Lea Barmes was the first born child of Abraham Joseph Barmes and Jansje Levie Mossel. She was born in Amsterdam on 27 March 1866 and had another seven siblings, namely Sophia, Louis, Joseph, Margaretha, Elisabeth, Hermina and Jacob. Her little brothers Louis and Jacob died already as babies. Sophia died in 1930 but Elisabeth and Hermina survived the Holocaust. Her sister Margaretha passed in Den Haag in 1941 but Lea her self and her brother Joseph have been killed during the Shoah.
Lea was unmarried, but in circulating family stories, she had a loose conduct and lived “freely and happily”. These stories were not quite untrue: on 28 September 1894 she has given birth as an unmarried mother to a daughter who was named Jeannette Barmes. The father was unknown. Only on 28 October 1912, when Jeannette was 18 years old, Lea legalized and recognized her daughter by means of a notarial deed, drawn up by notary Adriaan Cato Schwartz in Amsterdam. Lea Barmes was also not present at her daughter's wedding and there was hardly any mention of Jeannette Barmes in the family.
On 1 February 1917, Jeannette married in Amsterdam the 18-year-older son of David Mendes and Rebecca Benavente, the violinist and clothing merchant Benjamin Mendes. The couple, who runned a fashion shop at Van Woustraat, resided at the nearby Sarphatipark 69 1st floor in Amsterdam and had no children. During the Second World War, the German occupiers renamed the Sarphatipark to Bollandpark because streets, squares and parks could no longer be named after Jews.
Benjamin Mendes passed away on 14 October 1940 in Amsterdam, but it is unknown where he has been burried. His wife Jeannette was arrested only 26 August 1943 and taken to Westerbork, where she ended up in the penal barrack 67. Two days later she made efforts to prove by a descendancy research that she just had one Jewish parent, in order to prevent being deported. The research took some time but did not led to any results: on 8 February 1944 Jeannette Mendes-Barmes was put on transport to Auschwitz, where on arrival there on 11 February 1944, she was immediately killed.
Her mother, Lea Barmes was cutter of rose diamonds by trade and lived those days at Vrolikstraat 161 in Amsterdam. Since 2 April 1910 she was a member of the ANDB (the Diamond Trade Union) and classified in trade group 7 (rose diamond cutter), but for unknown reasons, she was removed from the list of members of the ANDB on 24 July 1922.
On 6 January 1931 Lea moved to Den Haag, where she lived those years at several addresses in that city. Per 18 August 1936 her address was Albertinestraat 17, moved 27 April 11937 to Gerard Reijnststraat 51 and her last known addres was Spaansestraat 12, also in Den Haag, as recorded on her registration card of the Jewish Council.
Lea Barmes was registered in Westerbork on 11 December 1942 and stayed in barrack 72. On 11 January 1943 she was deported to Auschwitz and on arrival there on 14 January1943 immediately killed.
Sources include City Archive of Amsterdam, archive card of Lea Barmes, family registration card of Abraham Joseph Barmes, archive cards of Jeannette Barmes and Benjamin Mendes; membership card ANDB of Lea Barmes; Municipal Archive of Den Haag, family registration card of Lea Barmes; the file cabinet of the Jewish Counicil, registration cards of Lea Barmes and Jeanette Mendes-Barmes and personal memories of Lea Barmes from surviving familymembers.