Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich (1921 - 2007)

Ernst Ludwig (Lutz) Ehrlich started studying at Berlin’s College for the Scientific Study of Judaism in 1940, which was directed by Rabbi Leo Baeck. It was closed in June 1942 and Ehrlich had to do forced labor in an armaments factory. He lived with his mother Eva (his father had already died in 1936) across from the Levetzowstrasse synagogue, which as of 1941 was used by the Gestapo as an assembly site for the deportations to the extermination camps. His observations there, and the fact that the Jewish forced workers were systematically replaced by foreign workers, convinced him to look for a place to hide. By bribing a clerk at the factory Ehrlich obtained the old factory ID badge of a former, non-Jewish employee, and his bold attitude helped him acquire a postal ID card.

Eva Ehrlich was arrested during the Factory Operation on February 27, 1943, and deported. Her son, who had already heard rumors about the murder of Jews in Poland, went into hiding on March 1. Only a few days earlier, Franz Schürzholz—a factory owner and staunch opponent of the regime—offered to help him, although he hadn’t even known him up to then. Schürzholz hid and fed Lutz Ehrlich until mid-May 1943 and then referred him to his friend Karl Fütterer.

Lutz Ehrlich wanted to escape to Switzerland together with Herbert Strauss, a former college classmate who had also gone into hiding. Herbert’s girlfriend Lotte Kahle had already successfully made it to Switzerland on May 1, 1943, with the help of Luise Meier and Josef Höfler. Not until the two young men managed to procure top-quality forged military ID cards were the helpers willing to take the risk. After arriving in Singen, they were led to the border by Josef Höfler. They had to wait there a long time since the moon lit up the night, before they finally escape onto Swiss soil unnoticed on June 12, 1943.

After the war Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich remained in Switzerland and continued his studies. A Judaism scholar, philosopher of religion, and journalist, he received many awards for his life work and his multifaceted engagement for Christian-Jewish dialogue.

Bomhoff, Hartmut. Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich. Ein Leben für Dialog und Erneuerung. Berlin: Hentrich und Hentrich, 2011.
Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich
Photo: privately owned

Rescue Attempts


  • "Factory Operation"

    "Factory Operation"

    In raids throughout the German Reich, all Jews still working in the armaments industry were arrested on February 27, 1943, most of them in Berlin, where the number of Jewish forced laborers was highest. About 4,000 Jews in Berlin went into hiding, having heard rumors or been warned of the raids. Throughout the country about 11,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz in early March 1943.