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She was born on June 25, 1914 in Trzemeszno (Tremessen) in a tenement house at Bahnhofstraße , now 19 Kosciuszki Street (photos 2-3).

Photo 1. Photo postcard from 1906/7 Third from the left is Zuckers’ tenement house. Source: private collection of Rafal Nawrocki.
Photo 2. Current view of the building where the Zucker family lived.
Photo 3. The door to the tenement building at 19 Kosciuszki Street.

Her father Reinhold Zucker (1882-1939) reporting to the office the birth of a child named Marga Ilse was identified in the document as a merchant (photo 4).

Photo 4. Birth certificate of Marga Ilse Zucker. Source: State Archive in Bydgoszcz, Inowroclaw Branch, ID 7/544/0/3.1/133.

More than 100 years later, one of Trzemeszno's residents, Henryk Nowak, will remember him as an administrative employee of Krochmalnia, dressing elegantly[1]

Reinhold was a son of Salomon Zucker, a merchant, about whom the 1910 press noted that “reliable in all areas of humanitarian organizations, he was unanimously elected by the Communal Assembly to the City Council” [in Trzemeszno - A.K.].

Solomon had lived in Trzemeszno since at least 1874, when his son Michaelis was born.
Ilse's mother, Aurelie (1885-1939/42), was a daughter of Louis Mendel and Bianca née Zucker. Like Reinhold, she was born in Trzemeszno.

Ilse was their second child. The first-born daughter, Marianne Ruth, was born on April 28, 1909, and was the only member of Reinhold Zucker's family to leave Trzemeszno before the outbreak of World War II.
According to her emigration document, she became a stenographer, and she had red hair and blue eyes. On February 17, 1939, in Havana, Cuba, she married Gerald M. Alexander. On March 10, 1939, she arrived by ship in Miami, Florida.
On November 9, 1944, she received her naturalization document in New York. She died in 1960. She is buried in New Jersey (photo 5).

Photo 5. Matzevot of Marianna Ruth Alexander, née Zucker, and her husband in a Jewish cemetery in New Jersey.

But what do we know about Ilse herself?

Thanks to Hartmut Kunkel, who reached out to me through the one genealogy portal where I created Ilse's profile, we know much more than we did even a year ago. His mother Gertrud Kunkel née Schwarze (photo 6), who came from Jankowko near Trzemeszno, went to the same school as Ilse.

Photo 6. Gertrud Kunkel née Schwarze, 1937. Source: Private archive of Hartmut Kunkel.

It was a private German secondary school located in the building of the present Arkady Fiedler Elementary School No. 5 in Gniezno, in Chrobrego Street (photos 7-8).

Fot. 7. Uczniowie 10. klasy (Untersekundy) przed budynkiem szkoły w Gnieźnie, 1932r. Ilse siedzi. Druga od lewej stoi Gertrud Schwarze. Źródło: Elfriede Henke, “Private German Secondary School” in Gniezno in the interwar period [in:] Germans in the Gniezno region (former Gniezno and Witkowo districts).
Photo 8. The building of the former private German high school at 12 Chrobrego Street. Contemporary view.

But the girls had known each other much earlier, as evidenced by a photograph taken in Tremessen, in which Ilse is pictured with her classmates from the school they attended – according to the photo's description – between 1929 and 1932 (Photo 9).

Photo 9. Tremessen, September 1929. From the left: Gertrud Schwarze, Günter Erdmann, Ilse Zucker, Horst Schwarze, Anne Marie Krüger. Source: from Hartmut Kunkel's private archive.

As Hartmut Kunkel wrote, “My mother often remembered her classmate and friend Ilse. She was sad and angry about the fate of the Jews under the regime of Nazi Germany.
My mother once mentioned that around 1942 or even 1943 she received the last letter or card from Ilse.” The card hasn't survived, but it was most likely sent from Piotrkow Trybunalski, where Ilse, along with her mother and a dozen other Trzemeszno Jews, was sent to the ghetto on December 13, 1939. In a document from the ghetto she was described as a governess.
“The Piotrków ghetto was liquidated between October 15 and 21, 1942. From July to September 1942, the Germans shot 60 people in the Rakov forests. During the liquidation of the ghetto, about 22,000 people were taken to the German extermination camp in Treblinka. 150 people were shot, and the rest – a total of 2.4 thousand – were confined to labor camps. The last of these camps were deported to Germany by November 25, 1944. The prisoners were sent to the Buchenwald and Ravensbrück camps.”[2]

Ilse is among the multitude of those millions of Holocaust victims who do not have an individual grave.
A year ago, we laid memorial stones in the Trzemeszno Jewish cemetery with the names of the last 39 Jewish residents of Trzemeszno (photo 10). None of these people survived.

Photo 10. Memorial stones at the Jewish cemetery in Trzemeszno.

Ilse’s father, Reinhold Zucker, was most likely among the group of about 20 men of Jewish descent that Dr. Lechoslaw Majewski saw from the window of his house in Trzemeszno in St. Michael Street on September 10, 1939. This is how he reported it years later: “[...] I see them leading the local Jews along the roadway in twos. These youngsters of ours, 20-year-old Germans, are walking with rifles. And these Jews are carrying shovels. After an hour or two, the Germans returned alone. They shot them somewhere. [...] All the Jews, young and old.”[3]

Among the surviving tombstones in the Trzemeszno Jewish cemetery is a fragment of the tombstone of Hanchenn Baszynski, née Zucker (photo 11).

Photo 11. Fragment of the matzeva of Hanchenn Baszynski née Zucker at the Jewish cemetery in Trzemeszno; photo by Katarzyna Sudaj.

As we learn from her death certificate, she was Salomon Zucker's mother-in-law, meaning she was a great-grandmother to Ilse. She died in 1892, so before Ilse was born, but probably her great-granddaughter and her family visited her grave.
May their memory be kept alive by the people of Trzemeszno. This is the only thing they can count on.

Agnieszka Kostuch

Translated by Kasia Smialkowski

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