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“I´ll probably never find out“

Naftali Sappir, an Israeli, and his son Michael visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen in mid-December in search of any trace of his grandparents and their youngest son Bernhard. Sappir thinks that “it´s probably one of those cases which will never be solved.”

The van der Waldes, a Jewish family from Emden, moved to Frankfurt am Main in March 1940, where they were deported in 1942. Their last address was Uhlandstrasse. Sappir has not been able to find a single document describing their fate, not even in the ITS archive. “I have nothing,” said Sappir. “I have also been to Yad Vashem. I would like to know when and where they were deported to, but I´ll probably never find out.”

Most of Frankfurt´s Jews were deported to Terezin, but the transports were not well-documented as the most of the Gestapo´s records were destroyed because of the war. Of the more than 10,600 Jews deported from and through Frankfurt, fewer than 600 survived the Nazi regime. For many, Terezin was a stop on the way to Auschwitz.

Naftali´s mother Kela Ruth survived the Holocaust. Instead of going to Frankfurt, she fled to the Netherlands. After the country was occupied by the Germans, she was arrested in October 1942 and deported from Westerbork to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. On 29 June 1944 she was able to leave Bergen-Belsen for Palestine in an exchange transport along with 221 other Jews. The Jewish prisoners were to be exchanged for Germans being interned abroad. She built a new life in Israel. “Bernhard was her youngest brother.  He was nine years old in 1942,” said Sappir.