Family Obst/Noack from Leipzig

This week I shared photos of little Lilo Obst and her family on my Instagram account @photoswithoutfamilies. Lilo is short for Lieselotte and she was born in about 1916 to parents Edmund and Lotte Obst.

Her father Edmund Obst was a businessman in Leipzig and Berlin in Germany. He was born in about 1887 in Leipzig. In the second photo Lilo’s mother Lotte might be pregnant with Lilo’s brother Helmut.

Lilo (Lieselotte) Obst’s little brother Helmut Obst was born in July 1921. This photo was taken in January 1922 at 16 Hardenbergstr. in Leipzig where the family lived at the time.


Sadly, Lieselotte’s brother Helmut Obst’s life was cut short by the horrors of WWII. He was drafted at 18 years of age in 1939 and he was killed in the submarine attacks of North Atlantic in May 1943. He didn’t even live to be 23 years old.

This photo lot is unique because it includes photos of 5 generations of one family! The next photo is of Friedrich Obst from Leipzig. This photo was taken in 1884, according to the handwritten date on the back. He was little Lilo’s great-grandfather!!! If I’m not mistaken, he might have been the first Obst to settle in Leipzig when he as a young man began working as a newspaper editor for Leipziger Zeitung in 1836. Could be that he worked in that position until the 1860s. In the 1870 adressbook of Leipzig, he is listed as a “Commisionsrath” member. I can’t find him in the Leipziger addressbooks after 1884. Perhaps he passed away or moved to another district. He must have been in his 70s in this photograph.

Friedrich Obst had a son Edmund Obst Sr. I don’t know if there were any siblings. I suppose so cause some decades later, there were quite a lot of people with the surname Obst living in Leipzig, when in 1836, Friedrich had been the only one.

There are 4 different handwritings on the back of the photo of Edmund Obst (Sr.). Lilo herself has identified him as her grandfather, she wrote in blue ink “My grandfather as a trainee” (trainee at 11 years old? Out the window goes childhood!). The other German text, in old handwriting, says very randomly “see you on Thursday. Edm. Obst”, clearly not written by the young boy. Then the text in French says “my husband Edmond Obst as a child 11-12 years old”. I am wondering if French was Edmund’s wife Louise’s mother tongue or it was just fashionable to show off one’s education by writing in the language of the aristocrats😅. And then there is the date 1861 in which case Edmund was born in about 1850.This little boy grew up to know everything there was to know about paper!

Perhaps the hours spent at his father’s workplace at the newspaper publishing house influenced Edmund’s own future career choice. In 1878, Edmund Obst founded a paper wholesale company in Leipzig that sold any kind of paper for any kind of printing purpose. I’ve borrowed an ad for his company I found on the Internet (source HERE):

Here’s another ad for Edmund’s company from 1908, source HERE:

Edmund Sr. also imported Japanese products. You can see him sitting and smoking a cigar below. Pretty content with his life, I would say!

You can see Lilo’s father Edmund Obst Jr. on the very left and one of his sisters, Johanna, in the middle. Edmund Sr. and his wife Louisa had at least three children: Johanna (born around 1874), Maria (born around 1884), and Edmund (born around 1887). From what I’ve gathered, Johanna together with her siblings was involved in the management of her father’s paper business in Leipzig after his passing. Looks like Johanna never married. She was still living in Leipzig in 1949.

Edmund Sr. must have died some time before 1922. The adressbook of Leipzig from 1922 lists the owners of the paper business to be his son Edmund Jr., widow Louisa and daughters Johanna and Maria.

Leipzig adressbook 1922

Unfortunately I don’t know anything about Lilo’s mother Lotte. I suppose her name was Charlotte? I don’t know when Lotte and Edmund got married or when they passed away. The second photo of them is from the 1930s from around the time of Lilo’s wedding.

In 1929, Edmund Obst Jr. moved the paper business from Leipzig to Berlin. The paper business is to be found in the Berlin addressbooks at least until 1966.

Berlin addressbook 1930

Fast-forward to the year 1938. Historically, we know what the state of the country was at the time. I am not sure if Lilo and her finacé Karl could imagine that about a year later, Germany had started the 2nd world war and Karl would be drafted to fight for his country.

Perhaps blessed by hope and naiveté, Lilo married Karl Noack in 1938.

The couple spent their honeymoon in Saalfeld, Thüringen.

Lilo became a mum to two children – Günther Noack (who has unfortunately recently passed) and Finchen. The features of little Finchen are uncannily similar to Lilo’s own as a little girl.

1943 was probably the most difficult year for Lilo, I can imagine. Not only did she lose her 22-year-old brother Helmut to war, she became widowed with two small children. Her husband and father of her children, Karl Noack, who had been born in 1911 close to Leipzig, lost his life in 1943 in the WWII battles on the territory of today’s Poland.

I don’t know why this family photo lot has been discarded and ended up on sale on German ebay. 5 generations of one family, lost… Perhaps this blogpost will help keep these memories alive, until perhaps one day a descendant will find me.

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