Granddaughter of Nazi sympathisers writes apology letter to Shoah survivor

German woman whose mother grew up in the former house of US survivor says she is ‘ashamed’.


An American Holocaust survivor has received an unsolicited apology from the granddaughter of Nazi sympathizers who moved into his house after his family were driven out of Germany.

Last month, Doris Schott-Neuse wrote to New Jersey-based Peter Hirschmann to say she felt “deeply ashamed” by what her fellow Germans “did to yourself, your family and to your friends and relatives and to the members of the Nuremberg Jewish community”.

Now 92, Mr Hirschmann grew up in the German city but eventually fled to England with his brother. Later reunited with their parents, the family moved on to America, according to the New Jersey Jewish News.

The Hirschmanns’ family home in Nuremberg was seized by the Nazis, and from 1941 onwards Ms Schott-Neuse’s maternal grandfather was listed as its owner. It was sold off by the family during the 1970s and the Hirschmanns were never compensated.

Ms Schott-Neuse, 45, tracked down Mr Hirschmann after stumbling upon an article from 2009 which mentioned that he had returned to the property during the 1980s.

“It is a shame that I never looked into the Nazi past of my family,” she wrote, adding that she had learnt about the Holocaust at school.

 “It seems to be only now that we — the grandchildren generation of the men and women who became criminals — start to ask tough questions of the degree and way our families have been involved and actively contributed not only to a war but to the Shoah.” 

Welcoming the letter, Mr Hirschmann wrote back to say he did not hold Ms Schott-Neuse responsible.

“While I would never disregard the lessons of the past, I have lived my life by looking forward, not backward. I hope you will do likewise,” he wrote. 

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