Berta Schneider was born on 23 June 1893. As a trained dental assistant, she found employment with the dentist Dr. Friedrich Schönemann in Chemnitz. The two married and from then on ran the Chemnitz dental practice at Plan 3 together. They had two children named Wolfgang and Elfriede. As Friedrich was married to a Jewish woman, his licence to practise dentistry was revoked in 1935, after the Nuremberg Laws were enacted.
On 15 September 1935, the “Nuremberg Race Laws” were promulgated at the NSDAP party congress. The Nuremberg Laws consisted of various individual laws: “Reich Flag Law”, “Reich Citizenship Law” and the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour”. The Reich Flag Law forbade Jews to display the colours of the Reich (black, white and red). The “Reich Citizenship Law” and the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour” declared the Jewish population in Germany to be people of lesser class and lesser right. They were thus ousted from public life and from many professions (notaries, civil servants, doctors, lawyers). This legally created two classes of citizens, the “Aryan citizens of the Reich” and the “non-Aryan citizens”. Far from any scientific or religiously based doctrine, the National Socialists created the differentiations “fully Jewish” (descent from at least three Jewish grandparents) and “half-Jewish”/“Mischling” (descent from two Jewish grandparents).
From then on, the law also prohibited marriages between “German-blooded people” and Jews; extramarital relationships were also prosecuted as “racial defilement”. Spouses who had already married a Jew before the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws were strongly advised to obtain a divorce.
Friedrich Schönemann did not divorce Bertha, which is why his licence to practise dentistry was withdrawn by the Association of German Dentists on 14 September 1936. From then on, he was no longer allowed to practise as a dentist.
The first deportations of Jews from Saxony to the labor and extermination camps began on 21th January 1942. On this day 715 people were deported from Chemnitz to the ghetto in Riga. Berta Schönemann, née Schneider, received her deportation notice on 10th February 1945.
Document on the “Labour Deployment” of Gestapo Chemnitz dated 10 February 1945 which states:
Schönemann, Berta née Schneider, born 23 june 1893, res. in Chemnitz, Am Plan 3
Has to report on 13 February 1945 at 7 p.m. for the transport leaving Chemnitz for a work assignment with the equipment specified on the following page. Staatl. Ak für Technik, Am Platz 1 Alte Garde 6/7 III. St__ Room 80.
This ticket is to be shown at the site.
The following may be taken to the work assignment A suitcase or rucksack with equipment (no bulky goods), namely complete clothing, a change of underwear, proper footwear, bedding with blanket, eating utensils (plate or pot) with spoon, identification card; food for three days. The following items may not be taken along: Cash, securities, foreign exchange, savings bank books, etc., jewellery of any kind (gold, silver, platinum) with the exception of the wedding ring.
To avoid deportation, Friedrich broke her foot with a hammer. The father of Bertas son-in-law, certified that she was no longer transportable, which would save Berta’s life. On 14th February 1945 56 Jews were brought from Chemnitz to the ghetto in Theresienstadt. Berta, her husband and their children survived the Nazi regime. Friedrich died on 18th December 1965 after Bertha had cared for him for some time. Berta died on 18th July 1966 in Chemnitz.