Fassade und Haupteingang des Liefmannhauses

A House with a History – the Liefmann House

The house at Goethestraße 33 was owned by the Liefmann family from 1894 to 1941. The siblings Robert, Martha, and Else Liefmann were persecuted in the Third Reich on account of their Jewish ancestry. Today it serves as a University of Freiburg guest house, providing temporary lodgings for academics from around the world.

Robert Liefmann, who had previously spent a time studying in Freiburg, returned to the University of Freiburg in 1904 as an associate professor and was appointed as honorary professor of political economy here in 1914.1 In 1933, he lost his right to lecture and his sister lse Liefmann, a respected paediatrician and city councillor from 1919 to 1921, was banned from her profession.2 The three siblings were arrested and deported to the Gurs internment camp in southern France in 1940 on account of their Jewish ancestry, although they were baptised as Protestants. Robert Liefmann died in March 1941 during a holiday for convalescence in Morlaas, France, which he had been granted on account of illness.[3] His sisters managed to leave the country and flee to Switzerland.

The house was rented out to the Secret State Police (Gestapo) after the deportation and expropriation of the siblings under the National Socialist regime. The building was used by the French military police after the end of the Second World War and served as a Freiburg police station between 1949 and 2000.3 In the following years, the house was restored from the ground up and a new building was added to the property. Today, both buildings contain apartments for international guests and their families.4

The university commemorates the fate of Robert Liefmann and his sisters not only with the name of the guest house. Robert Liefmann’s name is also inscribed on the commemorative plaque on the ground floor of Collegiate Building I. This plaque memorializes all members of the university known today who were victims of National Socialism. Today, three Stolpersteine (memorial cobblestones) draw attention to the history of the siblings on the sidewalk in front of the Liefmann House.

  1. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Liefmann
  2. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Else_Liefmann
  3. https://www.schule-bw.de/faecher-und-schularten/gesellschaftswissenschaftliche-und-philosophische-faecher/landeskunde-landesgeschichte/module/epochen/zeitgeschichte/ns/freiburg/s3.pdf
  4. https://www.housing.uni-freiburg.de/liefmannhaus/liefmannhaus-history