Before I remember and honor family members who suffered & survived, were murdered or successfully fled elsewhere I need to give a short background as to why at age 65 I am just learning of this horror.
I was born of an unwed mother in 1950 and placed for adoption; though never adopted. I went through the first 36 years of life not knowing who was my was or any of my heritage. I would find my birth mother in 1986 and learn I was Polish and in 1990 I would find my birth father and learn on his side I was German.
I began tracing back the history, etc of my maternal side and spent over the next 25 years being able to trace back to my maternal great, great grandparents in the mid 1800’s in Poland. Though much of the family who were born in the USA in the late 1800’s had passed I was able to meet and develop relationships with many cousins. I hit a brick wall in tracing back about two years ago and decided at least for now to lay things aside.
My birth mother and father have since passed.
For unexplainable reasons I throughout the years never had an interest in doing this on my father’s side.
I early April of this year, again for unexplainable reason I pulled what little information I had on my father’s side and decided it was time!
I of course knew since 1990 that his family was German. Through various record searches I learned of names his parents. It was through his father’s name I learned of his grandparents: Albert Marx & Fannie Jakoby Marx who had immigrated from Germany in the late 1800‘s.
I then discovered something I had not expected….they were Jewish and that line went back many generations. I was raised Catholic though I cannot say I have been a practicing one for several years but do have solid beliefs. I wanted to know more of the Jewish faith, their traditions and of course go back further in the family line. Because the mother of a child must before the child is born be Jewish for the child to be declared Jewish I cannot do so as my grandfather though Jewish married a Gentile who did not convert before he was born or even after. I may not be Jewish but a Jewish line runs deeply through my veins!
On one great grandmother’s side I found her parents were Nathan Jakoby of Barweiler German where he was born, married, lived , died in 1880 and is buried and his wife Rosina Josephina Franck of Essweiler Germany then Wallerfangen where she moved after Nathan passed and where she passed in 1893 and is buried in Dillingen. All but one of their children immigrated to the USA except Leopold who passed in Barweiler at the age of 16 in 1878. I have traced each of the children and have most of their records.
This finally brings me to the events of the past few days and the reason for this special blog.
After waiting for information from Germany over the summer and early fall I did get bits of information from a friend in Germany but just Sunday I received pages involving my family line from the Civil Registry of Essweiler.
From that listing of names, births, marriages, deaths (over 50 names) were obtained. I also received a link to the Municipality of Essweiler web site and the initial shock came. I of course grew up learning of the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust but never could have imagined it had affected anyone in my family….I was wrong, very wrong!
I shared this information in a blog on Monday so if someone might be looking also for names I have they could find them and I share the link to that blog here once again:
The Franck family had lived in Essweiler at least from the mid 1700’s. They were homeowners who lived in the same house from my 4x great grandparents and passed to the 3x great grandparents….many children were born in that house identified only as #68 City Center. (4x great grandparents were Joel Franck/Eva Frankel & 3x great grandparents were Joseph Franck/Rosina Wolf).
One of the children Joseph/Rosina had was Barbara Franck…this is in addition to my 2x great grandmother and 4 other children.
Barbara Franck married on 05/25/1874 married Lazarus Jakob in Essweiler and had 7 children: Johanna, Hedwig, Rosalia, Ida, Flora, Paulina and a male not named who died at birth. Barbara was Lazarus’s 2nd wife and his 1st wife Susanna (Barbara’s sister) had passed during the birth of her 3rd child who also passed in 1873. Susanna also had 2 children prior but who had passed within months of their birth. Thus no previous children came into Lazarus’s/Barbara’s marriage.
This Tuesday night I found the two records I hoped to never find and I am sure will impact me in many ways for the rest of my days….my family was very personally impacted by the Holocaust.
The two records: Hedwig Jakob and Johanna Jakob Herze.
Hedwig was born in Essweiler on 01/24/1882. She would marry Silvian Geissiman 10/02/1912 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, b: 02/08/1882 in Westhoven, daughter of Issak Gerissman & Babette Picard. I have found no information as yet of her husband or if they had any children.
1. Hedwig was deported to Gurs Camp in France in 1940 then Auschwitz in 1942 where she met her death in the gas chambers of Hitler on 08/12/1942. There is no record for her on Yad Vashem but I will be submitting testimony on behalf of the family and I want her remembered by the world after I am gone.
2. Johanna Jakob Herze was born to Lazarus Jakob and Barbara Franck in Essweiler on 09/15/1874. She would marry Hugo Herze born on July 29 1870 Randerath, a district of Heinsberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia in Essweiler on 10/24/1894. They would initially live in Essweiler where 3 children were born then move to Kasiserlautern to 71 Lutpoldstrasse in 1902 now known as 71 Rudolf-Breitscheid Strasse…you will see the importance of this address later.
Leo, Adolph, Arthur, ,Jacob, Wilhelm, Hedwig (but called Heidi) and Erich…Leo died of natural causes in 1914)
Johanna was deported to the Gurs Camp in France, then transport to Camp Noe in October of 1940, as were most Jews in the town, where she was killed in 1943.
At this point I was in such pain learning of this and yes tears were flowing. I thought I would give up my research for the night but then I realized I had to go on. The pain and heartache would only become worse as I processed.
3. I learned her husband Hugo was also deported to the Gurs Camp then to Camp Noe…. and was killed there on February 4, 1943…Johanna was killed on March 5, 1943. They were 72 and 69 respectively when killed.
Son Jacob married Lydia Horn in 1931 in Essweiler then moved to Kaiserlautern and had 4 children: Hedwig, Hannalore, Anna and Ruth. Anna died of natural causes in 1939 at 3 ½ years old.
The entire family was deported to Camp Gurs in October 22, 1940.
4. Jacob was killed on April 14, 1941
5. Hannalore was killed in October 1941.
Lydia would survived and while doing forced labor she escaped and in 1945 was living in Hamburg, Germany but then returned to Kaiserslautern where she died in 1962 at age 60.
Hedwig survived the war and was rescued by OSE and the Quakers eventually also returning to Kaiserslautern where she passed…am researching for the year.
Ruth also survived but did not return home, she lived the remainder of her life in various locations in France as a pediatric nurse. She never married and died in 2008 at 89 years of age.
5. Johanna’s son Adolph born in 1896 married Rosa Lazar and lived in Reydt, Germany but fled to Brussels, Belgium. Adolph died in the ghettos of Riga. Adolph was shot and killed by the Nazis when it was ordered to clean out the Riga ghetto. Rosa eventually immigrated to the New York USA to live with her brother Solomon in Queens.
Hugo, Johannna, Hannalore, Jacob, Lydia, Adolph are listed in Yad Vashem but I will submit testimony for each of them. On behalf of the family and so their lives will never be forgotten.
Johanna’s 3 other sisters had left Germany back in the early 1930’s before Hitler came to power and immigrated to the United States and I need to do further research.
Johanna’s other children did survive the war:
Arthur died in 1940 in a hospital in Cologne, Germany
Wilhelm initially fled first to Paris, then Paraguay where he died in 1986.
Hedwig (Heidi) returned to Kaiserslautern where she died.
Erich fled to Sweden where he lived the remainder of his life. He did return for visits to Kaiserslautern but never wanted to resettle there. I need to research further ass I know he did marry but have no further information.
I have many other family names to search, some males that should be easy to check Yad Vesham whereas the women may be difficult as I don’t know if they ever married. I pray I won’t find anymore horror as this journey uncovered but I am prepared for it.
Besides submitting testimony for each of those that died to Yad Vesham I will also make memorials at FindaGrave for those who passed in Auschwitz, Noe and Gurs as I know these are there final resting places.
There is a custom called STOLPERSTEINE that began after the was as a way to remember those lost during the Holocaust.
A human being is forgotten until his name is not forgotten
The words from the Talmud are the driving force for the artist Gunter Demnig, with memorial plaques to the victims of the Nazi regime in Europe to for the world to remember. Under this slogan were in June 2014 Gunter Demnig outside the house Rudolf-Breitscheid-Strasse 71, where the Herze family last lived freely all together, placed the seven stumbling blocks for Hugo, Johanna, Jacob, Lydia, Hedwig, Ruth and Hannelore.
A closer view so one can see the names:
Though all but Hedwig Jakob are listed in Yad Vashem only one actual testimony has been received which is for Adolph Herze:
I would love one day, and dream about it, to visit the land of my paternal ancestors especially Essweiler, Barweiler, Kaisterslautern. To walk where they walked, lived and also where some are buried in the Jewish cemetery in Hintzinger. And to personally go to honor those who suffered so much even if they did in fact survive as I know their lives were never the same and mine will not be either. But being now 65 and limited income that will never be possible…but I can dream.
For 65 years I did not know if the Jewish heritage I came from. I did not know the horrors some of my family endured, even death, for just being who they were. I knew of the Holocaust but now I know it personally. The heartache I felt Sunday night when I found the initial record then the succeeding ones on Tuesday night into those early hours of Wednesday may subside as time passes but it will never be healed. I have had to stop a few times as I writing it as the tears so easily came. I will never forget and hope that even after I am gone people will see the Stolpersteine created to honor them, the 2 two blogs I have written that are now part of the Internet, the testamonies that will be left on Yad Vashem and will remember and honor them.
It has been said all my life “NEVER AGAIN” but it has happened again and in places around the world people continue killing people by the thousands because of who they are….humankind I hope will someday make this saying real and not just words.
Shalom my family and may each of you rest in peace as well as all who endured the horror of the Nazis!