Oh can you see? and who will kiss me? – the short life of Marion Baruch

The following text is a part of the exhibition about Marion Baruch’s book in Hamburg. 

Marion Baruch

Marion Baruch’s short time on the road of life

Marion Baruch

Marion Baruch was born in 1919 in Hamburg. She is the second of three siblings. Her older sister is named Helga, and her younger brother is called Rolf, his nickname Rolli. All three belong to a liberal Jewish family. The family lives most of the time at Wrangelstraße 24, at Isestraße 61, and also at Klosterallee 11.  Their father Georg Baruch is a wholesaler of offal and slaughterhouse goods.  All belong to a liberal Jewish family, that lives at Wrangelstraße 24, at Isestraße 61, and also at Klosterallee 11.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler is appointed Reich Chancellor. Marion’s siblings are preparing their emigration to Palestine. They live in Hachshara training schools, as found in Rissen/Blankenese and Ahrensdorf. There they work the fields, improve their Hebrew, and learn about Judaism and the idea of Zionism.  They do everything with one goal: starting a new life in Palestine. Their father Georg does not brim over with enthusiasm for the idea. He warns his children about emigration to Palestine:

My child, the camels will eat you.

Marion Baruch studies fashion design at a private school.  She is very talented in art,  A talented artist plays the piano, and can draw and paint very well. She is working as an advertisement artist and graphic designer in the department store Robinsohn at Neuer Wall. She is fired in 1938 because of the new Nazi laws. Her sister Helga marries Bernhard Arna in 19316 and emigrates with him to Palestine. A month later, In the same year, her mother Irma Baruch dies of a heart attack and is buried at the Jewish cemetery in Hamburg-Ohlsdorf.

On the Night of Broken Glass (der Kristallnacht ) on 9 November 1938, Georg is taken into “protective custody” and brought to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp Sachsenhausen. Helga hears this news already in Palestine. Her brother She convinces Rolli, who is at a Hachshara close to Berlin, takes the train to Hamburg check on to drive to Marion. Rolli arrives at a ransacked flat in Hamburg. He immediately writes to his sister:


Father’s desk looks an editorial department in San Francisco shortly after an earthquake. On the dining table I found a liquor

bottle—of course empty—and a slice of bread. Well, I am going to start cleaning here.

Rolf Baruch's Letter after kristallnacht

Rolf Baruch’s Letter after kristallnacht


(Letter Rolf Baruch, 15 December 1938)

After his return six weeks later, Georg is sick, and he decides with him and his daughter Marion decide to leave Germany. They try to get an immigration permission in order to get to Palestine. But for that, their money can’t help – they have to get the money as a foreign exchange. they need the help of friends outside of Germany and foreign exchange. Marion writes to her sister in Palestine and asks for money:

You are daddy’s only help!

(Telegraph from Marion to Helga, 16 November 1938)

But Helga, a fresh immigrate in Palestine, cannot raise the money requested. The family tries now to let Marion emigrate without her father. Meanwhile, Marion works as a poster artist at Jüdischen Kulturbund (literally: Jewish Culture Alliance). Georg has to hand over his complete property, money, and assets to the tax administration for Marion to finally gets confirmation that she may emigrate to Great Britain, where her aunt Betty resides. Regarding Marion’s possessions, an officer writes:

Today I have checked and examined the belongings of immigrant Else Marion Sara Baruch

– There is only an old traveling suitcase.
– The applicant is equipped well and adequately with clothes and underwear, whereas the clothes are ¼ above the necessary.

The telegrams from Hamburg to Palestina

The telegrams from Hamburg to Palestina

(Report of the foreign exchange officer, 31 August 1939)

Marion’s request is confirmed on 31 August 1939. One day later, the German Wehrmacht attacks Poland. In the Second World War, Europe’s gates close and Marion has to stay in Germany. SheMarion and her father have to move into one of the Judenhäuser on Heinrich-Barth-Straße 9. On 8 November, both are deported from Hamburg to the ghetto in Minsk.

Dear three. Marion and I will depart tomorrow from Hamburg(.) Hope to see Bernhard’s family. We are healthy, hoping confidently to meet again. Warm regards and kisses. Daddy.המכתב מגאורג על הגירוש מהמבורג

(Telegraph from Georg to Helga, 6 November 1941)

Rolli writes his sister Helga from the Hachshara Neuendorf:

Daddy and Marion went near Minsk. For now, no mail. (…) Write to us. We think a lot about you and believe strongly we will meet again.

Rolf Baruch announce the deportation of the family to Minsk.

Rolf Baruch announce the deportation of the family to Minsk.

(Telegraph from Rolli to Helga, 17th of November 1941)

Rolli will never emigrate to Palestine. The Neuendorf Hachshara training school is transformed into an external concentration camp and closed in April 1943.

All inmates are brought to the concentration camp Auschwitz. Rolli dies during a death march in January 1945. How and exactly when Georg dies in ghetto Minsk ghetto is unknown. Regarding Marion’s last hours in 1942 in ghetto Minsk ghetto, the former inmate and survivor Heinz Rosenberg writes:

Once [Chief Concentration Camp Guard] Rübe saw a well-painted sign. When he realised that Marion Baruch from Hamburg painted it, he gave the order to bring her to him. When Marion arrived, he talked to her shortly, brought her to the cemetery and shot her—without any reason.

In contrast to that, Helga in Israel gives birth to six children. “One for every million”, she tells her family. After the war, she keeps visiting Hamburg often and works as a journalist in Germany. She dies on 17 August 1991 in Tel Aviv.

From 1936 to 2017

In 1936, Marion hands over a little book with self-made drawings to her sister Helga as goodbye and wedding present before her emigration to Palestine. The funny, sarcastic, and emotional drawings describe the family life of the Baruchs. Marion’s drawings from that book are presented here. Her brother Rolli wrote the captions. The book and its drawings are a testimonial to Jewish life in Hamburg and clearly shows Marion’s artistic talent. In Israel, the book is forgotten for quite a while. During the search for more information about his family, Lior Baruch, a grandson of Helga who was born in Tel Aviv, discovers the book. Today, he lives in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel. We thank Lior for sharing his family story with us and publishing Marion’s book.

* Goldberg, Susanne 1988: „Die hatten alle das eine Ziel, tatsächlich Palästina aufzubauen“. In: Frauengeschichtsgruppe des Stadtteilarchivs Ottensen (Hg.). Aufgeweckt. Frauenalltag in vier Jahrhunderten. Ein Lesebuch. Hamburg. S. 148.

* Staatsarchiv Hamburg: 314-15 Oberfinanzpräsident, FVg 5893, R 1938/2088.

* Rosenberg, Heinz 1985: Jahre des Schreckens. Göttingen. S. 43.

Written with Ruediger Puhlman and Mimi Swalski.

The exhibition is traveling trought Germany, and lately been in Bremen and Brandenburg.

You can but the book on Amazon.

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