“We will definitely come back”
by Ellen Holz and Angelika Rieber
Ingeborg – Yvette – Aviva
Yoram is the son of Aviva Igael, née Ingeborg Simon. She was born on 4 November 4, 1923 in Frankfurt and has lived in Israel since the end of World War II. In 1997, the City of Frankfurt invited the former resident Aviva Igael. She spoke to pupils at Carl-Schurz-Schule in Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen. She is still in contact with the teacher, Doris Stein.
Only as an adult did Yoram Igael learn what happened to his mother's family. Aviva Igael did not tell her son about her past until she spoke at the school in Frankfurt. This prompted Yoram Igael to trace the footsteps of his ancestors. He compiled a long list of his ancestors, of whom he had little or no information
The grandmother, Caroline (Carry) Goldschmidt was born in 1898 in Frankfurt and died there in 1983. The grandfather, Julius Simon, born in 1895 in Wiesbaden, was a lawyer and notary. His office was on Goethestraße in Frankfurt. The family lived first on Schäfergasse, then on Falkensteiner Straße. In 1933, after the Nazis had come to power, friends warned Julius Simon that he was in danger. Therefore, he fled to Strasbourg right away. “I'm going on a trip”, he told his daughter.
Aviva Igael, née Ingeborg Simon, remembers a happy childhood and good days in Frankfurt until 1933. She learned dancing at the opera and traveled to Vienna with her parents. Until 1933, Ingeborg Simon was a pupil at the Jewish school Philantropin. A few months after Julius Simon's escape to Strasbourg, mother and daughter followed. The younger siblings initially stayed with relatives and followed later. Ingeborg Simon went to school in Strasbourg, where she learned French very quickly. Ingeborg was now called Yvette. After the German invasion of 1940, the family fled into the interior of France, to Perigueux. After graduating from high school, Ingeborg/Yvette obtained forged papers. As she spoke French without an accent, she pretended to be a native. She worked in a refugee camp for children and helped to either bring them across the border to Switzerland or hide them in convents or with French families.
Her father, Julius Simon, joined the résistance, was arrested and shot near Clermont-Ferrand at the age of 49. Two photos of Julius Simon, one before his emigration, one during the war, show how much the escape from Germany and the many humiliations marked the Frankfurt resident. For her parents, the escape marked the destruction of their previous world, explained Aviva Igael when she was in Frankfurt during her talk at school. All hopes for the future were destroyed.
Ingeborg Simon and her mother survived World War II in France. Caroline Simon returned to Germany. She wanted to spend her last years here and died in Frankfurt in 1983. Ingeborg Simon decided to go to Palestine. To her, Europe was too close to the Holocaust. Her father, grandparents and many other family members were murdered. Ingeborg Simon preferred to look for a new home. “And again I had to learn a new language”, she commented on how often she had to start over again. Aviva's son Yoram says that his mother speaks German with a Frankfurt dialect, French like a native and Hebrew with a French accent. In a Kibbutz, Ingeborg/Yvette met her husband and became Aviva. Unlike his wife's family, who came from Europe, Gad Igael's family had been living in Israel/Palestine for generations
Because she had no chance to learn a trade during the war and her first years in Palestine/Israel were taken by the arrival in a new society and the construction of a country, Aviva Igael decided to start over again at 50. She studied social work at the university and made up for the things previously denied to her.
Aviva Igael often returned to her old home after her mother had moved back to Frankfurt. She says she does not know hate. She wonders what she would have done, if she had belonged to the majority; if she had been strong enough to help Jews.
For them, the meeting with young people during their visit, organized by the City of Frankfurt, was a great experience. Only after this meeting his mother had started telling him her story, reported Yoram Igael to the students at Bettinaschule during his own visit to Frankfurt in May/June 2012.
It has not been his first visit to Germany. Yoram Igael had already attended the placement of a “Stolperstein” (Stumbling Stone) for his grandfather in front of the house of his mother's family on Falkensteiner Straße 1.
Searching traces in Frankfurt
During their visit to Frankfurt 2012, Yoram and Malka Igael concentrated on retracing their family history. In addition to their participation in the City's official program and the meeting with students at Bettinaschule, both guests gladly accepted the project group's offer to help them in their search.
Our first stop was the Institute for City History (“Institut für Stadtgeschichte”), which promptly sent the documents requested by Yoram Igael to Israel.
The next stop was the registry office. Yoram Igael met friendly and helpful conversation partners. Here he learned further details about his ancestors.
His visit to the old Jewish cemetery was also very positive and informative. Klaus Meier-Ude, the former manager of the Jewish cemetery, accompanied and advised us. He was taken by Yoram Igaels great interest, was very helpful and showed us many graves of Yoram Igael's various ancestors and also some graves of celebrities. We stayed for several hours
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.
Tracing the Glauberg Family in Langenselbold
After the official visiting program Yoram and Malka Igael stayed for a few further days in Germany. They wanted to visit Langenselbold once more, the town where Yoram Igael’s great-grandmother, Jenny Glauberg, was born on April 13, 1874. It was (It has not been?) not their first visit to Langenselbold. The year before the two had already gathered first impressions during a short tour through the town’s older quarters
During this visit, the Igaels had the opportunity to search the Jewish cemetery for family members and pay their respects. They also went on a short city cruise and saw the former houses of the Glauberg family and the historical district of the Jewish community around 1900. On Wednesday, June 6, 2012 I finally met Yoram and Malka in Langenselbold. Because rain had been announced for the afternoon, we visited the Jewish cemetery first.
Yoram Igael's excitement and joy of finding a gravestone of a Glauberg family member were plain to see. The gravestones, often poorly preserved, were a special challenge for the couple; translating them was not always easy.
In Langenselbold there was a relatively large Jewish community at the turn of the century, so there were two families named Glauberg. The Igaels found about 10 graves of the two families. Yoram, who has been working on an extensive family tree for years, also wrote down and photographed those Glaubergs not directly related to him. His explanation for his interest in all Glaubergs was very convincing: “Basically, we're all related. We all come from the same root!”
Following the visit to the cemetery, we started a city tour. The first stop was the house where the second synagogue in Langenselbold was built in the early 18th century (around 1714/15).This new synagogue at the end of the so-called “Jew Alley” replaced the synagogue built in 1682, which was just a few hundred meters away. The synagogue was a timbered house with a mikwe, a Jewish ritual bath. This semi-detached house was used for two purposes: A Jewish family lived on one side, on the other side were the synagogue / prayer rooms and the mikwe. Today a local physician lives in the rooms.
After visiting the former synagogue at Schäfergasse (“Shepherd's Alley”), renamed in 1919 from Judengasse (“Jew's Alley”), we continued to a later synagogue, which opened on August 30, 1849. The house containing the synagogue was probably a farmhouse before. For unknown reasons, the plans for the construction of a new synagogue were not realized at that time.
Finally, our tour led us to Steinweg. On this street, Hermann Glauberg, father of Isaac Glauberg, opened a matza bakery in 1854.The bakery was well advertised and already in 1909, it was supervised by the renowned Hanau provincial rabbi and scholar Dr. Salomon Bamberger.
“Matza Factory – Est.1854 – Matza Factory.
For the upcoming Easter holiday and from now on, the undersigned recommends matza of popular prime quality and at the cheapest price. Sample packages are also available. Early orders welcome.
Isaac Glauberg, Owner: Hermann Glauberg. Langenselbold, near Hanau am Main.
'Upon request, I shall testify for Mr. Glauberg that he deserves full trust with regard to kashrut and diligence, and that I convinced myself during an inspection of his bakery that matza produced by him may be enjoyed for Pesach without any concern whatsoever.' Hanau, 4 January 1909. Dr. Salomon Bamberger, Provincial Rabbi”
Today, nothing is left of the former matza bakery; the house at Steinweg 4 is currently inhabited. But even if little is left of the former Jewish life in Langenselbold, the Igaels were extraordinarily happy to be within reach of their family heritage.
With a good feeling and many new impressions, Yoram and Malka bid me farewell with a great promise: “We will definitely come back!”
Participation in the Visiting Program: 2012
Participation of mother: 1997
Aviva Igael, née Ingeborg (in France: Yvette) Simon, born 1923
Home of grandparents
Caroline und Julius Simon, in Frankfurt:
via France to Palestine/Israel
Origin of Ancestors
Grandmother Jenny Glauberg comes from Langenselbold
Recording of a conversation with Aviva Igael at Carl-Schurz-Schule in 1997
Recording of a conversation with Yoram and Malka Igael at Bettinaschule on June 1, 2012
“Der Israelit” Magazine
Thea Altaras: “Synagogen in Hessen. Was geschah seit 1945?” Königstein 1988, expanded edition 2007
Ellen Holz and Katja Walter
Ellen Holz, Angelika Rieber, Katja Walter