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)
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
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
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.
(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.
Hilde Midas Dreyfuss, the middle Midas daughter, with husband Max Hans Dreyfuss
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.
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
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.
November 27, 2010
Elsbeth Midas Gerst, Sophie’s youngest daughter prior to capture and being transported to Auschwitz concentration camp.
Ruth’s daughter Erica with her husband and three sons
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
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