Fromms: How Julius Fromm's Condom Empire Fell to the Nazis
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If you wanted to buy a top-quality condom in prewar Germany, you bought Fromms Act, the first brand name condom and still a leading brand in the German market. The man behind this "pure German quality product" was Julius Fromm, a Jewish entrepreneur who had immigrated from Russia as a child. Fromm was in the right place at the right time: he patented Fromms Act in 1916, when the combination of changing sexual mores, awareness of sexual health, and the lack of reliable prophylactics meant a market primed for his product. In 1922 he began mass production and opened international branches. Sixteen years later, after building the brand into a best seller and the company into a model business, he was forced to sell Fromms Act for a fraction of its worth to a German baroness. In 1939 he emigrated to London.
Aly and Sontheimer trace Fromm's rise and fall, illuminating the ways Jewish businesses like his were Aryanized under the Nazis. Through the biography of this businessman and the story of his unusual and fabulously successful company, we learn the fascinating history of the first branded condoms in Germany and the sexual culture that allowed them to thrive, the heretofore undocumented machinations by which the Nazis robbed German-Jewish families of their businesses, and the tragedy of a man whose great love for the adopted country that first allowed him to succeed was betrayed by its government and his fellow citizens.
This captivating account offers a wealth of detail and a fresh array of photographic documentation, and adds a striking new dimension to our understanding of this dark period in German history.
insisted “that trenchant analytical construction and the utopia born in the realm of the unconscious intersect in one point.” Just as Korn was publishing his manifesto, the first major commission of his career came his way. A banker named Goldstein hired him to build a fifty-room villa in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Since money was no object, Korn and Weitzmann, who had become partners in 1922, were able to hire the sculptor Rudolf Belling to design several fountains and a water mobile. Richard
in 1913, when Epenstein announced to Franziska that he had fallen deeply in love with another woman and would be marrying her soon. The woman’s name was Elisabeth Schandrovich Edle von Kriegstreu. She was thirty-six years younger than the wealthy knight. Born in Temesvar, which was then part of Hungary (and is now in Romania), she was the daughter of a Prague aristocrat and a Bohemian officer, and had grown up in Budweis (today Bude’jovice in the Czech Republic) and Aussig (in the Sudetenland).
unperturbed by this abuse, as documented in a message he telegraphed shortly before arrival to the Australian army department responsible for the prisoners of war. “The German Nazis,” in his “personal view,” had “exemplary” behavior, the message read. They are “of a fine type, honest and straightforward, and extremely well disciplined.” By contrast, the Italians, Scott contended, “are filthy in their habits, without a vestige of discipline, and are cowards to a degree.” The Austrian and German
sale of the Fromms’ furniture—“individual pieces of furniture, grand pianos, linens, china, crystal for immediate cash payment.” Bernhard Schlüter, a “certified auctioneer for the Greater Berlin area” who resided on Leipziger Strasse, was one of many who catered to discriminating tastes. Also citing “official instructions” that dictated sales to the highest authorized bidder, he was offering “on Tuesday, May 18, at 10 a.m., in his auction rooms at Panoramastr. 1, for immediate cash payment: 1
goods of the deported Jews to Berlin. The number of inland ships unloading this kind of freight cannot be determined with any accuracy.74 Moreover, the clothing of the people who were deported or murdered wound up in secondhand stores or was distributed to the needy by the National Socialist Public Welfare office. If these transactions are factored in, the number of Berliners who profited from the auctions of Jewish property clearly exceeded 200,000. Since most of the profiteers from the