Bill’s Maternal Grandparents, Aunt & Uncle who Found Safe Haven in Portugal
On Kristallnacht, at the age of 63, Lothar was badly beaten by the Nazis until he signed over his glass factory thereby, forced to give up a long-time very successful family business and an upper middle class way of life.
Bill and his maternal grandmother Sophie
The following is an excerpt from Bill’s grandmother Sophie’s eulogy by Rabbi Salamon Faber of the Kew Gardens Anshe Sholom Jewish Center (July 3, 1979):
“Mrs. Sophie Midas was a deeply pious woman. She attended religious services regularly on Sabbaths and festivals. I will never forget my feeling of delight every time I noted this stately,’ fine looking woman walking into the Temple, usually accompanied by Gusty, to take a seat among the worshippers. There was a certain vigor in her bearing. She exuded a sense of confidence, quiet dignity, alertness. Had a good sense of humor. Demonstrated curiosity in all sorts of cultural matters. Shared responsibility in everything meaningful that went on in the community – her Synagogue, Sisterhood, Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women. She gave of her resources, to the best of her ability, with accurate perception of the dimensions of a given cause. I know, for she often discussed causes with me, trying to evaluate their purpose in the over-all program of Jewish life and communal responsibility. Though modest and reserved, she invariably evoked the impression of an unusually refined personality.”
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
Aunt Hilde with Uncle Harry (2nd Husband of Elsbeth, survivor of Auschwitz). Elsbeth’s 1st husband was murdered in Auschwitz. Click HERE to see more photos of Elsbeth and her first and second husbands.
Harriet, Bill, Tara & Hilde Hilde & Tara @ Yale graduation 2000