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Holocaust Memorial Education Center

Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center

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Survivor Profile










APRIL 4, 1930








    Biography of Charlotte by Max Houss, Brother

    My name is Max Houss (born Hausspiegel). I am writing on behalf of myself, my brother and three sisters.

    When I was about ten or eleven years of age, my father, Wolf Hausspiegel, was arrested by the Nazi party in Pforzheim, Germany, tried (unfortunately, we now understand) and sentenced in Civil Court to about two years for verbally degrading the Nazi party. Witnesses were former employees who reported my father after graduation from my father’s watch assembly factory. In 1936-1937 this offense was considered non-violent, hence the sentence was light. Perhaps this was also because our family was “clean” living, and my father was a useful business man, respected in Pforzheim. It was not considered as harsh as those, then accused, others who were sent to concentration camps, then known as detentions camps, together with known communists.

    After my father was in jail for about six months, my mother, Bertha Hausspiegel, set out to free him. One effort was to take me, my sister Jenny and my brother Heinz to a hearing for an appeal in court in Manheim, Germany. My mother’s effortsprevailed and she was able to obtain a release from jail for my father. This was, however, based on the condition that he leaves Germany with his family, immediately. A transit “visa” was provided to exit Germany. My mother applied to the Swiss government to admit my father and his family. Her thought was to have us reside in Switzerland, with the support of Ebauche, the “supplier” of watch materials used for his lifelong craft of watch making.

    The Swiss denied entry for the Hausspiegels, even though my mother contacted my father’s watch factory material supplier Eubache with whom they had been doing business for many years between Pforzheim and Switzerland. My mother pleaded with them to permit my father and family to come to Switzerland to their manufacturing facility, even just to have us enter Switzerland as a step to freedom. I believe advance payments in Deutche Mark deposits were sent to Ebauches.

    My mother opened a bank account in Switzerland to fund our flight after a forced sale or confiscation by the Germans of our home and factory at No 1 Rosenstrasse in Pfozheim. Needless to say, my parents also had Life insurance, a bank account, and the Real Estate title to No 1 Rosenstrasse in Pforzheim. My parents were in watch remontage assembling, plus complete watch selling business using only Ebauches Swiss manufactured parts, imported to Pforzheim, Germany.

    Eugaches, in spite of all the pleading by phone and letters, did nothing to help Wolf Hausspiegel and family. I don’t know what became of the money paid toward a passage through Switzerland to Italy to board a ship for the Union of South Africa.

    Passage to the Union of South Africa was then arranged by my mother in Pforzheim. I don’t know whom she bribed, but she actually purchased a ticket for us to board a ship in Italy which required passage through Switzerland.

    All attempts to have us travel through Switzerland to board passage in Italy were also denied. Officials in Germany for the Swiss Government did not respond. My father was in limbo. He could not be released from jail until he had bona fide passage out of Germany.

    My mother was resourceful. I recall that she was somehow able to book a single passage on a ship to the Union of South Africa from a southern French port. Armed with that purchased ocean trip ticket to the Union of South Africa, my father left jail and boarded a train for a southern seaport in France. He stayed in France just long enough to emigrate from France to the United States in 1938.

    We the Hausspiegel family had to remain in Germany until June 1939 at which time with the help of an American sponsor that guaranteed our (Bertha and five children) immigration to America. Only because our mother, BerthaHausspiegel was born in Russia was she and were we, the children all under 18 years of age, able to obtain a visas to America.



    My mother was eight years old when she arrived in America. She doesn’t remember at this point much of that time. Her family settled in Brooklyn on Flatbush Ave. and Newkirk Ave. where there were many German Jews. It was a very difficult time for my mother because of the language barrier and very strict parents who only spoke German to her. They were struggling to learn English themselves. She learned most of her English from friends she had in school. She went to school during wartime but she never spoke to me about experiencing any anti-Semitism in school. I think that was because she was living among so many German Jews and she came from a large, close family of five children. She had four siblings, two boys and two girls. She was the middle child. She made talked to me about having many friends that were nice to her and generous.

    My mother graduated Erasmus High School in Brooklyn. After high school, she went to beauty school and became a beautician until she had children. She tells a story that she met my father when she was 16. They got married when she was 20. After getting married, they lived in Brooklyn and eventually moved to Central Islip in Long Island. There she became a full-time mother and housewife and stayed at home for the remainder of her life. My father owned a TV store. The post-war years were good ones. My mother had a great marriage, lots of friends and loved being a mom. She was very close to her sisters, brothers and children. In their later years, they settled in Florida. My parents travelled all over the United States and Canada with their Airstream Travel Trailer. They saw the country and we used to call them the gypsies.


    Refer to Biographies above.

  • Sources and Credits:


    Testimony donated by Max Houss, brother (born Hausspiegel); Brief biography by David Joachim, son; Digital historic and family photographs donated by David Joachim, son