Mike Guilfoyle, vice-chair of the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries, stumbles across a Ladywell link to a Hamburg merchant, entrepreneur and horse breeder who died in 1944 after internment in a Nazi concentration camp.
Often a curiously unexpected local link is evoked by significant historic events.
One such link arose when I looked online at the recent Lewisham Holocaust Memorable commemorations. These were centred on the theme of ordinary people who were involved in all aspects of the Holocaust.
I then stumbled upon a remarkable project founded by an artist called Gunter Demnig in 1992 .
He cited the Jewish Rabbinic saying: “A person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten” and created engraved brass stones known as “Stolpersteine”, or “stumbling stones”.
There are now nearly 100,000 such memorial blocks laid in more than 1,200 cities and towns across Europe and Russia. Each commemorates a victim outside their last-known freely chosen residence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolperstein
One such memorial block remembers the life of Eduard Pulvermann. Born in Hamburg in 1882, he was a merchant and entrepreneur but also a successful rider and horse breeder, who designed the course for the German Spring Derby in Hamburg.
In 1920 the first competition under his direction took place there. The Derby is considered one of the toughest show jumping tournaments in the world.
Obstacle 14-Pulvermann’s Jump is probably the best known hurdle in international show jumping.
In March 1941, his part Jewish heritage having been revealed , he was accused of alleged foreign currency offences, and interned in the Neuengamme concentration camp.
As a result of forced labour and malnutrition, he became seriously ill and died on April 9, 1944 in the Langenhorn prison hospital, Hamburg.*
With this suggestive link in mind I looked again at a headstone in Ladywell cemetery with the name of a Martin Pulvermann d.1910 inscribed on it.
Consulting Ancestry UK records quickly uncovered a truly fascinating familial link. He was the uncle of Eduard Pulvermann.
Born in 1854 in Posen, Prussia (now Poznan, Poland) Martin emigrated to England settling in Forest Hill.
He was a successful hardware/arms merchant and became a British citizen in 1896. One of his sons, Oscar Percy, a pupil of Dulwich College, was killed in action at Ypres in 1915.
Another historical irony is that Oscar’s cousin, Eduard Pulvermann served in The Imperial German Army and took part in the great battles of both the Eastern and Western Fronts.
During the German Revolution or November Revolution of 1918, at the end of the First World War, his sword and officer’s epaulettes were taken – one of the bitterest war experiences for a cavalry officer.
* The Eduard Pulvermann family grave is located in Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg, which is the world’s biggest rural cemetery and the fourth largest.
* A brass plate was unveiled in Golden Square, in central London in May 2022. On it was engraved the name of Ada van Dantzig, a Dutch Jewish woman who worked in London but was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943.