Erich Davidsohn
As a young “special operation Jew” in Buchenwald

Erich Davidsohn was born in Hanover in 1922. He was the only child of Richard and Elfriede Davidsohn. He grew up in Salzhemmendorf, a village near Hamelin, in Lower Saxony. The Davidsohns looked after the small synagogue. They and one other family were the only Jews in the village. In 1935, Erich began an apprenticeship in his father’s butcher shop.

In the early morning hours of 10 November 1938, SA men ransacked the local synagogue and destroyed the interior. Erich Davidsohn and his father were taken into Schutzhaft (lit. “protective custody,” but actually preventive detention) and sent from the Hamelin penitentiary to Buchenwald. There, their heads were shaved, and they faced beatings and hunger on a daily basis.

In early December 1938, the SS released the 16-year-old Erich Davidsohn from the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, presumably because of his age. His father was released a few days later. On 6 February 1939, Erich was able to emigrate to England. His father, mother, and cousin emigrated to Argentina.

Erich (left) with his mother Elfriede, his father Robert Davidsohn, and his cousin Juliane Guttmann in Hanover, 1939.

As early as 1935, Robert Davidsohn began preparations for his family’s emigration to South America. But it was not until 16 June 1939, a few months after his return from Buchenwald, that he succeeded in getting himself, his wife, and his niece Juliane to Buenos Aires. Erich Davidsohn left for England in February 1939. His mother had registered him for a Kindertransport (children’s transport) while he was being held at Buchenwald. He never saw his parents again.

(private property/Mel Davidsohn)

Erich Davidsohn, a few days after his release from the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, December 1938.

(private property/Mel Davidsohn)

"After the first week names were called and releases started. On the morning of 6 December my name was called. You had to rush to the gate or miss being released. A quick farewell with my father and I was away. We had to stand in line near the offices all day and not move. No food was given and, worst of all, we couldn’t go to the toilet. We were then given money for the rail fare and were bussed to the station. Several of us got on the train direct to Hanover and we arrived in the middle of the night. The other people on the train kept well away from us, possibly because they knew who we were and where we had been. And, of course, we were very dirty and literally stank."

Erich Davidsohn on his release from the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, after 1939.


Stolperstein in Salzhemmendorf for Erich Davidsohn, 7 March 2020.

Since 1995, Cologne based artist Gunter Demnig has been commemorating the victims of the Nazi regime with his project Stolpersteine – Stumbling Stones. All over Germany, the artist lays small brass memorial stones in sidewalks in front of buildings where individuals who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazi regime lived or worked.



Lower Saxony Memorial Foundation, November Pogrom 1938 in Lower Saxony:…/-pogrom-1938-in-lower-saxony/

Novemberpogrome 1938 in Niedersachsen, Salzhemmendorf: