Alfred and Anni Oppenheimer

Authors: Luise Aumüller, Luise Birkner

Header Familie Oppenheimer

Alfred and Anni Oppenheimer

 Alfred Oppenheimer 1938© Jewish Museum of Maryland
Alfred Oppenheimer
 Anni Oppenheimer© Jewish Museum of Maryland
Anni Oppenheimer

Alfred Oppenheimer was born in Königshofen im Grabfeld, Lower Franconia, on January 23, 1903, the first of four children of Nathan Oppenheimer, a textile merchant, and his wife Betty, née Malzer. Alfred's brother Ernst was born in 1904, and his sister Frieda in 1908.

With three small children - son Max was born in 1912 - the family moved to Lichtenfels in 1908. There, Nathan took over the Stern family's business premises from Betty's grandparents in August 1908. In what was then Bamberger Strasse 77 and another building nearby, he opened his own clothing store, "N. Oppenheimer". Today, the shop is located largely unchanged on Innere Bamberger Straße.

Business premises on Bamberger Strasse (center)

In 1919 at the age of 16, Alfred began a commercial apprenticeship in Bamberg. After his father's early death in 1920, he took over his father's business at the age of just 18 and continued to run it under his father's name. On October 28, 1935, Alfred married Anni Krämer from Ichenhausen (near Augsburg).

As the situation in Germany became less and less bearable for Jews, Alfred organized emigration for his family in 1938. The younger brothers Ernst and Max had already emigrated to Baltimore and New Orleans, respectively. Alfred sold the family business. Alfred, Anni and Betty had already received exit numbers and had presented all the necessary papers and guarantees for an exit to the USA via England.

A fatal mistake

It was strictly forbidden for Jews to export valuables; the Nazi state completely looted emigrants. The brother-in-law Alfred Marx nevertheless provided the Oppenheimer family with some furs, which they wanted to take to the USA together with some jewelry and watches, so that they would not have to start from scratch there. In doing so, Alfred Oppenheimer made this fatal mistake, and the family was arrested. While they were packing their belongings, the police stormed the house, tore open cushions and upholstery, and found the "smuggled goods”.

Alfred, his mother, and his wife were arrested and sentenced to two and one years in prison, respectively, which they had to serve in the Landesgerichtsgefängnis Coburg. Despite desperate attempts by the family to get the three out of Germany, they had to serve their sentence. The beginning of the Second World War prevented further negotiations.  Apparently, after serving their sentences, the three of them were herded onto DA 49 deportation train of April 25, 1942. On April 28 at 8:45 a.m., the transport reached the southeastern Polish city of Krasnystaw; the total of 955 deportees marched to the Kraśniczyn ghetto about 20 kilometers away. It is estimated that on June 6, 1942, all of them were murdered in gas chambers in the Sobibór extermination camp.

"Judengasse 14" is noted as the Oppenheimers' address. This was the collective accommodation for the remaining Jews in Lichtenfels.

The Oppenheimer Siblings

Bild© Lisa Salko
Die vier Geschwister Oppenheimer v.l.: Ernst (1904-1980 ), Max (1912-?), Frieda (1908-1958), Alfred (1903-1942)

Ernst Oppenheimer (1904-1980) learned the upholsterer craft. He emigrated already in January 1938 together with his fiancée Meta Maier (1914-2014) from Königsbach to the USA. They married in February 1938 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Frieda Oppenheimer (1908-1958) married the Lichtenfels merchant Sigmund Marx in 1935, with whom she had a daughter, Marion. She was able to emigrate with her family in 1939; after difficult early years they lived in Verona, New Jersey. 

Max Oppenheimer (1912-?), who gave "clerk" as his occupation, followed his brother Ernst to the U.S. in the summer of 1938 and lived with him in Maryland, at least initially. He worked at Sears and Roebuck, one of the largest retailers in the U.S. (with whose owners the Lichtenfels Oppenheimers were distantly related). He later moved to New Orleans and is said to have lived to a ripe old age.