Photos of former Jewish owner of German presidential villa discovered

Valuable historical pictures shedding light on the former Jewish owner of Villa Wurmbach, an official residence of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeiner, have been discovered in Germany.

The pictures show former owner Hugo Heymann in his soldier’s uniform as well as the certificate awarding him the Cross of Honour for fighting in World War I and three views of the mansion in the Berlin neighbourhood of Dahlem from the time when Heymann lived there.

“This is a remarkable find, which enriches the reappraisal of the villa’s history enormously,” Steinmeier said. “More than anything, these pictures finally put a face on the former Jewish owner, for which I’m very grateful.”

The pictures came from the estate of Peter Kaps, son of Karl Kaps and his wife Maria, who had previously been married to Hugo Heymann.

The couple Hugo and Maria Heymann had sold the mansion at Puecklerstrasse number 14 eight days after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of the German Reich on January 30, 1933, having been warned of the imminent persecution of Jews.

The mansion was bought by Potsdam-based newspaper publisher and Nazi follower Waldemar Gerber.

Heymann, who owned a factory that made artificial pearls, didn’t receive even two thirds of the 150,000 German gold marks the house was worth. He and his wife moved to a flat.

Heymann had planned to escape from Germany but died aged 57 in Berlin in 1938 due to abuse suffered during a Gestapo secret police imprisonment, according to his wife.

A memorial plaque commemorates the former owners at Villa Wurmsbach.

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