Karl Drerup: The Family History of his Wife Gertrud, née Lifmann

© Eva Masthoff with additional information by An Huitzing, Foundation Annemie and Helmuth Wolff, Amsterdam, NL.
I'd  like to thank especially Margot Lifmann, Haifa, IL, for her help.

In 1843 Abraham Lifmann (1828-1894) and his brother Levi Lifmann (1827–1897) moved from Dinslaken to Kamen. In 1846 he married Joanna Marcus. They had eight children within a period of 16 years (1847–1863): Eduard, Emilie, Bertha, Joseph, Rosette, Hermann, Jordan and Clara. Having got married quite a few daughters moved to Dinslaken. Bertha stayed in Kamen and married Salomon Stern. Her brothers Joseph and Hermann also stayed in Kamen.

In 1860 Abraham’s brother Levi, butcher in Schulstraße 2, married Emilie Marcus (1824–1896), sister of Johanna Marcus. They had four chil-
dren. Hulda and Pauline survived. In 1899 Pauline got married to Lehmann Oppenheimer of Oberhausen. In 1897 Hulda got married to Jakob Voos, who took over the butcher’s shop in the Schulstraße.

Joseph and Hermann Lifmann (1856–1935) carried on trading with livestock, in Weststrasse since 1898. In 1890 Joseph (1851–1920) married Sarah Lifmann. They had five children: Henny (born 27.05.1891), Walter, Alfred, Ludwig and Gertrud. Joseph Lifmann’s livestock business flou-
rished and he was a well respected businessman, who in 1927 was elected town councillor. He kept this political mandate for the DDP (German Democratic party) as long as 1919. The Council put up his portrait in the town hall which was later burnt in the market square by the Nazis, daugh-
ter Henny recalls in a letter dated 1.12.1975. Following his death his share of the business was transferred to his wife Sarah who died in 1929. The children inherited the business. Only the youngest daughter, Gertrud, carried on living in Kamen.

Henny had married in Dortmund businessman Richard Floersheim (born 11.05.1891). Ludwig Lifmann (born April 30th, 1897) was married to Claire Feuerstein and lived in Dresden, later on at Breslau. In 1938 Ludwig emigrated to New York together with his wife and son Frank-Joseph Lifmann (born 28.07.1935 in Breslau) where he died in 1947. Henny Floersheim, nèe Lifmann, managed to escape to Valdivia, Chile. In 1975 she said in a letter: „I have many good and beautiful memories of Kamen."

Gertrud Lifmann happened to bet he last member of her family to leave Kamen. As a married woman - Drerup - she emigrated to 1937 to New York. Later on she moved to New Hampshire, USA.

In 1914 Walter (born 12.09.1892) was killed in action. When Hermann Lifmann died in 1935, the business closed. Not all his brothers and sisters managed to escape persecution.

Alfred Lifmann (born 22.08.1895 in Kamen) served an internship at a big store in Hildeshem called 'Meyerhof am Platz'. This store was owned by Alfred's later parents-in-law whose daughter Grete Meyerhof he married in 1921. They had three children: Herbert was born 15.11.1922 and Walter was born 26.10.1923, both in Hildesheim. Alfred and Grete Lifmann left Hildesheim and went to Wilhelmshaven, where Margot was born on the 9th of August 1926. Later on Alfred went to work in several places in Germany, but from 1930 to 1933 the family lived in Düsseldorf. Unfortunately the Nazis wrote about Alfred in  the anti-semitic journal 'Der Stürmer' ('The Attacker') - founded by Julius Streicher, "Nazi Germany's leading Jew-baiter" (Robert S. Wistrich: Who's Who in Nazy Germany, Padstow 2002, p. 250). He decided to leave Düsseldorf and went to Amsterdam, where a distant relative found him a job. His wife Grete and the three children stayed in Düsseldorf till the end of the school year.  In August 1933 they also moved to Amsterdam, where they quickly accommodated. As being among the very first emigrants, the  Dutch received them very well. (This hospitality didn't persist later on.)

On the 20th of June 1943 one of the last big Nazi raids took place: Alfred, Grete and their daughter Margot were arrested and sent to Camp Westerbork. Their oldest son Herbert - the Zionist in the family - had managed to escape before:The resistance group of Joop Westerweel (a group consisting of Jews and believing protestants) had taken care of all the young people who were waiting for their chance to live in Palestine. He brought them to the Pyrenees and they made it on foot to Spain.
Then - eventually in 1944 - two ships took them to Palestine where they lived in different kibbutzim. Joop Westerweel, their savior, was caught and shot dead by the Nazis.
Walter, the second son of Alfred and Grete, was arrested in August 1943, when he tried to send a packet to his family. He was also transported to Camp Westerbork on August 26th, 1943, where he stayed one week, then he was sent to the extermination camp Sobibór in Poland. There he was killed in on March 31st, 1944. To exemplify the daily inhuman cynicism of the Nazis: As a veteran of World War I, who was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd class, Alfred Lifmann was first told by the Nazis that he, his wife Grete and his daughter Margot could live in the Theresienstadt (Terezín, now Czech Republic) ghetto. (Theresienstadt was deliberately misnamed by the Nazis as a 'settlement for Jews' to deceive the public. According to Margot Lifmann Theresienstadt was a ghetto and not a concentration camp. She wants to make this point absolutely clear, because she knows the difference as you can read further!) But on September 14th, 1943, Alfred was transported to Bergen-Belsen, on January 25th, 1944, to Theresienstadt. Grete and Margot Lifmann were sent to Bergen-Belsen in September 1943 and to Theresienstadt in January 1944. Fortunately - as far as the term 'fortune' is appropriate in this context - the family members were able to see each other at daytime in Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt. But then Alfred Lifmann was sent to Auschwitz where he was murdered on September 30th, 1944. Grete and Margot Lifmann stayed in Theresienstadt. Margot recalls:
Theresienstadt, the ghetto, was not liquidated in the sense that we know from all the other ghettos in the east.What happened was, that one morning in May 1945, we realized that all the gates were without guards - nobody was around. Then the red cross appeared with food and then I realized that people had left. So I said to my mother, we should also leave this place. We put our meager belongings on a depleted wheelchair and went to the main gate. There we found a Russian soldier who said "Niet!" and back we went. Then, during the next two weeks, the Russians came in numbers,the ghetto was still functioning, but the guards, many Austrians and some Germans, had disappeared. We still had to stay in Theresienstadt. We were left, a group of some 80 German Jews, stateless, as the Dutch consul had meanwhile arrived and had taken with him the 'real dutch'. After some time(I don't remember) two trucks came to fetch us to Pilsen where there was some American army stationed, who took us in.

After the war Herbert Lifmann found his mother and his sister with the help of 'Aufbau' (German for 'building up ' or 'construction'), a journal for German speaking Jews. Grete and Margot Lifmann decided also to immigrate to Palestine: Margot came illegally in July 1946, her mother Grete - having two children there - got a certificate and went legally to Palestine in December 1947.
Although there was already a lot of sorrow in their lives, there is still a tragic coda: Grete Lifmann died the night of 23-24th May 1960, shortly after Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion's announcement that Adolf Eichmann had been brought to Israel.
Herbert Lifmann died also very young in 1985 at the age of 63 - as all other Holocaust survivors he had a sore heart.

Marc Albano-Müller can add, as a result of his research, a lot of valuable details: Margot Lifmann's great-grandmother was Hanna Markus from Schwelm. In the Jewish cemetery of Schwelm you can find the graves of Hanna's mother Regine Markus, née Herz (1779-1874), her older brother Herz Markus (1815-1884) and Hanna's oldest sister Rosa Dahl, née Markus (1816-1877). In Schwelm you can still visit the house Kirchstraße 10, for decades inhabited - and also probably built - by the family Markus.
Hanna's parents still wrote their family name with a 'c' instead of a 'k', the spelling was changed in the next generation. Hanna's father was butcher Jordan Marcus (1779 in Schwelm - 1857 in Schwelm), Hanna's mother was Regina Marcus née Herz (about 1779 in Canstein/Marsberg - 14th of December 1874 in Schwelm).
Their graves also still exist.

Despite everything - in the year 2013:
Aya Dosh Lifmann, Margot Lifmann's niece and Herbert Lifmann's daughter, with her 6 grandchildren, from left to right:
Tamar (7); Ruth (3); the 15 months old twins Ron and Libi;
Avri (3) and Dan (5).
They are members of the first and the third generation of the Lifmann family who were born in Israel.
(Photograph courtesy of Margot Lifmann)

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