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u3a - Kindertransport Memories - Sue Dickie

Sue Dickie

Member of Shepway u3a

Sharing the story of her father Markus Goldberger, his parents and his 4 siblings

 

Benjamin and Kreine were both born in Poland into orthodox Jewish families. Galicia, Poland, at that time was not a safe place for Jews, and both families moved to Germany whilst Benjamin and Kreine were children or teenagers. Currently, we have little detail related to these relocations, and we are continuing our research. 

Benjamin Ships Cook

Benjamin, working as a cook on a ship sometime in the 1920s

We know the address of the house where Markus and his siblings were born in Hamburg. The building housed around 8 to 10 apartments, some of which were owned by the Nanny Jonas Foundation, a charity that supported people who had little or nothing and who provided this home for the young Goldberger couple.

As with many, if not most, survivors of the holocaust, Markus did not talk much about his life and the experiences he was exposed to in Germany as the National Socialist Party, led by Adolf Hitler, gained popularity and encouraged an escalating hate campaign targeting Jews and other minority groups; neither did he talk of his experiences as an alien in a hostile world after he arrived in the United Kingdom as an 11-year-old orthodox Jew; he spoke no English and was used to kosher food, a very different diet to that which he had no choice but to accept in this his new life. All the siblings grew to adulthood, and four of the five had families of their own. This second-generation kinder, as they are known in Germany, are now trying to piece together the family story.

Germany, it seems, is very keen to keep this history alive and to respect the lives that were affected under the program implemented by Adolf Hitler. In the years running up to the start of World War two, it was easy for Hitler to instil hatred towards the Jews who were seen as aliens, dressing in an immediately identifiable way, and following a religion that imposed a disciplined lifestyle. Before the war was declared, Markus and his four siblings, Deborah (b1923), Abraham (b.1925), Esther(b1926), and Isaac (b.1934) must have been subjected to much hardship bought about by hatred from the German citizens.

Goldberger Siblings

(Left to Right) Issac, Markus, Esther, Abraham, Deborah

Benjamin had managed to get visas to go to America, but we don’t know why this never happened. We can only assume, at this time, that the family hung on to their precarious situation as long as possible, hoping that matters would improve. After all, they had presumably seen the move from Poland to Germany, as moving to a place of safety, with Hitler, in the early 1920’s convincing everyone he would make Germany great again. Did anyone, at that time, have any concerns that all was not what it seemed! If they did, by the time enough people were concerned, Hitler was in total control – it was too late to stop him and prevent the holocaust – six million people were known to have been murdered, with many many more dying or having their lives destroyed; Markus and his brothers and sisters were in this number.  In September 1939 – literally days after war was declared, Benjamin and Kreine somehow managed to send the children out of Germany on Kindertransport.

How awful this must have been for them all. Benjamin and Kreine sending their five precious children (Isaac was just four) to who knows where not knowing if they would ever see them again. Not even knowing whether they would survive.

Goldberger Family

Goldberger family, shortly before the children left on The Kindertransport

After the children had gone, they fled to Antwerp, a place of safety? We have no details but do know they managed to stay in hiding for at least two years until, in 1942, they were found, arrested and interned in a camp called Kazerne Dossin. They would have been separated, so they did not even have the comfort of each other during this harrowing time.  

In May 1944, records at Kazerne Dossin show they were crammed into cattle wagons with other internees and transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Again, we do not have exact details, but we do know they were transported on separate dates. They would undoubtedly have been undernourished and possibly frail from starvation at this time. Records don't show us whether they reached Auschwitz, or perhaps died or were killed en route.  Whichever it was, they did not survive beyond this time. 

In 2013, the German Senate supported a programme called Stolpersteine. Stolpersteine translates to stumbling stones.

Across Europe, many, many thousands of these stones have been laid, in memorial of the people who did not survive the holocaust, being placed outside the last known residence of each individual. Outside the house in Agathenstrasse, the birthplace of Markus and his siblings, six such stones are set in the paving. Six because this house was home to six people who were known to have lost their lives because of the holocaust. Benjamin and Kreine each have a stone there, in their memory.

Markus and his siblings came to Britain on the Kindertransport but were then separated, and it was many many years before they started finding each other. Abraham moved to Israel, then onto Tasmania, and Esther, who trained as a nurse, met and married a doctor and moved to Australia, settling in Melbourne. Deborah moved back to Germany but died in Wales in 1969 and Isaac spent his last 20 years in Scotland. Markus started his new life in St Ives Huntingdonshire with Esther. Sadly the women who took them in was very hard on the children and did not offer any succour. As soon as he was old enough, he moved to London, and then on to Folkestone where he raised a large family and set up a pottery shop, where he could be seen potting in the window for many years into a late retirement.

Marcus Folkestone 18ish

Markus in Folkstone

The trauma never really left him. Although he prided himself on not retaining his german accent, neither did he retain his orthodox upbringing. He rarely spoke of his 'other life', and it was not until 2014 (Markus had passed in 2012) when I 'stumbled' across the Stolpersteine articles on-line, and started the journey of tracing this important family history, learning of many other relatives who had been murdered in the Nazi death camps.

Sadly, all the siblings have now passed on, but this, in my view, makes it even more important to keep this history alive in the memories of future generations. 

Marcus Esther Abe Deborah

The four older Goldberger Siblings (left to right); Markus, Esther, Abe & Deborah


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