Roots trip to Germany – Days 4 and 5, Frankfurt and Fuerth

Days 4 and 5 of our trip to Germany had very full itineraries, were very intense, and very emotional. We felt quite wrung out at the end of each day.

On Wednesday we travelled to Frankfurt, visiting the Jewish Museum, the site of the Hirsch Realschule where my father in law and his siblings studied, and passed by the place where my grandfather and my father-in-law once lived. In both places, neither the houses nor the streets themselves exist any more. We concluded with a visit to the Old and New Jewish cemeteries.  The walls of the Old Cemetery are embedded with tiny stones with the name, birth date, and date and place of death if known, of every single Jew from Frankfurt who was killed in the war. It was the first time that I shed any tears in Germany and am still processing all that I saw and felt.  They say that 6 million is a statistic but one person is a tragedy. Seeing those stones, and finding the names of my mother’s three brothers, was a personal emotional jolt, yet seeing the hundreds of yards of stones along the walls of the cemetery emphasised the sheer numbers, the statistics, the magnitude of the Holocaust.

David Strauss, eldest of my mother’s brothers killed in the Shoah

Elchanan (Herbert) Strauss, the 2nd of my mother’s brothers killed in the Shoah

Uri Michael Strauss, third of my mother’s brothers killed in the Shoah

Wall of memorial stones around the Old Cemetery of Frankfurt, with the names of all the Frankfurt Jewish citizens killed in the Shoah. The names continue around 3 walls of the cemetery, 30,000 in all

Yesterday, Thursday, we travelled to Fuerth, our father’s home town where we had a fascinating tour of the Jewish Museum and viewed the ancient Mikve (ritual bath) which still existed and was filled with water rising from an underground well, which was situated underneath the museum, which had itself once been a private house.

We saw the house where my father lived, the school where my paternal grandfather taught, which I was pleased to note still served as a Jewish community center, and the house where my father’s grandparents lived.

We also saw the town square where my father’s family was marched to on Kristallnacht, and then the library, which is now a theater, where my grandfather and the other men were taken to after the initial “assembly”, to be beaten by the Nazis. Again, it was shocking to actually see the places, and to absorb how innocuous these sites seem to be today.

We continued to the Old and New cemeteries to find graves of long deceased relatives, and then finished with a visit to the Schulhof, the square where 4 synagogues once stood together. They were all burnt down on Kristallnacht, and all that is left now is a monument, and a modern housing estate around the square.

My father recalls asking his mother “why is the sky red?” as they returned from their forced march to the square on Kristallnacht, and his mother saying “Quiet! Don’t say a word!”. I’m trying to imagine his trauma as a 9 year old child, and cannot fathom it.

We continued our journey to the little village of Schopfloch, an altogether happier affair, where we saw the place where our paternal grandmother grew up. We had imagined a little dumpty town but it is in fact quite a pretty little village.

I apologize for the lack of more photos for the moment.

We are now sitting at the gate in Frankfurt Airport, waiting to board  our plane home to Israel. Since we are due to land at around 4 p.m. and don’t expect to be home much before 6 p.m., and Shabbat begins around 7, this post is going to be cut short here.

I will update with further posts including more pictures, and maybe even guest posts from my brother and Otto Haag, in the coming days.

Wishing ourselves a safe journey home and wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!

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12 Responses to Roots trip to Germany – Days 4 and 5, Frankfurt and Fuerth

  1. cba says:

    I wish you Shabbat Shalom and look forward to further updates.

  2. Elchanan Eric Sussman. says:

    David/Rina Ann/Henry as they say
    כל הכבוד

  3. Zyriacus says:

    Shabat shalom, Anne also from a German who followed the account of your voyage with much interest. Thank you for letting me take part.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you Zyriacus. I’m pleased that you enjoyed my accounts of our travels around your country and our “visit to the past”. It’s been a fascinating, eye-opening visit, where we saw and learned about the terrible evil done to our families and our nation, and also about the Germans’ attempts to atone for these deeds. It turned out to be a cathartic experience, and educational for both sides.

      I hope you keep visiting my blog to learn more about Israel and the current issues that face us.

      • Zyriacus says:

        I definitely will, Anne. I have been to Israel in the 1970ies many times as I was a radio officer on a ship bringing general cargo to Haifa and taking back citrus to Germany. And I did extensive trips trough the country while I had the chance. I still reminisce about that time.

  4. Reality says:

    What an emotional week you’ve had.Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings as well as your pictures.
    Welcome back to Israel,the home of the Jewish people.
    Rest up on Shabbat,let the peacefulness of Shabbat sooth you.
    Shabbat Shalom

  5. Pete says:

    ANNE …

    Very emotional moments. THANK YOU for sharing!

    Do you mind a small question. Why do people place stones on top of the plaques in the wall. Is this a sign that a visitor has been there? Why not flowers … are the stones more permanent, or perhaps there is no room for flowers (the plaques are small)? I am just wondering about the significance.

    Prayers!

    Pete, USA

    • cba says:

      Great question, Pete!

      In Jewish tradition, we put a stone on the grave when we visit (see the final scene of Schindler’s List), not flowers.

    • anneinpt says:

      Hi Pete, cba is correct. Whenever we visit a cemetery or a memorial site we place a stone there as a sign to say “we visited you”. Placing flowers on graves is not really accepted Jewish custom although in Israel non-religious Israelis have adopted the custom of placing a wreath or flowers on a grave.

  6. I haven’t commented before this due to not wanting to intrude as an outsider. But I just wanted to tell you I have enjoyed the privilege of getting to read about this sacred journey and am greatly moved.

    • anneinpt says:

      Hello “family rules”, may I call you “Plain Jane”? Thank you for visiting and liking my posts. You are always welcome, along with all readers. No one is considered an outsider here and I enjoying hearing all views and will entertain and answer all questions when they are genuine attempts to learn about us.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my posts and hope you will continue visiting here even after I resume “normal programming”, writing about Israel and the Middle East.

  7. Thank you for the welcome! Yes–Jane or Plain Jane is perfect. I do plan to continue to read and learn. 😊

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