Since Saturday, September 1, a stumbling block reminds us of the sad fate of the Jewish woman Hedwig Schück at Rochstraße 2 in Berlin. The granddaughter came from Australia with her husband for the laying, as did a relative from New York and friends of the family from Boston. It was a very touching ceremony that showed how important it is that we must defend our freedom firmly against nationalism and fascism. We are more!
A small speech reminded of the life stations of Hedwig Schück (Text and Photo: Axel Huber, Translation: Mary Bianchi):
„Seventy nine years ago today Germany invaded Poland and WW2 began. While the Wehrmacht advanced on Warsaw, the special commandos behind the front shot Jewish men, women and children. The mass murder of the European Jews had begun. As Hedwig Schück looked out of the window on that cloudy 1st September, she little suspected that she would be one of the victims.
Hedwig was born into a well-to-do family in Tuchel, West Prussia, on 28.11.1878. She attended the girls‘ high school there and later, in Berlin, trained as a fashion cutter at a professional academy. She designed the cutting patterns which seamstresses used. Today we would say she was a fashion designer.
When she was 26, in April 1905 in Berlin, she married a businessman, Isidor Schück. Their first son was born a year later: Joachim Werner Schück, followed in 1914 by Gerhard Schück. Hedwig brought a considerable dowry into the marriage and Isidor Schück had a good salary as a representative of the Freitag company that Hedwig Schück could devote herself to the family.
The family lived in Charlottenburg, the children grew up in a happy home and all in all, the Schück family lived a typical, comfortable, upper middle class life. That is, until Isidor Schück vanished without trace. For weeks there were no answers to the questions his family, friends and colleagues were asking themselves. He had disappeared. Until at 8.30 p.m. on 11 February 1925 a male corpse was found on the banks of a canal in Pichelsdorf in Spandau. A few days later the local paper announced, „The dead man is Isidor Schück, a fifty-six year old business man from Charlottenburg.“ Until today, the circumstances of his death are not known.
In this crisis, Hedwig Schück grew in stature. She founded her own firm and advertised in the telephone directory as Hewig Schück, widow, manufacture of working clothes.She did the cutting, several seamstresses did the stitching at home. She became a successful young businesswoman. Her elder son Joachim Werner was able to study engineering at the Technical University in Berlin and graduated in 1929.
The final disruption in Hedwig Schück‘s life came on 31 January 1933 when the National Socialists came to power. Her younger son Gerhard was about to graduate from the Siemens-Oberrealschule and left school without a perspective. He had hoped to study medicine, but since spring 1933 Jews had been banned from the universities. He fled to France and later to South Africa. His elder brother had to abandon his succesful firm and fled with his wife to South Africa in 1936.
Hedwig Schück moved from Charlottenburg to Rochstrasse and continued her business here. Her sons begged her to come to South Africa, but she did not want to leave. She felt safe and went on holiday to Italy in 1937. When WW2 began the borders were closed. The business was no longer flourishing and Hedwig Schück began to experience poverty.
In the winter of 1941 a series of court cases with her landlord began. At a time when the first deportations from Berlin had started, she could not expect to be treated fairly. On 16 March 1942 the bailiff appeared here at 2, Rochstrasse and confiscated all of Hedwig Schück‘s possessions: bolts upon bolts of cloth, clothing, furniture, books, a Singer sewing machine and much more. The last sign of her life is dated 27 March 1942, the day before her deportation, when she signed the declaration of her assets as „Widow Hedwig Sara Schück“. One day later, the 11th „Transport to the East“ left Berlin with 973 people on board, heading for a transit camp in Piaski near Lublin. After that there is no trace of her. Most probably she was murdered in the death camp Belzec. Hedwig Schück was 63 years old when she died.
In April 1942 the bailiff concluded that he had had no right to confiscate Hedwig Schück‘s property. He asked the Gestapo what he should do – they were just round the corner from here at 28 Burgstrasse – and received the answer that Hedwig Schück had moved to „an unknown destination“ and that he should auction her belongings with the German Reich as beneficiary. The auction on 4 June 1942 realized more than expected. By then, Hedwig Schück was probably dead.“