Above, Niederwallstraße, Gleiwitz / Dolnych Wałów, Gliwice. June 2015. Source: Clare Weissenberg, Photograph, 2015, pers. archive
If you had Jewish family in Gleiwitz, you may be interested to see the building they might have lived in before deportation, below
Dolnych Wałów, Gliwice / Niederwallstrasse, Gleiwitz. Source: Google Street View
Niederwallstraße 17–25 is visible on Google Street View. Face the house you see in the image above (the apartment numbers are shown on a blue plaque), turn to the left, and you’ll see the main post office located just beyond the crossroads. It was built at the turn of the last century and would have looked pretty much the same as this when our grandparents lived here.
Post office building, Niederwallstraße, Gleiwitz. Source: Biblioteka Śląska online, Domena publiczna / Public domain, Resource ID: oai:www.sbc.org.pl:28109
Next door to these apartments was the New Synagogue, which was in use from 1859 to 1938. It was set alight at the start of the terrible events of November 1938, and the remains were blown up on 10 November.
Looking again at Google Street View, it would seem that perhaps buildings of some kind are now to be erected on the old synagogue site. You can see the site in the image below.
Synagogue site, Dolnych Wałów 15, Gliwice / Niederwallstrasse 15, Gleiwitz. Source: Google Street View
If you walk alongside the metal fence and right turn up the road at the end, you’ll come to where there is a small memorial to the synagogue on a wall.
Memorial to the synagogue, Gliwice / Gleiwitz. Source: Google Street View
Niederwallstraße 15, memorial at the site of the Gleiwitz synagogue. Source: Clare Weissenberg, Photograph, 2015, pers. archive
By the time Gleiwitz Jews were forced to move to the cramped apartments on Niederwallstrasse, the synagogue was long gone. And the facade of number 17–25 that can be seen in the images above is just that – a facade. It looks somewhat different at the back, where the entrance to the apartments is located.
Else describes conditions in the apartments in her letters. They were an example of a so-called ‘Jew House’.
These buildings might well provide pleasant apartments for young professionals and the elderly today, but in 1940 there was no indoor water, and many people were forced to cram into the two-room flats. Conditions would have been grim.
Niederwallstrasse 17 to 25, Gleiwitz, June 2015. Source: Clare Weissenberg, Photograph, 2015, pers. archive
According to Klaas Dieter Alicke, History of the Jewish communities in the German-speaking world (Munich: Random House, 2008), throughout the 1930s many Gleiwitz Jews emigrated, with South Africa and Latin America as preferred destinations. The remaining Jewish population was moved to these ‘Jew houses’ – basically, small ghettos – prior to the main deportations that began in spring 1942.
There was a brutal practicality to having moved everyone to be deported into one place, which was also near the railway station. A similar pattern can be seen throughout Upper Silesia.