Staff and students are warmly invited to an event at GCU to mark National Holocaust Day 2019, hosted by the GCU branch of the UCU (University and Colleges Union).
Dr Angela Shapiro, GCU Honorary Fellow and UCU supporter, will deliver an engaging talk on the theme ‘Torn from home’. The session will encourage us to reflect on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call ‘home’ is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide. This includes reflections on those impacted by the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides including Cambodia, Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda, and most recently in Myanmar. It will also encourage us to reflect on the lived experiences of refugees and asylum seekers from around the world who are forced to flee their homes to seek safety and rebuild their lives in Glasgow and elsewhere. Dr Shapiro is a member of the ‘Gathering the Voices Association’, and will also provide an overview of the project’s work and the contributions made by GCU students.
Time: MONDAY, 28 JANUARY 2019, 13:00 – 14:00
Glasgow Caledonian University
Glasgow G4 0BA
A unique exhibition which keeps alive the stories of Holocaust survivors is coming to North Ayrshire early in the New Year.
Gathering the Voices features more than 40 moving stories from men, women and children who were forced to flee their native homes and seek sanctuary in Scotland to escape anti-semitism in Nazi-dominated Europe.
The exhibition will be hosted in the Burns Suite of Irvine Townhouse from January 7.
Cabinet member for Communities, Councillor Louise McPhater, said: “With each passing year, the number of Holocaust survivors who are still with us gets fewer and fewer.
“We must do everything we can to ensure that their voices and their experiences aren’t forgotten and that’s why this exhibition is so important.
“It’s a necessary reminder that we must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust so we can prevent it ever happening again.”
Gathering the Voices allows the survivors to speak first-hand about their experience of fleeing mainland Europe for safe haven in Scotland.
Although tragic, the stories are inspirational, allowing the positivity and determination of survivors to shine through. The interviewees speak about the terrible events that they experienced, but did not want to be remembered as victims but as people who made a new life for themselves in a new country, with new careers and new friends.
Their message is that anyone can fit in and make a success of their life.
Gathering the Voices will run at the Townhouse from Monday, 7 January, until Friday, 18 January, and the opening hours are 9.00 – 4.30pm
Issued by: John HutchesoEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 01294 324121
Date: 19 December 2018
On September 1, 1947, Ella Ankermann wrote to Erna Baruch’s relatives from the Herrmann family in Cali, Colombia. This letter, often quoted here, also shows that Max Baruch’s Christian first wife still had contact with Erna’s first husband, Hermann Twelkemeyer, during the war. She said that she wanted to fulfill Erna’s last wish and wanted to take care of her daughter Edith, who had escaped to Scotland. And to explain why she of all people, Ella Ankermann, suddenly might have to take care of Edith, the daughter of the woman who had married her ex-husband Max, she wrote:
“There was still the possibility that Hermann Twelkemeier could be called to serve in the army! However, Mr. Twelkemeier informed me that Edith felt very comfortable and was in good hands with her “adoptive parents”.
This indicates that she would have wanted to support Edith if her last relative, father Hermann Twelkemeyer, had not been able to do so anymore. However, it is advisable to read the letter of the Christian Ella Ankermann with a certain caution. Here and there her own needs and wish for help shines through between the lines. Now, after the end of the war, she would be sitting in bombed-out Berlin. She emphasized how altruistically she had always supported ex-husband Max and his second wife Erna, how she herself had been deprived of all financial means by Max’s divorce, how difficult her own situation was now, and how happy the Jewish emigrants must feel in Colombia today. But perhaps my suspicions may be wrong.
The behavior of Hermann Twelkemeyer, the Christian first husband of Erna Baruch, is demonstrably not as positive as his daughter Edith in Scotland probably assumed until her death in March 2018. One of the best experts in the Jewish history of Nordhausen, the former mayor of the town, Manfred Schröter, spoke with many contemporary witnesses there over a number of years.
In Nordhausen, in particular, other married couples from Jewish-Christian “mixed marriages”, who had remained together despite humiliations and had thus saved their Jewish partners from deportation, repeatedly expressed the suspicion that not Erna but Hermann Twelkemeyer had forced the separation. One Nordhausen family lamented Hermann Twelkemeyer’s “lack of character” and considered him complicit in Erna’s death. He could have saved her, since the Jewish partners in mixed marriages could still live relatively safely in Germany until shortly before the end of the Nazi regime and, for example, were exempt from the obligation to wear the yellow star. The accusations went even further. After the war, Twelkemeyer’s house was completely bombed out. However, during the short American occupation of the town, despite the extreme shortage of space, he had very quickly been assigned a replacement site in the best location. Manfred Schröter, therefore, suspected that Twelkemeyer deliberately pretended to be a Nazi victim to the victorious powers after the war. 
In the files of the Oberfinanzdirektion Berlin Brandenburg another “process” was preserved, which also did not show him in a particularly positive light. In the spring and summer of 1944, Hermann Twelkemeyer tried to transfer his life insurance policy, which he had taken out together with Erna, to himself. However, the insurance company had already expressed its doubts to the tax authorities as to how the property shares of the Jewish ex-wife, who was one of the subscribers to the contract, should be handled in a legally correct manner. The insurance company knew that the German state was claiming the assets of the murdered for itself down to the last penny. Quite “legally”. According to the 11th Ordinance to the Reich Citizenship Law (one of the “Nuremberg Laws” of 1935), the assets of the “expatriates” were completely forfeited to the German Reich after their death. The insurance company showed itself willing to accept Hermann Twelkemeyer as the sole beneficiary in life insurance– but only under the condition that the tax authorities renounced their share of the assets of the “expatriates”. They were to certify in writing that the tax authorities had renounced the “Jewish” part of the life insurance they had already saved. The Finance Department, however, apparently sensed larger amounts that could be lost to the Reich and so inquired about the divorced Jewish woman in Berlin. It asked the ex-husband for a statement. On May 10, 1944 – more than a year after the death of his ex-wife in Auschwitz – Twelkemeyer wrote to the authorities:
“In the meantime, since my wife is Jewish, I was divorced. I don’t know where my divorced wife is.”
That sounds neutral and plausible. On August 8, 1944, however, he added more:
“As for your further inquiries, I would like to inform you that my divorced wife was born in Nordhausen on 10 June 06. Where she went after the divorce is unknown to me. I assume that she is no longer in Germany. I further declare that my divorced wife was completely without assets and did not bring any assets into the marriage. I cannot go any further, since I did not take care of this woman again, nor did I receive any news from her”.
So wrote the man whose daughter lived with foster parents in Scotland because she had a Jewish mother. He did not take care of “this woman”– he obviously does not want to be associated with “this woman“ any more. Here, too, of course, the circumstances must be taken into account: Hermann Twelkemeyer wrote to a Nazi-dominated German authority. Did he possibly want to protect the theft of Erna Twelkemeyer’s life insurance premiums– which she had presumably paid for using her earnings from working in Herrmann’s business – from the grip of the Nazi state? Until about 1938 Erna and Herrmann Twelkemeyer had both made life insurance contributions, on the basis that the insurance company would eventually pay out the total sum owed to them both or, if one of them died, to the surviving spouse. But Erna and Herrmann ‘suspended’ the insurance in 1938 (i.e. they stopped making monthly payments) because Erna was Jewish.
In 1944 Herrmann – by then divorced from Erna – wanted to reactivate the life insurance, but only in his name. By this time, the Nazi authorities were already trying to forcibly collect all the savings of deported and murdered Jews. Herrmann claimed that Erna had never paid anything into the life insurance herself. I think he wanted all the money for himself. But something else is also possible: if he prevented the Nazis from taking control of the funds, he could then share them with his ex-wife Erna after the war. So, did he deliberately lie and tell the Nazis “I no longer know the woman” in order to save the money for both himself and Erna? That is possible. But I think it is unlikely. After the war his neighbors in the town of Nordhausen thought that Herrmann Twelkemeyer was a coward who had betrayed his wife Erna. He had always sought only his own advantage. His choice of words in these letters of 1944 concerning his persecuted first wife makes me shiver.
According to Ella Ankermann, Twelkemeyer remarried after the war. She wrote to Colombia:
“Recently I went to Nordhausen, which by the way doesn’t look so badly bombed. Mr. Twelkemeier remarried, a 20-year-old young lady, on 23 August 1947.”
Twelkemeyer’s daughter, Edith Forrester-Twelkemeyer, later told the family version of the story, in a BBC television documentary. Hermann, her biological father, although Christian, had been in the “camp” and had escaped. In 1945 East Germany had been occupied by the Red Army. Trapped in the Russian occupation zone, her biological father had not been able to make contact with her in England. This would explain why she had heard nothing from her father for a long time after the liberation of Germany.
“My natural father, being a gentile, had escaped the camps, though trapped in the Russian zone he was unable to contact his daughter.” 
So aapparentlyhe was unable to contact his daughter. Maybe this was the version Edith had heard from her father, Hermann Twelkemeyer. They actually saw each other again.
In a long interview with the Scottish organization “Gathering The Voices” Edith described this reunion. And the discomfort she now felt after her long and happy long stay with her foster parents in Scotland. Bank official Gavin Forrester and his wife had lovingly supported her from the age of seven: first when she arrived, then as faithful and generous foster parents who accompanied and protected Edith through her childhood to her vocational training. Edith was so grateful to them that, although she was not an adopted child, she later adopted the surname Forrester with great conviction.
“INT: And did you see your father again?
INT: What happened with your birth father?
EF: That was very difficult, very difficult because I went to Germany and his sister was a dear aunt of mine and she’d been bombed and she was paralysed from the neck down and I was going to stay with her and my father. And he arrived at the station with beautiful red roses and everything. I have to confess with shame to this day; I felt nothing when I saw him. He was standing with his back to me when I looked out the window and he was tall and thin, just as I remembered him. Tall, very tall, six feet tall and you know, the crinkly hair which was grey of course but when he turned, the face was so wrinkled and ravaged. But he was always touching me and holding my hand and I could not, I could not feel the love that I had felt for this wonderful father that I had for nearly seven years, well seven years yes.
INT: And when was it that you went? How old were you by then when you went back to Germany to see him?
EF: Would it be nineteen or twenty? I was a student here.
INT: That is a long time.
EF: And of course…what I didn’t know was that my Scottish father was going out of his mind because he said to Mum, “She’ll not want to come back. She’ll see her own father. She’ll not want to come back.” She kept saying, she was one of these wonderful calming spirits, she said, “Gavin, she’ll be back, don’t you worry. This is her home and she loves us.” And I never saw such relief on their faces when I stepped off that plane and just ran towards them, you know.“
Edith’s biological mother Erna died in Auschwitz. And as a survivor and child of a murdered woman, Edith saw it as her duty to pass on her own story and that of her mother to the younger generation until her death. The story of a mother who was willing to tear herself away from her daughter so that she would be safe. The story of a very courageous mother who consistently gave up her sheltered life in Nordhausen to protect others. A mother whose deprivation by the tax authorities and disparaging assessment by her ex-husband was never known to her daughter in Scotland – thank God perhaps. The Nazis and many German beneficiaries had systematically destroyed her life, expelled her from her homeland, exploited her in factories, made her life hell in Berlin, then imprisoned her, and finally deprived her of her life. Not only that. Erna was also not allowed to have a resting place, a place of burial and remembrance. And even, after all that, there was actually one last tiny remnant left, which could also be stolen:
On January 20, 1944, the Berlin Brandenburg Finance Directorate noted that 387 Reichsmarks could still be “redeemed” from the sale of Max and Erna Baruch’s furniture from their apartment in Gervinusstrasse. The landlord demanded the outstanding rent for the apartment, which had been vacant for several months after the deportation, from the state. After these “expenses” and “income” had been set off against each other, the Baruch couple’s “asset valuation” left a remainder. The “surplus” of 140 Reichsmark and 39 Pfennigen could still be booked to the state account. „Ordnung muss sein.“ (Order must be.)
-  Letter from Ella Ankermann to family Herrmann in Cali, Colombia from 1.9.1957. In: Darling Mutti. Edited and compiled by Joan Marshall. Jacana Book. Johannesburg 2005 p.78 ff
-  Mail from Manfred Schröter to the author from 13.09.2018
-  Herald Scotland (Friday) 20th November 1998 , Goodnight, sweetheart
-  Interview by Claire Singerman with Edith Forrester on the Website Gathering the Voices“. Edith Forrester Settling In https://www.gatheringthevoices.com/edith-forrester-setting-in/
-  Two index cards Max Baruch and Erna Baruch, divorced Twelkemeyer Rep 36 A Chief Finance President Berlin Brandenburg (II), index and list of assets, Brandenburg State Main Archive
Did Erna Baruch work for Siemens-Schuckert’s “Elmo-Werk”, which produced control motors for fire control systems, i.e. war equipment? Their date of deportation would fit because this factory was to lose all Jewish workers at the beginning of March 1943. The last days of the two in Berlin were in February, shortly before the so-called “factory action” in which the last Jews were arrested away from their workplaces in order to make the Reich’s capital “Judenrein“ (clean” of Jews). Ella Ankermann, Max Baruch’s first Christian wife, wrote after the war about the first months of 1943:
“Erna continued to go to work at her place of work and I kept in touch with her continuously. On February 2nd she called me by phone and asked me to meet her. She told me then, she had received a message from her husband, she should prepare herself for deportation. She should ask me for some money and some food for the trip. I did give her some money and some food and some pieces of jewellery, which might come in handy, who knows what the situation might be. Later on I heard that both of them were deported and from Max the news from jawischowitz and following this, nothing ever. In my letters, I always inquired about Erna’s whereabouts, but I never received an answer again.“
Some aspects of Ella Ankermann’s letter suggest that Max Baruch was already interned at that time. It could have been a Berlin forced labour camp or one of the so-called “Sammellager” (collection points) where Jews had to appear before their deportation, such as the “Grosse Hamburger Strasse” or the former synagogue in Levetzowstrasse. The “transport lists” of the so-called 28th Osttransport are long. In other words, the list of all “passengers” on the train that left the Reich capital for Auschwitz on February 3rd – one day after Erna Baruch’s last call to Ella Ankermann. About 1000 names for one single train. Under the numbers 895 and 896 in the transport lists are Erna “Sara” Baruch and Max “Israel” Baruch, by occupation “worker” with their last address 20b Gervinusstrasse. Beside Erna’s age a “Yes” is indicated in the column “workable”.
Max Baruch was sent to the Jawischowitz subcamp, a coal mine near Auschwitz with unbearable working conditions. 80 percent of the prisoners worked underground. Here– due to the destruction of the files by the SS– the last traces of his life are lost.
Iga Bunalska from the Auschwitz Study Group searched the archives of the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland, for me. The result: not a single document exists anymore about the transport of February 3, 1943 and Max Baruch. This proves that the SS crews destroyed all the remaining files. This happened when the extermination camp was hastily dissolved in 1945 because the Red Army had already arrived. The date of Max Baruch’s death was therefore later (erroneously) given as his date of admission to the camp.
It is different with Erna Baruch, née Herrmann, formerly Twelkemeyer. Her name, her last address in Berlin, the names of her parents, the name of her second husband – all these can be found in the archives there. More precisely: on an official death certificate, issued by the SS doctor Bruno Kitt, who was later sentenced to death, and authenticated by a registrar in Auschwitz. According to the report, Erna Baruch died on 25 February 1943 of blood poisoning (sepsis after Phlegmone) at 9:30 a.m. in “Auschwitz Kasernenstrasse”.
But this apparently clear document could be “poisoned” – invented. Often the helpers among the prisoners who prepared these documents had clear instructions for filling them in, which had nothing to do with the truth. For example there could have been the command: Today you write 50 death certificates with a heart attack and 50 with another cause of death! At the same time, the SS tried to conceal the actual number of those who died in Auschwitz on one day. The same applied to the actual causes of death. There were isolated attempts by the camp’s resistance groups to counteract this. They wanted to record exactly how many were murdered and how that happened. They tried to use secret codes, such as always entering respiratory diseases when the victims had been gassed. But often the resistance groups could not use these codes. Thus the true cause of death of Erna Baruch remains a sealed secret.
-  Letter from Ella Ankermann to family Herrmann in Cali, Colombia from 1.9.1957. In: Darling Mutti. Edited and compiled by Joan Marshall. Jacana Book. Johannesburg 2005 p.78 ff
-  Scans of the deportation lists from the US-American archives can be found on the website Statistics of the Holocaust. These include the transports from Berlin. http://www.statistik-des-holocaust.de/list_ger_ber.html
-  Scan of the death certificate issued from the Auschwitz concentration camp memorial and explanations of the Auschwitz Study Group in mails from Iga Bunalska to the author from 13. And 14.06.2018