Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Letters: Friends reconnecting after the war; from Berlin to New York City

From the documents of Erich Jacobs, former Lehrer in Recklinghausen; contributed by Fredel Jacobs Fruhman

This posting gives some insights to the Jewish community that formed in Berlin after the end of World War II in the context of the reconnection of a close pre-war friendship between two families.

Willy and Hanna Katz lived in Recklinghausen, North Rhine-Wesphalia before World War II. Willy was the president of the Recklinghausen Jewish congregation, as well as being a Shochet [ritual slaughterer] and a Mohel [doing ritual circumcisions]. He and Hanna were the proprietors of a kosher restaurant. They survived the war in the Berlin underground. 

Erich Jacobs was the teacher at the Recklinghausen Jewish school from November, 1937 until it closed in July, 1941. After Kristallnacht, when the town’s rabbi took an opportunity to leave Germany, Erich served as acting-rabbi until September 1941 when he, his wife Hetti and their son Jethro (Yitro) left Germany.  They spent the war years in Cuba.  After the war, they immigrated to the United States, living first in New York City and then in Trenton, NJ, where their daughter Fredel was born.

The letters linked to below came from the Katz family to the Jacobs family.  There is one 1941 letter from Rolf Katz, son of Willy and Hanna, to Erich Jacobs, in Barcelona while in transit to the US.  After five years of silence, Willy and Hanna write, starting in 1946.  Clearly the two families had been quite close. 

Fredel Jacobs Fruhman transcribed and translated these letters and prepared the presentations with commentary:

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