By David Alexander and Rivka Alexander-Yahich

Although the date of the wedding is unknown, Lea Meschoulam’s first marriage was arranged by her family in Constantinople. She was widowed soon afterwards. Her second marriage – to Josef Jahisch, the man she had always preferred – was probably in 1912, and was certainly not arranged. To avoid scandal and family disapproval, the couple departed for Alexandria, where their son Muis was born on 6 August 1913.

Josef found no work in Alexandria. When they heard from Lea’s brother Isaac that he could find a job with a Greek tobacco company in Berlin, they set off once more. They arrived in the night of 1 January 1914. Fireworks were exploding all around. What kind of town was this, they wondered – a place of constant celebration?

Muis was nearly four months old. It is not known whether Josef found the job he had come for, or how soon the family settled at Ohmstrasse 1. But one thing is certain: they had arrived just in time for the First World War. Within two years, Josef had been given a choice: if you don’t enlist in the Turkish army, we’ll conscript you into ours. He chose the former, and was killed by a British bomb near Istanbul within a few months of the birth of Perla, his third child. His death set a precedent: his firstborn, Muis, would be the only member of his family to die of natural causes.

[photo 1: family gathering. Muis is the young man at right in the front row.] Though Muis remained stateless until he became a Belgian citizen in the 1950s, he had little difficulty in becoming part of the society his parents had brought him to. As a speaker of Ladino – the language of Sephardic Jews – he had to repeat his first year at primary school, but on one memorable occasion soon afterwards he was held up as an example to his classmates. After he and every other child in the class had been beaten for agreeing with the teacher’s statement Der Lehrer lehrt, he suddenly realised an essential distinction: Nein, der Lehrer lernt! The rest of the class was beaten for a second time for being too stupid to understand what the only foreigner in the class had understood.
As a young man, Muis worked with his uncle selling and repairing Persian carpets from a shop in Joachimthalerstrasse. And some years later, in Belgium, his ability to speak like a true Berliner would save his life. So, too, did the fact that the Nazis had no specific orders to arrest stateless Jews born in Egypt.

[Document 1: Sammel Lager Mecheln] Later, Muis inevitably looked back on Berlin with pain, but also with pleasure: it was his town, and had always accepted him. It was not a town of anti-Semites. Anti-Semitism came from outside: “It was Hitler who made me a Jew,” he said. After Kristallnacht, Muis realised he must leave Germany. By then, his mother had long had a new partner, a fellow Turkish Jew, Josef Mentesch, and five new children: Lisa, Rebeka, Rachel, Rosa and Albert. Did they, too, consider leaving? We will never know.

[Photo 2: Josef Mentesch, Lea Meshoulam-Jahisch and four of their five children: Rebeka at back left, Rachel at back right, Rosa at front left, Albert at front] Muis’s attempted departure came in January 1939. But he was betrayed by the Luxembourgeoise border-runner who had made the arrangements, and was arrested at the border station. She had advised him to carry very little money; if he were searched, he might be suspected of smuggling currency. He therefore carried a very small sum – which the Gestapo used to pay the taxi fare to the police cells.

In February or March, he arrived in Dachau. Luckily for him, he remained there only until May. He owed his release to his closest cousin, Rachi Meschoulam, who had been authorised to emigrate to Palestine, but then transferred her authorisation to him. She then left clandestinely from one of the northern ports. Her family laughed as they bade her farewell at the station. “You’re making a fuss about nothing – you’ll be back again before long,” they told her. She never saw them again.

Muis returned to Berlin in June 1939. On 6 June, the British embassy gave him a visa to enter Britain en route for Palestine, and the Belgian embassy granted him a transit visa “sans pouvoir y faire volontairement arrêt” – without the right to remain voluntarily on Belgian soil.

[Doc 2, Fremdenpass. pages 16-17] He left Berlin soon afterwards. Due to a body search on the German side of the border, he missed the connection to the train that would take him to the Channel port. He never got to England, and remained in Belgium for the rest of his life. But what of the family he left behind? While he received a few Postkarte from Berlin – all written by his sisters, as his mother could write no German – these could never reveal the full story.

[Doc 3, Letter from Rebeka Meschoulam, 16 August 1941]

[Doc 4, Letter from Perla Jahisch, 21 October 1941] On 21 October 1941 his sister Perla sent him a new contact address in Berlin. In all likelihood, they never stayed there: three days later, they were deported from Grunewald to the ghetto at Lodz (Litzmannstadt).

Muis received one more card, now lost. It was from his family, who had arrived in Lodz, and said they were well. They were allowed to receive parcels. Muis sent parcels, but never received a reply.

The remaining nine members of his family were murdered at the death camp in Chelmno (Culmhof) on 13 May 1942.

In June 1989, fifty years to the month since his departure from Berlin, Muis returned, hoping to discover where his family had died. He was unsuccessful. Until the end of his life, their fate was unknown to him.

[photo of family in windows, Ohmstrasse 1] For the last time, he also returned to Ohmstrasse – then still in the East, which required him to pass through Checkpoint Charlie. To disguise the fear he felt when confronted once again by police in green uniforms, he blamed his son-in-law for bringing him on a stupid trip which he hadn’t even wanted to make.

The house in Ohmstrasse was still standing, but was difficult to identify. As for Luisenstadt, it had changed almost beyond recognition. But the Jannowitz Brücke was the same as ever, and Muis was cheered to see that people still leaned on its railings, watching the green waters of the Spree flow beneath them, just as they always had.

4 December 2012

In memory of Moucha Yahich
Alexandria 6 August 1913 – Brussels 29 December 2004
and of his family:

Josef Jahisch
who died in Turkey in 1917
Lea Jahisch
Josef Mentesch
Ester Jahisch
Perla Jahisch
Lisa Meschoulam
Rebeka Meschoulam
Rachel Meschoulam
Lisa Meschoulam
Rosa Meschoulam
Albert Meschoulam
who died at Chelmno on 13 May 1942


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Cover Die Luisenstadt
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Unsere Geschichts-Broschüre
"Ein historischer Pfad im Heinrich-Heine-Viertel"

Viele Abbildungen mit erläuternden Texten

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Do 3·Okt Finale Abschlussfeier der Ausstellung "Kunst an der Plakatwand"

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Do 26·Sept - Unsere AG "Grün für Luise" lädt zum ersten Aktiven-Treffen ins Café

Die AG GRÜN FÜR LUISE teilt mit: durch unsere dreimalige Gießaktion wurde den Bäumen und Pflanzen am Heinrich-Heine-Platz und am Michaelkirchlatz neun Kubikmeter Wasser zugeführt. Das sind über 1000 Eimer oder Kannen Wasser, die sonst nicht an die Bäume gekommen wären - ein guter erster Schritt im Engagement für das öffentliche Grün in der Luisenstadt!

Am Donnerstag, den 26. September um 16 Uhr

wollen sich zum ersten Mal interessierte Aktive für das Grün in der Luisenstadt im Café am Engelbecken treffen, sich näher kennenlernen, Ideen austauschen und die weitere Agenda/Arbeit planen.

Alle Anwohner und Interessierte sind herzlich eingeladen.

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Mi 30·Okt Vortrag: Die Spree in Berlin Mitte - Ruhestand oder neuer Aufbruch?

Vergangenheit und Zukunft der Beziehung
zwischen Fluss und Stadtentwicklung

Ohne die Spree gäbe es Berlin nicht. Die Stadt wurde nicht umsonst an einer Stelle gegründet, an welcher der Fluss als Hauptverkehrsweg und Energiequelle dienen konnte. Die Bedeutung und Funktion der Spree in Berlin verändert sich.

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Neu: Unsere Broschüre zur Geschichte der Eisfabrik

Im September 2019 und pünktlich zum Tag des offenen Denkmals ist eine neue Broschüre unseres Bürgervereins zur Geschichte der Eisfabrik der Norddeutschen Eiswerke in der Köpenicker Straße 40-41 erschienen.

Das Zustandekommen der Broschüre ist dem hartnäckigen Engagement unseres Mitglieds Peter Schwoch zu verdanken, der sich über Jahre unermüdlich für den Erhalt des denkmalgeschützten Ensembles eingesetzt hat.

Gleichzeitig sammelt Peter Schwoch seit Jahren historisches Material zur Geschichte der Köpenicker Strasse und stellt so die Bedeutung  des Erhalts dieses Industriedenkmals als Symbol für die Entwicklung dieses ganzen Bezirks ab dem Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts in einen historischen Kontext.

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NEU - Sept/Okt: ecke köpenicker No. 4/2019 erschienen

Die ecke No. 4 für die Monate September und Oktober 2019 mit den Schwerpunkten Postfuhramt, Bezirk Mitte / Über den Tellerrand, Streitthema Lärm und Lärmschutz informiert aktuell und auch mit Hintergrund-Infos über diese Themen:

  • Bürgerfest und Kunstprojekt
  • Pläne für das alte Postfuhramt
  • Runder Tisch Köpenicker
  • Streitthema Lärm und Lärmschutz
  • Alte Eisfabrik
  • Leserpost
  • Tag des offenen Denkmals 2019
  • Kolumne: Luisenstädtische Kirche
  • Aus dem Bezirk Mitte / Über den Tellerrand:
    - Umwandlung in Wohneigentum
    - Städtebau in Helsinki
    - Bibliothek der Zukunft in Helsinki
  • Nachrichten aus dem Bezirk
  • Gebietsplan und Adressen
  • Pflastersteine /Eckensteher

Hinweis: Die Redaktion der "ecke" hat eine Mailingliste eröffnet - Sie können sich per eMail eintragen für den regelmäßigen Bezug der PDF-Versionen.
Auch werden Hobby-Fotografen ("Kiezmomente") und Leserbrief-Schreiber gesucht. Gestalten Sie die "ecke" mit.

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Begrüßungsrede zur Einweihung des Bodendenkmals Luisenstadtkirche

Fotos oben - von links: Volker Hobrack (im Hintergrund), Bürgermeister von Dassel, Herr Sellschopf und Pfarrer Boß an der neuen Gedenktafel (Bild vergößern hier)

Am Freitag, den 16. August 2019,
wurde in unserem Luisenstädtischen Kirchpark das erneuerte Bodendenkmal für die Luisenstadtkirche sowie eine ebenfalls erneuerte, moderne Gedenktafel eingeweiht. Vorstand Volker Hobrack hielt die Eröffnungsrede und begrüßte die zahlreichen eingeladenen Gäste sowie die Anwohner der Luisenstadt. Hier Volkers Rede im Wortlaut:

Liebe Anwohner, liebe Mitglieder und Freunde des Bürgervereins Luisenstadt, sehr geehrte Mitarbeiter des Wohninvestors Instone Real Estate Development GmbH, Frau Brandenbusch und Herr Sellschopf, sehr geehrter Herr Stadtbezirksbürgermeister von Dassel, sehr geehrter Herr Stadtrat…. sehr geehrte Damen und Herren der bezirklichen Verwaltung insbesondere des Straßen- und Grünflächenamtes, Herr (…), lieber Pfarrer Gerhard Boß, liebe benachbarte Pfarrer der Kirchgemeinden von St. Jacobi und St. Thomas, liebe Gäste von außerhalb der Luisenstadt.

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