The story behind Villa Merländer

From successful merchant to victim of the NS dictatorship

When the Krefeld merchant Richard Merländer commissioned his villa on Friedrich-Ebert-Straße in the vibrant silk city in 1924, he had no idea that he would lose it again in less than 20 years under the pressure of National Socialist politics.

Merländers childhood and youth

Merländer, who was born in Mülheim in 1874, grew up in a family with four siblings. He was introduced to his parents' business at an early age: Johanne Levy and Bendix Merländer ran a haberdashery and later a shop for ladies' ready-to-wear. Together with Siegfried Strauß and Hermann Heymann, Richard Merländer developed a strong interest in this industry in keeping with his family tradition: he and his partners founded the silk fabric wholesaler "Merländer, Strauß & Co. " and achieved great success. In the meantime, up to 60 employees worked in the company, which could record an annual turnover of up to three million Reichsmarks. 

The construction of the Villa Merländer as a residential building

With the "Villa Merländer" the capable merchant created a time-out paradise for himself: Designed by the architect Friedrich Kühnen, Merländer moved into his private residence on Friedrich-Ebert-Straße in 1925. With the beginning of the NS era, hostilities began: Merländer was not only of Jewish descent but also homosexual. Already in 1933 his persecution began. In 1938 the merchant had to give up his business and his possessions were confiscated.

Until today not much is known about Richard Merländer: Nobody knows what he looked like, for example. But he liked to smoke cigars, play skat and chess; he loved to party and was hospitable. And of course he loved art.

Sandra Franz, Director of the NS-Documentation Centre

Deportation and death of Richard Merländer

 In 1941 he was forced to move into a "Judenhaus" in Krefeld. The 68-year-old Richard Merländer was deported to the Theresienstadt camp in July 1942. In September 1942, he was deported to the Treblinka extermination camp as no longer fit for work. The exact circumstances of his death are unknown. However, since none of the 2,020 people in the transport survived, there is no doubt that Richard Merländer also fell victim to the Holocaust. He was probably murdered shortly after his arrival in the gas chamber. By order of the Krefeld District Court on 11 December 1959, he was declared dead on 5 May 1945.

This business card was found by Merländer.

The Villa Merländer as documentation centre

The villa was used as a hotel after its forced sale and changed hands several times. In 1989 the Campendonk paintings were discovered. About a year later, the city of Krefeld decided to establish a documentation centre and a meeting centre here. The villa is still used as such today.

The Campendonk pictures can be viewed during a visit to the villa.

We look forward to getting to know you!

Do you have questions about Villa Merländer, offers or dates? Do not hesitate to contact us, we will get back to you as soon as possible! 

Villa Merländer e.V.

Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse 42
47799 Krefeld

Opening hours:

Wednesday 9 am to 1 pm (last admission 12 pm) Every fourth Sunday of the month According to agreement