Braunold Friedrich, Gerda and Josef

Gerda and Friedrich Braunold with son Josef ca 1930
Gerda and Friedrich Braunold with son Josef ca 1930

 

 

Friedrich Braunold was born on August 17, 1888 in Biblis.

Gerda Braunold, nee Klaus, on April 17, 1893 in Wertheim.

 

Gerda Braunold had resided in Fulda from 1910 to 1918 but moved there permanently in 1920. Friedrich Braunold moved to Fulda in 1919.

 

They married on March 12, 1923 and began to live at Leipzigerstrasse 34.

 When their son Josef was born on March 9, 1924, the young family moved to Johannisstrasse 12.

 

 

 

 

Friedrich Braunold ca 1920
Friedrich Braunold ca 1920
Gerda Braunold with son Josef 1934
Gerda Braunold with son Josef 1934

The family soon moved to Löherstrasse 23. From February 13, 1926, until the forced closure of the business on January 1, 1939, they operated an agricultural machine shop at nearby Löherstrasse 28. The business store was located in the courtyard of the house at Löherstrasse 15.

 

While Friedrich Braunold often traveled to the farmers in the countryside to sell his agricultural machines, Gerda Braunold managed the well established business.

 

With the seizure of power by the National Socialists, and especially after the boycott in April 1933, the family's business revenues declined dramatically.

 

On November 10, 1938, in the course of the Reichsprogromnacht ( also known as Kristallnacht), the 50-year-old Friedrich Braunold was arrested, together with 117 male Jews between the ages of 16 and 60 and detained at the Fulda Gesellenhaus. The next morning, everyone was transported by train to Hanau, where nearly 30 people were released because of illness, age or physical weakness. 

Unfortunately, Friedrich Braunold's path led further to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

 

Guarantee for Gerda and Friedrich Braunold; guarantor is Philip Klaus
Guarantee for Gerda and Friedrich Braunold; guarantor is Philip Klaus

Meanwhile, his wife Gerda was able to present a financial guarantee from her brother Philip Klaus who was residing in the USA, promising that the departure of the family would be imminent. This permitted Friedrich Braunold to be released from the camp after almost two months of internment. But, for unknown reasons, the emigration to the United States did not materialize.

 

At the beginning of the school year of 1938, the 14-year-old Josef Braunold attended the “Israelitische Lehrerbildungsanstalt” (Jewish teacher training center) in Würzburg and lived at Bibrastraße 6. The Reichsprogromnacht in Würzburg led, as in all cities, to the arrest of male Jews and their deportation to concentration camps. Consequently, Josef’s attendance at the teacher training center had to be postponed and on December 10, 1938 he moved back to Fulda.

 

Israelite educational institution Wuerzburg
Israelite educational institution Wuerzburg

The reasons as to why the Braunold family could not escape to the United States are unknown, but early in 1939, the parents became aware that they had to do everything in their power to at least bring their son Josef to safety.

The parents succeeded in getting Josef on the Kindertransport list to England. Josef received a German passport, issued on July 20, 1939, and one of the coveted entry permits to England.

 

The Kindertransport program was based on an initiative of both the British Government and the British people. The British House of Commons decided on  November 21, 1938 to allow children up to the age of 16 to enter the country if  financial security was guaranteed by British organizations or private individuals. By the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939, a total of 9354 children were saved by their entry to England.

 

Josef left Fulda for his journey on the Kindertransport on August 1, 1939.

 

Excerpt from the deporation list from Kassel to Riga on December 9, 1941
Excerpt from the deporation list from Kassel to Riga on December 9, 1941

As of September 1941, all Jews aged six and older had to wear the so-called Jewish Star. This included the Braunolds.

 

At the end of November 1941, they received word that their resettlement was imminent, and that on December 7, 1941, they had to appear at the gymnasium on Rabanusstrasse. There, an initial personal and baggage check was carried out before  the Jews of Fulda had to spend an uncomfortable night there. The next day, 134 Jews were forced to march to the train station under the watchful eyes of armed guards. There they boarded a train that took them to Kassel, where they spent another night in inhumane conditions.

 

On December 9, 1941, about 1,000 people left Kassel and were taken on a four-day train journey to the Riga ghetto.

 

Friedrich Braunold died in 1942; whether he died from exhaustion in the ghetto or in the nearby Kaiserwald concentration camp or in one of the numerous mass shootings, cannot at this time be determined.

 

Gerda Braunold was transferred to the Sutthof concentration camp on October 1, 1944, where she was murdered prior to the liberation of the camp.

 

Document for the "reparation"
Document for the "reparation"

 

Immediately after their deportation, the property of the Braunold family, including furnishings and utility items, were sold at an auction organized by Fulda’s tax office. The adjacent document, created by the Americans after the war, identifies some furniture, the selling price, and the names of the buyers.

 

Listing made by Josef Braunold
Listing made by Josef Braunold

 

A listing from 1949, made by Josef Braunold, shows that the family also owned antiques that were in the possession of his parents at least until his flight to the safety of England. After their deportation, these furnishings were appropriated by the Vonderau Museum in Fulda and remained in their possession until February 6, 1946, when the antiques were handed over to the Jewish cultural/religious community. Ultimately, the items were transferred to the administration of Dr. Ing. Burchard,  at Marktstrasse 13 in Fulda.

 

Without exception, the banks also supported the actions of the tax office in Fulda. In a letter dated February 6, 1942, the tax office declared that "the Jew Gerda Sara Braunold, previously residing in Fulda, Löherstraße 23, was deported to a foreign country." Furthermore, the tax authority advised that it is evident from documents  that Gerda Braunold owns a savings account with a credit balance of 1152.75 Reichsmark. This money, they said, should be transferred together with interest to the Finanzkasse Fulda. The Dresdner Bank responded immediately on February 11, 1942 and transferred the amount of 1168.81 Reichsmark to the Fulda tax office.

 

Letter from the tax office
Letter from the tax office
Reply letter from Dresdner Bank
Reply letter from Dresdner Bank

Michael Braunold, son of Josef and grandson of Gerda and Friedrich Braunold
Michael Braunold, son of Josef and grandson of Gerda and Friedrich Braunold

 

 

Michael Braunold visited Fulda in 2016. At the place of the former synagogue, he points to the names of his murdered grandparents, who are among those listed at the memorial wall for having been deported from Fulda.