Betty Bergmann out of Gunzenhausen /Franconia was only 22 years old when she married 1910 the Göppingen businessman Ludwig Heimann, then 33 years of age. Ludwig´s father had set up a clothes shop at the marketplace in the centre of Göppingen and had developed it into one of the best establishments in town. In 1913 Louis, as Ludwig called himself now, took over the business together with his wife Betty.
In December 1922 the NSDAP group of Göppingen, which was still small by then, wanted to provoke the citizens of Göppingen, dominated by Social Democrats and the Liberal Bourgeoisie. They reserved the “Apostelsaal” (Apostle Hall, a restaurant) and asked for support from Munich, a group of thugs called “Schutztruppe” (Protection Unit). On a poster as well as in an advertisement in the local paper one could read: “No access for Jews”. Betty Heimann understood that the exclusion of Jews was the central focus of the Nazis, and so they started to remove the posters. In the act of civil disobedience she was supported by the Göppingen entrepreneur Theodor Mayer.
On the day to come the Nazi rally was counteracted through the initiative as well of workers from Göppingen as of some members of the Jewish community. The originally planned event was prevented and couldn´t be carried out by the Nazis, neither in the Apostle Hall nor in the alternative place, the guest house “Walfischkeller” (Whale Cellar). The quarrel, in which weapons were used, is known as the “Schlacht am Walfischkeller” (The Battle of the Whale Cellar).
The rise of the Nazis to power in the Reich could not be prevented. In April 1933 the shop windows of the prosperous businesses of the Heimann´s were stuck with black posters – with an enormous yellow star. SA men stood at the entrance and warned “to buy at the Jew Heimann, who is a con man, a profiteer and a traitor”. Harassment of different types followed, the Heimanns were defamed arbitrary as “Volksschädlinge” (pest to the people).
In 1937 the couple sent their only child, 16-year-old Rolf, to North America to protect him from further humiliations.
In 1938 they had to register all their property and they were handed out special identity cards marked with a “J”. In September 1938 their clothes shop was made Aryan because it was “a Jewish business”. After 70 years of the family business Heimann Helmut Haux bought the merchandise and the shop furniture and he rented the rooms. In November1938 Betty and Louis Heimann moved out of their business and living quarters in Hauptstraße 2. They found shelter in Östliche Ringstraße 52, in a house that then belonged to Emilie Ott. One week later, in the night from November 9 to 10 about 40 Jewish men were taken out of their flats and taken into “Schutzhaft” (Protective Custody) for at least two days. 27 of them later were interned and tortured in KZ Dachau; Louis Heimann probably was arrested, too, but because of his age was not taken to the KZ. A contemporary witness stated that Betty was apparently been dragged at the first light through the streets with a rope round her neck while the flames of the synagogue blazed – but this memory cannot be verified by another witness’s statement. In December all the Jews had to give away 20 percent of their property as a “Sühneleistung” (Act of Atonement) for the damage done at the Pogromnacht. What a perfidious meanness!
In May 1939 the Heimann family took valuables to the lending house in Stuttgart and they sent a container with furniture to Rotterdam, a little later also a suitcase. Interpreting these pieces of information the couple several times attempted to emigrate. In vain.
On August 20, 1942 Betty and Louis Heimann were driven together with some other “Volljuden” (Full Jews) and deported to KZ Theresienstadt. They were only allowed to take their wedding rings and a watch. Two days later their complete property was transferred to the Deutsches Reich. Louis Heimann was murdered on August 15, 1943 in Theresienstadt.
His wife Betty was seen on a transport to the extermination camp Auschwitz in May 1944; there she disappeared without leaving any traces.
Their son Rolf Heimann lived as a single man and made a living as a musician and bookkeeper. The knowledge about the fate of his family did not allow him to lead a carefree life in his new “Heimat” (home).
From their closer family were murdered by the Nazis: Louis’ sister-in-law Jenny Heimann and her daughter Felicia as well as Betty’s nephew Eduard Gunzenhäuser, who was deported to Izbica in 1942.
The Stolpersteine for Betty and Louis Heimann were placed in front of the former residential and business building Hauptstraße 2.
(10.10.2019 cml/ pr)
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