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From Book zum Buch


When doing research for „Himmel un Höll“ (“Heaven and Hell“) and „Schbille gieh un feiern“ (“To go out and celebrate“), volume 3 und 4 of our Ober-Gleen series, I saw more than one star (Stern) in the sky: Four authors, nee Stern, with roots in the Vogelsberg region have published books about what happened to their families in the Nazi-time.

The poems and prosa written by Hilda Stern Cohen has been found after her death. and thanks to her husband Werner Cohen, the Goethe Institute Washington, the Institute for Holocaustliterature (University of Gießen) and the Chambré Foundation (Lich), it has been published in German and in an English translation: „Words That Burn Within Me“. Born in Nieder-Ohmen, Hilda and her younger sister Karola had been deported. Both had survived Auschwitz. After their liberation, they had emigrated to the United States. Carol Stern Steinhardt’s memories are also documented, as oral history interviews on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Ruth Stern Glass Earnest from Diez an der Lahn, the daughter of Johanna Lamm from Ober-Gleen, had been together with Karola in the jewish school in Bad Nauheim. She met the sisters in Washington Heights in New York after the war (see volume 4). In “The Gate”, her childhood memoir, she has mentioned the encounter. The author, mother of two sons, grandmother of two granddaughters, had worked as a teacher in New York and has died several years ago. Her younger brother Ernst Lothar Stern has joined our Ober-Gleen project, adding an audio and  family photos. A German edition of “The Gate” would be of great value not only for Diez an der Lahn, Ober-Gleen and Lauterbach.

No German translation is also available of the two books of Mathilda Wertheim Stein, though there have been effords made in Lauterbach: „The Way it was. Jewish life in Rural Hesse”, the first volume, is a monumental work about the history of jewish life in the villages and little towns of Upper Hesse. The second one is about jewish life in Storndorf and Ulrichstein. Mathilda Wertheim Stein has explained traditions that are almost unknown in rural Hesse as there are no jewish communities any more, noone is left because of the Holocaust. And almost noone who survived came back. The Synagogues of  Lauterbach and Alsfeld have been destroyed at the Pogrom of 1938, other ones her ancestors went to, the Synagogues in Angenrod and in Kirtorf have been torn down after the war, while two others, the one in Romrod and the one in Ober-Gleen, have been restored. The author wanted jewish children and adults of Upper Hesse remembered who had been killed by Nazis or had survived the Holocaust, as the aunt, uncle and cousin of Ruth Stern Glass Earnest, Rosa, Salli and Arthur Weinberg who have been murdered in Minsk. Three Stolpersteine in front of the council house of Lauterbach remind us of them. To flee was almost the only chance to survive. But for those who had their roots deep in the soil of their Heimat (homeland), this was not an option for a long time. Mathilda Wertheim Stein has left Lauterbach, before she could have been deported. She came back as a timewitness more than once (see volume 4 of the Ober-Gleen series) and spoke in schools. Decades ago, she gave together with Elfriede Roth (see archive of this website) und Helmut Stöppler a radio interview to Erica Fisher („Himmelstraße”, „Over the Ocean”, „Aimée und Jaguar”). 


“My broken doll” tells another Hessian-jewish story: Moritz Moses Stern of Oberbreidenbach near Romrod and his wife Rosa, nee Gottlieb, of Grebenau had a shop in Lauterbach. Her daughter Beate was born in 1932, their daughter Susanne two years later. The family had hoped to be in safety, moving to Karlsruhe where relatives lived. They were deported to Gurs in 1940 instead, a camp north of the Pyrennes. Beate and Susi have been hidden and protected by a French organization till the end of the war. The sisters survived and went to England and then to the US. The parents have perished in Auschwitz in 1942, as have two siblings of the father, his elder brother Adolf Stern and his younger sister Klara Katz, nee Stern, and Moritz’s sister-in-law Klara Stern, nee Geis from Mardorf near Marburg. Béatrice Stern Pappenheimer, who calls herself Bea Karp today, is going into schools to talk about the Nazi-crimes since 1967. Together with her daughter Deborah Pappenheimer she has published a book in 2016. Deborah Pappenheimer, a senior lecturer at the Iowa State University College of Design, has adapted some of the memories of her mother in paintings. And there is even a play telling the story of family Stern, and thanks to the Institute for Holocaust Education, performed in schools in Nebraska. Since April 2017 we are in touch. Mother and daughter would like to come to Germany. A real chance for those who live in Lauterbach and Karlsruhe today to meet them in person and to learn more about them.

Ruth Stern Gasten aus Livermore (USA) was also born in Upper Hesse. The cousin of Hilda and Karola Stern has spent the first five years of her life in Nieder-Ohmen. Her parents Joseph and Hanna Stern left Germany with her in January 1939 via Hamburg. In spring 2017, I have translated and carefully copy edited her book “An Accidental American. Memories of an Immigrant Childhood” in volunteer’s work and in lively exchange with the author who is living in California. From book zum Buch there are a lot of steps to take. Our historical society Lastoria (Bremen), Justus Randt, Joachim Hahn of Alemannia Judaica, Monica Kingreen (website: Vor dem Holocaust), Regina Pfeiff of the parish council of Nieder-Ohmen, Uwe Langohr, Veronika Bloemers and others are accompanying us on our way. Wolfgang Rulfs (Delmenhorst) is the layouter, Erika Thies the first corrector. Let’s look forward together to the German edition: Ruth Stern Gasten is “an accidental American”, jewish, Hessian and so much more. But above all she is a wonderful human being. A Mensch.