The Cig­ar Fac­to­ry of Isay Rot­ten­berg: The Hid­den His­to­ry of a Jew­ish Entre­pre­neur in Nazi Germany

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2021

Isay Rot­ten­berg was born in Russ­ian Poland in 1889 and grew up in Lodz, mov­ing to Ams­ter­dam on the occa­sion of his mar­riage. In 1932 he moved to Ger­many to take over a bank­rupt cig­ar fac­to­ry. With new­fan­gled Amer­i­can tech­nol­o­gy, it was the most mod­ern at the time. The ener­getic and ambi­tious Rot­ten­berg was cer­tain he could bring it back to life, and with new­ly hired staff of 670 work­ers, the cig­ar fac­to­ry was soon back in busi­ness. Six months lat­er, Hitler came to pow­er and the Nazi gov­ern­ment for­bade the use of machines in the cig­ar indus­try so that tra­di­tion­al hand-rollers could be re-employed. The fac­to­ry was expro­pri­at­ed by the Deutsche Bank. Rottenberg’s right for reha­bil­i­ta­tion and resti­tu­tion of his prop­er­ty would con­tin­ue until Kristall­nacht in 1938. The Cig­ar Fac­to­ry of Isay Rot­ten­berg is writ­ten by two of Rottenberg’s grand­daugh­ters, who knew lit­tle of their grandfather’s past until a call for claims for stolen or con­fis­cat­ed prop­er­ty start­ed them on a jour­ney of dis­cov­ery. It includes an after­word by Robert Roten­berg, crim­i­nal defense lawyer and author of best­selling legal thrillers.

Discussion Questions