Authors: Simon Bornschlegel, Manfred Brösamle-Lambrecht
Karl [or Carl] Kraus (February 5, 1858 - January 10, 1940) was born as the eldest of seven children of Johannes Jondoph (Jonas) Kraus and Karoline (Katti) Herrmann in Demmelsdorf. In 1890 he moved to Lichtenfels and opened a sewing-supply and textile shop in the imposing building at Oberer Markt 21. In 1917 he bought this house.
A highly respected citizen until 1933
Carl Kraus was a highly respected citizen of Lichtenfels until 1933. Since 1908 he had been a member of the Lichtenfels industrial and trade committee. Starting in 1922, he headed the Israelite Community and was an honorary member and long-time kit manager of the volunteer fire brigade. Starting in 1924, he served as an elected city councilman, and in 1926 as a member of the board of the Bavarian Textile Retail Association.
Together with his wife Johanna (neé Neuburger), he had three children: Henriette (* 1894), Käthe and Josef (* 1896).
A victim of racism and a anti-Semitism
After being publicly honored on his 75th birthday, a few weeks later, at the instigation of the Nazis, he was thrown out of the city council and all other honorary posts. The highly respected dignitary became an ostracized Jew within a very short time.
In the early morning of November 10, 1938 (after the "Night of Broken Glass") Nazi henchmen broke into his house, pulled the eighty-year-old out of bed and dragged him half-dressed across the market square to the desecrated and devastated synagogue to gleefully relish his horror. In the meantime, about 20 women ransacked the shop that had been broken into.
At the end of 1938, Carl Kraus was forced to close his business and in May 1939 to sell the house well below its value. He had to move into the “Schächterhaus” (house of the “shochet,” the kosher butcher”) of the Jewish community, into which all remaining Lichtenfels Jews were crammed. On January 10, 1941, Carl Kraus died of heart failure and old age. He was one of the last to be buried in the Jewish cemetery in Lichtenfels.
Carl Kraus 75 years old. A respected and esteemed fellow citizen, the merchant Mr. Carl Kraus can look back on a 75-year career on earth tomorrow, Sunday. The admirable age does not prevent him from still managing his business in full vigor as a capable and well-known solid businessman. Mr. Carl Kraus also takes an active part in the public life of the city. For 30 years he has held office on the Israelite Culture Board, first as vice president and, after the death of Mr. S. Kohn, as president. His fellow believers revere in him an exceedingly conscientious and deeply religious leader. On the city council and the council for the care of the poor he represents the interests of the entire population according to the principle of a wise financially conservative policy, while the industrial and trade committee appreciates his knowledge and extensive experience. The Lichtenfels voluntary fire brigade counts Mr. Carl Kraus among its oldest members. For decades he has been working in this organization with diligence as a kit manager. But the muses are also fond of him. He likes to saddle his Pagasos from time to time. Playing cards is probably his only passion; in this he has been attested mastery. There is still a lot that could be said to complete his character picture, but we fear that it is not in the spirit of the modest and undemanding jubilee. So we finish with the wish that the seventy-five-year-old may have a long and sunny autumn of his life!
The Israelite religious community held a festive service in the synagogue this morning at 9 a.m. in honor of its president, and the whole community took part.
The fate of his daughters Henriette and Käthe
Henriette married Louis Grünebaum in 1920 and moved with him to Aschaffenburg. Her son Kurt, born in 1920, emigrated to the USA in 1938; his parents followed him in August 1941. Käthe was also registered in Aschaffenburg in 1940 and seems to have lived with her sister's family. In any case, she lived with her on Broadway in New York in the 1950s.