“Judaism has always attached intense significance to remembrance; in multiple passages the Hebrew Bible even makes it an explicit religious obligation.”
From Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe article, 5/1/16
Contact Info: HaitiHolocaust@aol.com Tel: (650) 322-7103 Fax: (650) 322-7146
To read Bill’s story and learn about the project in our local paper, The Almanac, click One More Step Toward ‘Never Again’
Click to see Worldwide Readership of Blog
Welcome to the HAITI JEWISH REFUGEE LEGACY PROJECT. We are Harriet and Bill Mohr, a San Francisco Bay Area-based married couple embarking on a journey to discover more about the Haiti Jewish refugee experience, via connecting with people, who fled Europe and found safe haven in Haiti, and/or their descendants.
Our back story is, we are the founders and publisher of the HAITI JEWISH REFUGEE LEGACY PROJECT blog which began on March 31st, 2010 and has already had over 93,000 views. Click HERE to see our Tikkun Olam Award winners and HERE for news articles covering our endeavors. Also significant is our Pinterest section which spotlights issues we care deeply about. Viewers from 174 countries have connected to our blog, with the most international readers coming from Canada, Germany, Israel, UK, France, Australia, Switzerland and Haiti.
Bill is a retired Hewlett-Packard manager who spent ten months in Haiti when he was four years old, prior to immigrating to the United States. He visited Germany twice, once in 1960 and again in 1999 with his daughter Tara. His interest in his family history was sparked when he joined Frank Harris’ Fürth-Nuremberg reunion planning committee. Further peaking of his desire to reconnect with his past occurred after the Haiti earthquake, especially when viewing TV images of Israelis, in Haiti, setting up make-shift hospitals to aid the injured. What struck him was how 70 years earlier, Haitians had opened the door to between 100 and 300 European Jews fleeing the Holocaust, thus was born a new sense of historical attachment to Haiti. A circle of giving and giving back was being completed. Wanting to do something to raise awareness of Haiti’s life-saving activity during World War II, he began to explore ways to personally give back to Haiti at her time of dire need
. Harriet is a writer with a degree in psychology and the author of a spiritual trilogy. She and Bill co-authored a college sociology text and business book, Quality Circles: Changing Images of People at Work (Addison-Wesley). She cares deeply about the tragedy of what happened to the Jewish people during World War II, particularly the psychological and emotional impact. She feels passionately committed to doing something for the common good of Haiti at this critical time. The Mohrs lived in Israel from 1970 to 1971.
For more biographical information on the Mohrs and reviews of their college sociology text/business book, CLICK HERE
For Biographical Sketches of Haiti Child Survivors CLICK HERE
For Harriet’s Biographical Information and reviews of her books CLICK HERE
For Bill’s Biographical Information CLICK HERE
Bill’s Family’s Road Map to Escape Anti-Semitism and Hitler’s Grip
Mohr Family Emigration Chronology
|11/9/1938||Ernest Mohr incarcerated in Dachau on Kristallnacht|
|12/6/1938||Affidavit for Mohr Family issued by Julius Ochs Adler, vice president and general manger of the New York Times.|
|~12/21/1938||Approximate date Ernest Mohr released from Dachau|
|3/7/1939||Auguste Mohr German passport issued|
|3/9/1939||Haitian Consulate in Hamburg issued Visa|
|4/6/1939||Auguste, Ruth and Bill depart Hamburg aboard S.S. Henry Horn|
|4/?/1939||Ernest Mohr boards S.S. Henry Horn in Antwerp, Belgium|
|5/8/1939||Mohr family arrives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti|
|12/16/1939||German Immigration Visas issued by American consul at Port-au-Prince for Ernest, Auguste and Ruth Mohr|
|2/16/1940||German Immigration Visa issued by American consul at Port-au-Prince for Ludwig Edward (Bill) Mohr|
|2/29/1940||Mohr family departs Port-au-Prince, Haiti on board M.S. Colombia|
|3/4/1940||Mohr family arrives in New York City|
|12/11/1945||Bill became a naturalized U.S. citizen|
A REMEMBRANCE from Bill:
The woman in my early life, who inspired and shaped my thinking most, was my mother’s mother, Sofie Midas. See her picture, taken in 1955, as her three daughters surround her. The picture was taken at my grandfather Lothar’s 80th birthday party, celebrated in Kew Gardens, N.Y. On the left in the back row is Sofie’s youngest daughter, Elsbeth, who spent the war in Auschwitz. In the middle is my mother, Auguste (Gusty), her eldest daughter who lived in Haiti for 10 months during the Shoah. On the right is her middle daughter Hilde, who she and my grandfather lived with in Portugal after fleeing Germany. My grandfather, Lothar Midas, and his brother owned a large glass factory in Fürth, Germany, which they were forced to turn over to the Nazis. My grandmother’s remarkable strength and optimism served to support my grandfather during this terrible time when he lost everything. Despite all the hardships, my grandmother never wavered in her strength and ability to hold our family together in the most extraordinary ways.
For additional photos of Bill’s family go to the Mohr/Midas Photo Gallery Harriet is the granddaughter of Russian Ukrainian grandparents who fled anti-Semitism in Russia early in the 20th century. The picture shows (l. to r.) Charles and Rose, Harriet and Bill. As immigrants, her grandparents embodied resilience, hard work and determination. They expressed a tremendous love of Israel.
For additional photos of Harriet’s family go to the Mohr/Midas Photo Gallery. Bill’s Aunt Elsbeth and Uncle Robert are at the core of our inspiration to write a blog dealing with issues related to World War II. Seventy-One years ago, on July 23, 1943, after hiding in Amsterdam, they were captured by the Nazis and held in Scheveningen Prison. One month later, they were transferred to Auschwitz where Elsbeth remained until the end of the war. Robert was murdered by hanging six weeks after his arrival in Auschwitz. There are rumors that they were with the resistance in Amsterdam. They have our deepest respect for extraordinary courage in the face of unimaginable horrors and incredible suffering.
There are two primary motivating factors for this blog. The first is to call attention to the Haiti World War II Jewish refugee connection. The second is to honor all those who were impacted by Nazi domination and genocidal efforts.
Most of all, it is our way of remembering and honoring Bill’s Aunt Elsbeth and Uncle Robert as shown in the chart below.
Harriet’s new blog, “Spotlight on Women and Violence,” click http://spotlightonwomenandviolence.com/