Elisabeth Reinhuber-Adorno

“At home in two countries”

by Angelika Rieber

“Mixtures” (Mischlinge – mongrels, half-castes) according to National Socialist Racial Laws

Elisabeth Reinhuber-Adorno was bom in the year 1925 in Frankfurt/Main. She comes from a family of well-known scholars, the philosopher Theodor W. Adomo and the historian Theodor Mommsen. Both her parents were baptised, but because of her paternal Jewish grandmother she was labeled as a “Mischling zweiten Grades” (mongrel – mixture of the second degree).

After the party NSDAP came to power in January 1933, E's father was dismissed
immediately from his post as Prussian civil servant from the law courts (Landgericht) in
Dortmund on account of his Jewish mother (he was a “Halbjude”). He then tried to keep his
wife and his three young children by working as a music teacher. He was permitted to teach
only Jewish students or so-called Mischlinge of the first or second degree, mother Helene
could teach the “arian” students.

“That was the first time I had ever seen my mother cry”. The Kindertransport to England.

Life became more difficult after the pogroms in November 1939. There seemed to be no future for family Calvelli-Adorno in Germany, and they began to look for possibilities to emigrate. Franz Calvelli-Adomo was offered a post of Latin and Music teacher at a boarding school in Scotland.

For the time being, the two older children, Elisabeth and her brother Ludwig, one
year younger, were sent to England on a “Kindertransport” organised by the Quakers in Frankfurt. The children were put on a train in Frankfurt on June 27,1939.

Elisabeth remembers: “That was the first time I ever saw my mother cry”. The parents' departure later was no longer possible.

In England, because of the war, Elisabeth Calvelli-Adorno had to change families she could stay with several times. She remembers the fear of bomb and gas attacks, the rationing of food, the growing of vegetables on building sites and the campaign called “digging for Victory”. Elisabeth and later her brother were finally taken in by a childless couple near London where they felt happy and where they stayed for several years. Communication by letter with their parents had to stop after war broke out in 1939, but via friends in Switzerland and – until USA entered the war in l94I – via relatives in the USA they
knew that their parents and their little sister were alive.

“The worst was the look with which your mother regarded me and Helene”

Elisabeth's father Franz Calvelli-Adorno was called up right at the beginning of the war, but released from the army in 1940 because he was “a half Jew”. In 1943 the family decided to leave Frankfurt because of the increasing bombing attacks and they moved to the village of Zwingenberg, not far from Frankfurt. At the end of 1944 Franz Calvelli-Adorno was to be called into the Organisation Todt for compulsory war construction work, but he managed to hide in the Sanatorium “Bühler Höhe” in the Black Forest. His parents also moved to Zwingenberg. As late as February 1945 his mother was transported to the Concentration Camp of Theresienstadt. Her husband Louis Calvelli-Adorno and her daughter-in-law accompanied her to the Frankfurt Ostbahnhof, a very painful experience for them both. “The worst was the look with which your mother, with the heavy backpack on her back and cases in both hands, regarded me and Helene” Louis told his son. Helene Calvelli-Adorno was liberated and returned to Frankfurt in 1945, sick and half-starved. She died of the aftereffects in December 1945.

“First reunion after eight years of separation”

After the end of the war, Franz Calvelli-Adomo was appointed Landgerichtsrat in Darmstadt, later Oberlandesgerichtsraat and Senatspräsident in Frankfurt. September 1945 Elisabeth and Ludwig received the news that their parents and sister had survived. Only in the year 1947 the parents managed to get permisision to travel to England to
be reunited with their children. One year later the children were able to travel to Germany and to see the bomb damage and destruction in Frankfurt. Thereafter Elisabeth visited Germany quite frequently. In 1955 she finally returned, after sixteen years, into her former home town, where she married and had three children. For many years she was active in local politics in Oberursel-Oberstedten where the new family had finally settled. Recently she has been visiting schools to speak about her experiences. She still feels very close to England.

Biographical notes

Name:
Elisabeth Reinhuber , née Calvelli-Adorno

Father:
Franz Calvelli-Adorno: by birth (maternal line) „Mischling 1. Grades“

  • 1933 in Dortmund dismissed as a judge and moving to Frankfurt
  • 1938/39: planning to emigrate which becomes impssible because of the war
  • survived WW II in Germany
  • 1945: Grandmother Helene Calvelli-Adorno deported to Theresienstadt

Elisabeth Reinhuber, born in 1925

  • School: Anna-Schmidt-Schule
  • 1939 goes to England, together with her brother, on a “Kindertransport”
  • 1955 Return to Germany


Sources

1. Agathe, Elisabeth and Ludwig with their grandfather Louis Calvelli-Adorno in
Dortmund 1931

2. Elisabeth and Agathe Calvellli-Adomo 1938 in Frankfuit, oder Elisabeth and Ludwig
Calvelli-Adorno, Whitsun 1939, shortly before leaving with the Kindertransport to
England

3. Franz Calvelli-Adorno 31.10.1939 in army uniform. He was dismissed from the
Army because he was a “half Jew”.

4. Helene, Franz and Agathe Calvelli-Adorno in 1940 without the two children Elisabeth
and Ludwig because they were in England.

5. Franz Calvelli-Adorno 1944. The family lived in Zwingenberg.

6. “Butterdos”, the house in Zwingenberg. Family Calvelli-Adorno lived there at the
end of the war.

7 . Family Calvelli-Adorno February 1942 in Zwingenberg (Louis Calvelli-Adomo, his
wife Helene, the owner of the house Clementine Kühner, Helene Calvelli-Adorno and
her daughter Agathe, between them Gabriele Becker, foster daughter of Clementine
Kühner).

8. First reunion in England after 8 years’ separation.

9. Elisabeth Reinhuber as speaker at a meeting at the Bildungsstätte Anne Frank,
March.2013.

Sources:
Reinhuber-Adorno, E. (2004): “In zwei Ländem zu Hause” in: Mainzer
Geschichtsblätter, Heft 13, Hrsg: Verein für Sozialgeschichte Mainz: Mainz

Kilthau, F. (2002): Das Kriegsende 1945 inZwingenberg an der Bergstraße nach
Aufzeichnungen der Familie Calvelli-Adorno, in: Geschichtsblätter Kreis
Bergstrasse, Band 335, Verlag Larissa: Lorsch

Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Wiesbaden

Gespräch mit und unveröffentlichte Erinnerungen von Elisabeth Reinhuber,

Photos:
Elisabeth Reinhuber und Agathe Jaenicke

Research and Text:
Angelika Rieber

Translation
Elisabeth Reinhuber