personal data

Wolff Selma

Birth Name
First Name
Date of Birth
Place of birth
Bad Kissingen
Other family members

Parents: Max Kissinger and Ernestine née Frank  
Siblings: Rosa m. EisenburgMoritz and Albert 
Spouse: Emil Wolff
Children: Ellen Maria m. Herz, Lore verh. Simon


Marktplatz 17


October 1941 deported from Cologne to Lodz

Date of death
May 1942
Place of death


Selma Kissinger was born in Bad Kissingen on May 29, 1877 as the daughter of Max Kissinger and his first wife Dina, née Frank. She is a great granddaughter of Meyer ben Loeb, the ancestor of the Kissinger family who went to Bad Kissingen roughly towards the end of the 18th century to start a family there. He supposedly adopted the family’s name as ‘Kissinger’ around 1817 after he had left Kissingen and settled in Rödelsee. His son Loeb Kissinger who had been born in Kissingen eventually returned to the place of his birth and started the Kissingen branch of the Kissinger family.

Selma’s father Max Kissinger owned a flourishing men’s clothes business cum tailoring at Marktplatz. In that house, she grew up together with her three siblings and the two half-brothers from the second wedlock of her father.

In May 1904, she married Emil Wolff who came from Kreuznach and traded with scrap iron and rags. Selma regularly attended the synagogue of Kreuznach's quite liberal Jewish community, while her husband - a typical Rhineland cheerful person - flattered that he did not know where the synagogue was in Kreuznach USC Shoa Foundation, Visual History Archive, Interview mit Ellen Maria Ernestine Herzexterner Link. Selma Wolff was involved in various local women's associations, both the "Vaterländischer Frauenverein" and the "Israelitischer Frauenverein", and helped to support elderly people in need, especially during the First World War and the difficult post-war period. 

The Wolffs had two daughters, who were both born in Bad Kreuznach: The first one was Ellen Maria Ernestine Wolff (1906-2003) who in 1932, married Kurt Herz (1903-1992) from Offenbach and emigrated to America with him in September 1940 after a one and a half years’ stay in England. The second one was Lore Wolff (*1912) who married her husband Fred Simon (1906-79) from Berlin and started a family with him in Johannesburg.

At the beginning of the 1930s, even before the National Socialists came to power, Selma Wolff and her husband noticed that the social climate in the city was beginning to change: there was an increasing divide between the Jewish and non-Jewish population. Selma's daughter Ellen remembers: "People felt more restricted, people were no longer so friendly, some non-Jewish customers ended their business relationships with her father's company, and my uncle, who ran the business in the country, sometimes felt open hostility (ibid.). Selma Wolff gave up her work in the "Vaterländischer Frauenverein", presumably because anti-Semitic tendencies emerged here too. Instead, her involvement in the "Israelite Women's Association" became all the more intense. Her husband Emil also began to become involved in the Jewish community. He became a close friend of the new, very orthodox rabbi Dr. Alfred Jacobs.

In the course of the Aryanization, Selma Wolff and her husband Emil were forced to sell their house in Bad Kreuznach below value and tried to survive in the anonymity of the city of Cologne. They stayed there until they were deported. Ellen Herz, who was able to emigrate to England in February 1939, describes the horror of having to leave her parents behind in Cologne. Unlike her family, her parents were unable to find a guarantor for an affidavit. They were both over 60 and therefore could hardly find work in the USA and support themselves, so finding a sponsor was hopeless. Some of Ellen's worst experiences include the last telephone conversation with her parents from England and the last letters she received from her parents, uncles and aunts pleading: "Please help us get out of here!" (ibid.).
Selma Wolff and her husband were deported from Cologne to the Litzmannstadt (Lodz) ghetto in Poland on October 30, 1941 and from there in May 1942 to the Kulmhof extermination camp in the Polish town of Chelmo, where they were murdered.

From the photo album:




E. Levy, The Kissinger Family, S. 24f
H.-J. Beck, Kissingen war unsere Heimat, Stand April 2017, S. 489f
Gedenkbuch Bundesarchiv Koblenzexterner Link
Yad Vashem Zentrale Datenbank…externer Link
NS-Dokumentationszentrum Kölnexterner Link
Email NS-Dokumentationszentrum Köln, 8. 11. 2017
Bad Kissinger Stolpersteine/Stolpersteinlisteexterner Link

Photo credits

© Thera Kokx and Ellen Herz