Mohr/Midas Photo Gallery

(Click on image to enlarge)

To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.
Voltaire (1694 –1778)

Bill’s Aunt Elsbeth and husband Robert Gerst as newlyweds

Elsbeth married Harry Weilheimer after the war and celebrated 30 years of a good life in New York and Palm Beach. She fully recovered from tuberculosis and other medical conditions caused by her wartime experience including imprisonment in Auschwitz.

Elsbeth married Harry Weilheimer after the war and celebrated 30 years of a good life in New York and Palm Beach. She fully recovered from tuberculosis and other medical conditions caused by her wartime experience including imprisonment in Auschwitz.

A stone placed at Yad Vashem, a memorial for Bill’s uncle Robert Gerst, who was executed by hanging shortly after entering Auschwitz

No More, No Less

Every Jewish person who struggled
to stay alive during the Holocaust
and those who were free
from boxcars, camps and slave labor
walked in mind with you Robert
as you were dragged to the gallows
in Auschwitz
and executed for being a Jewish person
no more, no less

today we remember you
as one of the innocent 6 million
who made the ultimate sacrifice
for being a Jew
no more, no less

it is immeasurably gratifying
to place this stone in your memory
in Yad Vashem in the Jewish homeland
we feel the circle of your life
is now finally complete
–   .
Harriet Mohr

Apartment house at Watteaustraat 4 (3 miles from the Anne Frank House) in Amsterdam, Holland where Aunt Elsbet and Uncle Robert lived in hiding, until a group of Nazis stormed their apartment. After their capture they were deported to Auschwitz, where they were separated. When the war ended and Elsbet was liberated from Auschwitz, she found out Robert had been murdered by the Nazis, shortly after entering the camp. When the young married couple were captured Elsbet was 27 and Robert was 32. To read Elsbet’s disturbing first hand report on her capture, CLICK HERE to the page in the book, Buried by The Times.

Note, Anne Frank and her family were in hiding from July 1942 until August 1944 when the family was arrested. Elsbet and Robert were in hiding for three years prior to their arrest in August 1943. Thus, their times in hiding were somewhat similar. Neither ever could have dreamed of being mentioned together on a “BLOG,” such as ours, in the year 2012.

Uncle Robert Gerst – First husband of Aunt Elsbeth Midas
Born in Nüremberg on November 29, 1910
Died in Auschwitz on October 5, 1943

Captured in Amsterdam, when in hiding with Elsbeth
and transported to Auschwitz. She survived, he did not.

“In July 1943, after the Gersts had spent 3 years living under harsh Nazi occupation, eight Gestapo men stormed their hiding place and Elsbet’s excruciating odyssey began.”
Excerpt from Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper  (Cambridge University Press, 2005):

 Below is a newspaper advertisment placed by Bill’s Aunt Hilde searching for her sister and brother-in-law, Elsbet and Robert Gerst.

 INTERNATIONAL SEARCH CENTER

Gerst, Elsbeth, maiden name Midas (born in 1916 in Fürth, Bavaria),
and Robert (Bob, born in 1910 in Nürnberg) last address: 4 Watteau Street, Amsterdam, probably deported in July 1942), ad placed by Hilde Dreifuss, maiden name Midas, 619 West 163rd Street, New York 32, N.Y.

After Auschwitz – A New Life

Elizabeth and Harry Weilheimer married on December 14, 1947. The ceremony took place in a rabbi’s study, two and a half years after she was released from Auschwitz. Harry fled from Nuremberg to Cuba, with his parents and later they all immigrated to New York. Bill Mohr, age 12, was present along with other immediate family members.

 

(l to r) Harry, Auguste, Hilde, Tara, Elsbet

 

Today, May 15, 2010, if he had lived, would have been my Uncle Harry’s 96th birthday. Sadly, he passed away on September 9, 2009 and is deeply missed. This week, several items arrived from the Great Neck, NY and Palm Beach condominiums, he shared with my Aunt Elsbeth, who died in 1996.

Given our current project, the one piece that stands out from all the rest is this tiny, beautiful, glowing tree sculpture, with its roots in stone. It is an especially appropriate symbolic reminder, not only of the indomitable spirit of Elsbeth, but all Jews who experienced Hitler’s policies and the Holocaust, directly or indirectly.

(From J. Weekly Article, Escape to Haiti, May 14, 2010):

Bill Mohr’s father, Ernst “was always interested [in Jewish life], and he vowed when he came out of concentration camp that he would devote himself to Jewish causes, and that is what he did,” Auguste told Ruth in the oral history.

In February 1940, the Mohrs received word they could legally enter the United States. They arrived in New York City the next month, where Ernst fulfilled a promise he had made to the tiny Haitian Jewish community. Serving as an emissary from the Port-au-Prince community, he went to plead its case for refugee aid before the JDC, seeking a subsistence stipend for the Joint Relief Committee of Haiti.

Apologizing that it could not afford more, the New York headquarters approved $50 a month for the Haitian branch — of which $47.49 of the first installment went to order and ship 300 pounds of matzah from Horowitz Brothers & Margareten for Passover.

Once in the United States, Ernst also kept his promise to devote himself to Jewish causes. He was a founding member and executive director of Temple Anshe Sholom in Kew Gardens, N.Y., and was active in B’nai B’rith, United Jewish Appeal and State of Israel Bonds, which awarded him a medal of recognition in 1966.”

In a very moving and unexpected request, Ernst’s wife, Gusty, asked Bill that she be buried with the actual medal in her coffin, which was done in April 1999.

A relaxed summer family picnic in the late 1940’s. What joy and relief for everyone to be together in New York after Kristallnacht, my father’s experience in Dachau, Elsbeth’s capture in Amsterdam and years in Auschwitz, my immediate family’s 10 months in Haiti and my Aunt Hilde, Uncle Max and grandparents’ separation from all of us in Portugal. At the bottom center of the picture is Harry Weilheimer, Elsbeth’s 2nd husband. I (Bill) think the smiles and lightness say everything and more than I could ever express in words.

(Clockwise from the left) My Uncle Harry, my mother Gusty, my Aunt Elsbeth, my father Ernest, myself, my sister Ruth, my grandmother Sofie, my grandfather Lothar and my Aunt Hilde. Hilde’s husband, my Uncle Max, took the picture.

Despite the crushing blows of loss of professional identity, a family business, financial security, a home and country, one thing remained unchanged, the reality of spiritual identity. [Ernst Mohr (L), Lothar Midas (R)

Hilde Midas Dreyfuss, the middle Midas daughter, with husband Max Hans Dreyfuss

Max and Hilde Dreyfuss

Lothar and Sophie Midas in Bavaria prior to immigrating to Portugal

Tara, Harriet and Bill with Elsbeth and Harry

Sophie and Lothar

A Young Sophie

Old Würzburg – Sophie’s birthplace

Ernest and Auguste Mohr at Harriet and Bill’s Wedding (1962)

Stefan Frank (Sophie’s nephew) at his 90th birthday celebration with his wife Suzanne and children Andrea, Cathy and Peter. To read Stefan’s life story CLICK HERE

On the left, Bill’s grandfather, Lothar Midas. On the far right, Lothar’s brother, Joseph.

According to a published account, Bill’s grandfather Lothar Midas and his brother, Joseph, had been severely beaten. In November 1938, during Kristallnacht, Nazi thugs attacked the two men, both in their sixties, and forced them to sign a document relinquishing ownership of the successful plate glass company that had been in the family for generations. CLICK HERE to read the report in the book, Buried by The Times.

Seated are (from l to r) Bill’s Aunt Elsbeth, Lisl Midas Loose (Joseph Midas’ daughter), Bill’s Mother Auguste (Gusty) and Aunt Hilde.

The Mohr Family – Ernst, Auguste, Harriet and Bill – 1963

It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing
of Bill’s loving sister,
Ruth Mohr Tukeman

October 10, 1933 – June 20, 2010
Ruth passed away after a long illness.

Since August 3, 1958, she was the beloved wife of Dr. Cyril (Cy) Tukeman, loving mother of Mark and Sally Tukeman and Erica and Jeff Gilbert. Grandmother of Sammy and Gabi Tukeman and Robert, Ari and Evan Gilbert.

She was five years old when the family lived in Haiti. For twenty-five years, Ruth was the head nurse for the Jefferson Elementary School District in Daly City, CA before retiring in 1998.
Ruth’s Obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle

  

Bill Mohr from Port-au-Prince, Haiti to a boat to the New World to service in the U.S. Army

   

 

(l to r) Harriet’s mother Jean, Harriet & Bill, Bill’s parents Auguste & Ernest

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Diamond and Running Scared

When we began this deeply meaningful and satisfying project, I did not make any connection to the diamond in my engagement ring, a gift from Bill’s maternal grandmother Sophie Midas. In the late 30’s, she risked smuggling it out of Germany inside her bra, as she fled to Portugal for safety. She told the members of her family that someday she would give it to her grandson “Billy’s” fiancé.

No one could have imagined that if we fast forwarded, almost 50 years, I would be passionately committed to revealing her family’s story, on a blog, entitled the HAITI JEWISH REFUGEE LEGACY PROJECT.

The ring, smuggled out of Germany during the Shoah, strangely foreshadowed the work I am doing today.

Harriet Mohr
November 27, 2010

Elsbeth Midas Gerst, Sophie’s youngest daughter prior to capture and being transported to Auschwitz concentration camp.

Sophie Midas in pre-war Germany

 

Ruth’s daughter Erica with her husband and three sons

Ruth’s son Mark Tukeman with his wife and children

 Harriet Mohr and the Russian Immigrant Connection

Back Row – Harriet’s Maternal Russian Grandparents,
Right and Left Side – Cousins,
Center – American-born Mother with Harriet

Harriet and Maternal Russian Grandmother

The kind, religious, Russian-born woman who awakened a sense of the sacred in a child’s heart and mind.
Photo of Couple – Rivka’s mother, Mima, on the Left

Harriet’s Russian Maternal Grandparents with Harriet and Bill

Harriet’s Grandma Rosie

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anita Zwick  |  July 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    enjoyed reading your family history……one question is how your father was released from Dachau? My father was also in Dachau in ’35-’36 but I do not know the exact dates. All I know is that he arrived in Haiti in October ’37.
    Anita Meinberg Zwick

    Reply
  • 2. Vivian Silbermann (Cohen)  |  August 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    i was extremely happy to see this page and photos of the people that until now were only names in my family tree (Silbermann). Thanks.

    Reply

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