Jenny and Semi Kraus
Authors: Jan Höppel, Manfred Brösamle-Lambrecht
The Jenny and Samuel Kraus family
Jenny was born on August 19, 1879 in Bastheim (Rhön) as the third daughter of the cattle dealer Jacob Dannenbaum and his wife Sophie, née Lebermuth.
In 1903 she married Samuel "Semi" Kraus, a cattle dealer living in Lichtenfels. The family initially lived at Reitschgasse 28 (now 11), and from 1927 at Bamberger Straße 7. Samuel dealt in horses and cattle. The Kraus family was very respected in Lichtenfels, Jenny's brother-in-law Carl Kraus was head of the Jewish community.
Life as a respected family
In 1904 their son Justin was born, in 1907 Wilhelm ("Willy", later "Guillermo"). The family was doing well, Jenny was the strong woman behind her husband, keeping the money together and running the household. She must have been an excellent cook: Even from Buenos Aires, son Willy asked her to send him home-baked cookies.
In 1933, in economically difficult times, Justin founded the company "Kraus & Co" in his father's business premises, and in 1934 he expanded his business to include the export trade in porcelain, toys and eggs together with Adolf Strassner from Leipzig. Not least because of the aftermath of the Great Depression and the Nazi boycott propaganda, business was slow.
Willy was allowed to pursue higher education. From the private secondary school in Lichtenfels, he transferred to the Ober-Realschule (Ernestinum) Coburg, where he graduated in 1926. He then successfully studied law in Berlin.
Dissolution of the family in the thirties
As early as 1933, however, the Nazi dictatorship tried to exclude Jews from the German legal system. Nazi laws prevented Willy from pursuing an appropriate profession as a lawyer. From 1933 to 1934, he had to move back in with his parents, unemployed. Finally, in 1934, exasperated by everyday anti-Semitism, he emigrated to Buenos Aires. After a very difficult beginning, a long, well-paid job in Paraguay finally enabled him to establish himself as a merchant in Argentina in 1936.
Semi Kraus had a heart condition. Not least because of this, Jenny got her driver's license in 1936 - an amazing achievement for a Jewish woman of 57 under the Nazi regime. She needed it because in early 1936 Justin had also emigrated to Buenos Aires: Successful business activity for Jews in National Socialist Germany was no longer possible.
Samuel Kraus did not live to see the November pogroms. He died of a heart attack on September 20, 1938.
A new life in Argentina
After the death of her husband and the departure of her two children, nothing held Jenny in Lichtenfels. The sixty-year-old planned her emigration and on April 1, 1939, set out on a journey halfway around the globe to her sons - in a country whose language and culture she did not know.
Son Willy traveled to meet her as far as Montevideo. Together they traveled the last part of the way on board the "Cap Arcona" to Buenos Aires, where they also met Justin(o) on April 20, 1939.
Jenny lived in Argentina with her son Willy / Guillermo. She passed away in February 1955 at the age of 76.
Justino died at the age of 71 years.
Guillermo visited Germany in the early 80's with his daughter Betina and showed her Lichtenfels. He died in 1999 at the age of 92.