Ludwig Brand was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1933, only months after Adolf Hitler came to power. When Ludwig was an infant, his parents returned to their native Poland hoping to escape Nazi persecution. There Ludwig’s father established a business as an exporter of cattle hides. He was in New York when war broke out in September 1939 and did not return to Poland. In 1940, Ludwig’s sister was arrested and taken away. He never saw her again.
The Nazis established a ghetto just south of Kraków in March 1941 where Ludwig and his mother were confined together with thousands of other Jews. Ludwig had a large extended family and when one of his cousins, the owner of a terrazzo factory, saw what was happening to the Jews he took action. Quickly and quietly he converted the cramped attic of his factory into a hiding place that was undetectable from the outside. Sixteen people, mostly family members, made their way to the hideout. They were protected by the building’s caretaker who bravely risked his life to smuggle food to them. Ludwig and his mother joined the group in the attic in March 1943, only days before the Kraków ghetto was liquidated and the remaining Jews were sent to labor camps and killing centers.
Ludwig did not leave the cramped attic for the next eighteen months. “As far as departures from that place, that was kept at an absolute minimum,” he explained. “You never knew what would happen if a person would accidentally get involved in something on the street. With questioning and torture, somebody would sing a song.” Ludwig and his relatives subsisted on a monotonous diet of barley, bread, carrots and lard. Water came from a barrel on the roof and it was only after heavy rain storms that they had enough to spare for bathing. Tempers heated and nerves grew raw in the dim, cramped space. The monotony of their days was interrupted only when Nazi storm troopers entered the building and searched the lower floors. Fortunately, they were never detected.
Soviet troops liberated Kraków on January 18, 1945. Ludwig and his mother returned to their home to reclaim their belongings only to hear their neighbors comment, “Look at the Jews. They have been out three days and already they are causing problems.” Life was bleak for the Jews in postwar Poland, so in August 1949 Ludwig joined his father in Houston where he had settled and reestablished his cattle hide company. Ludwig’s parents had divorced and his mother later settled in Vienna.
After attending the University of Houston and serving in the Coast Guard Reserve, Ludwig went into business with his father. In 1965, Ludwig bought a ranch in La Grange and began breeding Brangus cattle (a mix of Brahma and Angus). He and his first wife had two adopted sons. Ludwig remarried in 1972 and his wife Judy, an artist, jewelry maker and photographer, brought two children to the marriage. As the president of the International Branders Organization, Ludwig continued to export cattle hides and to exhibit in livestock shows. In his spare time he enjoyed hunting, fishing and photography.
Rubin Brand, survived
Róża Nabel Brand, survived
Lotti, d. Auschwitz