Saturday, 9 March 2013
By 1901, the Berlin tramway system was electrified and there were even underground trams. Trams moved along wide streets shared with horse-drawn carriages. Women still wore long skirts. Many households employed a maid but not a whole army of servants. The Lehrs family were middle-class. Ernst Lehrs was a salesman. This didn’t mean that he want form door to door selling his wares but rather that he negotiated deals for his firm. The Lehrs family was comfortably off.
They probably lived in the Pariser Strasse, not far from the Kurfürstendam. We have this evidence form Käthe Lehrs’ marriage certificate. This street is now quite commercial. But even just a few years ago the elegance of the apartments there was still recognisable.
The Lehrs family had one great disadvantage. They were strictly speaking Jewish. Jewish families were still able to live without fear of persecution then. Many of them were wealthy and enjoyed a comfortable life-style. This may have engendered some jealousy. Deep-rooted dislike of Jews still existed in any case.
A few years later, the Clara and Ernst Lehrs decided to convert to the Christian Evangelical faith. This was not because of some deep-seated religious conviction but rather because they sensed it was a more fashionable religion. The Lehrs, and before that the Loewenthals, were actually lovers of science so religion was a convenience rather than a faith.
Women were not yet fully emancipated. Berlin was an exciting city to live in. Life was quite good for the Lehrs at that time.