Julius und Hermann Baruch

Wrestler and Weightlifter 

Hermann Baruch: 

born November 3, 1894 in Kreuznach – killed 1942 in Auschwitz

  • European Wrestling Champion 1924 (lightweight)
  • German Wrestling Team Champion with ASV 03 Bad Kreuznach 1925 and 1928

Julius Baruch: 

born September 7, 1892 in Gemünden – killed April 1945 in Buchenwald 

  • European Weight Lifting Champion 1924
  • European Wrestling Co-Champion 1924 (light-middle weight)
  • German Wrestling Team Champion with ASV 03 Bad Kreuznach 1925

In 1924, when Hermann and Julius Baruch returned to their hometown as European champions, Bad Kreuznach prepared an unforgettable homecoming reception. Although they actively practiced Judaism, this did not exclude the family from being fully integrated into town life. Due to their participation in ASV 03 Bad Kreuznach, the brothers were known and loved throughout the town. In the 1920s they captured a number of national and international medals in wrestling and weightlifting and with the ASV team they won the 1925 German wrestling championship. Coming off of their championship win, Julius began to gradually withdraw from competing, and turned his attention to training up and coming wrestlers. Three of his wrestlers went on to win the German championship. His brother Hermann recaptured the championship title for the team again in 1928.

Hermann, a skilled upholsterer and decorator, was a successful business owner in Bad Kreuznach. His brother Julius became a skilled typographer in Frankfurt am Main, but could not find work in Kreuznach, and so he resorted to running his own taxi and car rental business. The successful years of the Weimar Republic, in which they both built and enjoyed a middle class existence for themselves, was followed by the take over of the Nazi party – marking a grave change in their lives.

Julius und Hermann Baruch
Julius und Hermann Baruch

In 1933 Julius’ club forbid him to continue working as a trainer. The organized boycott of Jewish businesses on April 1, 1933 deeply affected the Baruchs – making their economical survival increasingly difficult. Hermann, together with a non-Jewish German, used his upholster skills to build furniture with secret compartments. His customers, mostly Jewish refugees whose personal property was systematically being seized by Nazi authorities, attempted to transport what little they could to their new homes. Hermann Baruch fled to Belgium in 1938 after authorities discovered the hidden compartments. Following the German occupation of Belgium, Hermann was arrested and deported to Auschwitz where he was killed.

Julius, who married Klara Pfeiffer a non-Jewish woman at the end of 1920s, remained in Kreuznach despite rising hostility and assault against German Jews. In November of 1938 he was arrested and sentenced to nine months in prison on account of the secret compartments built by his brother. At this point, fleeing the country was no longer possible. In 1941, when the Nazi regime began systematically deporting and murdering German Jews, Julius Baruch was spared on many occasions, possibly due to his popularity as an athlete. In February 1945, however, he was deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp where he was killed shortly before the camp was liberated.

Today, the city of Bad Kreuznach honors both exemplary athletes: in 1996 they named a street the Gebrüder-Baruch-Straße or Baruch-Brothers-Street. At their former residence a plaque commemorates their lives.

Berno Bahro

References

Zehmer, Kerstin: Julius und Hermann Baruch – zwischen Ruhm und Verfolgung, in: Stadt Bad Kreuznach (Hg.): Das Kreuznacher Sportbuch – Triumphe, Jubel & Rekorde, Bad Kreuznach 2006, S. 194–206.