Max Rüdenberg

b. April 9 1863 in Bad Oeyenhausen
d. Sept 26 1942 in Theresienstadt

Max Rüdenberg and his wife Margarete lived in Limmer, a suburb of Hanover. Max was in the feather business. He bought feathers from an agent in Shanghai, imported them in crates to Germany, and washed them in a factory which he built at 18 Wunstorferstrasse, Limmer, Hanover. He had chosen this site for his factory because it was by the side of the River Leine and its small tributary the Fösse, whose water he could use for washing the feathers. Next to the factory he built a large house. Both the factory and the house were situated on a plot of land which was known as the Schwanenburg. In honor of the name, Max had a swan mosaic laid into the floor by the front entrance. His business activities went well and he became a wealthy man.

In 1900 Max’s wife Grete gave birth to their first child, a daughter whom they named Eva. In 1903 they had a second child, a son whom they named Ernst. That was their family. The children were educated in Hanover.

As a patron of the arts, Max was a Founder Member of the Kestner Gesellschaft which was dedicated to promoting the work of German expressionist and other modernist artists, and which still exists in Hanover today. He was elected as a Councillor for the town of Linden and later for the town of Hanover. He supported a school for deprived children in Limmer, the "Warteschule", acting as its Treasurer (“Schatzmeister”). He made his property in Limmer available to the Kaiser as a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I.

Photo of Max Rudenberg

Max Rüdenberg c.1913

Max was an orientalist and visited China where he developed a love of old Chinese porcelain and bronzes. He conceived the idea of packing pieces of antique china inside the bales of feathers that came to Germany at regular intervals for his factory. Max gave his agent money to buy pieces for him, evidently trusting his agent’s taste in the matter. The agent’s taste was good and the pieces that came to Germany were exquisite. Max built up a large collection of oriental ceramics, bronzes, stoneware and screens. He even imported large pieces of Chinese furniture on which to display the collection. Friends and colleagues talked about the collection and it became well known throughout Germany and even internationally.

With the advent of National Socialism, the town of Hanover forced Max to sell his property and other possessions. His china collection was, except for a few pieces, auctioned. He was forced to sell his coin collection and paintings. Through great sacrifice Max arranged for his three grandchildren to escape to England in 1939 via the famous Kindertransport. He and his wife were later moved out of their home at 18, Wunstorferstrasse into an annexe building next door, which they shared with 80 other dispossessed Hanover Jews.

On 24 July 1942 Max (now aged 79) and his wife (aged 63) were deported to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt on the third transport of Jewish inhabitants from Hanover. Max died two months later. Margarete lived a further 12 months when she too died in the Theresienstadt camp. The names of Max, Margarete and five other members of the Rüdenberg family are engraved on the Jewish memorial in Hanover.