Ronit Hauer and Ruth Shaul

Germany is a beautiful country

by Gaby Thielmann

In 2010 Alisa Bar-Lev took part in the visiting program and went to her home town Florstadt which she had left with her family after numerous humiliations in 1934. In an interview at the Kaiserin-Friedrich-Gymnasium in Bad Homburg she told the students about the hard time and further exclusions in Palestine.
After the war many survivors of the holocaust arrived at the newly founded State of Israel and only gradually the living conditions improved for Alisa and her Polish husband Carl Bar-Lev. Two daughters were born.
In 2012 these two daughters Ronit Hauer and Ruth Shaul came to Frankfurt . They are both teachers in Haifa. Visiting the same school in Bad Homburg they spoke about the present living conditions in Israel pointing out the similarities to life in the USA. They told the students that the Holocaust was never mentioned in their family, it was taboo. They only learned about the topic at school.
When they are travelling through Germany today – also with students – they find a beautiful country well known by their mother’s narrations.

Ronit and Ruth are the daughters of Alisa Bar-Lev who has taken part in the visiting program for two weeks with her husband in 2010.

The history of the mother Alisa Bar-Lev

Alisa was born in Florstadt in the Wetterau in 1934. Her parents Siegfried and Leni Stern, born Kahn, had to endure for themselves the inhuman treatment of Jewish citizens during the Nazi regime. In 1934 Siegfried was beaten by German Nazi followers and the slogan: Don’t buy from Jews’ was scribbled on his shop window. This had severe effects on the circumstances of the family. Alisa’s mother insisted on emigrating to Palestine with the whole family.
From her mother’s narration Alisa knew that life was very hard in Arabic surroundings and the mediterranian heat in the beginning. The tough work in the harbor put her father to his limits. At school Alisa was the only German child and was insulted ‘Nazi’ by her classmates. They even told her to get away. As the family remained very poor Alisa couldn’t attend secondary school. She worked at a police office and gained further education in evening courses.
In 1948 when the State Israel was founded more and more survivours of the holocaust came from Russia and Poland. The young men were drafted into military service right away. The same happened to Alisa’s Polish husband. Even today he is suffering of the experiences of the Shoa so much that he cannot speak about them.

Ronit and Ruth

Gradually life improved for Alisa and Carl in Israel. In 1956 their daughter Ronit and in 1960 the daughter Ruth were born. They are both married and they are living in Haifa as their parents. Ronit is working as a teacher at an elementary school and Ruth is a secondary school teacher. For seven years she has been organizing student exchanges with Ravensburg and Weingarten in Baden-Württemberg.

The visit to Frankfurt

Unfortunately the two sisters couldn’t stay until the end of the visiting program, but had to return on Saturday, 2nd June 2012. Therefore a visit to Florstadt where their mother had grown up was not possible. Alisa had been very touched visiting Florstadt and seeing her birthplace during her stay in 2010. But both, Ruth Shaul and Ronit Hauer, visited Kaiserin-Friedrich-Gymnasium as their mother did two years before.

There they told the secondary school students about their lives in Israel today. They told that their days were well-ordered and not influenced by permanent attacks or troubles. They stated that the media reported a wrong picture of Israel, they rather think that daily life is very similar to the way of life in the USA. Being asked by students about their experiences during the holocaust naturally they couldn’t speak of personal memories. But it was very interesting to hear that their parents and grandparents had never spoken about the painful circumstances during the holocaust. This topic had been a taboo in their lives as well. Only at school they learned about the persecution and extermination of Jews. They told that this knowledge had produced rage and lack of understanding in them. Today they deal with this topic more often and less diffidently.

Their impression about Germany

From their parents and grandparents they have heard a lot about the ‘gute Zeiten’ in Germany before World War II. Travelling with their students they don’ t think of the dreadful past. Today Germany is a beautiful country for the two sisters where they feel at ease and find things and places familiar by their mother’s narration.

Biographical Notes

Name:
Ronit Hauer and Ruth Shaul
Participation in the Visiting Program: 2012
Participation of mother Alisa: 2010

Ronit Hauer and Ruth Shaul live in Israel.

Mother
Alisa Bar-Lev, née Stern, was born in Florstadt, Wetterau in 1934

The family emigrated to Palestine in 1937

After 1948 Alisa married the Polish survivor of the Holocaust Carl Bar-Lev.


Sources:

„Eine Zeitzeugin im Gespräch mit Schülern“ Hochtaunus-Verlag 15.07.2010

„Zeitzeugen aus Israel“ Katharina Schmidt, Kaiserin-Friedrich-Gymnasium Bad Homburg 01.06.2013

Information given by Ronit Hauer and Ruth Shaul

Fotos:

Henny Ludwig, Angelika Rieber

Text:

Gaby Thielmann

Translation:

Gaby Thielmann