Karl Brandis was born in Schweinfurt on December 14th, 1890. He married Alice Hedwig Holzinger, daughter of Gisela and Emil Holzinger, who were living in Regensburg.Emil Holzinger and his younger brother Ottmar were the owners of Weiß & Holzinger, a well-known trading house in Maximilianstraße 16, the central shopping street of Regensburg. He managed big clients while his brother Ottmar took care of end users. In 1926, the Ministry of Trade and Industry conferred Emil Holzinger the title of “Kommerzienrat” (Councilor of Commerce).
He and his wife Gisela, born in Mainz, were living in the upper floor of the house. They had a daughter, Alice Hedwig, who was born in January, 1900. She was their only child.The time came when it was necessary to organize the trading house's succession.
Karl Brandis decided to marry Alice, and thus became the manager of the trading house. After his father-in-law died in 1932, he became joint owner. At that time, he and his family moved into Maximilianstraße 16.
Karl Brandis (left) and his brothers
To the joy of the young couple, four children were born. In 1924, Charlotte was born, and three boys followed in 1926, 1927, and 1929, who received the names Werner, Rudolf, and Paul. Their upbringing was quite liberal, and they even had non-Jewish friends. They enjoyed many a summer with excursions to their surroundings.
When the Nazi party came to power in 1933, everything changed. The children had to leave public schools in 1936; it was forbidden for them to visit public swimming pools and cinemas. Many of their friends turned their backs to them.
In 1938, Ottmar Holzinger and Karl Brandis were under a lot of pressure. There were long negotiations to divide the trading house. In the end, the divisions were sold underpriced. The employees had to be fired. The land itself had to be sold, too. They could arrange with Erna Hofbauer, the new owner, to rent their flat in the upper floor for the following years.
The family was living a silent life. They were thinking of leaving Germany. At least Charlotte could get permission to leave to Palestine, but she did not want to leave her parents. It seems that the parents were planning to send their children to England. It’s not clear why they ultimately did not do that. Karl Brandis was nevertheless optimistic, maybe because he had been a soldier during World War I.
But during the night of November 9th, 1938, Karl Brandis was also arrested by the Nazis. The trading house and the flat were completely demolished. Karl Brandis and other Jewish merchants were transported to the concentration camp of Dachau, where they had to stay several weeks.
Upon returning to Regensburg, Brandis and his family had already lost their chance to leave Germany. On April 2nd, 1942, Mr Brandis, his family, and the grandmother, Mrs Holzinger, were summoned to the location of the former synagogue. Along with some other hundred citizens of Regensburg, they were deported to Piaski, a small city in Poland, in which many Jews had been living until the time of the German occupation. The SS had murdered the Jewish inhabitants and settled the German Jews in those empty houses. The conditions were abysmal. The new inhabitants lacked many things, such as soap, shoes, and food, as reported by Charlotte Brandis in some letters to her relatives Ottmar and Daniela Holzinger, as well as some other friends. They were Arbeitskommandos: the men were assigned to working groups. But the Nazis planned worse. In her last letter dated September, 1942, Charlotte wrote that she had been separated from her family and was feeling very sad and anxious. She perhaps followed her parents and brothers to the concentration camp of Sobibor, where she was ultimately murdered.
copyright © 2014 Sylvia Seifert