Our Busy Day in Hoya

Monday afternoon, June 7, after having given a morning presentation in German to local high school students in the Bergen-Belsen auditorium (www.bergenbelsen.de), and after many hugs were exchanged with students and staff, we were driven by our friends, Heike & Hans Huth, to my “home town” of Hoya. 

In actuality, my family left Hoya when I was just 4 years old, in our failed attempt to reach the United States prior to the outbreak of World War II 

There seems to be a strong pull to return to Hoya, even if for only half a day. We are always received with a warm and loving welcome, by the Huths and other members of this small community, located between Bremen and Hannover. 

There was much that we needed our son, David, and grandson, Gavriel, to see and experience in this short visit - our former store and home, with the newly installed Stolperstein in the front walk (as explained in a previous newsletter), the memorial for the destroyed synagogue, our family plot in the Jewish cemetery, a stop at the Rathause to meet with Burgermeister Edmund Seidel and city council members, to sign the Hoya`s Golden Book, to walk through the main streets of town, and a stop at the Heike & Hans Huth’s home for coffee and delicious cake. We were joined there by several other Hoya friends, Anne Wasner, Renate Schumacher, and Henry Meyer.Much animated and lively talk ensued.
See photo bottom left 

My father had been forced to “sell” our family home and business for a fraction of its true worth, to make it appear as if the property was properly sold, and not really “taken” from us. 
Today, In place of the men’s furnishings and shoes sold in the early 1930’s, the store purveys electronic equipment. 

The Jewish cemetery, in adjacent Hoya Hagen, is overgrown with tall trees. It has not been cared for in over 70 years, certainly not since 1938. In our family plot, my father’s parents and other relatives are hopefully resting in peace. 
The one new addition is the shiny granite foot-stone, with the meaningful inscription, “Zur Erinnerung an die zerstörte Grabshtelle der Famillie Blumenthal – Hoya, 1894 – 1938” (In memory of the desecrated plot of the Blumenthal Family) placed there by our Hoya friends, Heike & Hans Huth.
This past year, a new metal gate, complete with a Magen David (Star of David), was added to the entrance of the cemetery, with talk that other restoration work may soon follow.
Photo top of page 

It had been discovered some years ago that a narrow triangular sliver of land, about 30 – 40 feet in length, belonging to the Hoya synagogue which had been destroyed by the Nazis, had never been sold!
Thereupon, a group of concerned Hoya residents banded together to establish a memorial on this site. Renate Schumacher, a member of the committee, and architect by trade, designed the memorial.
At the head end of the triangle is a plaque, recounting the destruction of the synagogue, and the fate of Hoya’s small Jewish community which consisted of only 14 families. 
The triangular strip, facing a main street, was covered with stainless steel plating, and is engraved in large lettering with the words - “Hier Ist Jüdischer Boden” - “This is Jewish Ground.” See photo bottom right

Much needed to be crowded into that short afternoon, while keeping an eye on the clock so as not to miss our train back to our hotel in Hannover. But, we accomplished it all, and then some. 

In my next newsletter, I will tell about our day trip to Tröbitz in eastern Germany, where 65 years ago, on April 23, 1945, my family and others were liberated by the Russian Army from the train now known as the “Last Transport.”

Continue to enjoy summer.