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352 - Fritz and Ships: An 11-Year-Old's Map of Jewish Emigration

January 17, 2009, 8:42 AM


In 1938, Germany was not a good place to be a Jew. While some German Jews might still have hoped the anti-semitism of the Nazi regime would somehow blow over, those who had the means to flee the country did so – if they found a place that would have them. The Freudenheims did, and managed to leave Berlin for Montevideo.

Their young son Fritz, 11 years old at the time, documented their traumatic odyssey in a map composed in bright colours, cheerfully entitled: Von der alten Heimat zu der neuen Heimat! (‘From the old home to the new home!’) He documents the Freudenheim family’s locations as far back as 1925, before he was born himself. Africa, with only one port of call, is portrayed as relatively small, while South America is more defined (all countries are shown) but detached from North America. Of the European countries, Germany looms largest; the trains that take the Freudenheims on their travels inside the country would soon be used for more sinister transports.

  • 24 May 1925: Levetzowstrasse 6, Berlin NW87.
    The Freudenheims live on the second floor of a brownstone house in the Berlin area of Moabit (NW87 is probably a postal code referring to the street’s location it the city’s north-west). From 1941 to 1945, the Levetzowstrasse synagogue was used by the Nazis as a ‘logistical hub’ to transport over 30,000 Jews to the concentration camps.
  • 27 March 1927: Aue 5, Mühlhausen
    The family apparently moves to Mühlhausen, possibly the city in Thüringen, close to the later German-German border. Mühlhausen is quite a common city name, occurring over 20 times inside Germany and a few times beyond (Mulhouse in the Alsace is Mühlhausen in German).
  • 1 March 1938: Solingerstrasse 1, Berlin NW87
    The Freudenheims move back to the old Berlin neighbourhood, possibly already in preparation for leaving the country.
  • 23 October 1938: Hamburg
    They arrive in Hamburg, Germany’s main port city and in these days the exit point for many Jewish emigrants.
  • 28 October 1938
    The Jamaique leaves Hamburg for South America, with the Freudenheims on board.
  •  31 October 1938: Antwerp (Belgium)
  • 5 November 1938: Le Havre (France)
  • 8 November 1938: Lissabon (Portugal)
  • 11 November 1938: Casablanca (Morocco)
    The 20th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War. I wonder if it was a topic on board…
  • 26 November 1938: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
  • 27 November 1938: Santos (Brazil)
  • 30 November 1938: Montevideo (Uruguay)
    Here, the family settles in a house on Calle Sotelo 3918. Little Fritz manages to evoke the undoubtedly mediterranean style the house must have had, just as his German houses seem duly nordic.

This map was sent in by Liam Flanagan, who saw this map at the Jewish Museum in Berlin. However, I found a link to it on this page of the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn. It appears Fritz made the drawing while crossing the ocean on the Jamaique (although he must have filled in the details of his arrival later).

And what became of young Fritz? We don’t know, but there is some evidence that he lived a long and happy life. A bit of googling learns that a Fritz Freudenheim, born in 1926, died in São Paulo, Brazil in 2008. Fritz was the husband of Irene and the father of Irith and Andrea Michele.


352 - Fritz and Ships: An 1...

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