Hannie Wolf

Hanne Wolf of Albion, Nebraska - Condensed from Mrs. Wolf’s autobiography, A Child of Two Worlds

Hanne Lore “Hannie” Wolf was born in 1925 in Ulm, a city in southern Germany on the Danube.  She was the only child of Felix Baer (7/4/1894 to 6/30/1965), a successful grain dealer, and Hilde Frankfurter (1903-?).

Prior to Hitler’s coming to power in 1933 German Jews, Catholics and Protestants freely associated.  After 1933, when the Jews began to be blamed for all of Germany’s problems, Christians were forbidden from associating with Jews. Hannie, though, continued to communicate with her best friend who lived above her, a Catholic girl, Rosemarie Lang, by talking through the bathroom water pipes.  Jews were also forbidden to shop at stores and eat in restaurants.  Over time it became necessary for Jewish children to move about in groups for their own safety.  Even then they were spat upon, had rocks thrown at them and were called “dirty Jews.”

 Hannie’s father’s business began to suffer because Christians stopped doing business with him.  One day he referred to Hitler as a “fool” to a supposed friend who reported him to the police.  He was arrested and the next day his picture appeared in the newspaper as “The Chief of the Jews.”

Because they couldn’t frequent the same places they once had, the Jews in Ulm formed their own sports and music clubs, were active in theatre productions and developed their own school.  But over time they were forced to hardly venture out at all.

The Polish Jews living in Ulm were “resettled” in Poland and never heard from again.

The Gestapo would often arrive unexpectedly in the night.  They would search the Baer’s apartment, taking anything they wanted - including the prized family radio.  One time they tore the family’s grandfather clock apart looking for hidden weapons.

From Hannie’s book:  “Disaster struck on November 7, 1938.  Hershel Grynszpan, whose parents were among the Jews deported from Germany to Poland , assassinated Ernst von Rath, the Third Secretary of the German Embassy in Paris .  As a reprisal the Nazis set off a night of plunder and burning.  November 9, 1938 became known as the ‘Kristallnacht’ (night of broken crystal or glass).  There were anti-Semitic riots all over Germany and Austria.  Jewish businesses were looted and burned. Windows were broken and nearly all synagogues were burned to the ground.”

The Synagogue of Ulm was among those burned.  Hannie’s father kept a small fragment of the remains, which is now on display in Temple Israel in Omaha.  He wrote upon it in ink a message which translated reads, “This stone tells of suffering and pain.  November 9, 1938.”

Again, from Hannie’s book:  “During the riots, male Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.  Papa, while wearing only his night clothes, was taken from his bed to be interrogated that the police station.  His only crime was being a Jew.  Mamma ran to the police station carrying some warm clothing.  Her pleas for his release went unheeded.  He was sent, along with others, to the concentration camp in Dachau where he remained for many weeks.  While at the concentration camp he had a sad reunion with his brother Sigbert, who was arrested the same night…”

After a number of weeks, Hannie’s mother was able to find her husband’s military papers from WWI, allowing him to be released from Dachau. Hannie wrote “Papa was thin and gaunt when he returned from Dachau.  He suffered from boils, his body was ailing and his spirit broken.  From that time on he lived alone with his thoughts.  Perhaps wanting to spare us the horror, he never divulged any of his experiences in the concentration camp.  He took those secrets with him to the grave.”

When WWII began on September 1, 1939, Hannie’s father’s grain business was confiscated.  There were frequent air raids on Ulm at night.  Jews were not allowed in bomb shelters but the Baer’s landlord allowed them into his.

The family knew it had to immigrate to another country – preferably America.  Many of Hannie’s father’s relatives lived in America and Martin Schuller and his wife Hattie ultimately sent an affidavit enabling them to come to America.

Hannie received her last report card from Jewish school in Ulm on February 29, 1940.  By bribing officials, Hannie’s father arranged for them to travel from Berlin to Moscow in September 1940, and from there to Manchuria, Korea, Japan, British Columbia and finally to Seattle on Halloween of that year.

From Seattle they traveled to Portland and then over the holidays to Denver and then Golden Colorado.  Hannie graduated from high school in 1943 and then studied at the Barnes Business College.  She eventually found work as a secretary at a large insurance company.  Her father worked as a custodian at the National Jewish Hospital and her mother as a clerk in a dime store.

The Baer’s became American citizens on May 2, 1946.  Hannie married Bob Wolf in 1947, two weeks after having met him at a dance. Hannie’s father’s brother Siegbert survived the war doing hard labor in a stone quarry.  Hannie’s father’s relatives Ernst Wolf and his daughter Marian both died in the Holocaust, as did Hannie’s friends Edith Weil and Bobby Hirsch.  Most of Hannie’s mother’s family died in the Holocaust, including her grandmother Emmy.

Through the International Red Cross Hannie’s family received a last letter from Emmy on November 3, 1942.  Hannie shared part of this in her book:  “‘My Dears, These are my last lines to you.  I am going into the unknown.  I am well and hope you are the same.  God Bless you.  A hug and Kiss.  Mother.’” Emmy was sent to Theresienstadt.  She perished along with six million other Jews during the Holocaust.  The site and date of her death are unknown.”

Bea Karp Recounts Her Holocaust Survivor Journey

On a January morning students at Omaha’s Lewis and Clark Middle School file in an auditorium to hear a tale of survival by Bea Karp, a petite Jewish woman of 66 who as a child in her native Germany, and later in France, endured the Holocaust. She and her younger sister, Susie, are among their extended family’s few survivors. As Bea’s harrowing tale unfolds, the students listen with the stilled respect due the haunted figure standing before them. Not all survivors can speak about their experiences. Some want only to forget, Bur for Bea, and thousands like her, there is a need to speak out. To bear witness. Why?
Read More

A Not So Average Joe Tells His Holocaust Story of Survival

It’s not as if Joe Boin hadn’t spoken about his Holocaust survivor tale before. He shared his story for the Shoah Visual History Project. He’s told it to school groups. He helped form Nebraska Survivors of the Holocaust to raise awareness and to commission public memorials as reminders of what happened. But until now the Berlin, Germany native never laid out his story for publication. The time seemed right. The 87-year-old widower resides at the Rose Blumkin Home, where he scoots around in his motorized wheelchair with aplomb, American and Go Big Red flags affixed to the back. The amiable man makes friends easily and lives a credo of looking ahead, not back, but the searing memories never dim. Alone with his thoughts, his odyssey is always near.
Read More

Escape Artist: Lou Leviticus

“I’ve been an escape artist all my life.” The apt words belong to Lincoln, Neb. resident Lou Leviticus, a square-headed terrier of a man who as a youth in his native Holland survived the Holocaust partly due to his talents as an artful dodger. He escaped the Nazis more than once, even when those closest to him were caught and put to death. As an orphan on the run he became one of scores of hidden children in The Netherlands, his survival dependent on a cadre of strangers that cared for him as one of their own.
Read More

Kitty Williams Finally Tells Her Survivor Tale

For the longest time, Holocaust survivor Kitty Williams of Council Bluffs didn’t think her story warranted telling. She considered her suffering insignificant amid the weight of Nazi atrocities. Other tragedies far surpassed her own. Nobody could find hers interesting or edifying. It’d all been said before.
Read More

For My Mother: Helena Tichauer Tells Her Story

Helena Tichauer was tempted to give up more than once. If she had, no one would have blamed her. For persecuted Jews like her and her family, reasons for despair were everywhere in Nazi-occupied Poland. Her family’s pleasant, comfortable life in Krakow had been wrenched away in the looming darkness of the Holocaust.
Read More

Lola's Story

“I feel I was destined to live.” That’s as close to an explanation as Lola Reinglas can offer in making sense of her Holocaust survival. An Omaha resident since 1949, Reinglas and her sister, Helena Tichauer, survived a series of internments, some together-some apart, that defied reason except for the intervention of fate and their own indefatigable will.
Read More

Piecing Together a Lost Past: The Fred Kader Story

For the first 52 years of his life Fred Kader lived everyday in the shadow of a lost past. An orphaned child of the Holocaust, Kader’s early years remained an unfathomable mystery that he hoped one day to solve so that he might finally come to know how he survived the Shoah as a small boy in his native Belgium.
Read More

Sisters of the Shoah: Three Survivor Tales, Golden Fates and Iron Wills

This is not just another Holocaust story. It is the chronicle of how three sisters survived, alone and together, a series of Nazi concentration camps during World War II to tell their story of human endurance. That not one or two but all three made it out alive is, as the eldest puts it today, “Impossible. I don’t know how we lived. We survived with nothing…not even our hair.”
Read More