And Part 3 of the Egon Schönberger story
The Schönbergers were Neustadt [New City] folk.
Of course, “new” around here has a different connotation to where I grew up (oldest house:1840…) or parts of the USA (In Fort Lauderdale, they’ll proudly shown you the Stranahan House, a 1901 villa only surviving because it was built from termite-resistant Dade County pine).
In Mainz, “new” means mid-19th century, which is when the Neustadt was built. (“Old” is Roman” Or Celtic…)
You wouldn’t have wanted to live in the Altstadt back then: a military fortification, it was constrained by the city walls, hopelessly overcrowded (30 m2 per inhabitant and that’s not apartment size, that’s EVERYTHING), lacking any sanitation and epidemics were common.
As with all fortifications at the time, the land outside the defensive walls were defined as “killing fields” – no building which could provide an enemy cover could be built within 500m of the fortification – and it was only in 1872 following the construction of the fortification of Metz (to keep those dastardly French at arm’s length..) that planning permission for a new city along the lines of Paris (wide boulevards and parks) was granted for the Gartenfeld, which – as the name indicates – was an area of mostly private gardens and allotments, to the east of the Kaiserstarsse.
Grand buildings, as old postcards show.
This is the area where the Schönbergers lived, close to the Main Synagogue (destroyed in Kristallnacht in 1938).
I’m indebted to Markus Würz, a research associate in the History department at Mainz University, for helping fill in the gaps. He’s chairman of the Verein für Sozialgeschichte Mainz e.V. (Society for the Social History of Mainz) and had previously researched the Schönberger family, producing a comprehensive family history which I’ve since translated.
According to the 1902 census, Abraham’s wife, Karoline, lived in Bonifatiusstrasse 40 following the death of her husband Abraham.
In 1912, her sons Arthur and Eugen lived at Bonifatiusstrasse 7 and in 1924-5 daughter Bertha in Kaiserstrasse 7.
By this time, (1924-5) Arthur and his family had moved to Bauhofstrasse 21 and Eugen would have taken up residence in an apartment above the company’s offices in Walpodenstrasse 5.
In the 1939 census, Bertha and her sister Jenny were registered at Hindenburgstrasse 7 (Arthur and Eugen’s previous house, Bonifatiusstrasse 7 prior to its name change in 1916).
Shortly afterwards, the sisters moved to Kaiserstrasse 21 and were then forcibly relocated to an overcrowded “Jewish House” in Adam Karrillon-Strasse 54 where they took their own lives in 1942 to avoid deportation.
I’ve photographed all of these locations and you know what?
Not a single structure has survived.
A previous post gives an indication of the bombing damage, but when you walk down Hindenburgstrasse/Bonifatiusstrasse, it’s “new,new,new,old,new,new,new,new,new,new,old,new,new”.
This is Hindenburg/Bonifatiusstrasse 7 today
The family would have lived in a house similar to this surviving neighbour (the last house in the block – Adam-Karillonstrasse 13 – and in a cruel twist of fate, one of the “Jewish Houses” to which Jews were forcibly relocated prior to deportation.)
And these days, they look like this
Adam Karrillon-Strasse 54
Anonymous post-war soul-less functional structures all.
But what a story they tell…..