Did Erna Baruch work for Siemens-Schuckert’s “Elmo-Werk”, which produced control motors for fire control systems, i.e. war equipment? Their date of deportation would fit because this factory was to lose all Jewish workers at the beginning of March 1943. The last days of the two in Berlin were in February, shortly before the so-called “factory action” in which the last Jews were arrested away from their workplaces in order to make the Reich’s capital “Judenrein“ (clean” of Jews). Ella Ankermann, Max Baruch’s first Christian wife, wrote after the war about the first months of 1943:
“Erna continued to go to work at her place of work and I kept in touch with her continuously. On February 2nd she called me by phone and asked me to meet her. She told me then, she had received a message from her husband, she should prepare herself for deportation. She should ask me for some money and some food for the trip. I did give her some money and some food and some pieces of jewellery, which might come in handy, who knows what the situation might be. Later on I heard that both of them were deported and from Max the news from jawischowitz and following this, nothing ever. In my letters, I always inquired about Erna’s whereabouts, but I never received an answer again.“
Some aspects of Ella Ankermann’s letter suggest that Max Baruch was already interned at that time. It could have been a Berlin forced labour camp or one of the so-called “Sammellager” (collection points) where Jews had to appear before their deportation, such as the “Grosse Hamburger Strasse” or the former synagogue in Levetzowstrasse. The “transport lists” of the so-called 28th Osttransport are long. In other words, the list of all “passengers” on the train that left the Reich capital for Auschwitz on February 3rd – one day after Erna Baruch’s last call to Ella Ankermann. About 1000 names for one single train. Under the numbers 895 and 896 in the transport lists are Erna “Sara” Baruch and Max “Israel” Baruch, by occupation “worker” with their last address 20b Gervinusstrasse. Beside Erna’s age a “Yes” is indicated in the column “workable”.
Max Baruch was sent to the Jawischowitz subcamp, a coal mine near Auschwitz with unbearable working conditions. 80 percent of the prisoners worked underground. Here– due to the destruction of the files by the SS– the last traces of his life are lost.
Iga Bunalska from the Auschwitz Study Group searched the archives of the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland, for me. The result: not a single document exists anymore about the transport of February 3, 1943 and Max Baruch. This proves that the SS crews destroyed all the remaining files. This happened when the extermination camp was hastily dissolved in 1945 because the Red Army had already arrived. The date of Max Baruch’s death was therefore later (erroneously) given as his date of admission to the camp.
It is different with Erna Baruch, née Herrmann, formerly Twelkemeyer. Her name, her last address in Berlin, the names of her parents, the name of her second husband – all these can be found in the archives there. More precisely: on an official death certificate, issued by the SS doctor Bruno Kitt, who was later sentenced to death, and authenticated by a registrar in Auschwitz. According to the report, Erna Baruch died on 25 February 1943 of blood poisoning (sepsis after Phlegmone) at 9:30 a.m. in “Auschwitz Kasernenstrasse”.
But this apparently clear document could be “poisoned” – invented. Often the helpers among the prisoners who prepared these documents had clear instructions for filling them in, which had nothing to do with the truth. For example there could have been the command: Today you write 50 death certificates with a heart attack and 50 with another cause of death! At the same time, the SS tried to conceal the actual number of those who died in Auschwitz on one day. The same applied to the actual causes of death. There were isolated attempts by the camp’s resistance groups to counteract this. They wanted to record exactly how many were murdered and how that happened. They tried to use secret codes, such as always entering respiratory diseases when the victims had been gassed. But often the resistance groups could not use these codes. Thus the true cause of death of Erna Baruch remains a sealed secret.
-  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
-  Scans of the deportation lists from the US-American archives can be found on the website Statistics of the Holocaust. These include the transports from Berlin. http://www.statistik-des-holocaust.de/list_ger_ber.html
-  Scan of the death certificate issued from the Auschwitz concentration camp memorial and explanations of the Auschwitz Study Group in mails from Iga Bunalska to the author from 13. And 14.06.2018