At the end of November 1941 Erna and Max Martin Baruch married. How and where the two met remains uncertain. Max’s first wife, the Christian Ella Ankermann, wrote after the war:
“Erna and Max got married on the 29th November 1941 and they always thought they would escape the deportation thanks to Erna’s former marriage to Hermann Twelkemeier who was Christian. We, unfortunately, did not have any children; then things would be been different, I suppose.“
Erna and Max probably moved in together for the first time to 7 Droysenstr in Charlottenburg. But there is no proof of this. What is certain is that Max Baruch lived there after his marriage. The following applies to both: their next apartment would be their last place of residence before their deportation. Six months after the marriage, the husband was admitted to our house at 20b Gervinusstrasse as the main tenant. It was Berta Cohn’s apartment on the ground floor. The Main Planning Office of the Lord Mayor of the Reich Capital Berlin made no secret of the fact that the head of the household, Max Martin Baruch, was forced to move into the apartment. On his letter of referral it says – as was usual on this type of form:
“This is a temporary measure against which objection is pointless. The Jewish tenants are admitted on the instructions of my office via the Jewish Kultusvereinigung zu Berlin e.V.”
The form, signed by an official named Frank, is dated 11.06.1942. The executing organization is the Jewish Community of Berlin, which confirmed the move on 05.08.1942 under the name “Jüdische Kultusvereinigung Berlin e.V.” (this signature is illegible: Walther Israel NN.).
What is not written on the torn, brittle, yellowed form letter of the city of Berlin is the reason why the Baruch couple could move into Bertha Cohn’s apartment. The two dark rooms on the ground floor were “free”. And the reason for this can be found in databases and National Socialist transport lists. The previous tenants had been deported.
Bertha Cohn from Bavaria was 58 years old. At that time she was already widowed. With Carl, her husband, she had lived in the ground floor apartment for eight years. When he died in Berlin, Bertha Cohn shared her small apartment for a while with another Jewish widow, Flora Landsberger from Ratibor. Bertha and Flora each had “four Jewish grandparents” – it says this in May 1939 in the Nazi census files. Flora Landsberger was the first of the two who was transported “to the east”. And then, on 13 June 1942, a total of three older women disappeared from our house: Bertha Cohn, Martha Kaphan and Bela Erbe. Did a Gestapo van come? Or did they– like so many others– voluntarily walk with their suitcases to the S-Bahn station and drive to “their collection point”, as the Jewish community’s announcement letters said?
One of the three women, Bela Erbe, last lived across the corridor from where I live now, on the third floor. Did the Nazi engineer, who lived in my apartment at the time, watch through his spy-hole on that June day when she last locked up? Or did he watch her from the balcony? One thing is certain: he and the other Germans, the “Volksdeutsche” in the house knew what was going on. There were simply too many who disappeared from here. A total of 39 people were murdered by the Nazis – just from our house. The list of victims from our street is much longer.
The three older ladies – Cohn, Kaphan, and Erbe “disappeared” to Sobibor that summer day. This was a brand new extermination camp: only 3 months before – in June 1942-, construction had begun. And now the small apartment in the backyard with a view of the well was “free” again, available for Max and Erna Baruch.
-  Letter from Ella Ankermann to family Herrmann in Cali, Colombia from 1.9.1957. In: Darling Mutti. Edited and compiled by Joan Marshall. Jacana Book. Johannesburg 2005 p.78 ff
-  Max Baruch’s referral form to the Judenhaus Gervinusstraße 20. Private property of the house owner Dan M. Messerschmidt.