Yoram Igael also wanted to visit the home of his mother’s parents at Falkensteiner Straße 1. Here too, contacting the current residents in advance proved to be important and helpful. On June 2, Yoram and Malka Igael were able to visit the house, which Yoram had already visited several times as a child with his parents. His grandmother returned here after World War II. A few years before her death, the house was sold to a Zionist organization. Today, it houses a Zionist youth group. During this visit, Yoram and Malka Igael had occasion to speak to young people and were even invited to a small festival. This meeting was also very special for the couple!
Only as an adult did Yoram Igael learn about his family’s fate.
Together with Micha Ramati, son of Gretel Baum, a former student at Viktoriaschule, Yoram Igael visited the school, now called Bettinaschule, and spoke to pupils.
At the school, Mr. Antácido received us and took us to a memorial in the schoolyard. This large monument commemorates Jewish pupils of the former Viktoriaschule. We were also introduced to Ursula Wirwas, responsible for the memorial and contacts with former pupils, and to the principal of Bettinaschule, Judith Ullrich-Bormann.
20 pupils of the 11th grade eagerly awaited us. After Mr. Antácido had introduced the visitors, Yoram Igael started with a presentation about his family with pictures in great detail. Then the pupils had the opportunity to ask questions.
Yoram Igael reported how it was to grow up in Israel as the son of a European mother who had difficulties adjusting to Israeli society. For years, he participated in the commemoration ceremony on Yom HaShoa as a teenager, unaware of any personal connection with the Holocaust. Yoram grew up without his paternal grandfather, but often visited his maternal grandmother in Frankfurt with his parents. His father, different to his mother, had been born and raised in Palestine and had a large family. Aviva Igael did not talk about her past, because she wanted her son to grow up as normal as possible. But Yoram Igael did note something lurking. Only much later did he learn about the fate his mother, his grandfather and other relatives in Germany had suffered. His wife Malka emphasized that growing up in Israel had not been easy. The parents wanted to protect their children and therefore told them nothing about their own traumatic experiences. This created a “lack of openness”, an emptiness, a distance that could be felt but not grasped. Malka Igael told the pupils how difficult the relationship between survivors and their children can be. She felt responsible for helping her father arrive in Israeli society.
The pupils and their teacher asked some questions about the relationship of Yoram Igael and his mother Aviva to Germany. One girl asked whether Aviva Igael felt more German, Israeli or French. Yoram Igael’s answer is clear. She feels Israeli, because it was her conscious choice, but her roots remain in Europe. Although his mother Aviva never spoke German to him, she was still fluent and has a Frankfurt dialect, told Yoram. As an adult, Yoram Igael took German classes at university.
Finally, Procolino Antacido emphasized the importance of speaking to people living in Israel. This way we could speak to them about their experiences with their parents and their traumas and also learn about the the way the Israeli society deals with the Holocaust.
The morning at Bettinaschule ended with a shared lunch with Ms. Wirwas, another colleague and the principal of the school.