The Residents of Peschstraat 28, Geleen—All Murdered

I could call this history on my doorstep. The Peschstraat in Geleen is a street that is well known to me. Although on the other side of town, I did go there often to visit friends living on that street or nearby. Though, I knew little about one family who lived on that street. The family was murdered during the Holocaust. Via The Simon Wiesenthal Genealogy Geolocation Initiative, I came across the story of the Freimark family.

In 1817, three Freymark families lived in Homburg am Main (located between Frankfurt and Würzburg). Salomon Freimark, 14, moved with his parents from Homburg to Marktheidenfeld in 1887 and started a blacksmith shop there in 1901. He married the tailor Hermine Adler from nearby Urspringen around 1898. They had four sons, the third of which was Friedrich, born in 1902. Salomon died in 1911, after which Hermine earned a living with a “Kurz-, Weiss- und Wollwaren-Geschäft.”

Friedrich married Gertruda May from Niedermendig (near Koblenz) in Frankfurt in August 1935. Gertruda had another sister and brother; her father had died in 1933, and her mother was still alive.

One year later, their son Ernst Freimark was born in Frankfurt. His parents decided not much later to leave Germany. In May 1936, Aunt Irma and Uncle Gustav Winter-May had moved to Geleen, where Gustav had a launderette and hot iron company. The childless couple took Grandma May in November 1936, and in the spring of 1937, Ernst and his parents also came to Geleen. Father Friedrich became uncle Gustav’s partner in the clothes laundry. In April 1938, Grandma Freimark also came to live with the family in Geleen. Kurt Freimark was born in Heerlen in December 1939 and became the eighth family member at Peschstraat 28.

In the middle, the white house annexe laundry on the Peschstraat. Photo 1960s

Six months later, the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands happened. The family underwent gradual introduction measures to isolate and exclude Jews. In February 1941, they had to register and then by June 1941, they were no longer allowed to enter public places. Ernst was not allowed to go into public places in September, not even school. All eight lost their German nationality in November 1941.

For Employment in Germany program, six of the eight residents of Peschstraat 28 were ordered to report on 25 August 1942. The two grandmothers (ages 65 and 71) were left behind at the residence. Uncle Gustav and his father tried to get an extension using an argument about having 300 kg of laundry that needed to be taken care of but to no avail. The two couples and their two children, along with many others, were transferred via Maastricht to Westerbork and then deported to Auschwitz on 28 August.

An hour before they were due to arrive, the 18-55-year-old men, were separated from their wives and children at the Kosel Labour Camp. Friedrich Freimark and Gustav Winter were placed in labour camps with their fellow sufferers from Kosel. The women and children were gassed immediately upon arriving in Auschwitz on 30 or 31 August—Gertrude with her sons, six-year-old Ernst, two-year-old Kurt, and sister Irma.

Friedrich Freimark with Ernst and Kurt

The death dates of Friedrich Freimark and Gustav Winter were later formally set by the Red Cross as 30 April 1943, somewhere in Central Europe. The exact day, place and circumstances have never been clarified.

The two grandmothers who had remained behind were arrested in early April 1943 and taken to the Vught Camp with the last Jews remaining in Limburg. After, they were deported via Westerbork to Sobibor Extermination Camp, where they were gassed to death on 14 May 1943.

In June 1943, “De Limburgsche” Stoomwasscherij was located at Peschstraat 28, which was still there after the war. The Maurits Clothing Laundry of Gustav Winter and Friedrich Freimark was officially closed on 27 October 1947. None of the family had returned.


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