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“I left everything behind, my home, my toys and my friends”

“It makes a difference to see it with your own eyes,” Ralph and Phyllis Mollerick said during a visit to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. The couple from Florida came to North Hesse to visit the exhibition “Legalized Robbery” and to receive the award of honorary citizenship in neighboring Wolfhagen, the birthplace of Ralph Mollerick. They both took the opportunity to get to know the ITS archives and see the documents on the fate of the family Möllerich.

Ralph Mollerick, who was born on 27 May 1930 in Kassel, lived as a child with his parents in the North Hessian town of Wolfhagen. Soon after the seizure of power by the National Socialists, life for the Jewish family became increasingly difficult. The business of the parents was boycotted, the accounts frozen, and the citizens’ rights withdrawn. Although he was so young, Mollerick vividly remembers individual episodes, such as the storming of the apartment by the Gestapo when his father pretended to be sick having a lot of medicine on the night table, or the humiliating rejection of his mother when she asked in vain for money for a new dress from the Zwangsverwalter (sequestrator) of the family’s accounts. “I was seven years old as we left the house in middle of the night,” recalls Mollerick the departure from Wolfhagen in 1937. “I left everything, my home, my room, my toys and my friends.”

The family initially sought refuge in Hamburg where many Jewish families still lived in the district of Eppendorf. His parents sent Ralph and his older sister a year later on one of the life-saving kindertransports to England. “At the age of eight, I could not understand. I had the feeling that my parents had abandoned me. They were not even allowed to come to the platform to say goodbye.” During the trip the curtains had to remain closed in the compartments.

Ralph never saw his parents, Joseph and Selma Möllerich, again. They were deported to the Lodz ghetto and presumably murdered in Auschwitz. In the ITS archives, a document from the tax office in Kassel and the transport list from Hamburg to Lodz on 25 October 1941 testify the fate of the Jewish family. After the end of the war, Mollerick tried repeatedly to clarify the exact circumstances of the death of his parents, also by placing several inquiries at the ITS. “It’s frustrating that so many documents exist, but no documents about their death,” says the 81-year-old. “Every piece is a treasure.”