Remembering Jacob Auerhahn, “alive for the last time on 6 February, 1944”

April 21, 2009 06:25

Jacob Auerhahn was my uncle. I have no photographs of him and there isn’t anyone alive today who can tell me anything about him. He was born on 6 December 1938 and his brief life ended in 1944.

Today is Yom Ha Shoah, and this year the central theme is “Children in the Holocaust”. About one and a half million Jewish children were murdered in the Shoah, among them my mother’s young brother, Jacob.

My mother grew up in Leipzig. Her mother died when she was ten and her elder brother left for Palestine in 1936. Her father remarried, and my mother loved her stepmother. But she had no time to get to know her new brother, because in February 1939, just two months after he was born, she left Germany on a Kindertransport.

My mother rarely spoke about her childhood in Leipzig, her experience on the Kindertransport, or her life as a refugee in London.

Since her death in 1996, my sister and I have tried to piece together her family story by speaking to surviving relatives, and by tracking down books which document the lives of the Jews who perished. We recently discovered in a book of memory published in Italy that my grandparents and Jacob were in internment camps in Tuscany and that they were arrested in Lucca on 30 November 1943. They were transported to Auschwitz on train number 6 on 30 January 1944 and were “alive for the last time on 6 February 1944”, when Jacob was five years old.

My grandfather must have been in utter despair as they were herded onto train number 6. He probably understood the fate that awaited them, and he could only hope that by allowing his teenage son to leave for an uncertain future in Palestine in 1936, and by putting his young daughter on another train in 1939, he had at least ensured their safety.

Indeed he did, and between them they gave my grandfather seven grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and, to date, three great-great grandchildren – most of whom are today living in Israel.

April 21, 2009 06:25

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