Maria Bernheim, née Nathan

Date of Birth:
27.07.1873, Ulm
14.01.1944, Theresienstadt


Augsburg, Schaezlerstraße 17/II
Augsburg, Frölichstraße 10 ½ /II
München, Goethestraße 54/0 Guest house (since 15 June 1935)
München, Giselastraße 18/0 (since 07 April 1937)
München, Fraunhoferstraße 27/I at Hausner (since 30 June 1939)

Last voluntary residence

Places of persecution

to the collection camp
in Knorrstraße 148,

from Munich-Milbertshofen
to Theresienstadt
on 4 June 1942

Memorial sign

On 18 May 2018, a remembrance post for Maria Bernheim was installed at Frölichstraße 10 ½.

Maria Bernheim, née Nathan. (Private)

Maria Bernheim, née Maria Nathan, was born in Ulm in 1873. In 1896 she married Siegfried Bernheim, who was also born in Ulm, but, at the time, lived already in Augsburg. For the next forty years, the couple lived in Augsburg where their sons Kurt, Willy and Heinz were born.1 Eventually, all three sons left Germany.2

In 1931, the company R. Bernheim, founded in 1888 in Pfersee near Augsburg, was passed on to Maria Bernheim’s husband.3 The plant produced chemical products for the textile industry. Prosperity, however, only lasted till 1933. Her husband’s enterprise became the first victim of the economic Nazi terror against Jewish companies in Augsburg.

Maria Bernheim, née Nathan, c. 1900. (Privat)

The family was forced to sign a contract that transferred the company to members of the Nazi party. In order to further ruin the family economically and personally, a criminal case was opened, accompanied by the Augsburg newspapers with slander.4
In order to escape this smear campaign, in 1935, Maria Bernheim and her husband decided to go into hiding in Munich. In Augsburg, the Bernheims had lived in a large, comfortable apartment in Frölichstrasse 10 ½. In Munich, from the beginning on, they had to live in very inadequate conditions. Maria’s husband died in Munich in 1937.5

Maria Bernheim, née Nathan, c. 1939. Photo of the identification card that Jews had to wear. (Biographical Memorial Book of Munich Jews 1933-1945)

From then on, Maria Bernheim had to make do with a single room, and eventually, in December 1941, was taken to a camp in Munich-Milbertshofen.6 A few days earlier, Maria had still planned an escape to a foreign country. In the camp, she had to spend months under inhumane conditions, until, in June 1942, she was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.7 For more than a year and a half, she was exposed to famine and contagious diseases. She died on January 14th, 1944.8
Six weeks later, a cousin of Maria’s, a fellow prisoner in Theresienstadt, was allowed to notify Maria’s son Kurt who, at the time, lived in Zurich, of his mother’s death. The letter still exists. A Nazi censor at the Theresienstadt post office crossed both pages of the letter with a half-inch think pen, possibly as an expression of his joy about Maria’s death.9
Two days after her death, Maria’s body was burned at the local crematorium. It was the 21,228th corpse to be cremated in Theresienstadt since 1942.10 In November 1944, her urn, together with 22,000 other urns, was taken by truck to the river Eger and dumped into the water.11

  1. StadtAA, FB Siegfried Bernheim
  2. Erhard Bernheim/Gernot Römer (Hg.), "Halbjude" im Dritten Reich. Die Erinnerungen des Augsburger Fabrikanten Erhard Bernheim (Lebenserinnerungen von Juden aus Schwaben Band 3), Augsburg 2000, S. 25; Ursula Bernheim, Erinnerungen zu Augsburg, München und Zürich, 2018.
  3. Ebd., S. 8.
  4. Ebd., S. 17-21.
  5. Ebd., S. 32f.
  6. (aufgerufen am 13.02.2017).
  7. StAM, Einziehungsakte der Oberfinanzdirektion München 8033.
  8. (aufgerufen am 13.02.2017).
  9. StAA, W.B. V a 104
  10. (aufgerufen am 13.02.2017).
  11. (aufgerufen am 10.09.2018); (aufgerufen am 10.09.2018)
Sources and literature
Published sources:

Erhard Bernheim/Gernot Römer (Hg.), "Halbjude" im Dritten Reich. Die Erinnerungen des Augsburger Fabrikanten Erhard Bernheim (Lebenserinnerungen von Juden aus Schwaben Band 3), Augsburg 2000.