Victor Aronstein

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Memorial plaque for Victor Aronstein in Berlin-Alt-Hohenschönhausen

Victor Aronstein (born November 1, 1896 in Margonin ; † January 13, 1945, probably in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp ) was a German doctor of Jewish origin . He achieved local fame in the Berlin district of Alt-Hohenschönhausen , where he ran a practice for five years before it had to give up. Aronstein was deported to the Litzmannstadt ghetto (today Łódź ) in 1941 and probably deported to Auschwitz at the end of 1944 . According to a fellow inmate whose name was not known, Aronstein was murdered there two weeks before the camp was liberated by the Red Army .


Childhood and youth

Victor Aronstein was born on November 1, 1896, the youngest of three children in Margonin, a town in what is now the Greater Poland Voivodeship . His parents were Jacob and Henriette Aronstein, geb. Cohn. At the time of his birth, his father ran a brewery in the village, which was shaped by this trade in addition to cloth making. However, the decline of the old feudal forms of production caused an economic decline, with the result that above all many German and Jewish families left the place and tried their luck in Berlin . The Aronstein family was one of them.

From 1904 the Aronsteins lived in East Berlin, which from 1920 formed the Friedrichshain district . Victor attended the Kölln High School since moving to Berlin until he registered for military service in October 1915 a few months before his final exam. Before he was released in February 1919, he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd class and the Wound Badge . The wounding he received in 1917 also enabled him to stay in Berlin and take the war maturity test. After this, he was enrolled at the medical faculty of the Friedrich Wilhelm University shortly before his discharge .

Aronstein's mother died on February 12, 1918. A short time later, the family moved one last time within Berlin and settled in Marsiliusstrasse. At that time, the street, like the surrounding district, was strongly Jewish. After his father's death on November 21, 1927, Victor Aronstein was the main tenant of the apartment.

Studies and the first years of employment

After his discharge from the army, Aronstein continued his studies. In addition to attending the individual lectures, he also worked as a student at the Urban Hospital . He spent the spring and summer months of 1922 at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität zu Heidelberg , where he also took part in lectures and did practical work. Here, among other things, the ability to give birth was certified.

From October 1922 Aronstein was back at the Charité, where he continued his medical studies and was in contact with internationally recognized professors such as Karl Bonhoeffer , Adalbert Czerny and Friedrich Kraus . In order to obtain his license to practice medicine and later his doctorate , he completed his internship at the Jewish hospital in Gesundbrunnen from July 1, 1925 to August 10, 1926 . On August 17, 1926, he finally received his license to practice medicine; April 28, 1927, he was made to a dissertation on the topic "On the so-called myositis ossificans progressiva" to Dr. med. PhD . His father died on November 21 of the same year.

Aronstein began his actual medical career on March 28, 1928 as an assistant doctor in the Park Sanatorium in Birkenwerder north of Berlin. He initially headed two wards with up to 70 beds before he was appointed senior physician on March 1, 1930 , and thus responsible for around 300 patients. On June 30, 1931, Aronstein left the hospital system to settle in Berlin as a specialist in internal diseases . In the autumn of the same year, his practice opened at 16 Marsiliusstrasse, where he was still living. Even at that time, he was described by his patients and confidants as extremely helpful.

Hohenschönhauser years

At the beginning of February 1933, Aronstein moved to Bahnhofstrasse 1 in Hohenschönhausen , where he also reopened his practice for internal diseases. On January 30, 1933, Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor . Jewish businesses were boycotted; Law firms and medical practices also suffered economic losses. Aronstein did not feel threatened by the hate campaign, as he was convinced that as a participant in the war he was protected by the so-called front fighter privilege .

Around 1935 the Jewish doctor moved to the adjacent Berliner Straße 126. Apart from the slightly better location on the Hohenschönhauser main road, nothing changed for the time being. During this time Aronstein won the trust of the people, an achievement that was not a matter of course for a Jew at that time. He is described as a doctor who was there for his patients day and night.

After a short time, the Jewish doctor had the largest practice in the district. His regular patients also included National Socialists, who came in secret. However, the responsible local group office of the NSDAP caused the landlord to terminate his apartment and practice on December 31, 1936.

After initial difficulties, Aronstein was able to find a new practice at Werneuchener Strasse 3 through one of his patients; that patient's brother agreed to make room for the Jewish doctor and move himself. Aronstein kept his office assistant Lotte Korn, who was very close to him - both professionally and privately.

From 1938 its existence became increasingly uncertain. Even before the November pogroms , the doctor had to keep hidden in the house several times. Fortunately, everyone in the house stood by him and he could be warned in good time. Neighbors supported him with food and medicine.

The “Fourth Ordinance to the Reich Citizenship Law ” revoked Jewish doctors' license to practice medicine with effect from the end of September 1938. Aronstein had to give up his practice.

At the beginning of 1939 he moved again, this time to his brother-in-law in Zimmerstrasse in Kreuzberg . Although it was initially planned that the entire family, i.e. H. Aronstein and his two sisters and their families emigrated, the doctor first had to help out with his financial means so that at least the families of his two sisters could leave the country for the USA or Chile .

Aronstein wanted to follow them that same year. In September he received from the Chilean capital Santiago leave to enter. He was only able to raise part of the “ Reich Flight Tax” and the “Jewish Penalty”, which were based on his previous income and assets; this prevented his emigration. There was no possibility of getting the partial amount of the Reich flight tax that had already been paid back. The alternative of emigrating to the United States was not an option; because there was a long waiting list for immigrants from Germany.

For the last two years, the Jewish doctor went into hiding with friends or former patients and occasionally practiced his profession there, if the situation allowed. In the event of raids by the police or the Gestapo , he was warned in advance and went into hiding.

The last few years in the Litzmannstadt ghetto

From October 1, 1941, the deportation of Jewish citizens to the ghettos and extermination camps began in Berlin . Although Aronstein already knew by then that he was to be deported, he turned down any offer to flee abroad. For one thing, he didn't want to unnecessarily endanger his friends who were helping him. On the other hand, he hoped to be able to continue practicing as a doctor at the deportation site. On his 45th birthday on November 1, 1941, Victor Aronstein and Lotte Korn were picked up by the Gestapo and taken to Grunewald train station . From here over 1,000 Jews came to the Litzmannstadt ghetto on that day alone .

Little is known about Aronstein's time in the ghetto. He is said to have had contact with a soldier from the security team on site who knew him from his time in Hohenschönhausen. He was able to use this to send letters to and from Berlin and receive small packages. His letters were encrypted, as was often the case with front letters. To the end he had the hope of surviving the ghetto. Ironically, he usually used the word "final victory" to describe this hope. From his wife Lotte Aronstein-Korn - they had probably married in 1942 - there had been no signs of life since 1944.

With the approaching Red Army , the ghetto was dissolved from mid-1944. Most of the more than 160,000 inmates were brought to Auschwitz , where they were often diagnosed as "unable to work" and immediately sent to be gassed . Only a few, including Aronstein, were able to escape premature death and were still employed as labor in the camp. His health has been going downhill rapidly in recent months. A survivor who had accompanied Aronstein from Litzmannstadt to Auschwitz later reported that the doctor fell ill with pulmonary TB and was killed two weeks before the liberation by the Red Army, probably on January 13, 1945.


Stumbling block at the house, Zimmerstrasse 48B, in Berlin-Mitte

There are no tombs of Victor Aronstein and his wife Lotte Aronstein-Korn. Nevertheless, his name was remembered first by relatives and later by numerous commemorations.

As early as 1960, a memorial plaque on Werneuchener Strasse 3 commemorated the doctor. This was replaced in 1987 and again in 1996 for his 100th birthday. The last one got lost during the renovation of the house and was replaced by a new plaque in 1999. The inscription on this fourth tablet reads:

Jewish doctor
VICTOR ARONSTEIN practiced in this house in 1937/1938
November 1, 1896 - January 1945
On November 1, 1941 he was
deported by the Gestapo to the Łódź ghetto and
murdered in 1945 in the Auschwitz extermination camp

In addition to this plaque, the youth club on Schöneicher Strasse in Hohenschönhausen bore his name until the political change in 1989/90. Furthermore, numerous personal items of Aronstein are housed in the local museum, most of them were previously in the possession of his relatives.

Victor Aronstein has been registered with the Yad Vashem Jewish Memorial since December 1995 . A retirement home in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen bears his name.

On February 26, 2020 , a stumbling block was laid in front of his former place of residence, Berlin-Mitte , Zimmerstrasse 48B .


Web links

Commons : Victor Aronstein  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files