The Reichsadler (German imperial eagle) with outstretched wings on an oak wreath with a swastika in its center. The insignia of the Third Reich is stamped on the back of a drawing by Jakob Philipp Hackert. Today the drawing hangs in a private apartment in Stockholm, in Ann-Charlott Mörner’s living room.

Farbfotografie. Eine Frau mit langen Haaren zeigt auf eine Stelle auf der Rückseite eines Gemäldes.

Foto: rbb

“I wanted to leave this section uncovered because it is evidence of history”,

she says. It is also the history of her grandfather Friedrich Guttmann, who once owned the painting.

Carefree years in Wroclaw and Berlin

Farbfotografie. Eine gerahmte ältere Fotografie einer Villa, davor ein Automobil.
The Guttsmann family’s summer residence in Breslau.

Foto: rbb

Friedrich Guttsmann was born in 1888 into a Jewish family in Breslau (now Wrocław). His father owned a large machine factory there.

An industrial career

Friedrich Guttsmann had a background in commerce. He served at the front in World War One. In 1919 he moved to Berlin and started work at Metallhüttenwerk Kurt Guttsmann, a smelting plant which belonged to his older brother. In 1927 he founded his own company, Berliner Kranzbandfabrik, which made wreath tape. In 1932 the company was taken over by the silk weaving firm Krahnen & Gobbers in Krefeld. The owners retained Guttsmann and gave him a permanent senior position.

Schwarzweiß-Fotografie. Ein Herr in Anzug und Krawatte, ein größerer und ein kleinerer Junge haben sich bei ihm untergehakt und schauen fröhlich in die Kamera.
Friedrich Guttsmann with his two sons.

Family collection

“I had a very good income and enjoyed a carefree existence with my family”,

concludes Guttsmann when looking back on this period. In 1920 he marries Henriette Hosemann, who comes from Berlin. The couple has two sons: Heinz-Jürgen (born in 1922) and Wolfgang (born in 1925).

Under pressure from Nazi legislation

Schaubild auf vergilbtem Papier, geschrieben in Frakturschrift.
Diagram illustrating the ‘Blood Protection Laws’ (Blutschutzgesetz), 1935

Public domain 🔍 Hover over the image to enlarge

Classified as a 'full Jew'

The Guttsmanns’ carefree existence comes to an end when the National Socialists assume power. People who are classified as Jewish are gradually stripped of their rights. Friedrich Guttsmann is among those considered a ‘full Jew’ (Volljude) according to the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 because of his ‘Jewish ancestry’, even though he had converted to Protestantism in 1911.

His marriage to Henriette, a non-Jew, is deemed a ‘privileged mixed marriage’ (privilegierte Mischehe), a status which initially affords some protection from persecution.

Mit Schreibmaschine geschriebene Liste.
List of the family’s valuables that they sold as a result of persecution, drawn up in 1951 by Henriette Guttsmann. The Hackert drawing is not mentioned here.

Berlin, Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten, Entschädigungsamt, Reg. 50.917, Bl. D3v 🔍 Über das Bild mit der Maus fahren, um zu vergrößern

Devoid of income

However, in 1936 he loses his senior position in the silk weaving firm because he is considered a Jew according to National Socialist criteria. Guttsmann is out of work for two years. Financial woes mean that the family has to part from valuables and furniture. However, in 1938 Guttsmann finds a new job: the basket making factory Rappehecht-Woelm hires him as a non-specialist worker.

“Because I had no money, my family and I were soon in […] a truly dire situation, as we were going hungry.”

Grafik. Ein älterer Herr mit Brille nimmt ein Bild von der Wand.

BR / Ulrich Knorr

Sale to the Nationalgalerie

However, Friedrich Guttsmann does not earn enough at the factory to feed his family. For this reason, in May 1939 he also gives up the drawing Auf Hiddensee (On Hiddensee) produced by Jakob Philipp Hackert in 1764. The Nationalgalerie in Berlin acquires the work and after the purchase stamps the back with its emblem, which features the initials N.G. for Nationalgalerie and above it the Reichsadler and the swastika.

Schwarzweißfotografie. Vierstöckiges Mehrfamilienhaus.
The Guttsmanns moved into the apartment of Henriette’s mother in this building in Berlin-Steglitz after they were forced to vacate their own apartment.

Family collection

Evicted from their apartment

Friedrich Guttsmann is no longer welcome as a tenant because he is deemed a Jew and so the family are evicted from their rental apartment in the street Südwestkorso. In 1936 the four of them move into the apartment of Henriette Guttsmann’s mother at 66 Schildhornstraße, where they live as subtenants.

Assistance from the Church

Abdruck eines handschriftlichen Briefes.
Friedrich Guttsmann: letter to Pastor Gollwitzer, January 19, 1939.

Evangelisches Zentralarchiv in Berlin, EZA 686 / 987

Audio of the contents of the letter (in German).

Ostracized as a Jew

At Schildhornstraße too, the neighbors are opposed to a Jew living in the same building as them. One of the tenants complains and the building management threatens to throw the whole family out onto the street if Friedrich Guttsmann does not disappear of his own accord. In desperation, Guttsmann appeals to the Protestant Church for help.

Porträtfotografie schwarz-weiß, älterer Herr mit Schnauzbart.
Pastor Paul-Gerhard Braune (1887–1954), around 1935

Archive of the Hoffnungstaler Foundation Lobetal

Schwarzweißotografie. Einstöckige Gebäude um einen parkähnlichen Innenhof, im Hintergrund eine Kirche.
The Hoffnungstaler Anstalten Lobetal, around 1915.

Archive of the Hoffnungstaler Foundation Lobetal

An offer of help from Lobetal

Friedrich Guttsmann is offered shelter with Pastor Braune in the village of Lobetal in the Brandenburg region of north-east Germany.

Pastor Braune heads the Hoffnungstaler Institutions Lobetal, a home to the north of Berlin for people in financial need or with physical or mental disabilities. During the National Socialist era, he takes in Jews and people persecuted for their political views, admitting them under false names, and in this way rescues many people from the Nazis’ clutches.

However, after a short stay Guttsmann turns down the offer for fear that he would not be able to tolerate it there. Fortunately, his situation eases slightly as his wife had managed to avert the threat of eviction. Friedrich Guttsmann is allowed to stay in the apartment.

Children in a foreign land

Guttsmann’s sons are classified as ‘first-degree Mischlinge’ (people of ‘mixed blood’ with one Jewish parent or two Jewish grandparents), and as such are at increasing risk in Germany. With the assistance of Birger Forell from the Swedish Church in Berlin, Friedrich Guttsmann is able to arrange for his sons Heinz-Jürgen und Wolfgang to depart for Sweden in April 1939. At the time, they are 17 and 13 years old respectively.

“It is easy to appreciate what parents must go through when sending children of this age to an unknown country, not knowing what will become of them”

Porträtfoto in schwarz-weiß. Mann mittleren Alters mit zurückgekämmten dunklen Haaren.
Birger Forell (1893-1958)

Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand (German Resistance Memorial Center)

Birger Forell

Birger Forell, a member of the Swedish resistance, was a pastor in the Swedish Church in Berlin from 1929. He provides places to hide in the attic of the church hall for people persecuted by the Nazis and provides them with food as well as papers enabling them to leave the country. In 1942 the Gestapo expells him from Nazi Germany.

Amanda Gasser from the Schwedischen Victoriagemeinde Berlin (Swedish Victoria Parish Berlin) on Birger Forell and the impact of his work.

Audio of Wolfgang Guttsmann’s written account submitted to the Berlin Entschädigungsamt (Office for Compensation) in 1951 (Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten, Entschädigungsamt, Reg. 51.058, fol. M6).

Gestapo interrogation and forced labor

In 1942 the Gestapo interrogates Friedrich Guttsmann and under threat of deportation forces him to bring his youngest son back to Germany. In 1944 Wolfgang Guttsmann is sent to a forced labor camp run by Organization Todt (a Nazi organization carrying out large-scale infrastructure projects in occupied Europe). He manages to escape in 1945 but is arrested by the Soviet army while on the run and taken to a prisoner-of-war camp. Upon his release he is severely malnourished and in extremely poor health.

Emigration to Sweden

In 1947 Wolfgang went to live with his older brother Heinz-Jürgen in Ängelholm in southern Sweden. Their parents joined them in 1948. There was nothing left to keep them in Germany. Friedrich Guttsmann’s two brothers were murdered in concentration camps and his mother died in 1941 in the Jewish Hospital in Berlin-Wedding, which the Nazis misused as an assembly camp.

After the war: united in exile

“Even today, after eight years, we still jump out of our skins when someone rings the front doorbell. It is no surprise that my heart has deteriorated as a result of these experiences and the constant pressure we were under.”

Farbfotografie, die sechs Erwachsene und zwei kleine Kinder zeigt.
The Guttsmann family in 1958: Friedrich and Henriette with their sons, daughters-in-law, and their first grandchildren.

Family collection

Friedrich Guttsmann was 61 when he emigrated. Repression and harassment under the Nazi regime had taken their toll. He did not manage to regain employment and in 1954 he was classed as unfit for work on account of his heart problems. He died in 1959.

Restitution

Abbildung einer Visitenkarte, auf der handschriftliche Korrekturen zu lesen sind.
Business card in the acquisition files of the Nationalgalerie. The name is not rare, but the address made it possible to identify Friedrich Guttsmann.

National Museums in Berlin, Central Archive, I/NG 874, sheet 216

Flmost 60 years later, Hanna Strzoda, a provenance researcher at the Zentralarchiv der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin (Central Archive of the National Museums in Berlin), is investigating the “Drawing Collection”. In the documentation related to the purchase of the Jakob Philipp Hackert drawing she comes across Friedrich Guttsmann’s business card. She establishes that the drawing’s previous owner was Jewish and follows the traces back to the Entschädigungsamt (Compensation Office). Here her suspicion is confirmed that the work had been sold as a result of Nazi persecution.

The Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) therefore tracks down Friedrich Guttsmann’s descendants and returns the drawing.

Zeichnung. Meer mit hohen Wellen, darauf ein Segelschiff, rechts hohe Felsen, davor am Strand drei Männer.
Jakob Philipp Hackert: Auf Hiddensee (On Hiddensee), pen and ink wash drawing, 1764. Restituted in 2019.

National Museums in Berlin, Museum of Prints and Drawings / Jörg P. Anders

Farbfotografie. Eine Frau hält ein großes Bild, die Bildrückseite zeigt zum Betrachter.
Ann-Charlott Mörner showing the back of the Hackert drawing.

Foto: rbb

Hnn-Charlott Mörner, the daughter of Friedrich’s youngest son, Wolfgang, never knew her grandfather, who died before she was born. However, the rest of the family did not talk about the past either, about the dreadful years in which the family was torn apart and lived in extreme peril.

The restitution of the Hackert drawing in 2019 provided the impetus to address the family’s history and to talk about it:

"Lest we forget."

In 1951 Friedrich Guttsmann applied for compensation. All of the above citations from him come from the written accounts that he submitted with the application (Berlin, Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten, Entschädigungsamt, Reg. 50.917).

Film by Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg on Friedrich Guttsmann

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