The Family of Bernhard Bermann

Bernhard Bermann, a merchant, was born on 3.6.1849 in Markt Berolzheim, the son of Nehemia and Karolina Bermann. He was married to Johanna Neuburger from Thalmässing. They had eight children.

David, born on 2.7.1879 in Gunzenhausen, was murdered in Viechtach on 18.11.1902.

Viktor, born on 25.04.1881 in Gunzenhausen, died in battle on 16.08.1916 at Maurepas.

Sigmund, born on 29.07.1882 in Gunzenhausen, became a shoe dealer and in 1920 he married Lina Lemie, born on 12.01.1894 in Fischach.

Sophia, born on 14.01.1884 in Gunzenhausen. In 1906 she married the livestock trader Leopold Firnbacher from Regensburg, where they were still living in 1939. According to information from their grandson Leigh Firn, Sophia was killed in Theresienstadt in 1943. Their son Max Firnbacher emigrated first to Palestine and then to New Zealand.

Lina, born on 19.03.1885 in Gunzenhausen, married the merchant Heinrich Flink from Altenmuhr in 1909.

Ida, born on 31.08.1888 in Gunzenhausen, married a Mr Luchs and was living in Buttenwiesen in 1939.

Josef, born on 16.06.1890 in Gunzenhausen, died there on 24.12.1890.

Klara, born on 29.09.1893 in Gunzenhausen. On 25.04.1921 she married the merchant Anton Spitz, born on 01.07.1885 in Weiden. Around 1946 she was living in Atlanta/Georgia USA and later moved to Miami/Florida to be nearer her daughter Bobbie.

The father, Bernhard Bermann, ran a shoe shop at Marktplatz 22. In 1881 he purchased a piece of land at Auergasse 3, where the former synagogue of the town had stood. He built a house there and sold it again in 1922.

Bermann shop sign
The shop's sign is kept in the Gunzenhausen municipal archives.

In 1913 the two sons Sigmund and Viktor purchased property at Gerberstrasse 8, which they converted and opened the Bermann shoe shop.

As Viktor was killed in 1916 in the first World War, his share passed to his parents, however as of 1919 Sigmund became sole owner of the property.

The parents continued to live at Auergasse 3, but the mother Johanna died in 1920 and the house was sold in 1922.  The father probably moved to his daughter Lina in Altenmuhr and he died there in 1930.

On 25.09.1935 Sigmund Bermann and his wife Lina sold the house and shoe shop at Gerberstrasse 8 for 26.000 RM to Gustav Hertlein. They left the town and moved to Regensburg, probably to his sister Sophia Firnbacher.

But from there they were deported to the Piaski concentration camp, where they must have been killed as they were declared dead on 08.04.1945.

We received an email in May 2003 from Sophia Firnbacher's grandson, Leigh Firn.  He wrote:

Sophia Firnbacher was my grandmother.  Her son Max was my father.  I believe that my grandmother died in Theresienstadt in 1943.  Her husband Leopold Firnbacher died of natural causes in 1937 and is buried in Regensburg.

My father left Germany in 1937 and went to Palestine, from there he went to New Zealand where I was born.  He died in a car accident in 1960.  I know the Spitz family and met them when I was still a child. Clara Spitz was my grandmother Sophia's younger sister (they were both born Bermann). Clara lived first in Atlanta and later moved to Miami, Florida to be near her daughter Bobbie. I believe that both mother and daughter died some time ago.  There was also a brother John, he taught at Roenoke College in Virginia.  He was probably unmarried.

We made enquiries on 22nd July 2003 in the municipal archives in Regensburg, and the curator Mr Hubert Troidl gave us the following information : There is an entry under the name Firnbacher  in the Memorial Book for Victims of the Persecution of Jews during the national-socialist dictatorship in Germany 1933-1945 (Koblenz 1986) "Firnbacher, Sofie, née Bermann Regensburg 14.01.84, missing Piaski" (Bd. 1, S.330).  Further information may possibly be found in the registers of the city of Regensburg.


Autoren: Serdar Ceylan and Alexander Mederer

Descendants of the Bermann Family

For the first time a descendant of the Bermann family contacted us in 2012. It was John Spitz from South Carolina. 

He wrote

I have some information for you regarding the family history of the Bermanns, as I am the son of Klara Bermann, born in 1893.  My older sister Babette Wilmers is living in California. I live in South Carolina.  We were born in Weiden/Oberpfalz in 1922 and 1926.

I recall visiting Gunzenhausen, at age 5 or 6, several times, and remember my grandfather.

I recall the house and the exterior of the shop. My recollection of Gerberstrasse is more of a square (Platz) than a street.

We visited the Flink family in Altenmuhr, my mother's sister.

My father, together with bis brother and sister, owned and operated:
a retail store selling men's, women's, children's shoes
a wholesale store selling leather, tools, supplies to cobblers (Schuster) in the surrounding villages and towns
a storage facility (Lager) for cow - and calf - hides, which were treated and then shipped to shoe-factories
a movie-theatre

We emigrated, more accurately, escaped three times:
from Weiden to Marienbad, in January 1934
from Marienbad to Prag, in September 1938, 24 hours ahead of the German army
from Prag to New York, via Amsterdam, London, Southampton, in March 1939, 12 days ahead of the German army.

In Atlanta, Georgia
The first year, my father worked as a nightwatchman, and my mother and sister as seamstresses in a textile factory.
Then, my father was able to secure a loan, and we bought and operated a grocery (Lebensmittel) and meat market (Metzgerei) for 10 years, when my parents were able to retire, in 1950.
In the store we all worked - my sister until she married and moved to Miami in 1942. The store was open from 7 AM until 7 PM, from Monday to Friday, and from 7 AM to 10 PM on Saturday.
There was a full-time employee, the butcher (Metzger) and two part-time helpers on Saturday.

My sister had no further schooling in the USA.
I attended Duke University and received the BA degree in 1948 in Political Science.
I worked 3 years for the government, 1949-1952, in Germany (Heidelberg), was in the military, US Army, in 1954 and 1955, in Germany (Huenfeld), and worked in department-store merchandising and buying from 1956 to 1961 in the US..
Returned to school in 1962, at the University of Tennessee, where I received the PhD in Economics in 1967.

Afterwards I worked at Roanoke College.

Our mother died in 1982 in Miami…. Neither my wife and I, nor my sister have children…. My wife and I visited Gunzenhausen in 1992 and were received at the Town Hall.

In May 2013 John Spitz sent us this photo of the Bermann family (taken around 1900).  From left to right :

Photo of the Bermann family (taken around 1900)

Ida, fate unknown
Mother Johanna, died 1920
David, robbed and murdered 1912
Viktor, killed in battle 1916
Father Bernhard, died 1930
Sigmund, concentration camp 1942
Klara, died Miami 1982 (mother of John Spitz)
Lina, died around 1962, Atlanta
Sofie, Firnbacher through marriage, perished in Piaski concentration camp.