Guest author: Alexander B. Stohler interviews hidden child Daniel Goldsmith

By ALEXANDER B. STOHLER

Daniel Goldsmith was born on December 11, 1931 to an Orthodox Jewish family living in Antwerp, Belgium; a family which included his mother, his father, himself and his younger sister. Daniel’s parents, originally from Poland and both avid travelers, met in Antwerp and married and settled there in 1930. Living in the Jewish section of the city, Daniel described his family as middle class. Growing up, Daniel spoke Yiddish, French and Flemish.

He remembered a happy childhood, although he admitted he had a mischievous streak and would often get into trouble, sometimes at his all-day Hebrew school. He enjoyed writing, drawing and geography. He also mentioned that the area he lived in contained many non-Jewish families as well and that his family had both Jewish and non-Jewish friends. He described a very tight-knight neighborhood with shared values, where everyone looked out for each other. He believed that most of the people in his neighborhood were not supportive of the Nazi regime. He reminisced about being the goalie while playing soccer with his friends. His father worked in the city as a plumber while his mother stayed at home to tend to the children and house.

Daniel Goldsmith addresses students at Pennridge High School in Perkasie, Pennsylvania

Mr. Goldsmith recalled the importance of his parents’ religious beliefs and that they kept a kosher household and observed the Jewish holidays. He attended synagogue every Sabbath with his father. Daniel also remembered fondly the birth of his younger sister on December 26, 1939, as a happy occasion despite the onset of World War II.

On May 10, 1941, when the Nazi invasion of Belgium began, Daniel was 8 years old; he traveled with his family in an attempt to flee the country to Northern France, but was stopped, and they were forced to return to Antwerp. Daniel recalled the mass exodus attempted by many Jewish refugees during this period, describing long lines of travelers with their belongings escaping on foot. The Nazi regime simply stopped them in their tracks and made them return to where they had started; Daniel’s parents brought the family back to their house in Antwerp and attempted to create a stable household.

However, this hope for stability was quickly challenged as the Nazi regime began implementing antisemitic and anti-Jewish laws in conquered Europe. Daniel recalled that in October Jews were forced to register themselves with the Nazis; he also explained how Jews were removed from civil service and governmental positions. Jewish lawyers, teachers, doctors and other specialists were also forced out of their professions. Jews were targeted simply for their religious orientation and/or ethnic heritage in other ways as well, including Nazi controls on bank accounts, Jewish curfews, and relationships with non-Jews. Daniel recalled how simple pleasures like enjoying a public park, seeing a movie or visiting a museum became restricted to him and his family.

Almost 2 years later, the Nazis ramped up persecution of Jews in Belgium, starting with compulsory wearing of a yellow star-of-David, which further marked Jews in public life. Mr. Goldsmith remembers well having to wear his star on his jacket when he was outside of his house. During this period the Nazis had also restricted where Jews could live, confining them to sections of the larger metropolitan areas of Antwerp, Liège, Brussels, and Charleroi. Daniel and his sister had both been expelled from the public schools. The Nazis also began deporting Belgian Jews to various Nazi camps in Europe, including some to Auschwitz; Daniel’s father was one of these people as he was coerced to report for forced labor in a camp in Northern France.

Daniel remembers his parents’ discussion about this distinctly, as he was in the kitchen at the time. He recalled that his mother was worried about complying with the Nazi law, while his father reassured her that he was strong enough to live through the camp. Only 39 at the time, Daniel’s father believed he would have a good chance of surviving the forced labor. His mother reluctantly agreed to the plan, one that would keep her children in the house while appeasing their persecutors. However, Daniel acknowledged that his parents were unaware of the true gravity of the situation in Europe; they did not realize the Nazis were preparing and committing to their Final Solution, the Nazi system designed using concentration camps and other mistreatment to destroy the Jewish population. He believed that most people in the world were unaware of the enormity of the Nazi machinations towards their ideal goal of Jewish genocide.

Daniel told about the day his father left, August 15, 1942, a day Daniel remembered very well. He and his mother and sister accompanied his father to depart by train. He continued saying he was struck by not only the enormity of the Antwerp station, but also by the number of families also well-wishing disembarking loved ones. This emotional moment clearly affected Mr. Goldsmith and he recounted his father’s words to him: “You are the little man of the house now; you’ll have to help to take care of your mother and your sister until I come back.” He believed that was the day he was forced to grow up, and he took helping his sister and mother seriously. He seemed to be somewhat aware as a young boy that his dad was taking a risk in order to increase his family’s chance at survival.

After his father’s relocation, the family received one postcard from him, it was stamped from Boulogne-sur-Mer in France; they would never hear from him again. Daniel later learned that his father had been put to work in Northern France building the Atlantic Wall, a massive system of coastal defenses.

Life for their family was not easy and Daniel’s mother became the sole caregiver. She resorted to selling valuables including her husband’s tools to survive as conditions in both Belgium and in Europe worsened. She also gave some of her silverware to close non-Jewish friends to hold onto until after the war. Nazi persecutions of Jews in Antwerp also worsened, including raids of Jewish homes and arrests, including children; however, the family was able to remain hidden during these raids. Daniel described the Nazi raids whose goal was finding hidden Jewish people and seizing them and their property. After blockading the street, the troops would proceed on his neighborhood often starting in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep.

Mr. Goldsmith recounted a specific night when he hid with his mom and sister on the roof of their building to avoid capture. He remembered that their house’s central location on their street provided them a chance to react before the Nazi arrived as the raid started at both blockaded ends of their neighborhood. Daniel recalled his mother awaking to terrible commotion and realizing what was happening to their neighbors; the screams of terror helped save Daniel and his family. This warning provided her time to gather blankets and bring Daniel and his sister on to the top of their flat-roofed building where the three of them hid.

Daniel remembers his curiosity causing him to peak out into the street where he saw Jews terrorized and dragged out of their houses in their nightgowns and pajamas. Daniel’s mother quickly pulled him away from the edge of the building and pushed him back under the blankets. He recalled shivering in the dark not knowing what was going to happen to them; eventually they heard the door of their house smashed in and the Nazi troops both searching for him and his family as well as ransacking the house. Daniel believed they stayed up on their roof for about two hours, and he remembered being quite fearful that they would be discovered and arrested. One Nazi soldier climbed to the roof and used his flashlight to briefly search the roof; however, their hiding space kept them safe. More loud banging followed shortly afterwards, which they would later discover was the Nazis boarding up their door and windows. Eventually, when Mrs. Goldsmith felt sure the soldiers had left, she brought her children back inside.

Daniel remembered his mother, who he described as a proud, meticulous housekeeper, becoming very emotional at the sight of their destroyed house. He recalled his mother sitting and weeping on her bed. Daniel also stated that he felt their escape from the Nazi raid that night was a little miracle, especially that his little sister Lillian, a baby at the time, remained completely quiet.

Daniel’s mom, constantly seeking ways to protect her children, contacted a Belgian resistance group in her area. She sought out a non-Jewish friend who worked both as a policeman and with the Belgian Underground. The Underground was a collection of resistance groups, often with disparate political views, which sought the overthrow of the Nazi regime in Belgium. The group helped her place her son and daughter in a Catholic convent, where they had a better chance of hiding from the Nazi subjugation. Daniel remembers being smuggled out the back of their house shortly after the raid, and being brought to the convent. Although this move provided more safety for the children, it is doubtful that Mrs. Goldsmith made this decision lightly.

Only Mother Superior knew the true identity of the children; neither the other sisters or orphans new their Jewish identity. Mrs. Goldsmith returned to Antwerp and began working with the group to subvert Nazi authority; Daniel only learned later of his mother’s involvement in the Underground as a courier.

The children remained at the convent until Christmas 1942. Daniel remembered his mother showing up suddenly to take the children, something that upset him at the time because he was excited to have a part in the convent’s Christmas pageant. Daniel’s mother had received information from the underground that the convent would soon be raided by the Nazis; she simultaneously rescued her own children while warning the benevolent nuns of the imminent danger.

The Nazis persecuted those who aided and hid Jews nearly as strictly as the Jews themselves and being clergy members would not have protected them. Although, he never knew how many other Jewish children were potentially hidden by the convent, he expressed pride in his mother for helping protect others.

Mrs. Goldsmith used her connections with the resistance to find another hiding place for her children; however, this time she made another tough decision to separate Daniel and Lillian. Young Lillian was placed with a Catholic family who had three other small children. The young girl assumed the role of an extended-family member who had been displaced by the war. Daniel was placed in the Flemish section of Belgium in a Catholic orphanage for boys and given a false identity and baptismal papers; the priest who ran the orphanage gave Daniel the name ‘Willy Peters’. If questioned, Daniel would appear to be Catholic. He attended parochial school, Catholic mass, and he also learned how to help on the surrounding rural farms.

Daniel remembers his stay there fondly as he did not have to struggle for food; he did explain having to eschew his kosher traditions however. Initially he worried about eating pork, but he explained that Jewish traditions allowed for flexibility with these traditions in extreme situations; he could not eat kosher if it meant saving his life.

For close to two years, he and other refuges would live relatively peacefully, while protected by the orphanage. The Nazi threat continued to exist, as the regime continued to seek out and persecute Jews in European countries under their control. The priest who had taken responsibility for Daniel and who was the only person who knew his secret, believed it was too dangerous for Daniel to remain in one place for too long. Daniel was moved to another orphanage, now in the French section of the country. Life remained much the same and Daniel became an altar boy to blend in.

However, in May of 1944, Daniel was arrested when the orphanage was raided. The Nazis determined that he and other boys were not Catholic by forcing them to undress; at that point very few non-Jews practiced circumcision. At the time, Daniel was surprised to learn that five of the other boys at the orphanage were hidden Jews as well; although their names and papers had been faked, the boys’ bodies could not be. Daniel was imprisoned and interrogated about the locations of other possibly hidden Jewish children. In the prison facilities, Daniel remembered that food was scarce and that he was often hungry; he also worried about being beaten by his interrogators. He and the other misplaced Jewish children were then routed to various prison facilities.

At the last location, Daniel remembered he and other children being rounded up in the middle of the night and put on a freight train. Daniel described the cramped and frightening experience of the train car, not designed to carry human passengers. One older boy, named Joseph, who was only sixteen at the time, became the group’s leader. Joseph, likely sensing the severity of the situation they were in, encouraged the boys to have hope and to look for a way to escape. Joseph had been able to smuggle a piece of scrap steel in his boots under his long pants. Originally intended as a weapon of self- defense, Joseph used the steel to pry apart the slats of wood on the side of the train. Joseph made a hole small enough for himself and then waited for the train to slow. Inevitably, the train slowed to take a sharp turn and Joseph pushed the smaller boys out of the train. Through the young man’s ingenuity, he and the younger boys managed to escape. After the train had passed, the boys regrouped, having been dispersed by the train’s movement. Daniel believed the group was very lucky, as none of the children had sustained serious injuries jumping from the train.

The group then hid in the surrounding forest, however they worried about where in the country they had ended up. Joseph separated from the group to try to ascertain their location. Upon returning, he told the other children that they were near the Belgian town of Perwez. Daniel believed they were lucky again to have remained in the French section of Belgium where they were somewhat familiar with the terrain. However, the group lacked food, water, medical treatment, and a leader who was running out of ideas. Joseph decided to return to the town of Perwez and tell the Catholic priest at the rectory there about their group; Daniel described the action as both dangerous and very courageous. There was no guarantee that the priest or townspeople would be sympathetic to the Jewish children. In fact, Daniel expressed the very real possibility that the priest could inform the SS about the Jewish refugees.

Fortunately, the priest was willing to help the boys and placed each of them with local Catholic families; Daniel recalled that the priest went to such lengths to protect the children, that he led each family to believe they were the only house which would be hiding a Jewish boy. Daniel believed about twenty different families took in and protected a Jewish boy in Perwez.

Daniel was placed with a family by the name of Beautier. He described them as wonderful and he believed this family’s kindness and self-sacrifice was a huge element in his survival. He described them as very religious and recalled that they had two daughters. Daniel lived in the family’s attic. The family asked him to stay as quiet as he could as the village was a small one where everyone knew each other and each other’s business. Who was receptive to aiding Jewish refugees and who was collaborating with the Nazis was basically impossible to know; Daniel believed this was common through much of Europe at the time. Daniel was allowed out at night as the back yard was surround by a tall wall so he could get some fresh air and exercise.

The family eventually gave Daniel a rabbit so he would have company and something to keep him occupied. He also recalled the daughters bringing him schoolwork and books to stay busy. Daniel lived safely yet precariously with this pious Catholic family until the fall of 1944, when most of Belgium was liberated by allied forces. Daniel remembered feeling elated when this happened.

Daniel remembered being liberated by American forces; he also explained that Perwez had been freed even though, to the east, one of the largest ground battles took place in the winter of that year: the Battle of the Bulge. Even upon liberation, the Beautier family continued to help Daniel: they made efforts to find his mother. Daniel recalls that they turned to the Red Cross, one of the major organizations which helped the refugees and displaced people after the end of the European theater of the war.

Mr. Goldsmith mentioned that his mother was never able to discuss the Holocaust. The emotional experience she had lived through had made it very difficult for her to relive and retell what had happened. He remembered asking her questions after they were reunited and she would have a very difficult time responding. He learned years after his ordeal that his mother had kept track of him and had learned of his capture. She continued to use her resources to locate her son; she reached out to another Catholic priest, Father Andre, who was also a member of the Belgian underground and who had decent relations with the local Nazis. Daniel noted that Father Andre was later honored by being named Righteous Among the Nations, a title bestowed on gentiles who had risked their own lives to aid Jews. Mrs. Goldsmith got caught in an allied air raid on the day she went to visit Father Andre to ask him for help in locating Daniel; she survived but unfortunately, she was gravely injured, losing her left leg.

Through the efforts of his foster family, the Red Cross located Mrs. Goldsmith and Daniel was reunited with her at a hospital. Daniel remembered not initially recognizing his own mother; Mrs. Goldsmith had aged considerably and had lost a lot of weight from lack of nutrition. Because Mrs. Goldsmith had to remain in the hospital, Daniel would be placed in a displaced children’s home while his mother recuperated. He recalled that while much of the home was filled with Jewish refugees, it also housed American staff of the Red Ball Express, an extensive truck convoy system whose task was resupplying the allied troops.

After the American troops left the home, more Jewish children arrived to be housed there; Daniel recalled that these children were from all over Europe including France, Poland, the Netherlands, and Germany. These children had been, for the most part, freed from the Nazi concentration camps; Daniel remembered hearing the horrific stories of these camps from these orphaned children. During this period, Daniel later learned that freed prisoners returned and told his mother the awful truth about her husband, Daniel’s father: that he would not be returning. Daniel later learned that his father had perished at Auschwitz.

In discussing this, Daniel became choked up and had a difficult time continuing to talk about his father; he had had hope that his father may have survived before this time. Once Mrs. Goldsmith had recuperated from her injuries, she sought out Daniel and Lillian to try to resume a more normal life. As if adjusting to the loss of her husband was not hard enough, the family which had taken in her daughter had become very attached to her and initially did not want to give her back. Daniel’s uncle used his authority as an American soldier to extricate his five year-old niece; unfortunately this caused her foster family to cut off relations with the Goldsmiths.

Daniel considered himself religious and thought that his escape from the worst of the Nazi terror was in some part aided by his faith in God. He also stated that the hope of being reunited with his family helped him to survive; this made the loss of his father even harder on him. He also stated that this was a goal for his mother as well, who probably took the loss of her husband even harder. His rescuers as well as those who took care of his sister Lillian were important and good people according to Daniel. He remembered the rehabilitation process he went through during his stay at the displaced children’s homes and referred fondly to the doctors and other staff members that helped him and others become children again. Extended family became incredibly important, when they sponsored the two children and their mother, allowing them to emigrate to New York City. Daniel remembered being excited to come to America even though he spoke no English. The promised security of his extended family encouraged him to look forward to a more stable future in America.

Daniel expressed great pride in being American, yet he did return to Belgium to retrace his steps and to validate his memories about his experiences; he found the places he experienced surviving in Belgium. He expressed gratitude for those who risked their own safety to help him and his sister and mother. He was thankful for the help of Joseph, the older boy who helped him and others escape the freight train which was very likely headed to Auschwitz. He made a point to say that Catholics in Belgium were compassionate and willing to help their Jewish compatriots. He also gave Pope Pius credit for taking direct action and diplomacy to save Jewish lives, including the hiding of Jews in the Vatican. He also credited the king and queen of Belgium for their attempts at rescuing Jewish citizens from their kingdom.

Daniel built a new life in America; he recalled being excited to become an American and he immersed himself in American culture. At twenty-eight, he was married in a mostly Jewish area in Brooklyn; he became close friends with many of his neighbors. Later he bought his first house on Long Island and had children. He has felt very lucky that he has been able to move forward and not live in the past; he said he does not have nightmares or dwell on the difficult experiences in his past. Initially he had a difficult time talking about his past, telling his wife and children only minimal details. He believed focusing on the future was important and believed he lived the American Dream.

After he retired, the interfaith council he attended at his synagogue asked him to be their representative. During one meeting, a Christian reverend, who knew Daniel was a Holocaust survivor, asked him to tell his story. This led to an article being printed in the local newspaper and subsequently Daniel began receiving invitations to speak at schools, community organizations, and elsewhere. As a result, he has told his story extensively to educate others about his experiences during the Holocaust. He has found answering student questions to be extremely important, and for the most part he has found students very interested in his story, although he admitted some were lacking in understanding of the history of World War II. He has encouraged them to be curious about the past and ask questions to further their understanding. “Do not hate,” was a potent message Daniel hoped to impart upon his listeners. He has considered himself fortunate not to personally encounter any antisemitic sentiments while living in America, although he believed American antisemitism has resurged. He also has consistently told his listeners to not ignore antisemitism or bigotry, but to confront it and to speak out against it.

References:

Bergen, Doris. War and Genocide: 2nd ed. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.

“Danny Goldsmith.” >http://www.hamec.org/node/743>. June 11, 2019.

Donahue, Arwen, Elizabeth Hedlund & Amy Rubin. “Oral History Interview Guidelines.” <https://www.ushmm.org/m/pdfs/20121003-oral-history-interview-guide.pdf>. June 11, 2019.


Alexander B. Stohler received his Master of Arts degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies with distinction from Kean University in 2020. His thesis was an in-depth piece on American Hategroups.  His thesis advisor was Dr. Dennis B. Klein. Alexander and his wife and her son Ander reside in Annapolis, Maryland. Alexander my be contacted at astohler@kean.edu

Wherever you are, our Survivors and Liberators are ready to address your school, congregation or civic group.

The proposed Holocaust Museum of Montana. http://www.holocaustmuseummt.org/

Fifteen States now mandate Holocaust Education–and that list is growing.  HAMEC can provide virtual programs for your school, congregation and civic group. Wherever you are – be it the United States, Canada, India, Australia, or Nigeria –  we can to serve you world-wide.

Through Google Meet, Skype and Zoom, we can bring the latest in Holocaust education to you.  Request a program today.

Hate never takes a vacation and neither do we.

Ronnie Breslow shares her family story with Or Hadash students

On November 8, Holocaust survivor Ronnie Breslow, who with her family witnessed the terrible events of Kristallnacht, shared her family’s story of escaping from the Holocaust and eventually finding their way to the United States.

The event, livestreamed by Or Hadash, a Reconstructionist Congregation, in Fort Washington, PA, drew more than 200 discrete views from throughout the United States and was presented through the Witness to History Project of the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center (hamec.org). The program can be viewed on Or Hadash’s YouTube channel.

Ronnie Breslow


In addition to Ms. Breslow’s moving account, Or Hadash SMILE religious school students presented a Kristallnacht ritual they had created, and a student read a prayer for our country written by teens in the religious school. Or Hadash member Dr. Dan Schwarz shared reflections on Kristallnacht written by his grandfather, Dr. Karl Schwarz, the first director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.


Through narration and numerous vivid historical images and photographs, Ms. Breslow told of her experience during the Holocaust. She lived with her parents in Kircheim, Germany, where her parents operated a dry goods store. In 1933, the Nazis passed laws that prevented Jews from attending school with non-Jews and prevented non-Jews from buying goods from Jewish stores. Nazi subjugation increased, culminating in the events of Kristallnacht. Ms. Breslow’s family knew they must leave Germany.


In May 1939, Ms. Breslow and her mother boarded a ship bound for Cuba to join her father, who had traveled there earlier that year. Unfortunately, the ship was the St. Louis, which Cuba refused to allow to dock. After many weeks adrift at sea, the two ended up in a detention camp in Holland and eventually won passage to the United States, where they rejoined Ms. Breslow’s father.


Ms. Breslow offered a somber warning in light of today’s geopolitical unrest: “I caution each and every one of you that we’d better remain exceedingly vigilant so that this precious gift called freedom remains with us always. Freedom is not free … If we forget the lessons of the past, we are surely to allow history to repeat itself, if not with the Jews, with the Irish, the Italians, the Africans, the Americans. Let us not forget.”


Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, was a wave of pogroms against Jews carried out by Nazi paramilitary forces and civilians throughout Nazi Germany November 9-10, 1938. As the atrocities were carried out, German authorities looked on without intervening. During the pogroms, some 30,00 Jewish males were rounded up and taken to concentration camps, some 267 synagogues were destroyed, and more than 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed.

A German man’s Nazi grandfather took over a Jewish man’s store. He tracked down his descendants to apologize

Benjamin Heidelberger was forced to sell his store in Bad Mergentheim, southern GermanyBenjamin Heidelberger was forced to sell his store in Bad Mergentheim, southern Germany

By LIANNE KOLIRIN, CNN, November 14, 2020. Click for full report.

(CNN) Thomas Edelmann was born in Germany more than 25 years after the Allies defeated Hitler. Yet last year, following an unexpected marketing call, the 49-year-old businessman contacted a retired teacher in Israel to apologize for the actions of the grandfather he never met.Growing up, Edelmann had heard rumors about the family business and suspected it had previously been owned by Jews who were forced to sell to his paternal grandfather, Wilhelm. Wilhelm Edelmann, who bought the store from Benjamin Heidelberger in 1938.Wilhelm Edelmann, who bought the store from Benjamin Heidelberger in 1938.

In recent years, the father of two had begun to dabble in genealogy. He came across Nazi tax records confirming that the Jewish owner — Benjamin Heidelberger — was forced to sell the hardware store in Bad Mergentheim, southern Germany, in 1938 following the introduction of the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws. These laws restricted Jews from the German economy by making it legal to confiscate their property.

“In the fall of 1937, we sold him our house for 10,000 Reichsmark, though my asking price had been 15,000. In July 1938, we sold our shop and warehouse for the bargain price of 28,500 Reichsmark, the same sum for which I had bought it 30 years earlier,” Heidelberger continued. “Under different circumstances, I could have sold it for 40,000. But back then many Jewish businesses in Bad Mergentheim were sold under value,” he explained.”One day, Edelmann came to me and said I should leave Germany as quickly as possible,” he wrote. “There were plans in place to act against Jews and he felt obliged to warn me, his good acquaintance.”Ehrenreich, who visited the shop on a family trip to Bad Mergentheim in the 1980s, told CNN: “I knew Edelmann was indeed the person who bought the shop. I understood that he was a good man, although he was a member of the Nazi party.”Edelmann said he was deeply moved by the call and the pair have stayed in touch; he hopes to visit Israel in the future.

“It was such an emotional moment when I heard Hanna on the phone and when she told me about her grandfather,” he said. “Although her family was treated so badly she was very friendly and didn’t hold me responsible for anything.”But while pleased to hear Ehrenreich’s version of events, Edelmann says he still has doubtsabout his grandfather.”I know my grandfather was a very good businessman. When he was a student during the 1920s he was already a member of the Nazi party, which was before Hitler came to power. “So I don’t believe he was such a good man, I’m not 100% convinced. I doubt he didn’t take advantage of the situation.”Edelmann feels that coming to terms with the past is an important lesson for his children, in particular his 15-year-old son, Finn, who started learning about Germany’s Nazi past in high school last year. Thomas Edelmann and his son Finn, who is now 15Thomas Edelmann and his son Finn, who is now 15

“I want him to understand what history is, and what history means. Although he doesn’t have anything to do with this story, it’s our ancestor who has impacted the lives of a whole family who had a life in this country,” he said. “I want him to learn and understand that whatever decisions he makes has an impact on someone else’s life.”Roi Mandel, head of research at MyHeritage, told CNN the company’s support team is trained to look out for unique cases that may require extra support with research. “Although we only had the name ‘Benjamin Heidelberger’ to work with, the weight of history lay heavily on our shoulders,” he said. “We are delighted to have been involved in such an important reconciliation.”

Wherever you are, our Survivors and Liberators are ready to address your school, congregation or civic group.

Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial on grounds of Ohio Statehouse

Fifteen States now mandate Holocaust Education–and that list is growing.  HAMEC can provide virtual programs for your school, congregation and civic group. Wherever you are – be it the United States, Canada, India, Australia, or Nigeria –  we can to serve you world-wide.

Through Google Meet, Skype and Zoom, we can bring the latest in Holocaust education to you.  Request a program today.

Hate never takes a vacation and neither do we.

How the Nazis stole a cookbook

Das Buch Alice von Karin Urbach (Propyläen Verlag)

Recipes for Kaiserschmarrn,  a kind of sweet scrambled pancake, apple strudel and special donuts for the Carnival season are just some of the dishes in Alice Urbach’s more than 500-page cookbook, So kocht man in Wien! (This Is How We Cook in Vienna!). In the 1930s, almost every Viennese household owned a copy of the book, and Alice Urbach found herself the author of a bestseller. The fame did not last long, however.

Alice Urbach’s cookbook was a bestseller in the 1930s in German-speaking countries. A Jew, she fled her home under the Nazis, who republished the book under a different name without giving her credit.

From DW. Click for full report.

Alice Urbach and her son Otto, in 1948/1949

Born in Vienna in 1886 to Jewish parents, Alice Urbach had blue eyes and fair hair. The parents had big plans for their children, hoping for them to become doctors or lawyers in Vienna’s upper classes.

Alice, however, had a love for cooking that she discovered at an early age. She unsuccessfully tried to win over her strict father with petit four pastries.

She married a doctor, but he was more interested in gambling than in her. He died eight years after their wedding, leaving Alice behind with two young children, completely destitute.

The widow rolled up her sleeves, founded a cooking school, gave lectures on modern Viennese cuisine, with titles like “Quick Recipes for the Working Woman,” organized culinary art exhibitions and invented the first delivery service for hot food in Vienna. She made a living for her family, and pursued her passion for cooking.

Alice Urbach (left) and Paula Sieber took care of orphans in England

Alice was a small, sweet, chubby woman with a ‘dumpling figure,'” her granddaughter Karina Urbach told DW. The historian just published The Book Alice: How the Nazis Stole My Grandmother’s Cookbook. She remembers her grandmother as amusing and funny, loving and generous and always well dressed. Unlike her grandmother, Karina Urbach said she is not much of a cook. “That’s why I was never interested in the fact that two cookbooks titled This Is How We Cook in Vienna! were on our shelves at home,” she said.

The text and also the color photographs are identical in the books, only the names of the authors on the covers were different: “On the 1938 edition, Alice Urbach was named as the author, while on the 1939 edition it was a man named Rudolf Rösch,” Karina Urbach reveals in the first pages of her book. What she discovered in the course of her research is a surprise.

The Jewish orphans in England under Alice’s care

On March 12, 1938, the German Army marched into Austria, and three days later, the country was annexed to the German Reich. Endangered as a Jew, Alice Urbach escaped, and took her cookbook with her. She first settled in England, where she worked as a cook and maintained a shelter for Jewish orphans in Britain with the Refugee Children’s Movement.

After the war, Alice joined her sons in the US. She was 60 years old at the time. Retirement did not suit her, and she went on to become a celebrity overseas, still cooking on TV shows at the age of 90. She was considered the oldest cook in America, spoiling the rapt audiences with her Austrian recipes and her charming accent.

But Alice, who died in 1983, never got back the rights to her cookbook. Once when visiting a bookstore, she happened to see her book published under a different name. The Nazis had “Aryanized” it and published it in 1938 as a work by Rudolf Rösch.

While researching about her grandmother’s story, Karina Urbach also looked into how the Nazis Aryanized other books

“To this day, we have no term to describe what happened to Alice and other Jewish non-fiction authors,” said Karina Urbach. “In academia, book Aryanization  refers to books that came from Jewish libraries, were stolen and are now being restituted. There has been no research about the fact that intellectual property was stolen, too.” Her research showed that her grandmother was not the only victim.

Only few other cases have come to light so far, including Ludwig Reiners, who copied off Jewish writer Eduard Engel for his bestseller Stilkunst (Art of Style).

It is however a fact that non-fiction publishers used the method more than once, said Karina Urbach. In Alice’s case, the preface was rewritten and some chapters were paraphrased, but most of the text remained untouched. The photos that show her hands at work in the kitchen were kept in the reprinted version, too. “It shows this madness of the racial theory,” Karina Urbach said, adding that the Nazis propagated Jewish books as inferior, “but the publisher went ahead and printed her Jewish hands.”

Cover of ‘The Book Alice: How the Nazis Stole My Grandmother’s Cookbook’

The Aryanization of books is a chapter of German history that has not yet been looked into. Aryanization files were long held back by the archives. Publishers are also reluctant to look at their past.

Now the publisher original Alice Urbach cookbook, the Ernst Reinhardt Verlag, has at least offered to sell it as an e-book, said Karina Urbach. She also said that 85 years after the book came out, the publisher will rehabilitate her grandmother’s copyright — a great success for Karina Urbach and perhaps the beginning of a closer look at this unknown chapter of German history.

This article has been adapted by Dagmar Breitenbach.

From Kristallnacht/Pogromnacht to Liberation

An Evening with Ernie Gross and Don Greenbaum
Ernie Gross and Don Greenbaum

Please join HAMEC speakers Ernie Gross and Don Greenbaum, in a partnership with Main Line Reform Temple and Jewish War Veterans Post 697, as they provide testimony about their experiences of survival and liberation during the Holocaust. Seventy-Five years after the liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp, it is more important than ever to remember and learn to combat the hate that led to the Holocaust, and to commemorate the liberation of the camps as we also honor the veterans who bore witness.

The event will be held on Tuesday, November 10th from 7:00-8:00 p.m. via Zoom.

You can register for the event by clicking here.

Wherever you are, our Survivors and Liberators are ready to address your school, congregation or civic group.

Kristallnacht memorial, Leipzig, Germany. Click for article from DW.

Fifteen States now mandate Holocaust Education–and that list is growing.  HAMEC can provide virtual programs for your school, congregation and civic group. Wherever you are – be it the United States, Canada, India, Australia, or Nigeria –  we can to serve you world-wide.

Through Google Meet, Skype and Zoom, we can bring the latest in Holocaust education to you.  Request a program today.

Hate never takes a vacation and neither do we.

Children of Kristallnacht Survivors share their parents’ still-chilling stories

By SOPHIE PANZER, Jewish Exponent, November 5, 2020. Click for full report. – November 5, 2020 0 Share

Sam Goldberg (top left) discusses Kristallnacht with Steven Baruch (top right) and Betsy Maier Reilly. Courtesy of the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center

Steven Baruch’s father was arrested by the Gestapo on Nov. 10, 1938, but that’s not what upset him the most about the Nazis’ rise to power.

“At the time, my father was more hurt probably by the fact that people he had known his whole life no longer talked to him. Really, that’s what hurt him the most,” Baruch said during a Facebook Live panel commemorating the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht.

The Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation partnered with the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center in Milwaukee and the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights in Boise, Idaho. to create “The Spiral of Injustice – Kristallnacht, ‘The Night of Broken Glass.’”

The week of programming featured film screenings, webinars and panel discussions about the German pogrom that destroyed hundreds of Jewish businesses and synagogues, culminated in a mass roundup of Jews and is widely considered to be a turning point that marked Germany’s transition from anti-Semitic rhetoric and policy to acts of violence and destruction.

For the Oct. 28 event “Were There Signs?” Sam Goldberg, director of education at HERC, moderated a discussion with Baruch and Betsy Maier Reilly, another second-generation survivor, about what their parents experienced that fateful night.

A passport stamped with a “J” to denote a Jewish owner. Courtesy of the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center

Both speakers emphasized how normal their parents’ lives were before the Nazis came to power. Baruch’s father was from a small town in Germany, where his family owned a dry goods store.

“My father was a very assimilated German, in many ways. He really felt he was a German at heart, and knew he was Jewish, and didn’t deny that. But his life, basically, was a normal German Jewish person’s life,” he said.

Maier Reilly displayed pictures of her parents spending time with friends at parties, playing soccer and relaxing on vacation, images that, with a little color, wouldn’t look out of place on an average Facebook timeline today.

Even so, their parents acknowledged the signs were there. Throughout the 1930s, fascist brownshirts attacked Jews and political dissidents in the streets. Laws prohibited Jews from education and professions. Signs calling for boycotts of Jewish businesses proliferated. Baruch’s father’s friends and neighbors stopped going to his family store, and the Gestapo took notes on people coming and going.

Maier Reilly’s parents were married in 1933, the year Hitler became chancellor. Her mother saw him in person twice during stays at hotels. The first time, nobody paid him attention. The second time, a crowd saluted him.

“He was sitting there in full uniform, surrounded by all his men, also in full uniform. I looked at him and he looked at me with big piercing eyes. I got scared, especially being there as a Jew, and not raising my arm to salute him,” Maier Reilly read from her mother’s diary.

On Kristallnacht, the Gestapo came to her parents’ apartment and searched it for illegal materials. Finding none, they took her father to their headquarters and sent him to Dachau. When he did not return, her mother joined a group of other Jewish women searching for their husbands, but the police would not tell them where they had been sent.

Her father spent two months in Dachau, and her mother was eventually able to get him out with help from a sponsor, a Jewish doctor who left the country in 1933 when he was no longer allowed to practice medicine. The couple escaped to Cuba while they waited for the visa that would allow them to move to the United States.

Baruch said his father was arrested along with men from his neighbor’s family. He was imprisoned in Dachau for two months before his family bribed him out. He escaped to England before immigrating to Chicago.

Baruch marveled at the foresight of German Jews who managed to read the signs even though they had lived as proud, assimilated Germans their entire lives.

“Who would have thought? The Jews had been in Germany for centuries and were embedded and never had an inkling that this was going to happen to the scale that it eventually did. And yet, so many of them somehow read those signs and decided to leave the country. And it’s brilliant,” he said.

He said some second-generation survivors in the United States are taking a page out of their parents’ books as they observe increasing political instability and division in their home country.

Some are even looking to the country their parents fled for a potential exit route.

“My cousin is applying for German citizenship,” Maier Reilly said. “We are eligible as second generations to become German citizens, and she’s actually applying, just in case. So that’s a whole turnaround.”

Although she and Baruch are eligible and acknowledged the appeal of a second passport, neither of them have decided to apply.

Baruch hopes that his family’s story serves as a warning against complacency in the face of discrimination.

“The key is that, unless everyone is really taken care of in an equitable, fair way, we’re all vulnerable,” he said.