The Loeb-Sisters

Carol and Susan Loeb

by Marianne Karpf und Angelika Rieber

Carol and Susan are the daughters of Eric Loeb. Eric was born Erich Löb on May 12, 1928 in Frankfurt, Germany. The family lived on Beethovenstrasse in the West End. Eric attended the Varrentrapp School on Bismarckallee, now Theodor-Heuss-Allee, until 1935 when the Nazi's forced him to stop attending the school because he was Jewish.

During the summer of 1935 Karl, Henny, Walter and Erich Loeb went on a “vacation” to Milano, Italy. The reason for this vacation was that Karl and Henny could rent an apartment and the boys could go to an Italian camp and not know what their parent's were up to. Karl figured out how he could run his business from Milano and founded a firm called “Societa Italiana Bottoni e Affini”, with the help of a lawyer named Mr. Mopurgo.

In 1936, the Loeb family left Frankfurt, leaving behind Max Cohn, Eric's grandfather. Eric was forced to say goodbye to his best friend, Moppel (Arnulf Borsche), who was not Jewish. The Loeb family emigrated to Milan, taking all of their furniture, even a piano. In 1939, based on a new anti-Jewish law, they were forced to leave Italy because they had entered the country after 1922. They filed paperwork to emigrate to Cuba, because Cuba was the option that was closest to the United States where the Loebs had family.

The objective was the city of freedom, New York, according to Eric Loeb's own words. His two daughters, Carol and Susan were born there in 1966 and 1969. In 2007, Eric Loeb made a journey through Germany, together with his daughters and his grandchildren. They travelled to Obermorschel in the Pfalz, where his ancestors came from and stayed in the Atrium Hotel, on Beethovenstrasse, which now stands on the exact location of his earlier home. In 2008, thanks to the mediation of the City of Frankfurt, Eric Loeb was able to reconnect with his friend Moppel again after 72 years. The two men hit it off like little boys and were able to become friends fast. They kept in close contact until Moppel's death in June of 2011. The two men wrote and spoke in both German and English and Eric had the opportunity to practice his German.

Before the visit of the Loeb sisters in 2012 there was an exchange of emails in one of which Carol wrote that a visit to a school class would be a highlight of her visit. She did not know if there would be other highlights for her. The sisters prepared very thoroughly before the trip, talked to their father and an uncle and prepared a PowerPoint presentation complete with photographs. This was headed “Another Quick Question” and many ideas were included. Carol had seen in a Jewish newspaper that Peter Feldman was the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Frankfurt since WW II. She asked if she could meet him. Also she wanted to know if we could translate a cookbook and diary of her grandmother into English.

Carol's trip had an unexpected twist when she developed a deep vein thrombosis on the flight to Germany. She was immediately brought to a hospital and received the finest medical attention. Carol spent three days in the hospital. Doctors, nurses and even a, “Gruene Frau,” a volunteer, asked her in broken English why she was visiting Germany. Carol explained the program and had the opportunity to tell her family's story numerous times. Carol is grateful for the exceptional medical attention she received in Frankfurt. She has no permanent scars and is able to exercise as much as she wishes. Upon joining the group, Carol was welcomed warmly with hugs and good humor. Quickly, she became a part of the group and got to know the other participants.

The visit to the Ernst-Reuter-Schule was indeed a highlight. Susan told the students her father's story and a very lively discussion followed on Jewish identity, anti-Semitism, the political situation in the near east and on the problems of persecution and emigration, which some of the students or their families had experienced themselves.

Another highlight of the visit was meeting Arnulf Borsche's (Moppel) daughter and two sons. The children of Eric Loeb and Arnulf Borsche spent an enjoyable afternoon and evening together. The two families had an instant bond and a second generation friendship began.

Carol and Susan enjoyed a walk in the Palmengarten and in the West End, tracing the life of their father, despite the fact there was heavy rain. Their walk ended at the Dechema building, the Society for Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, where they took photographs as their father had requested. The building became the office of the Dechema after the WW II. Prior to the war it was housing Varrentrappschule, Eric's first school.

Here is Carol's impression of the visit,” “I am proud to say that I am a descendant of a German Jew from Frankfurt.” “I feel it is my duty to retell the story of my father's life and examining the Holocaust. By telling the story I hope we can teach tolerance and acceptance of all people. This trip gave me the opportunity to learn about my roots and myself.”

Meanwhile, Eric,Carol and Susan have inquired about dual American and German Citizenship.

Reflections on our Visit to Frankfurt

From Carol and Susan Loeb

“I really appreciated the opportunity to join you in Frankfurt. I am extremely grateful that I was able to participate in at least part of the trip, and consider it one of the highlights of my life.

As I explain your organization to my friends and family, I describe you as taking the role of our ‘Frankfurt guides.’ You provided us with such a detailed history and knowledge, a history that was far more extensive than what my parents could provide. In such a short time I learned so much about myself and my German Roots. I enjoyed meeting the other participants. I found it very interesting that my upbringing was very similar to the rest of the group. Our parents sang to us the same German songs, read us the same stories and we ate the same foods. It became very clear that my upbringing was very German although I was raised in New Jersey. I felt a very strong connection to the other participants.

I will never forget the warmth and kindness I received from this group when I arrived after being in the hospital. It was as if I had known them my whole life. I felt a strong connection to the other participants. I found it very interesting that I was raised so similarly to the people in the group. I am proud to say, ‘My father was from Frankfurt.’ The trip made it clear how German my upbringing was. By the end of the trip the group became like a family.

Wherever I go, I tell my father’s story. I know that it is my responsibility to tell my father’s story and make sure that the people of the Holocaust are never forgotten. One day I hope to have the experience of telling my father’s story to a bunch of German children. Coincidently, the local school will participate in Facing History program. Maybe I will have the opportunity to talk to the children in my town.
I would love to continue working with you, to help educate about this horrible time in history.
Thank you for all your hard work and your dedication. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of the program!
Carol Loeb”

“This trip demonstrated to me that in Frankfurt there is a major emphasis on acceptance and tolerance. While we cannot forget history, it is important to move on in a way that allows for all people to live together in harmony.

One of the most meaningful parts of the trip was speaking to the children in the Ernst-Reuter-Schule. After sharing my family`s experience, some of the students shared theirs. One girl from Turkey spoke about her own family’s religious persecution for the first time. It was a very emotional encounter. I have kept in touch with this student and plan to continue to stay in contact with her.

We also enjoyed exploring our father’s former neighborhood in the Westend and seeing some of the places where he spent his time. We took pictures in the Palmengarten similar to the picture we have of my father as a child in the same place. We really enjoyed meeting the children of my father’s childhood friend, Arnulf (Moppel) Borsche. Through this program four years ago, my father was reunited with his friend after 72 years.

We really appreciate having had this wonderful opportunity. We feel that we are able to be ambassadors for the city of Frankfurt and Germany – so that more people want to visit.

Susan Loeb”

Ambassadors for Frankfurt

Angelika Rieber

Carol and Susan both have many memories about their visit to the city where their father was born. These were fresh as they contacted the project group 'Jewish Life in Frankfurt' to tell them what the visit meant to them.

Both described the strong feelings that tie them to the city from which their father came. The Palmengarten, West End, the house in which their father and uncle had lived had all memories for Carol and Susan with which they recall their own memories from the previous visit with their parents

In 2012 the two sisters came without their parents and welcomed the offer of the project group to accompany them during their stay in Frankfurt. An important part of their visit was their visit with the children of Moppel, the childhood friend of their father. Before his visit in 2008 Eric Loeb had asked if we could help him trace his old friend and we were able to find him and reunite the two after over seventy years.

For Susan and Carol the Borsche family formed the link to their father's home town. They spoke with great enthusiasm about meeting Moppel's children, and contacts have been deepened since their visit. Two of Arnulf Borsche's children visited the USA in March of 2013 for the Bar Mitzvah of Susan's son, Noah.

Contacts with other members of the visiting group have intensified and have an important role for the two sisters. They recall the discussions at the start and the conclusion of their visit particularly well. This was when the visitors exchanged their experiences with each other and so it was possible to compare their experiences with those of other visitors. They found that many experiences were similar, when it came to the bonds with their parents' home town for instance, or recipes or children's songs or the story of Struwwelpeter.
Carol and Susan did not simply go back to their daily routine when they returned home. They talked to friends and recommended to them to take part in the Frankfurt Visiting Program, which has influenced not only the lives of the two sisters but also their families, schools and the Jewish community.

They found many listeners with open minds to their stories but they also encountered doubts and even opposition to their accounts from people who would never consider accepting such an invitation or ever going back to Germany. It was an irritation for them that their communities did not ask them to speak about these experiences, but eventually their efforts bore fruit. On Yom HaShoah, the Jewish Remembrance Day for the victims of the Holocaust, Eric Loeb spoke of his memories of his former home and his experiences during his visit. Carol Loeb also spoke of her impressions from her visit. The 40 listeners were positively impressed by her encouraging conclusions. Their presentation ended with the story of Moppel, the meeting of Eric Loeb with his former school friend and the return visit of the Borsche children in New York in March 2013.

For Carol it is important that her children experience lessons on the Holocaust in school, and she has made contacts with 'Facing History', an American organization that develops teaching materials and concepts that have the objective of raising tolerance and combating prejudice. Carol is ready to share her experiences over the history of her family and her visit to Frankfurt.

Carol and Susan Loeb are not only interested in their own past. They took part in a discussion on the cultural diversity of Frankfurt. The discussion took place in the Ernst-Reuter-Schule and was a highlight of their visit to Frankfurt. One of the students wrote to her after the visit:

“Dear Susan,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for coming to our school to talk to us about your family experience during the horrible Nazi regime. I think this takes a lot of strength to discuss that terrible past. This is why I admire you so much. Sixty-seven years after the end of the Second World War and the Holocaust we should be in memory of the victims and procure that it will never happen again. Finally, we now come to peace and live together with Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Jews and other ethnic groups in harmony. I can feel clearly with you. My family fled from Turkey because they were also discriminated against because of religious reasons. Everyone should be aware of the history so that it will never happen again. It gives me pleasure to know that there is someone trying to reach the youth. Once again I want to thank you for all. I hope you can remember me. I am the girl who cried.:-)
Best wishes
Meltem”

Susan remembered the meeting with the student very well. The questions and comments in the school were of great importance. She was greatly impressed by Meltem's letter

„Of course I remember you. I have shared with many people my experience in your school and your family's sad story. Our discussion was very meaningful for me. I am glad you felt comfortable enough to share your very personal story. As painful as it is, it sometimes helps to talk about it.
You are very lucky to attend a school with students of such diverse backgrounds and teachers who are open-minded and willing to explore differences. By educating students with programs such as the one you have in your school, I hope that there is more acceptance of different cultures. We should not have to worry about talking about our history. As you mentioned, we should do it more often so that the past is never forgotten and never repeated.”

In another mail, Meltem reported on a visit to Buchenwald. The visit made it clear that not only the crimes against the Jews are appalling but also what crimes humans commit against other humans in general.

“As you said, I am very lucky to attend a school like this. It is really a pleasure to be accepted no matter where you come from. Also that we got the chance to meet people like you is of great value for us.
Last week my classmates and me visited Buchenwald. I can't even describe what I saw there. To think that people had to endure all these things and some even managed to survive this – there is no way to put this into words.
And also to think how people are able to do such things…
It is not about Nazis killing Jews, it is about how people are killing other people; aren't we supposed to live as brothers?
I really hope that this history will never be forgotten and that we always be aware of this terrible history of cruelty.
Let's keep in touch
Best wishes
Meltem”

Ingrid Bruch, Meltem's teacher also drew positive conclusions from the meeting with the children of former Frankfurt citizens. She found that the two sisters spoke quite objectively about their family history. “More distance to past experiences can be an advantage,” she said.

“I'll bake a cake!” – A return visit in New York

In July and August 2012 I took the opportunity to visit the two sisters in New York. “I'll bake a cake,” said Carol and she did not promise too much. She likes to cook, especially family recipes. She proudly showed me the cake that she had baked according to an old recipe from her grandmother and an cast-iron pot, with a long history.

On Friday evening a large group gathered in Carol's house, parents, sisters, friends and cousins. This was not unusual as Carol likes to celebrate the Sabbath with friends and family. The focus of this evening was the visit in Germany, the past and future visits. Inge and Charles Roman were also invited and also visited the same school as Susan. Inge and Charles Roman live in New Jersey near Eric and Jean Loeb but they did not know each other. Experiences and impressions were exchanged, questions answered, especially by John Froelich, who has also enquired about an invitation to a visit. Picture albums were passed around, photographs of old Frankfurt and of the recent visits were studied.

Carol is a great networker. Not only did she gather people for that Sabbath evening, she brings many different people together who have much to relate. She also is actively engaged at her children's school for the peace cooperation between different religions and cultures.

She was shaken by an incident in her home town. In January 2013 the windows of school were smashed and swastikas smeared on the walls. It was assumed that this was a prank but there have been discussions about how to react to this incident. Carol and her friends plead for greater emphasis on tolerance in the school lessons. They plan to call on the school authority in order to lend more weight to their argument in favor of greater tolerance in schools.

Biographical Notes

Name
Carol Loeb-Meyers und Susan Loeb-Zeitlin

2007 Eric Loeb comes to Germany, together with his family

2008 Eric Loeb takes part in the Visiting Program of the City of Frankfurt

2012 his daughters Carol und Susan take part in the Visiting Program of the City of Frankfurt

Born
1966 and 1969 in New York

Father
Eric Loeb, born as Erich Loeb 1928 in Frankfurt

Home before Emigration
Beethovenstraße im Frankfurter Westend

School
Varrentrappschule

Emigration
- 1935 to Milan
- 1938 to Cuba
- later to the USA


Sources

Correspondence between Angelika Rieber and Carol and Susan Loeb

Emails between Susan Loeb and Meltem in July 2012

Talks during visit by Angelika Rieber in the USA in August 2012

Photographs: Family Loeb & Angelika Rieber

Film of the discussion in the Ernst Reuter Schule

Text:
Marianne Karpf and Angelika Rieber

Translation:
Geoffrey Roberts