The expulsion of a long established Jewish family and the destruction of a centuries-old tradition in the textile business in Frankfurt
By Till Lieberz-Groß
Robbie Black, the only daughter of Franz Lucien Schwarzschild (Frank Black) and Robbie’s son Zac Bloom were participants of the visiting programme of the City of Frankfurt in 2016.
“Schwarzschild is one branch of an old Jewish family from the Lower Rhine area who came to Frankfurt in 1499. The young butcher Liebmann who moved to a house called 'Schwarzes Schild' (Black Shield) in 1555 can be seen as the progenitor (ancestor) of the Schwarzschilds in Frankfurt.
The future owners of the company 'Schwarzschild-Ochs' – the two brothers Enoch Aron (1805-1874) and Jacob Aron (1806-1848) – go back to butcher Liebmann’s grandson, born in 1620. Enoch and Jacob were in the silk trade.” (Eva Stille, exhibition catalogue 1999 – see bibliographical reference)
Emigration and a new start
Roberta/Robbie Black was born in 1953 in the USA. As an eighteen-year-old, her father Franz Lucien Schwarzschild/Frank Black, born in 1920 in Frankfurt, is able to flee just in time: He emigrates via Paris and Le Havre to New York/USA. In 1938 and succeeds in building up a new future in the silk trade in San Diego/California.
Franz Lucien Schwarzschild becomes an American citizen on October 29th, 1942 in New York – now: Frank Black. Franz Lucien Schwarzschild/Frank Black marries Betty Rabinowitz, born in 1922 in Pennsylvania. Betty is the daughter of Max Rabinowitz (born in Palestine) and Sadie Rabinowitz (born in Eastern Europe). Frank and Betty have two children: daughter Robbie, born in 1953 and son Harold, born in 1954.
Rudimentary, unfinished education in Germany
Franz Lucien’s future in Germany comes abruptly to a stillstand in 1938: Franz Lucien attends Hermann-Schnapper-Schule, followed by Liebig- Oberrealschule/ High School (until 1930) and the Jewish High School, Philantropin (1934-1935). He begins an apprenticeship at a company called Rosenthal, attending a vocational school at the same time and then switches to a special school for weavers (Stoffweberei-Schule) in 1936. In 1937 he continues his training in the family business 'Schwarzschild-Ochs' and is introduced to the network of international business relations (Frankfurt-London-Paris). But in 1937 the long established company 'Schwarzschild-Ochs' is eliminated.
The Schwarzschild family Frankfurt
There is a family owned large shop at Rossmarkt 13 (before: Rossmarkt 7) – a prime location in the inner city of Frankfurt – and another one in Leipziger Straße, a major business area in Frankfurt-Bockenheim. The Schwarzschilds live in a grand house “Am Leonardsbrunn 7”.
Eduard and Blanche Julie Schwarzschild
Franz Lucien’s father Eduard Heinrich David Schwarzschild, son of Max and Berta Schwarzschild, née Salin, was born in 1875 in Frankfurt. His wife Blanche Julie, née Pohl, was born in 1885 in Paris.
The Nazis bully and threaten Eduard immensely; eventually he cannot endure the continuous humiliation and the downfall of the long established family business any more: in January 1939 he commits suicide – according to the family together with his loyal chauffeur Daschmann (Dachsmann).
Eduard is buried at the Jewish cemetery Rat-Beil-Straße in Frankfurt ; unfortunately there is no further evidence of his chauffeur by now.
Eduard Schwarzschild’s last address in Frankfurt is Liebigstr. 53 (1939). Eduards’s wife Blanche is able to escape to France and succeeds to emigrate from the South of France to the USA in 1941.
The siblings of Franz Lucien
Hilda, the oldest Schwarzschild child, born in 1907 in Frankfurt dies very early from cancer; she is only 8-years-old.
Elisabeth Charlotte Lieselotte/Lilo, born in 1912 in Frankfurt (she passes away in 2000 ) – is able to emigrate in 1938/39 to the USA – as her brothers do:
Franz Lucien and Heinz, born in 1917 in Frankfurt (he passes away in 2002)
Less lucky is the eldest Schwarzschild-son Max, born in 1910 in Frankfurt: He is educated and trained to take over the family heritage but Maximilian Martin Eduard Schwarzschild is forced to leave Frankfurt in the early 1930s: Politically committed to the forbidden “Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold” (a centre-left association in favour of the democracy in the Weimar Republic) he is “sacked”- as he put it himself – because of the Nazi-oriented staff of the Schwarzschild business.
Due to a complete lack of perspectives in Nazi-Germany Max emigrates to France as early as 1934. There he works in a store dealing with silk as a trainee . The business is owned by of one of his father’s customers. He does not get a salary because at that time foreigners in France are not allowed to work as regular employees. He then tries his luck as an entrepreneur establishing a bookshop in Paris – together with two friends. But this idea also proves unprofitable and he lives in poverty at 4 Square Léon Guillot in Paris.
After the outbreak of World War II in 1939 he is taken to an internment camp and according to his files at the Main State Archive of Hesse in Wiesbaden he is drafted to the French labour service; according to his mother he joins the British Army. With the evacuation of British soldiers – the Allies were not yet able to overcome the German army in 1940 – he seems to have had a chance to escape with them from Dunkerque to Britain. But he returns to the South of France in the same year to meet his mother.
Max was not married. Supposedly he felt responsible for his mother – a widow at that time. His mother Blanche gets the chance to emigrate to the USA on July 23rd, 1941 – but without her son Max. Max has to stay back in France, because according to his mother France does not allow him to leave the country. We do not know for sure why: Some suppose Max might have got drafted for the military service because of his age, some suppose that he had joined the Résistance.
The manager of the hotel in Espalion (Dep. Aveyron/Midi- Pyrénées) where his mother had been living, informs Blanche Schwarzschild In a letter – dated January 4th, 1949 – about the destiny of her son Max: Max is arrested by the Vichy-police in the early morning of August 16th, 1942. He is taken into custody at 7.00 a.m. and is deported to Camp Drancy. From there he is deported further to the concentration camp of Auschwitz on February 11th, 1943 where he arrives on February 13th, 1943. He is officially declared dead on December 31st, 1945. There should be a “Stolperstein” for Max.
Second and third generation
Robbie Black is living in Santa Monica/ California today. She is married to a politician of the Democratic Party, Richard Bloom, born in 1953. The couple has got two sons: Zachary/Zac and Emmett Bloom. Her son Zac who accompanied her to Frankfurt in 2016, studies and lives in New York/USA.
Robbie is impressed by the support she got – especially the amount of research concerning her family history. And she feels comfortable in the former High School of her father, now called Liebig-Gymnasium.
She enjoys the vivid discussion with the students: “I bonded with a few of the students and hope to have them visit me in the States later this year”.
Second and third generation – visiting programme 2016
Roberta/Robbie Black, born on March 20th, 1953,
Santa Monica/California, USA
and her son Zac/Zachary Bloom, New York
Robbie is married to Richard Bloom,
born on June 22nd, 1953
the couple has got two sons: Zachary und Emmett Bloom
parents of Robbie Black
- Franz Lucien Schwarzschild/ Frank Black,
born on March 19th, 1920 in Frankfurt
- Betty Schwarzschild, geb. Rabinowitz,
born on August 2nd, 1922 in Pennsylvania/USA
siblings of Robbie Black
one brother: Harold, born on August 12th, 1954
grandparents of Robbie Black
- Eduard Heinrich David Schwarzschild,
born on May 23rd,1875 in Frankfurt
died in January 1939 in Frankfurt (suicide)
- Blanche Julie, geb. Pohl,
born on September 6th, 1885 in Paris
siblings of Franz Lucien Schwarzschild
- Hilda Schwarzschild, born on September 22nd, 1907 in Frankfurt, died on February 11th, 1916 in Frankfurt
- Maximilian Martin Eduard Schwarzschild, born on November 10th, 1910
murdered in February 1943 in Auschwitz
- Lilo Schwarzschild. born on February 19th, 1912 in Frankfurt
died on May 15th, 2000 in the USA
- Heinz Schwarzschild, born on September 11th, 1917 in Frankfurt
died 2002 in the USA
Emigration to the USA
- Franz Lucien in 1938
- Lilo und Heinz in 1938/39
- Blanche Julie in 1941
Death caused by the Nazis
- Robbie’s grandfather Eduard Schwarzschild committed suicide in 1939
- Robbie‘ s uncle Max perished in Auschwitz in 1943
- Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Wiesbaden / Main State Archive of Hesse, Wiesbaden
- Staatsarchiv Darmstadt / State Archive Darmstadt/ Hesse
- Bundesarchiv / Federal Archives (Archives of the Federal Republic of Germany)
- ITS Arolsen / International Tracing Service in Arolsen
- Archiv Buchenwald / Buchenwald-Archive
- Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt / The Institute of Town History, Frankfurt
- Script zur Familiengeschichte der Schwarzschilds via Robbie Black / Script about the family saga of the Schwarzschilds
- Eva Stille, Vertreibung der Frankfurter Juden aus der
Bekleidungswirtschaft, Ausstellungskatalog des Historischen Museums Frankfurt
„Frankfurt Macht Mode 1933-1945“, Jonas Verlag 1999 /
Exhibition catalogue – Historical Museum of Frankfurt 1999
- Friedhofsverwaltung der Jüdischen Gemeinde Frankfurt / Administration of the Jewish cemetries
- Robbie Black, Evaluation 2016
Robbie Black; Stephan Peters; Till Lieberz-Groß
Research and Text: