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Adoption contract between
Bernhard Gloeden and
Erich and Ursula Loevy

Typewritten sheet of paper with stamps

In 1918, Erich (1888–1944) and Ursula Loevy (1897–1972)—the two grown-up children of manufacturer Siegfried Loevy—signed an adoption contract with Bernhard Gloeden, a high school teacher and family friend. The contract explicitly excluded them from inheritance rights. Their sole purpose in going through with the adoption, to which the biological parents consented, was to obtain a non-Jewish sounding name. They were motivated by the daily discrimination in society and professional life, which was often provoked by a name that revealed a Jewish heritage.

Name changes have a long tradition in Judaism but were subject to especially restrictive treatment by the authorities, who almost always rejected the applications. Under a 1903 law, even those Jews who had converted to the Christian faith were required to keep their old names so that their Jewish origins would remain in evidence after baptism. This legislation not only reflected the common accusation that Jews wanted to "sneak into" German society, but also cast doubt on the converts’ real reasons for baptism.

Adoption was one way to overcome the anti-Semitic administrative practices. However, even though it enabled Erich and Ursula Loevy, now Gloeden, to achieve their desired goal, in many cases it was viewed as "feigned" and declared invalid.

During the Nazi era—and particularly in the wake of the Nuremberg Race Laws—adoptions, name changes, and baptism no longer protected Jews like Erich and Ursula Gloeden against the anti-Semitic persecution.

Adoption contract between Bernhard Gloeden and Erich and Ursula Loevy
Berlin, July 20, 1918
Ink, paper, stamp-pad ink
30 x 21 cm
Gift of Petra Aas and Monika Schroeter

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