Themes/The Situation in the Workshop for the Blind

The Situation in the Workshop for the Blind

In 1941 around 35 people - mainly Jews - were employed in Otto Weidt’s workshop. Most of them were blind and some were also deaf; only a few of them had eyesight. Their jobs were allocated by the “Deployment Section for Jews” at the Berlin Labor Office.The Gestapo made regular checks on the workshop.

Otto Weidt employed three Jews in the office, even though this was strictly forbidden. They were warned by an internal bell system when the Gestapo arrived for inspections, and hid in a recess under the stairs.

In 1942 the blind and deaf Jewish employees in the workshop were arrested and taken to the nearby deportation assembly point at Große Hamburger Straße 26. Weidt pointed out that his products were classified as “important for the war effort,” and gave bribes to the Gestapo officers. He succeeded in getting his workers released.

There were plans to deport all the Jews still living in Berlin on February 27, 1943 in a round-up known as “Operation Factory.” The workshop was forewarned and stayed closed that day, but almost all of Otto Weidt’s employees were arrested in their homes or on the street. They were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.

In the period from March 1943 until the end of the war there were only a few employees left in Weidt’s workshop. Apart from three non-Jewish workers, there were Jews married to non-Jews or people who had one Jewish parent, as well as several people in hiding like Inge Deutschkron, Alice Licht, Erich Frey, and Chaim and Max Horn.

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