Former Lady-in-Waiting Anna Ellen von Anker (1867-1946)

anna ellen anker
Photo: private property, Anna Ellen Anker in the middle

Every year, Anna Ellen von Anker presented her tenants’ daughter with a small birthday present, with the words, “So you won’t turn into a Nazi!”

Anna Ellen had formerly served as lady-in-waiting to Marie von Sachsen Coburg und Gotha; now she lived on the upper floor of Obere Klinge 1 in Coburg. She rented the downstairs to the Zapf family: Dr. Ludwig Zapf, the respected director of the regional hospital, his wife Dr. Hildegard Zapf, and their three children – two boys, and the daughter who got the annual birthday present. The Zapfs blocked off access to the upper floor, so that local Nazis couldn’t search there. The family was convinced that this was what enabled “Ännchen Anker” (as they affectionately called her) to survive the “Brown Years,” even though the Nazis did know she lived there.

To the anger of the local NSDAP group leader (Ortsgruppenleiter), the house never flew the Nazi flag on National Socialist holidays. Anna Ellen von Anker’s regular response to his requests was that the last time she flew any flags had been when her former mistress, Duchess Marie, had died.

Anna Ellen von Anker was the daughter of Karl Elwin von Anker and Anna Countess von Hacke. Her father was raised to the peerage by Wilhelm I in 1866. Her grandfather Karl Ludwig Ferdinand Anker had converted from the Mosaic to the Protestant faith in 1825. Thus, as a Mischling, she was still considered suspect by the Nazis, but was in somewhat less danger than those the Nazis counted as “full Jews.”

In her will, written in October 1933, Anna Ellen von Anker directed donations to the Marienhaus, the Alexandrinen association, and the pension fund of the Coburg theater. She asked that her clothes be donated to the poor actresses and choristers of the theater. She requested that members of the theater sing at her funeral ,”but not too long,” and that all noble houses in Coburg be notified of her death. In this way, she showed her attachment to an “other” Coburg.

Anna Ellen von Anker died on February 4, 1946

The NSDAP published “pillory” lists, intended to publicly shame those who still shopped in Jewish stores, and Anna Ellen von Anker’s name was included. The Coburg Nationalzeitung (9/26/1933) addressed the issue of shaming “upper class” citizens:

„Auch hat man sich von ‚besserer’ Seite aus über uns beschwert, daß man auch Damen aus hochstehenden Kreisen mit auf die Liste gesetzt hat. Wir Nationalsozialisten kennen keine Klassenunterschiede und glauben auch dies bewiesen zu haben, indem wir bei der Veröffentlichung unserer Liste nicht auf Rang und Titel gesehen haben. Wir ersuchen hiermit nochmals, alle Hetzereien und Stänkereien, sowie die Verbreitung unwahrer Gerüchte gegen den Nationalsozialismus und Amtswalter der NSDAP zu unterlassen, und erinnern daran daß seiner Zeit Herzog Casimir auf dem Markt einen hölzernen Esel als Pranger aufgestellt hatte.“

Text und Copyright: Prof. Dr. Gaby Franger