The Davidsohns were a Jewish family who lived in Osterholz and Scharmbeck for almost 200 years.
They were highly respected members of the local community and included merchants as well as local politicians. The J. D. Davidsohn store on Poststraße was one of the town’s landmarks for over 160 years. Initially just selling textiles, the shop developed into a department store selling a full assortment of products.
Under Nazi rule, those members of the family that remained in the town were persecuted and deprived of their rights. At least four family members were killed in concentration camps. In many ways their historical contribution to the local community, as well as their terrible fate, is similar to that of the Cohen family (for example Clara and Siegmund Cohen), also members of the local Jewish community and subjects of an impressive book written by one of their descendants (Beer K: Ein Denkmal für Familie Cohen). As far as we are aware, there is no comparable historical documentation regarding the Davidsohn family. Their history can only be described piece meal. This presentation was facilitated by significant contributions from Bob Davidson in the US and Jonathan Strauss from Switzerland, who provided the photographs and, assisted by Klaus-Peter Schulz, gathered lots of information about their ancestors.
Forefather of the local Davidsohns was Moses Hein (died about 1792), probably a nephew of Levi Hertz, the first Jew mentioned in Scharmbeck by name. Moses married Jette David (ca. 1745-06.09.1825) and in 1772 they established a textile business in the Obernstraße (later No. 159 Poststraße and today No. 4 Poststraße) . Jette and Moses had five children:
- Miriam Davidsohn (∼1768-14.4.1816), married to Jacob Nachmann from Fulda
- David Moses Davidsohn (25.9.1780-8.6.1852), married to Röschen Cohn on 12.8.1806.
- Johanne Davidsohn (∼1788-11.11.1873), married to Meyer Aronsohn. She was registered in Scharmbeck as a widow in 1830 and 1844.
- Friederike (Fratje) Davidsohn, married to Joseph Michael Goldberger (10.3.1776-12.4.1859)
- Frommedt (Fromet) Davidsohn (died ∼1837), married to Salomon Meyer from Eicholz (2.3.1780-9.2.1865), the latter still registered in Scharmbeck in 1830 and 1844.
Röschen and David Moses Davidsohn also had five children:
- Moses David Davidsohn (12.8.1805-10.7.1857), married to Rebecka Fontheim from Diepholz (25.4.1800-17.6.1870)
- Frieda Davidsohn (born ca. 1808)
- Frodche Davidsohn (4.11.1810-1.11.1883 in Harpstedt), married to Meyer Goldschmidt
- Isaac David Davidsohn (12.5.1813-20.4.1896), married to Jeanette Joseph (2.9.1825-15.2.1907) on 3.9.1845
- Hein David Davidsohn (2.1.1820-8.5.1845)
While Moses David developed his business as a merchant in neighboring Osterholz, his younger brother Isaac David took over the family business in Scharmbeck. Its name „J. D. Davidsohn“ is most likely due to the spelling of Jsaac in the 19th century, possibly it could instead stand for Jette David Davidsohn and then been created during the French occupation (1803-1813), when the Jews according to French law, were obliged to choose a permanent family name (principally for taxation as well as military inscription purposes).
Family branch in Osterholz
In 1830 Moses David Davidsohn was registered as a merchant in Osterholz. In 1840 he became District Chairman of the Jewish community and in 1844 he was District Superintendent. Rebecka und Moses David Davidsohn had four children:
- Rosalie (Roeschen) Davidsohn (11.11.1832-6.2.1919), married Abraham Levison (14.6.1814-7.10.1898) from Bückeburg on 18.6.1856. The Levisons had four children. Her daughter Emma (7.5.1857-11.7.1942) married Leopold Bauchwitz from Neustadt (Dosse) in 1883 and was murdered in Theresienstadt in 1942. Her son Louis (4.5.1859-26.10.1942) and Louis‘ wife Selly (née David) were also killed in Theresienstadt.
Emma’s sister Bertha married Bernhard Kramer. Their son Albert (18.8.1887-6.10.1942) served as Stadtdirektor of Cologne, one of few Jewish civic officials in the period prior to the Nazis seizing power. He, along with his wife Irma, was also killed in a concentration camp.
- Jen Davidsohn (born ca. 1837), married to David Delmonte (born ca. 1833) on 8.11.1861 in Scharmbeck.
- Ernst Jacob Davidsohn (2.4.1841-5.3.1918), married to Betty Ephraim (17.8.1847-22.9.1927) on 21.6.1871 in Rheine.
- Sophie Davidsohn (born 25.4.1845), married to Theodore Ephraim.
Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Strauss
Ernst Jacob took over the family firm. In 1873, the J. Davidsohn business, situated at No. 27 Hauptstraße (later Findorffstraße), was registered as one of five Jewish businesses in Osterholz. In 1878 the merchant Jacob Davidsohn was elected as Ersatzschöffe (standby juror) in the Amt Osterholz (former local authority) and in 1903 as treasurer of the Jewish community of Scharmbeck/Osterholz. Source: Menkhoff Betty and Jacob had three children:
- Rebecca Sophie Davidsohn (born 14.10.1874), married to Max Mengers (born 21.7.1872) on 19.11.1898.
- Ida Davidsohn (born 24.3.1876), married to Heinrich Heilbut (born 8.11.1870) from Lübeck on 5.9.1903.
- Egon Davidsohn (born 13.4.1880), married to Toni Grappel from Untertürkheim.
We have no further information regarding the fate of these family members and the company in Osterholz.
Family branch in Scharmbeck
Jeanette und Isaac David Davidsohn stayed in Scharmbeck. In 1830 and 1844 they were among the eight Jewish families registered in the borough. (Source: Menkhoff) They had nine children:
Photographs courtesy of Bob Davidson
In 1873, the J. D. Davidsohn store was among six Jewish companies listed in Scharmbeck and in 1878 it moved into a new building, which essentially still exists. In 1892 Eduard and his brother Sally took over the company.
In 1881, as a 24-year-old, Eduard became Vize-Schützenkönig (vice-champion of the shooting club). In 1893, 1897, 1911 and 1915, he became Bürgervorsteher (local councilman), and in 1906 he was elected to the board of the newly formed Spar- und Vorschußkasse (local savings and loans bank). In 1902 he acquired the „Kohlmann heritage“ at No. 280 Bahnhofstraße (today No. 84 Bahnhofstraße). In 1909 he was head of the Jewish community in Scharmbeck. In 1910, he won two lawsuits at the District Court in Verden against the church and the school board of the Scharmbecker school regarding a right of way. In 1913 he commissioned Gottfried Stehnke, a local company, to build a new house in the Lindenstraße as a service appartement for the gendarmerie sergeant. (Source: Menkhoff)
Ottilie und Eduard had two children:
- Johanna Davidsohn (born 8.3.1890), married to Louis Rosendahl (29.5.1877-7.3.1958) from Dortmund on 6.4.1919.
- Ernst Davidsohn (27.7.1891-ca. 28.7.1942), murdered in the Minsk Gheto.
Toni und Sally Davidsohn had three children:
- Johan („John“) Davidsohn (1.8.1904-Sept. 1985), was able to flee to the United States in 1938. Married to Elsa Eichwald.
- Ilse Davidsohn (22.1.1906-ca. 1942), murdered in the Minsk Gheto.
- Gertrud Davidsohn (13.9.1908-11.4.1909), who died in infancy.
Thank you, Jonathan Strauss, for providing this translation of the german article Familie Davidsohn.