Otto Elias, born 12.03.1876

Hansastr. 50, Do-West

The Jewish lawyer and notary Dr. Otto Elias was born in March 1876 in Dortmund as the son of Adolph, a merchant, and his wife, Julie Schwarz. Otto lived for several years in Düsseldorf, before returning to Dortmund permanently in 1906.

In 1909, he married Emma, whose maiden surname was also Elias, and in the following year, daughter Käthe, the couple’s only child, was born.

From 1907, he worked in a joint legal practice with his brother-in-law Dr. Max Frank (for the latter, see also the Stolperstein for Hansastrasse 50) and lawyer Gierlich.

In the course of the organized boycott of Jewish businesses on 1 April 1933, Otto Elias was arrested on grounds of alleged tax evasion; his licence to practise as a lawyer was revoked. On April 10, he was taken into custody at the Dortmund remand center and transferred to the Dortmund court prison on the same day. There he died three days later, on April 13, 1933.

Official documents of the time state the cause of death as suicide by poisoning. This version is now ruled out. Rather, his death was the result of the acts of repression and persecution committed against him and the treatment to which he was subjected while in custody. Subsequently, Emma and Käthe continued to suffer from the persecution measures. Emma committed suicide in 1934; Käthe, however, survived the war, and afterwards made a claim for compensation.

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