upheimand its Annihilation
Book Pages 376 - 383
Translated by: Brigitte Bach
DR . ANTJE KÖHLERSCHMIDT
Flora Neuhaus, née Heumann, born on May 18, 1858 in Laupheim, died on February 20, 1937 in Gailingen. [Dr. Hugo Neuhaus, born on April 26, 1885 in Ellwangen, OO Marie Röschen, née Siegheim, born on December 27, 1891 in Georgenberg.
– Gottfried Neuhaus, born on August 28, 1926 in Ulm
– Barbara Neuhaus, born on January 21, 1928 in Ulm]
Flora Neuhaus, née Heumann, was the first of five daughters of the economist Jacob Heumann (1821–1909) and his wife Babette, née Eppstein (1825–1899).1)
Flora grew up in Laupheim and went to the Jewish elementary school there which – at that time – was housed in a building that was also used as the rabbinate, a school and community center opposite the synagogue. As one of the 128 pupils, Flora experienced the move from the constricted rooms to the newly erected school building in the upper Radstrasse in 1868.2) She most likely went to the Jewish elementary school for six years. Secondary schools were only just being established in Laupheim and were at first exclusively for boys. From 1872 to 1873 she finally completed her education at the “Anna Barbara von Stettensche Institut” in Augsburg. Up to the present day this educational institution has been funded by the Protestant Church and exclusively an all-girls’ school. Her mother’s brother Adolf Epstein lived in Augsburg. Adolf Epstein’s daughter died at the age of 12 in 1870. It only seemed natural that Flora should stay with her uncle’s family while going to school in Augsburg. Certainly it also meant consolation for the loss of their daughter who bore the same name and was of the same age.3) In the “von Stettenschen Institut” Flora could choose between two modern languages. “She chose the French language as she found (at the age of 14!) the lisped TH-sound in English too affected. The nasal sounds in French also appeared in her Swabian mother tongue!“4) Flora spent the following five years up to her wedding at her parents’ house in Laupheim. We can assume that she was helping in her parents’ household and that she was busy sewing, knitting and crocheting for her dowry.5)
Flora Heumann in Augsburg 1873.
The time in Ellwangen
On February 5, 1878 Flora Heumann got married to the 26-year- old merchant Emanuel Neuhaus in Pflaumloch.6) They moved to Ellwangen where Flora’s husband ran a retail and wholesale stationery shop with his brother-in-law and associate Louis Ballenberger. The Ballenberger and Neuhaus families lived on two floors of the same house. As common at that time, Flora became a housewife after her wedding. In Ellwangen, the Neuhaus couple had three sons: Siegfried (born in 1881), Hugo (born in 1885) and Max (born in 1888). The successive deaths of their two sons, Max in March and Siegfried in April of the year 1889, both due to an inflammation of the middle ear, was a painful loss for the family. Flora also worried about her remaining son. “Hugo crossed the frozen Jagst river in winter on his way to school in order to avoid the longer way across the bridge. Once the ice broke and he was saved from drowning because of his wide coat that was filled with air.“7)
The relationship between Flora and her son Hugo was loving and heartfelt throughout their whole lives. “He was her one and only. The fact that he completely turned away from her beloved Jewish religion caused her major worries but she did not reproach him but only herself.”8) On October 21, 1899, her husband Emanuel Neuhaus died of pulmonary tuberculosis.9)
Back in Laupheim
In the following year, in 1900 Flora Neuhaus returned to her parents’ house in Kapellenstraße 13 in Laupheim. At the beginning of the same year her mother Babette had died. Flora kept house for her 78-year old father for the next ten years and she took care of him until he died in 1909. She inherited the house which was located on the southern corner of the Judenberg and moved into an independent flat on the ground floor while her sister Clara, married Lammfromm, and her husband lived on the first floor with her husband. (page 332 ff.)
“Her widow’s pension and her thrifty lifestyle allowed her (Flora Neuhaus – the author.), a simple but comfortable life.” 10) “She kept busy working and praying. I (Gottfried Neuhaus –the author) think she used to keep chicken. She was always cleaning, mostly on her knees. She knitted and crocheted and mended and embroidered. Of course, she had social contacts with the many relatives in Laupheim and she went to the synagogue as often as she could. The synagogue had a gallery on the first floor where women prayed behind a curtain. Only men were allowed on the ground floor. Flora was very religious and strictly adhered to the complicated Sabbath and dietary laws” 11)
Flora Neuhaus was well integrated in the Jewish congregation due to her membership in the Jewish Women’s Club, which was founded in 1838 and addressed issues of women with regard to religious and social life.12)
The Career of her Son
“The next four years (1914–1918) her daily life (that of Flora Neuhaus – the author) focused on practising her strictly orthodox belief which told her that her son would come back from war. She fasted and prayed every day and worked during the time she had left. She bought war bonds. The fact that her son returned home was proof to her that that her attitude was right. Even though religious in Jewish faith, grandma was a metaphor for Christian work ethics. She could not sit around doing nothing.“13)
In the time to follow, Flora’s son practised medicine and from January to April 1919 he was head of the infants’ ward of the university hospital in Heidelberg before he opened a paediatric practice in Ulm on May 1, 1919, which he ran from the beginning of 1934 to his emigration in the summer of 1936, with a break of four months. The practice had an excellent reputation in and around Ulm. Dr. Hugo Neuhaus was also the physician of Laupheim children such as Heinrich Steiner. From 1926 he also worked as a school paediatrician at the country house used by Jewish schools inHerrlingen near Ulm.14)
On August 15, 1920 Dr. Hugo Neuhaus married Marie Röschen Siegheim, born in 1881 in the registry office in Laupheim. His great cousin from Laupheim, Otto Heumann, and his mother, Flora Neuhaus, acted as marriage witnesses. She promised her daughter-in-law: “I know my son and all his weaknesses. If there should ever be disharmony between you, I’m on your side!“ She never broke that promise.15) On the same day Rabbi Leopold Treitel wed the couple in the synagogue in Laupheim following Flora Neuhaus’s special request.16) Marie and Dr. Hugo Neuhaus had two children: their son Gottfried Emanuel Wolfgang was born on August 28, 1926 and their daughter Barbara Eva was born on January 21, 1928 in Ulm.17)
“In the house in Neu-Ulm Flora had her own room and then also in the flat in the Neutorstraße in Ulm . . . Flora and my mother Marie got along wonderfully even though they had completely different philosophies of life. There was never even the smallest quarrel. However, Hugo scolded his mother because she kept insisting on doing most exhausting physical work despite her heart condition and wouldn’t take things easy . Flora was loving and worried about her only grandchildren. She admired our little achievements a lot. Never a hint of strictness or criticism. Her hands were never empty – either her prayer book or the knitting needles kept her busy. Her son Hugo, however, had a downright aversion against religion. Even though he loved his mother dearly, he did not allow any concessions even when she visited us for a longer time. No kosher food was cooked and he regarded Saturday as a workday. She suffered badly from this sinful behaviour and doubled her prayers and the fasting.“18)
“I (Barbara Neuhaus – the author) remember that he (Hugo Neuhaus – the author) told me, when I was still rather small, that he lost his faith during his four years at the front. After that he referred to himself as an agnostic. Even though he never gave up his Jewish faith, he didn’t practice any of the traditions and joined the millions of other Jews who pledged allegiance to Germany.“19)
Her grandson Gottfried remembers the many visits to his grandmother Flora Neuhaus and his relatives in Laupheim where he found playmates of almost the same age in Willy Bergmann (born in 1925), Willy and Julie Bergmann’s, née Steiner, son. His grandmother had one single toy: a small yellow tin bus.20)
The changes after 1933
Already in December 1933, Dr. Hugo Neuhaus travelled to the USA in order to prepare the family’s emigration. He was early aware of the dangerous changes in Germany after January 30, 1933. Therefore, he passed a medical language test in New York and obtained both permission to practise medicine in this state and an immigration visa. During that time Marie Neuhaus had sold the house by the Jahnufer in Neu-Ulm and closed the practice at the Ehinger Tor. Flora Neuhaus, however, suffered from a heart attack at the beginning of the year 1934 and was consequently in need of care. She was no longer capable of running her own household alone in Laupheim. Due to his worries about his mother and his sense of responsibility as her only son, Hugo Neuhaus returned to Germany and successfully reopened his practice in Ulm.
Children’s Festival Laupheim 1932:
Gottfried Neuhaus, Willy Bergmann, Ernst
Bergmann, Bärbel Neuhaus.
Hugo Neuhaus with his mother Flora and his wife Marie, Ulm, 1932.
However, the threat by the Nazis increased steadily, particularly after the Nuremberg Racial Laws had been passed, so that the Neuhaus family decided again and definitely to emigrate to the USA while being forced to leave old and ill Flora Neuhaus behind in Germany.This was due to both her bad health condition and the immigration regulations of the USA. However in order to make sure that his mother was well taken care of – as far as possible considering the circumstances of that time – Hugo Neuhaus accommodated his mother in the Jewish hospital in Gailingen/Baden in June 1936.21)
Memories of Gottfried Neuhaus:
“After leaving Ulm on the first stage of our emigration, we visited my grandmother Flora in the Jewish hospital in Gailingen at the beginning of August, when I was nine years old. That was the last time for us to see her. She felt well and was particularly happy to comply with the Jewish dietary laws which was impossible for her when staying with us in Ulm or Neu-Ulm. Of course, saying good-bye was painful for all family members for my father was Flora’s only child who had survived. And her age and heart condition made us worry that it would be a farewell forever. Nevertheless, my parents talked about their plans to visit grandmother in May 1938 for her 80th birthday. She died peacefully in her sleep in February 1937.“22)
Her death saved her from the prosecution of the Nazis. Flora Neuhaus, née Heumann, was buried at the Jewish cemetery of her hometown Laupheim, grave S 28/5.23)
Excerpt from a letter of Hugo Neuhaus of March 2, 1937 to the Lörsch family in Neu-Ulm who they were friendly with:
„. . . Eight days ago, the news about our mother’s death whom you knew caused us great grief. We were once more made brutally aware of the full tragedy of our fate as emigrants hit us. Mother died in the Gailingen hospital where she had been well cared for but far from her loved ones ever since we left. I am putting the fact of a mother’s lonely death whose only son was forced to leave his beloved home country at the beginning of my message, in order to show you what it has meant to the likes of us to leave behind a mother who would have deserved to be cared for by her loved ones until her dying breath. Seen from point of view, this emigration was right and necessary. Whether we old ones will still be able to cope with the requirements of this alien new world with its new language, can only be answered correctly in a couple of years.“24)
On August 22, 1936 the family of four had left Europe leaving on a ship called “Westerland” from Antwerp. Despite having progressed in years, 51-year old Dr. Hugo Neuhaus managed against all odds, to establish a well-running practice in Freeport, New York State. From the beginning of his stay in the States, his striving was geared to helping Jewish relatives and friends. For 17 he affidavits, until the authorities stopped him from obtainig any more. In addition, Dr. Hugo and Marie Neuhaus supported many German emigrants in order to facilitate their start in their new home country. After their emigration neither of them set foot on German ground again. Dr. Hugo Neuhaus died in Freeport in 1959, his wife Marie Neuhaus in Yonkers, New Jersey in 1974.
Flora Neuhaus’s grandchildren have succeeded in their new home country. Prof. Dr. Barbara Neuhaus became a faculty member of the School of Occupational Therapy at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and was dean of the faculty. Today she lives in New Jersey. After studying at Harvard College, Gottfried Neuhaus worked in a pharmaceutical enterprise. He has now retired and lives with his wife Helen, née Bull, in New Jersey. They have five children and four grandchildren.25)
f.l.: Helen and Geoff Neuhaus, their daughter Itty Neuhaus
and her husband at the opening of the exhibition:
“Itty Neuhaus: Home for Haus“ on September 9, 2007 in the Ulmer Stadthaus.
1) Registry Office Laupheim, family register volume V/95.
2) Schenzinger, August: Illustrierte Beschreibung und Geschichte Laupheims samt Umgebung (Illustrated description and history of Laupheim incl. surroundings). Laupheim 1897 Photo reprint of the town of Laupheim (ed.) 1987. p. 254; Schenk, Georg: Die Juden in Laupheim (The Jews in Laupheim). From: Stadt Laupheim (ed.) Laupheim. 1979. p. 296.
3) E-Mail from Gottfried Neuhaus dated June 16, 2003.
4) E-Mail from Gottfried Neuhaus dated June 10, 2003.
6) Registry Office Laupheim, family register volume V/295.
9) Letter from Gottfried Neuhaus dated May 22, 2003; Registry Office Laupheim, family register volume V/295.
10) Essay “OMA" (granny) by Barbara Neuhaus from the year 2000.
11) Compare Annotations 4.
12) District archive Biberach Az 6104/1.
13) See remark 10.
14) Carmen Stadelhofer (ed.): Ehrung für Dr. Hugo Neuhaus (tribute to Dr. Hugo Neuhaus). ZAWiW of Ulm University. January 2003. p. 62 ff.
15) Registry Office Laupheim. Marriage-Main-Register 1920.; Essay “OMA" (granny) by Barbara Neuhaus from the year 2000.
16) Compare Annotations 3.
17) Carmen Stadelhofer (ed): Ehrung für Dr. Hugo Neuhaus. ZAWiW der Universität Ulm. January 2003. p.11–12.
18) Email from Gottfried Neuhaus dated June 10, 2003.
19) Compare Annotations 10.
20) Compare Annotations 3.
21) Compare Annotations 14.
22) Email from Gottfried Neuhaus dated June 10, 2003.
23) Hüttenmeister, Natanja: Der Jüdische Friedhof (The Jewish Cemetery) . Laupheim 1998. p. 515.
24) Compare Annotations 14.