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October 19, 1886 | Doernbach, Germany
Yennj and her husband Heinrich were two of a few Jewish residents in Ruchheim, a small town in the Rhine River valley. Yennj helped Heinrich run their dry goods store that was on the first floor of their house. In the summer she liked working in the garden out back. Their son, Kurt, had emigrated to America after World War I. Ida, their daughter, helped them in the store until she married.
1933-39: The Nazis have come to power, and many Jews have decided to leave Germany. Our niece, Luise, recently sailed for America. She used to visit us every summer and was like a younger sister to our Ida. Heinrich and I have thought about leaving Germany, but can't do it without taking Ida and our granddaughter, Freya. Anyway, Ida's husband doesn't want to leave his business. And who would sponsor us all to come to America?
1940-42: Heinrich and I, with Ida and her family, have already been deported to two detention camps in southern France. When we arrived at the first one, Gurs, it was winter--cold and rainy--and we had only straw to sleep on. Six-year-old Freya came down with a high fever and severe earache and almost died. Now, at Rivesaltes, there's a chance to get Freya out of the camp to safety through an aid society (Children's Aid Society) that arranges to hide children with French families in the countryside. We all say goodbye to Freya.
In September 1942, a few days after Freya left the camp, 55-year-old Yennj, her husband and her daughter were deported to Auschwitz, where they perished. Freya survived the war.