1936 Opening of the second LGS

It took until the 9th of January 1936, 8 months after the school had opened, for the Erlaubnisurkunde, (document granting permission to open a school) to arrive! [1]   The 4 page document stated that the teaching of foreign languages other than Hebrew was forbidden, that only girls were permitted in the upper school and that girls and boys had to be taught separately in the lower school. The total number of children per classroom was entered on the plan, bringing the total number of pupils allowed in the school to 173. Dr. Goldschmidt was required to submit lists of pupils to the local mayor of Schmargendorf, and submit the school timetable to the Schulrat (Inspector of schools) on every 1st of May. On no account should the school give the impression that it was a government school. The document was signed for the Staatskommissar der Haupstadt (Prussian Commissioner of the Capital) on instruction by Dr.Klinger, school division, Berlin. By the time this document arrived, a new application was about to be lodged because more space was urgently required. The reputation of the school had spread so rapidly that more and more children had joined both as boarders and as day students causing crowded conditions.  In the meantime, on the 22nd of October 1935, Lore's sister, Martha, had died after a long illness. [2] Bertha Mine and Wilhelm, her children, aged 12 and 10 years old, came to Berlin to join the Goldschmidt family. Mine, sometime later, preferred to live in the boarding section of the school. Although both children were now co-owners  [3] of the property, Ro§strasse 18, Lore was able to use it as collateral. She entered a lien  [4] in favour of brothers Jacob and Dr. Fritz Grštzinger, Jewish bankers, who owned a most magnificent building at Hohenzollerndamm 105/110, corner of Hundekehlstra§e 23/26 and corner of Marienbadstra§e.  [5]  

They wished to leave Germany and the lean was used  as a lease for this property, which occupied a whole city block. In order to use is as a school, some minor alterations had to be undertaken.  While the building was being decorated, a visitor from Scotland, Margaret Cook, who was studying German at Edinburgh University, lived temporarily in one of the attic rooms on the third floor. She had come to improve her German and help with the Goldschmidt children.  She was the second visitor from England. Dudley Cheke, whom Leonore Goldschmidt had met at St Christopher School, visited while studying oriental languages in Cambridge. These two admirable people formed our "introduction" to England. Both became important friends and later rendered much needed assistance to the Goldschmidt family.  By Easter 1936, Hohenzollerndamm 110 was ready and the senior school numbering 219 pupils moved into that magnificent building! (Photo 5). Part of the huge garden, 10000sqm, became the playing fields for outdoor sports and athletics. One part of the basement, which was covered with a parquet floor, became the gym. Also located in the basement were a large music room together with a grand piano, a workshop for wood and metal work, a laboratory for scientific experiments and washrooms with lockers. Another section of the basement became the living quarters of the caretaker, Herr Voss. On the first floor was a huge entrance hall, surrounded by 9 large classrooms plus a room for the art class. On the next floor was the office, the staff room and various other rooms that could be used for teaching of smaller specialist classes. Washing facilities were also available on that floor. [6]  Gertrud Arnheim, the matchmaking cousin, became the school secretary. By employing close relatives, family friends and other trusted persons, the danger of incriminating information reaching Nazi ears would hopefully be avoided. Official permission to operate the school at Hohenzollerndamm 110 arrived on 20th of May 1936. It was signed for the Staatskommissar der Hauptstadt (Prussian Commissioner of the Capital) by Hassenstein. [7] It consisted of a one page document cancelling all the dreadful restrictions of the previous Erlaubni§urkunde of the 9th of January. The school was to be called "JŸdische Privatschule Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt. Volksschule und weiterfŸhrende Lehranstalt fŸr Knaben und Mädchen" (Jewish Private School, Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt, elementary school with further education for boys and girls). What had changed the Staatskommissar's attitude? Was his sudden conversion, part of Nazi strategy to impress foreign visitors for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin? Certainly a concerted effort was being made by the Nazi propaganda machine to remove anti-Jewish hate publications from the streets of Berlin during that period.  With previous restrictions removed, the school could operate as a senior school teaching foreign languages, which were French, English and Latin with Hebrew part of the religious instruction. Physics, Chemistry and Biology were taught alternately, so were History and Geography. Music Appreciation and Drawing were included in the morning syllabus. Girls and boys were taught in the same class. Peter Prager sent an enjoyable story: "Thus my days started at the JŸdische Privatschule Dr.Leonore Goldschmidt. My first day at school was a bit overwhelming. Every child feels diffident on his first day in a new school. But I had never been in a mixed school before, and 20 girls were staring at me as I was standing next to the desk of the teacher who took my particulars. However, I saw that all the boys were seated on the left and the girls on the right, so I would be sitting among the boys. This reassured me. The pupils were sitting at double desks and, as Herr Meissinger was surveying the scene, he could not find an unoccupied boy's desk. He said, 'Prager, you will have to sit next to Inge Jäger'. The seat next to her was the only empty one in the whole class. I was horrified, but what could I do? I walked in a daze towards Inge and sat down. She must have noticed my discomforture. She smiled at me and pushed a piece of paper towards me, inviting me to play noughts and crosses. I hesitated to join in, because I was a rather obedient pupil who never did what the teacher might object to. But Inge did try to be nice to me, and so I joined in the game." [8]  As was customary in Germany, school started at 8.15 am and continued to 9.50. After a second breakfast, classes started again at 10.15. They continued until about 2pm when most children went home. Pupils who wanted to stay for lunch could eat in Kronbergerstra§e. In the afternoon, some returned for sports. Danish long ball, a cross between rounders and baseball without fielder, was a popular game, others played handball or football. Other afternoon activities were metal work and choir practise.  Moving the senior school to Hohenzollerndamm 110 ended the overcrowded conditions in Kronbergerstra§e, which had arisen from the unexpected increase in the number of students that were joining the school. It gave both boarders and the junior school, then numbering 72 pupils, adequate space in Kronbergerstra§e, which also remained the official address of the school.    

Application for the ReifeprŸfungor Abitur

On the 26th of May an application asking for permission toprepare for and hold the ReifeprŸfung or Abitur, (final Examination) at the school was tendered to the Staatskommissar via the Schulrat (School inspector)named Pott.[9]Carefully drafted by Ernst Goldschmidt, the the application had manyattachments, including a list of over 400 library books and teaching materialsfor scientific or artistic subjects, plus a list of gym equipment. The detailsof 18 teachers were also enclosed. 

The most senior teacher was Professor Dr.Kurt Levinstein, Oberstudienrat (Department Head), abruptly retired by the Nazis. He started histeaching career in 1903 as a master in the prodigious Franzšsische Gymnasium (French High School for boys), one of the oldest schools in Germanyfounded by Huguenot immigrants. After a brilliant career in the teachingprofession, he became a member of the examination centre for teachers. Hisexamination subjects were German, modern languages and education. 

Dr.Kurt Lewent, Studienrat(Senior Master), began his teaching career in 1906 at the Werner SiemensOberrealschule. He was retired by the Nazis in 1935, while being responsiblefor the examination in old French and old Provencal in the University ofBerlin. He had been an exchange teacher in 1906/07 at the LycŽe in Reims.  In 1931, he had also examined LeonoreGoldschmidt as reported earlier.  

Erich Bandman, Studienrat,was a mathematics and music teacher in the public school system from 1915 untilMarch 1933 when dismissed by the Nazis. He continued teaching these subjects atthe Leonore Goldschmidt Schule and taught religion as well.

Dr.Julian Hirsch, Studienrat,started his career in 1909 and was retired in October 1935 from the Mozart Oberlyceum by the Nazis. He had been an exchange teacher at the LycŽe Carnotand had accompanied Mme. M. Chenenthivet, the national inspector of primaryschools, throughout France.

Dr.Irma Wertheimer, Studienätin, (Senior Mistress) started teaching in 1911. Her final position as science teacher in the public service was at the Lyzeum of Guben.  She was dismissed by the Nazis. 

Georg Ledermann, Studienrat,had started teaching in 1920 and had just been dismissed by the Nazis on the1st of January 1936. 

Dr.Margot Melchior, Studienassessorin, had been teaching since January 1916 in various girl schools inBerlin and was dismissed by the Nazis in April 1933. 

Erich Rubensohn, Studienassessor, (Master) whohad lost one leg in the World War, started teaching in 1926 and was dismissedby the Nazis in September 1935. He had worked as exchange teacher in the LycŽeHenri Wallon in Valenciennes during 1931/32.  

Erich Loewenthal, Studienassessor, started teaching in 1927 and was dismissed in the fall of 1935. Hehad been an exchange teacher at a LycŽe in Douai during 1931/32.  

Walter Bernstein, Studienassessor, had been teaching since 1929 and was dismissed in 1933 by theNazis. He had held administrative positions was in charge of the boardingsection at the Dr.Leonore Goldschmidt Schule.

Four other teachers, who were teaching in the juniorschool, were also listed.   

Lore was able to assemble this powerful and experiencedstaff not only because they had been dismissed by the Nazis but, althoughyounger and less qualified, she had won their respect by her determination andcourage.  In addition, thisapplication for the ReifeprŸfung contained thefollowing financial information:

a)         that the Jewish Community Organisationhad advanced RM 8000 using the house in Forst again as collateral,

b)         that the monthly income of theDr.Leonore Goldschmidt Schule stood at RM 10500 from school fees

c)         that 17 pupils were working towardsthat final examination.

LoreGoldschmidt argued that it was vital for them to complete their education inorder to proceed to higher education in Germany or abroad. The argument that itwas a matter of pride that her Jewish school should have the same status as aState High School was not presented! The harassment of Jewish students in thepublic school system continued. In different schools this took on differentforms depending on the headmaster or teachers. As a result, many Jewishstudents left the public school system and joined a Jewish school. When theauthor was being excluded from school excursions and not allowed to take part inthe Olympic Games festivities, she left the Goethe Oberlyzeum(High School for Girls) in Schmargendorf and joined her mother's school,where the beautiful building and the surroundings of Hohenzollerndamm 110 werea great improvement on the the old Victorian building of the local lyceum.While it had been hard to leave good school friends behind, it had becomeinevitable, as Arian parents were told not to allow their children to associatewith their Jewish friends. Henry Eisner wrote: [10] "In late 1936, I startedan experience which, at least in retrospect, was fulfilling, exciting,enriching. Fulfilled because I could at last resume what should never havestopped. Exciting, because I was put together with a group of bright,challenging, stimulating people unlike any I had met in my home town's Realgymnasium,enriching because I was blessed with a faculty while demanding wasunderstanding and compassionate". Eva Posen wrote: "There are notmany things in my life that I remember so well as the feeling that I had, andstill have, about the Goldschmidt Schule. It was our place of refuge, our ownplace where we could forget the rest of the world, and I look upon it as myvery own 'Garden of the Finzi Continis'. The friendships formed during thatparticular period were strong and lasting to this very day, 45 years later,forged during a time of turmoil, danger, hastened awareness, and even terror.The school seemed precious and more real than anything outside. I loved itdearly and shall ever remember it as having contributed a special cared forfeeling at a time of great vulnerability."

The importance of Englishqualifications

Lore had become aware that, in some international schools, pupils were being prepared for different leaving examinations simultaneously. Realizing that the future of most of her pupils lay in emigration, she decided that besides the Abitur a leaving certificate from an English University would be of great value. She approached Cambridge University, which in turn notified the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Deutsche Pädagogische Auslandsstelle (Academic Exchange Program, German Pedagogic Foreign Service Registry) of these negotiations. [11] This authority, in turn, sent a sympathetic memorandum about the issue of Cambridge University examinations in Germany to the Reichsminister fŸr Wissenschaft (German Minister for Science) in Berlin which suggested two possible public schools for the English examinations, the Dorotheen State Realgymnasium and the Pädagogium in Marburg and two Jewish schools, the Philantropin in Frankfurt-am-Main and the Dr.Leonore Goldschmidt Schule, because she had lodged the original application and pointed out that Jewish students would be able to emigrate more quickly. The document suggested that negotiations should be concluded in the autumn and requested the Minister to take the necessary steps.

Summer holidays and visit toEngland

The summer holidays of 1936 were approaching. The Nazis had forced hotel owners of Germany not to offer Jewish people any hospitality. This made it very hard for Jewish families to travel. But Lore discovered a loophole. It was possible to travel to a small sea side resort located on the border of East Prussia and Lithuania which was part of and administered by Lithuania. No passport or visa was required to go there. The place was called Schwarzort and lay close to Memel. As a result, a number of school children including her own together with two teachers, Alfons Kohn and Gerda Levin, spent a most enjoyable holiday by the Baltic Sea. Mornings were spent on the beach, while during most afternoons orienteering games were played in the woods inland. As these woods were covered with ripe blueberries, most participants emerged with blue mouths and blue tongues when the games were finished! Mine Presch wrote about this holiday: [12] "By 1936, I was no longer allowed to attend the open air pool (in Forst), and the summer alone, while my father attended to our textile plant under great pressure, was very lonely. When my aunt (Dr.L.Goldschmidt) suggested to my father that my brother and I share in a trip to Lithuania together with my cousins, Rudi and Tutta, and about 20 other children from the then newly formed Goldschmidt Schule, I really looked forward to the trip. The leaders were two young teachers, Ali Kohn, a medical student and a young woman, whose name I cannot recall. I still have all kinds of photos of that trip and would love to hear from anyone else who went with us at that time. We stayed at a beach resort. I loved the Baltic Sea, collecting amber along the shoreline in the morning, the food, the little stores along the harbour, and the friendly people. Best of all being with so many other children, all of whom were just the same as me."  Knowing that her children were in good hands, Lore went to Cambridge to seek support for her application to become an Examination Centre. Lyn Harris, the Headmaster of St Christopher School, referred her to Mr.Richardson at the Board of Education who in turn referred her to Mr.Shurrock, Secretary to the Matriculation Board and Examination Council, University of London. Mr.Shurrock declared that he would be prepared to accept an application provided it was lodged via the German Authorities.

[1] Erlaunbnisurkunde for Dr.L.Goldschmidt Schule,9/1/1936, in possession of the author

[2] Death Certificate in the archives of Amtsgericht, Cottbus

[3] Gemeinschaftlicher Erbschein 3. VI144.35 in the archives of Amtsgericht, Cottbus

[4] Grundbuch Forst Stadtbezirk, Band 19, No 532

[5] Prospectus issued September 1937, in possession of the author

[6] Floor plan of Hohenzollerndamm 110, in possession of the author

[7] Nachtrag, 20/5/1936, in possession of the author

[8] Passages from Berlin, Private publication, 1987 

[9] Application 26/5/1936 for the Abitur, Bundesarchiv, Potsdam

[10] Passages from Berlin, Private publication, 1987

[11] Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst to Reichsminister,21/8/1936, Bundesarchiv, Potsdam

[12] Passages from Berlin, Private publication, 1987

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