Alfred Landecker—a veteran of the First World War and the father of Wilhelm, Emilie, and Gerdele—is sitting in his living room in Mannheim with a packed suitcase in front of him. It contains undergarments, a coat with the yellow star sewn onto the chest, and no cash. He has followed the instructions the German authorities had given him in their notice of deportation. Alfred Landecker waits with calm and composure, as his son Wilhelm later recounts. Perhaps he sensed that he would never see his children again.
As early as December 1938, shortly after the pogrom known as the Night of Broken Glass, during which the National Socialists and their followers had looted and destroyed synagogues and Jewish businesses, Alfred Landecker wrote to his daughter Gerdele: “My dear child, the times have changed, and with them, the people.”
A final letter from Alfred Landecker
“So, you dirty Jew, are you ready for your trip?”. With these words, the Gestapo officers seize Alfred Landecker and take him from his home. A few weeks later, the Landecker family in Mannheim receives one final letter. It states that Alfred Landecker has been deported to Izbica, a ghetto in occupied Poland. Afterwards, “his trace is lost,” as the authorities succinctly put it. The ghetto in Izbica was used as a transit to the extermination camps Belzec and Sobibor.
The Alfred Landecker Foundation is named after him. We want to preserve Alfred Landecker’s memory and, through our work, ensure that his fate is not forgotten—and that something like this never happens again.
We are still researching to learn more about Alfred Landecker’s life, but this much we already know - his story is inextricably linked with the Reimann family. They have established the Alfred Landecker Foundation.
An unlikely love affair
Emilie Landecker, Alfred’s daughter, had a relationship with Albert Reimann Junior, which produced three children. This relationship is difficult to fathom for us today, because Reimann was a staunch antisemite and National Socialist.
Together with his father Albert Reimann Senior, Reimann Junior ran Johann A. Benckiser GmbH—a medium-sized chemical company in Mannheim. Today, many family members and heirs are partners in the JAB Holding Company, which was created from the successor companies of Benckiser.