Heinz Eisig

born 13 July 1908 in Schmiegel (Polish: Śmigiel)
died 1953 in New Zealand
historical former address Victoriastraße 13
Stumbling stone Friedrich‑Engels‑Straße, corner of Otto‑Nuschke‑Straße
Date of stone-laying 3 December 2019

Heinz Eisig was born into a Jewish family in Schmiegel (Polish: Śmigiel), not far from Posen, on 13  July 1908. His parents Frieda (née Rosenthal) and Georg Eisig lived at Victoria­straße 13 in Fürstenwalde. The couple owned a small linen store. Heinz worked as an apprentice in an import-export company in Berlin. He was a passionate sportsman and a talented sprinter in the 4 x 100 metres relay for which he trained at the gymnastics club Turnverein Eiche Fürstenwalde (TEF).

In April 1933, only months after the National Socialists had seized power, he was forced to leave the gymnastics club. The call for boycotts of everything Jewish caused a fall in the takings of the family business. The atmosphere of rabble-rousing, together with the way Jews were being increasingly stripped of all their civil rights, drove Heinz’ mother Frieda Eisig to suicide. This led Heinz to make the decision to leave Germany and emigrate to New Zealand. In order to acquire the necessary agricultural knowledge for his new life abroad, he began an apprenticeship at the Neuendorf im Sande agricultural training camp in the spring of 1936.

On 20 November 1936, Heinz Eisig set sail from the English port of Harwich on the ship “Mongolia”, which was bound for New Zealand via Colombo (Ceylon; today: Sri Lanka) and Freemantle (Australia). He reached Auckland on 12 January 1937. Immediately after his arrival in New Zealand, he applied for permission to marry Dorothea Schendel, who was five years his junior. They knew each other from the Fürstenwalde gymnastics club. Dorothea was a trained typist and was working as a secretary at “Arthur Leyser’s Women’s Clothing” in Berlin.

Dorothea arrived in New Zealand aboard the “Esquilino” on 1 July 1939. The precondition for her permit to enter New Zealand was her marrying Heinz Eisig within one month of arrival. The Jewish calendar prohibits marriages at certain times of the year. Therefore the couple had to marry immediately upon Dorothea’s arrival in order to avoid the risk of her breaking her condition of entry and having to leave the country. Heinz and Dorothea lived and worked on a farm in the hinterland of New Zealand’s North Island, where they raised their two children, Merle, born on 18 July 1940, and Ronald George, born on 5 November 1945.

Heinz Eisig also tried to obtain an entry permit for his father Georg. However, the permit never reached Georg Eisig. He was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 26 February 1943 and murdered. Dorothea Eisig’s family also did not survive the Shoah. Heinz Eisig died of cancer in New Zealand in 1953. A few years later, Dorothea sold the farm and moved with Ronald to Auckland, where her daughter Merle was studying at the time. Dorothea died in 1999 at the age of 86.

Family members:
Frieda Eisig née Rosenthal
Georg Eisig