RdTm 4 minutes
By Marion Lubina – Liebig
Edith Löwenhardt was born in Berlin-Rixdorf, Germany, on 5 December 1904, the first child of Selma Dobriner (1870) and Salomon Georg Löwenhardt (1873). She had two sisters – Gerda (1907) and Käthe (1908) – and a brother named Heinz (1910). The family lived in Berlin. When in August 1904 Edith was nine years old her father was sent to the front. With his eight Jewish brothers he was a front soldier in World War One. Not even fifty years old, he died in February 1923 presumably from his war wounds. Edith was 18 years old when her father was buried at the Berlin-Weißensee Jewish cemetery.
In July 1935 my mother married Werner Ammoser. He later said that they had soon estranged. But formally the marriage continued, they did not divorce. I was born in 1941. Since Ammoser was a gentile (‘arian’), the marriage protected my mother and me from deportation. Although he knew that he was not my biological father, Werner Ammoser formally recognized his fatherhood. In these terrible times, many Jewish friends of my parents were deported and killed. I was named Marion after a friend, my family name was Ammoser.
My real father was Herbert Liebig who had known my mother since 1934. They fell in love, which led to the estrangement between my mother and Werner Ammoser. But Ammoser was an antifascist and a good man – he saved our lives. I much regret not to have known him; he was a Mensch and he was courageous. I will always be grateful to him.
Big city girl…
In those days my mother was Head of Office at the Jewish property manager Paul Roth in Darmstädter Straße, Berlin. In 1938 Roth emigrated to the United States. More or less ‘under cover’ during 1942-43, she managed to continue in that job under the new management of Mrs. Guhtjahr and Grüttner. With great difficulty, she managed to avoid arrest. In January 1942, her mother Selma and her brother Heinz were deported to Riga and killed.
In November 1943 we lived at Motzstraße 79 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf and the apartment block was completely destroyed by aerial bombardment. My mother took me and went into hiding in the small village of Linde near Löwenberg, to the North of Berlin. We were lucky to survive until we were liberated by the Red Army.
This was 8 May 1945 and on this day an entirely new life started for my mother. She had always been a ‘big city girl’ but now found herself in a village of 300 souls. My father Herbert Liebig was a war prisoner in Soviet captivity. Being an active anti-fascist and Jewish, my mother received all possible support from the Red Army. An old smithy was allocated for us to live in, and later we received a different house, big enough for the family. This was also the place where the ‘Kommandantur’, the local HQ of the Red Army, was housed. They appointed my mother the provisional mayor of the village. In this way she contributed to the new anti-fascism in the GDR. With hard labour, many obstacles and lots of grief over the many dead family members and friends.
After my father Herbert Liebig, a graphic artist, had returned from captivity, the marriage with Werner Ammoser was dissolved. My parents married in 1947 and I became Marion Liebig. In January of that year my brother Peter Liebig had been born.
…and Member of Parliament
As ‘Neubäuerin’ (litt.: new female farmer) my mother had been allocated some land and a small forest allotment. Her social and political activities resulted in the ‘National Front’ of the GDR nominating her as a deputy in the first parliament, the Volkskammer, and in 1950 she was duly elected. In the first Volkskammer (1950-1954) she held her maiden speech. In subsequent years she was active in various women’s organisations such as the Democratic Women’s Union of Germany (DFD) and the International Democratic Women’s Federation (IDFF).
Edith Liebig-Löwenhardt died in December 1960 from a heart attack, four days prior to what would have been her 56th birthday.
Marion Lubina lives in Berlin-Treptow. Translated from the German by John Löwenhardt