Elsa Sachs Friedmann (1910-1966)

elsa sachs friedmann
Photo: private property

The world was wide open to Elsa Sachs, whose parents owned “Adolf Alkan, ”the fine linen store. She went to the best schools, graduated from high school in Switzerland, and often attended the theater and the opera. She was fond of climbing and skiing. And she managed to play the piano quite well.

On April 15, 1936, she married Julius Friedmann. He was born in Sonneberg and was the son of a horse harness manufacturer. His mother died when he was in his early 20s, and his father was murdered by the Nazis in Theresienstadt.

In December 1938, Elsa and Julius Friedmann first made it to Holland, and from there they escaped to the United States.

The Nazis allowed them to take with them a large portion of their furniture, their Chinese porcelain, and their silver. In addition, the family managed to smuggle $1000 worth of gold in the smokestack of a Dutch Rhine steamer. If they had been caught, it would have meant their deaths.

In the U.S., Elsa Friedmann managed to be the first in her family to get a job, working as a saleswoman in a department store.

Elsa Friedmann and her husband had decided that they did not want to bring Jewish children into the world in Nazi Germany, so only after they had established themselves in Detroit did they have children – a son and a daughter.

„Die meiste Zeit meiner Kindheit und Jugend war meine Mutter die Präsidentin einer wohltätigen Organisation mit dem Namen „Die Selbsthilfe – The Self Help“. Diese Organisation hatte sich gegründet, um jüdische Flüchtlinge, die in die Region um Detroit gekommen waren, zu unterstützen. Sie versorgte sie mit Geld, Unterkünften, half ihnen Beschäftigungen zu finden, in der neuen Umgebung zurechtzukommen und die Sprache zu lernen. Sie war das Herz und der Kopf dieser wunderbaren Organisation.“
Claude T.H. Friedman

Text und Copyright: Prof. Dr. Gaby Franger