commemorative plaque on former residence of Josef Schwarzschild at Schwanengasse in Steinbach, Source: Angelika Rieber
Text and research: