In the midst of a brainsearing July 2017 afternoon I was staggering up Broadway in SoHo, seeking anything old and unexplained, besides myself. During these walks I often glance near the tops of buildings in hopes of seeing some “faded ads” I had missed, which isn’t many now as I have been doing this for over twenty years in earnest. Most of the new ones I find now have recently been uncovered because of building demolitions. But this is one I hadn’t seen, way up there, on the 9th floor of 520 Broadway just south of Spring. It’s Beaux-Arts and full of ornamental embellishments. But the words Oppenheimer, Bonham & Co. are rendered in straightforward sanserif. I googled them. I found some tragedy.
Davison’s Textile Blue Book, 1911
Apparently Oppenheimer, Bonnem was a textiles importer, with offices a little further north on Broadway. I investigated further and found that family members Max Bonnem and Elisabeth Oppenheimer married in Berlin and had a son born in 1924. Max was killed by the Nazis in 1937, while Elisabeth and their son were deported to Lodz, Poland in 1942 where they perished; from what, you might guess.
I found in an online document that a claims resolution for 265,375.00 Swiss Francs (or $277,647.00) was made to an unnamed claimant, likely a family member, in a Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation suit in 2008. For lives lost in the charnel horror, there’s never enough compensation.