International women's day was on Monday, but every day it is important to tell the stories of (Jewish) women and how they lived before, during and after the NS regime.
On the photo, you can see Marianne Sperling as a young girl, her mother Elsa Gückel, an unidentified boy and Elsa's mother Olga Dienstfertig.
Olga was born in Rakovník/Rakonitz in 1876 as daughter of Daniel and Rosa Felix. They came to Zittau, like many other Jewish families, as merchants, and Olga later ran a small textile shop. Rosa and David Felix are buried at the Jewish cemetery (Rosa's tombstone in the picture below).
Olga's second daughter Elsa was born in 1900. She was baptised protestant and later married Fritz Gückel, an automotive fitter. They raised Elsa's daughter Marianne together, but in April 1944, Fritz Gückel filed for divorce to be with another woman.
For Elsa and Marianne, this was a disaster. Until then, they managed to survive, although in poverty and with the many restrictions that came with being considered Jewish. But now, without an "Aryan" husband, Elsa had nothing to protect her from deportation. Shortly after Fritz filed for divorce, she was imprisoned by the Secret State Police and deported to Auschwitz. We believe she died in Bergen-Belsen in early 1945.
Marianne survived and became secretary to the mayor of Zittau. Her witness report is in our archive and recalls, among other things, the demolition of the synagogue in '38, and her feelings of detachment to the event because she never considered herself Jewish.