New York: Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League, 1946. Stapled. Correspondence of 60 letters, including five handwritten letters by the Jewish business owner Ella Elsbach, a photo-illustrated catalog and requisite documents regarding the Aryanization of her upholstery company M. Elsbach & Co. in Coburg. The unsuccessful attempt to take over her company by the certified merchant Willy Klötzer in Nürnberg provides an exemplary insight to a social phenomenon that may be described as the belittlement and generalization of extraordinary, morally reprehensible circumstances and developments in order to make them manageable in everyday life.
The historical background and explanation for the rapid development in this case is to be found in the 1935 Nuremberg Laws and subsequent ordinances by the German government that prohibited Jewish citizens from operating businesses starting January 1, 1938, the ordinance of April 26, 1938, requiring Jewish citizens to report all assets valued 5,000 Reichmark or more, and the ordinance of the Interior Ministry from June 14, 1938, requiring the registration of all Jewish businesses. The value of Jewish businesses was set by the state forcing Jewish citizens to sell their companies at a fraction of their actual market value. The proceeds were deposited in savings accounts and made available to the Jewish depositors only in limited amounts which basically amounted to confiscation.
The correspondence starts with letter from Walter Klötzer of June 6, 1938, introducing the opportunity to take over Elsbach & Co. to his brother Willy Klötzer based on a recent offer of the Jewish owner to the management of the company Walter Klötzer works for, to buy her company in the course of the government ordinances and decrees relating to Aryanization.
Two letters by Willy Klötzer of June 20, 1938, addressed to the information center of the Gau Bayrische Ostmark and the owner of the upholstery company M. Elsbach reveal that talks between Klötzer and Elsbach had been taking place soon after the first letter by his brother of June 6, 1938. In the letter of June 20th Klötzer makes an offer to Elsbach and informs her that he connected to the Gau Bayrische Ostmark to obtain information necessary for the process of Aryanization.
The urgency of the matter becomes more obvious in a letter from Walter Klötzer of June 26th where he mentions that orders of other companies placed at Elsbach already cary the stamp "annul order if not Aryan." Inserted here is a typed financial statement, with handwritten backup, of December 31, 1937, which is required for the sale of the company. On June 27th Willy K. sends a reminder to the Gau Bayrische Ostmark to answer his request of June 20th and assure him that the authorities have no objections regarding the takeover. Willy K.binforms Elsbach of the delay and requests that Elsbach continues to travel to obtain orders for the company, a practice common in such cases in order to secure the continuation of the respective company.
A bill of sale is signed on July 1st and an official confirmation by Willy Klötzer is drafted announcing the acquisition of Elsbach & Co. by Willy Klötzer including his intent to convert the company into a "Pure Aryan Company" based on the verbal guarantee by the Gau Bayrische Ostmark that there are no reservations for the Aryanization of Elsbach & Co.
Various letters to a number of officials during the first two weeks of July document Klötzer's efforts to bring the transition to a close and motivate E. Elsbach to continue her efforts to keep the company afloat. On July 15 brother Walter reproaches Willy for having revealed his financial involvement for this transaction towards one of the officials apparently fearing repercussions based on his professional position in a competing company. However, he continues to support his brother in his efforts. Inserted here is a typed inventory with handwritten backup.
Ella Elsbach informs Willy K. of progress in collecting orders and urges Willy K. to intensify his pressure to get officials to sign off on the transfer. Willy K. does that indicating the urgency based on his resignation from his previous workplace. He also writes to his brother denying that he had mentioned his financial support in any official letter or conversation.
Letters from Willy K. dated in late July and early August to various officials take on a more complaintive tone and in a letter to his brother dated August 9, 1938, he informs his brother that in a conversation with the "tomfool" Probst at the Chamber of Commerce he was informed that the approval for the takeover has to be denied and utters the suspicion that competitors have to be behind this since the reasoning for the denial, it was officially based on a decree of the Reichs Finance Ministry, is the saturation of the area with upholstery companies and therefore the decision had been made to liquidate M. Elsbach & Co.
On August 10, 1938, Willy K. writes a lengthy letter to the Chamber of Commerce in Coburg trying to achieve a revision of the denial invoking the verbal approval of various officials regarding the transaction and his personal and financial hardship in case of a permanent denial of his application. The answers and confirmation of the denial from two institutions, one of them an NSDAP office, are dated August 11 and 12, again invoking the saturation of the area with upholstery companies.
A complaint to the Reichs Finance Ministry is drafted, a patriotic statement by the employees of Elsbach & Co. pleading for the preservation of the company is sent to the local government, a Berlin lawyer is hired by Ella Elsbach while the correspondence between her and Willy K. takes on an increasingly impatient and desperate tone. In a letter dated August 19, 1938, addressed to the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Willy K. fiercely expresses his resentment for the treatment he has endured closing with a threat: "Your letter of August 12th lacks the German Salute that should be expected by a party member. I can interpret that as an insult or as an expression of lack of national socialist attitude. It will be interesting for some party members to get to know of this case."
By the end of August Ella Elsbach places the fault for the negative development with Klötzer, informs him that she considers the contract invalid if the Aryanization isn't approved by Augsut 31, and the Chamber of Commerce reproaches him for his insinuation of lack of national socialist attitude at the Chamber. On August 31 Klötzer writes to the government in Ansbach requesting the closing of the file with his application for Aryanization of Elsbach & Co. On the same day he informs Ella Elsbach of his official request for closure of the file and asks for a special deal for some of the furniture for himself in case of a liquidation. She ignores his request for preferential treatment in the answer not without blaming him again for the failure. In turn he rejects her accusation as well as any claims she might have in his last letter to her dated September 5, 1938.
A printed announcement of September 30, 1938 states that the production of furniture at Elsbach & Co. will be continued by the upholstery manufacturer H. R. Carl & Lang, Coburg.
A letter from Willy K. dated October 27, 1938, addressed to Oberreg.Rt. Double, refers to the closed file and requests an explanation for the denial in this case whereas the transfer of Elsbach & Co. to H.R. Carl & Lang was approved in September. In addition he asks for information regarding any recourse he might have against the decision of the Chamber of Commerce in Coburg. On Nov.19th Klötzer send a reminder with a request for compensation for losses in the amount of 1,949 Reichsmark. The response of December 1st, 1938, remarks that his request was forwarded to the NSDAP Gau Economy Advisor with the addition that the government is not responsible for the actions of the Chamber of Commerce. The letter closes with the remark that it is up to Klötzer to take the appropriate steps forces claims.
born 16. October 1897 in Walldorf
lived in Coburg and Cologne
She was deported from Cologne
to Litzmannstadt (Lots), Ghetto
on October 22, 1941
Gedenkbuch - Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933–1945. vg. Item #43082