The Family of Gernhard Berkowitz

»Deported to their Deaths« – panel 18 – Biographies

The highly talented musician Gerhard Berkowitz (b. 1901) worked, until his dismissal in 1933, as a répétiteur at the opera. His wife Else, née Steeg (b. 1902), was a vocalist there. Their daughter Birgit was born in 1937.

Through the Jews’ House on Vereins- (today Ellern-)straße, the young family came to Riga, where Gerhard Berkowitz became a camp policeman. The couple arranged several public music events in the ghetto; once the guards even gave them a piece of bread in return.

Else and Birgit Berkowitz were subsequently deported to Auschwitz and died there in the gas chamber. As part of the clean-up crew, Gerhard Berkowitz was among the last ghetto inhabitants. On the run from the Red Army to Tallinn (Reval), the guards liquidated the entire group.

Gerhard Berkowitz’s mother Ernestine, née Schuhmacher (1869-1943), died in Theresienstadt. His siblings Harald and Dagmar emigrated to England in time. His brother Dr. Horst-Egon Berkowitz survived as a so-called “Judenkonsulent” (legal consultant for Jewish people in court) in Hannover and was liberated on April 10th, 1945. He worked into his old age as a lawyer in Hannover.


Picture credits

1: Private Collection Berkowitz

2: Private Collection Berkowitz

3: Municipal Archives Hannover, HR 16, no. 2337


Exhibition: Deported to their Deaths
Duration: December 15th, 2011 to January 27th, 2012
Location: Neues Rathaus Hannover, Bürgersaal
Panel: 18 from 39 – Biographies
Size: 650 x 2050 mm
Technique: Digital print on Alu-Dibond