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 ^Ruth and Gittel in May 1941.\\ Photo: Eva Nickel^ ^Ruth and Gittel in May 1941.\\ Photo: Eva Nickel^
  
-Ruth probably started to attend the kindergarten in Fehrbelliner Strasse 92 daily in 1941, when she was four years old. Her little sister Gitti was accepted there in 1942, as documents prove.(( CJ, Sign. 1,75 A Be 2, No. 442 # 14174 )) After the house was closed down in 1942, the children were moved to the Mannheimer’s old people’s home in Schönhauser Allee. The oppressive years from 1941 to early 1943 were a time of relative security with home and family for Ruth and Gitti. Alice was happy too, feeling that her husband took care of her and pampered her; she felt life was “worth living” once more, if it hadn’t been for the threat of deportation,​ Hitler’s “sword of Damocles”,​ hanging over them. On 4 September 1942, her 63-year-old aunt, with whom they shared the flat, was deported to Theresienstadt.(( Martha Sussmann, born 22 October 1879, 57th old people’s transport to Theresienstadt,​ 4 September 1942. Died in Theresienstadt on 25 January 1943. Cf. Berlin’s Gedenkbuch der jüdischen Opfer der Nationalsozialismus (Memorial Book for Jewish victims of National Socialism), ed. Free University Berlin, Berlin 1955, P. 1268)) No one was at home when Martha Sussmann was taken away. An oral account states that Elisabeth Gabriel from the shop– or perhaps her mother – tried to give the old lady a food packet. One of the Gestapo knocked it out of her hand.  ​+Ruth probably started to attend the kindergarten in Fehrbelliner Strasse 92 daily in 1941, when she was four years old. Her little sister Gitti was accepted there in 1942, as documents prove.(( CJ, Sign. 1,75 A Be 2, No. 442 # 14174 )) After the house was closed down in 1942, the children were moved to the Manheimer’s old people’s home in Schönhauser Allee. The oppressive years from 1941 to early 1943 were a time of relative security with home and family for Ruth and Gitti. Alice was happy too, feeling that her husband took care of her and pampered her; she felt life was “worth living” once more, if it hadn’t been for the threat of deportation,​ Hitler’s “sword of Damocles”,​ hanging over them. On 4 September 1942, her 63-year-old aunt, with whom they shared the flat, was deported to Theresienstadt.(( Martha Sussmann, born 22 October 1879, 57th old people’s transport to Theresienstadt,​ 4 September 1942. Died in Theresienstadt on 25 January 1943. Cf. Berlin’s Gedenkbuch der jüdischen Opfer der Nationalsozialismus (Memorial Book for Jewish victims of National Socialism), ed. Free University Berlin, Berlin 1955, P. 1268)) No one was at home when Martha Sussmann was taken away. An oral account states that Elisabeth Gabriel from the shop– or perhaps her mother – tried to give the old lady a food packet. One of the Gestapo knocked it out of her hand.  ​
  
-Up to February 1943, Alice and Adolf Löwenthal were spared deportation,​ because of their forced labour in work considered essential for the war effort. They could not know that in the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), the decision was taken in February 1943 to deport all the Jews remaining in Germany in a nationwide raid. On 27 February 1943, “all Jews still working in Berlin” [author’s translation] were to be rounded up and deported, in the course of the so-called fabrik-aktion (factory raid). Within a few days, more than 7,000 people were deported from Berlin to Auschwitz. For many of those who escaped the fabrik-aktion,​ it was the final signal that made them decide to go into hiding. ​+Up to February 1943, Alice and Adolf Löwenthal were spared deportation,​ because of their forced labour in work considered essential for the war effort. They could not know that in the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), the decision was taken in February 1943 to deport all the Jews remaining in Germany in a nationwide raid. On 27 February 1943, “all Jews still working in Berlin” [author’s translation] were to be rounded up and deported, in the course of the so-called ​'fabrik-aktion' ​(factory raid). Within a few days, more than 7,000 people were deported from Berlin to Auschwitz. For many of those who escaped the 'fabrik-aktion', it was the final signal that made them decide to go into hiding. ​
  
 Alice’s written account of her life in hiding, which forms the basis for this account, begins at this point. Eva Nickel points out that her mother gave different versions after the war, that her story changed over time, that some episodes were added and others omitted. Alice’s written account of her life in hiding, which forms the basis for this account, begins at this point. Eva Nickel points out that her mother gave different versions after the war, that her story changed over time, that some episodes were added and others omitted.
  
-On that Saturday, 27 February 1943, her husband’s boss, who was not a Nazi, as she emphasises, came to tell her personally that Adolf Löwenthal had been “picked up” that morning from his workplace. He was deported to Auschwitz a few days later, on the 32nd transport from Berlin.(( ​7Löwenthal, Adolf, born 11 April 1886 in Küstrin, Metzer Strasse 19; 32nd transport on 2 March 1943, died in Auschwitz, missing.)) Alice now had to fear deportation too. “And one knew only too well, one guessed, what would happen then! So, appearing outwardly calm, I got out the big bags, which had been made months before for this eventuality,​ and started to pack essentials for myself and the children.”(( ​8Nickel, YVA Jerusalem, 02/622, P.1)) Whatever it was exactly that she knew or rather guessed, she did not put it into words. The father of her children, Herbert Süssmann, was also caught in the fabrik-aktion. He was deported to Auschwitz two days after Adolf Löwenthal.(( ​9Süssmann, Herbert, born 11 April 1913 in Berlin, Mitte district. 34th transport to Auschwitz on 4 March 1943; died in Auschwitz, missing. Cf Gedenkbuch, P. 1266)) ​+On that Saturday, 27 February 1943, her husband’s boss, who was not a Nazi, as she emphasises, came to tell her personally that Adolf Löwenthal had been “picked up” that morning from his workplace. He was deported to Auschwitz a few days later, on the 32nd transport from Berlin.(( ​Löwenthal, Adolf, born 11 April 1886 in Küstrin, Metzer Strasse 19; 32nd transport on 2 March 1943, died in Auschwitz, missing.)) Alice now had to fear deportation too. “And one knew only too well, one guessed, what would happen then! So, appearing outwardly calm, I got out the big bags, which had been made months before for this eventuality,​ and started to pack essentials for myself and the children.”(( ​Nickel, YVA Jerusalem, 02/622, P.1)) Whatever it was exactly that she knew or rather guessed, she did not put it into words. The father of her children, Herbert Süssmann, was also caught in the 'fabrik-aktion'. He was deported to Auschwitz two days after Adolf Löwenthal.(( ​Süssmann, Herbert, born 11 April 1913 in Berlin, Mitte district. 34th transport to Auschwitz on 4 March 1943; died in Auschwitz, missing. Cf Gedenkbuch, P. 1266)) ​
  
 Alice’s account describes how she phoned from a fellow resident’s flat in Christinenstrasse 35 to say goodbye to non-Jewish friends – Jews were not allowed to have telephones after August 1940 – and her friend begged her to avoid deportation and to go into hiding, for the sake of the children. This man, whose name she does not give, offered to help her. Eva Nickel knows, from what her mother told her, that the phone calls were made from the Gabriels’ shop and that the helpful man must have been Hans Gabriel, the owner’s brother, or possibly Erich Klüsch, her brother-in-law. Alice’s account describes how she phoned from a fellow resident’s flat in Christinenstrasse 35 to say goodbye to non-Jewish friends – Jews were not allowed to have telephones after August 1940 – and her friend begged her to avoid deportation and to go into hiding, for the sake of the children. This man, whose name she does not give, offered to help her. Eva Nickel knows, from what her mother told her, that the phone calls were made from the Gabriels’ shop and that the helpful man must have been Hans Gabriel, the owner’s brother, or possibly Erich Klüsch, her brother-in-law.
  
-At first Alice had the feeling that to escape by “going underground” would be a betrayal of her deported husband, but finally she decided to take this step. She realised that she would probably not be in the same camp as Adolf Löwenthal and was unlikely to be able to stay with the children – these are the reasons she gives in 1955 for the decision which she had to make entirely alone at that time, although she always liked to have other people’s advice. She also states that, in that night of 27 – 28 February 1943, she considered taking the sleeping children in their beds into the kitchen and turning on all four gas taps, to put an end to all the fear and pain. However, deep in her heart she still hoped that her husband would survive, so she soon pushed this idea away.((10 Nickel, YVA Jerusalem, 02/622, P. 2)) After the war, Alice’s thoughts often returned to this idea, as her daughter Eva recalls. When her mother told her about it, it was all much more dramatic: the little beds were already in front of the cooker. Her mother only pulled them away at the last minute.+At first Alice had the feeling that to escape by “going underground” would be a betrayal of her deported husband, but finally she decided to take this step. She realised that she would probably not be in the same camp as Adolf Löwenthal and was unlikely to be able to stay with the children – these are the reasons she gives in 1955 for the decision which she had to make entirely alone at that time, although she always liked to have other people’s advice. She also states that, in that night of 27 – 28 February 1943, she considered taking the sleeping children in their beds into the kitchen and turning on all four gas taps, to put an end to all the fear and pain. However, deep in her heart she still hoped that her husband would survive, so she soon pushed this idea away.(( Nickel, YVA Jerusalem, 02/622, P. 2)) After the war, Alice’s thoughts often returned to this idea, as her daughter Eva recalls. When her mother told her about it, it was all much more dramatic: the little beds were already in front of the cooker. Her mother only pulled them away at the last minute.
  
-Alice describes what happened next day: “At five in the morning I dressed my two girls and we left the flat before first light. As I later heard from residents, it was literally the last minute, because the Gestapo drove up at six a.m. to take us away.” An odyssey from place to place now began for the mother and her children. They had to leave their first lodging after only two weeks, for fear of being betrayed. Four-year-old Gitti had talked in front of others about her daddy being picked up by the Gestapo. Because Alice didn’t have anywhere to stay that night, she spent the night with the exhausted children going back and forth through Berlin by tram. She writes a memorable sentence: “For days, I asked various Christian friends for a place to stay, at least for one night. I found lodgings with people who I would never have believed would help. And I was also refused the smallest assistance by people who earlier, in better times, would have called themselves my best friends. They rejected me in such an insulting way that I thought I would go to pieces.”(( ​11Ibid.))+Alice describes what happened next day: “At five in the morning I dressed my two girls and we left the flat before first light. As I later heard from residents, it was literally the last minute, because the Gestapo drove up at six a.m. to take us away.” An odyssey from place to place now began for the mother and her children. They had to leave their first lodging after only two weeks, for fear of being betrayed. Four-year-old Gitti had talked in front of others about her daddy being picked up by the Gestapo. Because Alice didn’t have anywhere to stay that night, she spent the night with the exhausted children going back and forth through Berlin by tram. She writes a memorable sentence: “For days, I asked various Christian friends for a place to stay, at least for one night. I found lodgings with people who I would never have believed would help. And I was also refused the smallest assistance by people who earlier, in better times, would have called themselves my best friends. They rejected me in such an insulting way that I thought I would go to pieces.”(( ​Ibid.))
  
-Once again, Alice was found somewhere to stay by a friend’s parents, with “an older lady”, in a suburb of Berlin. Neither the friend nor the suburb is named in the report. Eva Nickel is certain that in spring 1943, Alice and the children were staying with Luise Nickel, a courageous lady who was in the communist resistance, in her house in Strausberg near Berlin.((12In Alice’s report, Luise Nickel is only mentioned later as her helper.))+Once again, Alice was found somewhere to stay by a friend’s parents, with “an older lady”, in a suburb of Berlin. Neither the friend nor the suburb is named in the report. Eva Nickel is certain that in spring 1943, Alice and the children were staying with Luise Nickel, a courageous lady who was in the communist resistance, in her house in Strausberg near Berlin.((In Alice’s report, Luise Nickel is only mentioned later as her helper.))
  
 Here the situation became dangerous again, they were betrayed and had to “disappear again”. “I wasn’t conspicuous by myself,” she says, “but the little children!” The chances of a young woman on her own surviving in hiding in Berlin were not bad, but with small children, it was impossible. Alice’s account graphically describes the almost insurmountable difficulties which faced mothers of small children, placing them in an unbearable dilemma. Only relatively few children survived the Holocaust in Germany. Most of them lived in hiding with one or both parents, or stayed elsewhere alone for only a short time. Here the situation became dangerous again, they were betrayed and had to “disappear again”. “I wasn’t conspicuous by myself,” she says, “but the little children!” The chances of a young woman on her own surviving in hiding in Berlin were not bad, but with small children, it was impossible. Alice’s account graphically describes the almost insurmountable difficulties which faced mothers of small children, placing them in an unbearable dilemma. Only relatively few children survived the Holocaust in Germany. Most of them lived in hiding with one or both parents, or stayed elsewhere alone for only a short time.
  
-In this desperate situation, Alice decided to take a great risk: she took a slow train to Weimar, hoping that a former friend of her aunt, who had enjoyed staying in Christinenstrasse in better times, would take them in. If the three had encountered an identity check, a frequent occurrence on express trains, they would not have had the necessary ​identification ​papers. Mother and children reached their destination undiscovered,​ but their acquaintance pretended not to be at home. Later, as Alice was sitting in a simple inn with the exhausted children, not knowing what to do next, something unexpected happened: one of the customers – she calls him Herr Schmidt – spoke to her. He doubted that she would find a room in Weimar before the Whitsun holiday, and offered to put her and the girls up in his flat for a night. Alice told him that their flat in Berlin had been destroyed in an air raid. Over the next few days, the helpful man tried to find a place where the children could stay permanently,​ so that Alice could go back to her work in Berlin. She spent three nights in Herr Schmidt’s flat (probably not his real name), which he shared with his wife and child. Finally she risked telling her benefactor the truth. “I hated the thought of lying to someone so good and helpful. In the end I told him the truth. He said that he had suspected it, and that now he knew the facts, he was even more willing to help. He told me that he was almost the only Social Democrat left in Weimar who was still alive and free.”((13Ibid, P. 4)) Eventually, Schmidt found a place for the children with his cousin Elly Möller. He told Alice he had informed Elly of the girls’ origins.+In this desperate situation, Alice decided to take a great risk: she took a slow train to Weimar, hoping that a former friend of her aunt, who had enjoyed staying in Christinenstrasse in better times, would take them in. If the three had encountered an identity check, a frequent occurrence on express trains, they would not have had the necessary ​identity ​papers. Mother and children reached their destination undiscovered,​ but their acquaintance pretended not to be at home. Later, as Alice was sitting in a simple inn with the exhausted children, not knowing what to do next, something unexpected happened: one of the customers – she calls him Herr Schmidt – spoke to her. He doubted that she would find a room in Weimar before the Whitsun holiday, and offered to put her and the girls up in his flat for a night. Alice told him that their flat in Berlin had been destroyed in an air raid. Over the next few days, the helpful man tried to find a place where the children could stay permanently,​ so that Alice could go back to her work in Berlin. She spent three nights in Herr Schmidt’s flat (probably not his real name), which he shared with his wife and child. Finally she risked telling her benefactor the truth. “I hated the thought of lying to someone so good and helpful. In the end I told him the truth. He said that he had suspected it, and that now he knew the facts, he was even more willing to help. He told me that he was almost the only Social Democrat left in Weimar who was still alive and free.”((Ibid, P. 4)) Eventually, Schmidt found a place for the children with his cousin Elly Möller. He told Alice he had informed Elly of the girls’ origins.
  
 Elly Möller was a housewife and had no children of her own, but a foster daughter was still living with her in 1944. She was prepared to take in six-year-old Ruth and four-year-old Gittel, “although her husband was in the SS and at the front,” as Alice adds. It is not certain whether he was really in the SS or in the army. This must have been around June 1943, i.e. after Whitsun. Alice notes that Herr Möller found out who the children were on his next leave and assured her of his agreement. He said words to the effect that “I don’t have to know everything my wife does while I’m away. I’m sure she does her duty as a human being.” ​ Elly Möller was a housewife and had no children of her own, but a foster daughter was still living with her in 1944. She was prepared to take in six-year-old Ruth and four-year-old Gittel, “although her husband was in the SS and at the front,” as Alice adds. It is not certain whether he was really in the SS or in the army. This must have been around June 1943, i.e. after Whitsun. Alice notes that Herr Möller found out who the children were on his next leave and assured her of his agreement. He said words to the effect that “I don’t have to know everything my wife does while I’m away. I’m sure she does her duty as a human being.” ​
  
-Then Alice had to part from her children. As she emphasises later, she believed that they were safe. She returned to Berlin with a feeling of relief. In her account, she states “I could see that I could trust this person to look after my children”.((14Ibid.)) However, then she adds that once back in Berlin, she was supposed to send a food ration card, which she had to buy on the black market, for each child and money for food to Elly Möller every month. In the following months, she visited the children in Weimar several times. At first she was able to pay these expenses from the money she and Adolf Löwenthal had saved, and by selling the things she had stored in a friends’ flat. When their flat was bombed, she lost everything; from now on she could only keep up the agreed payments if she found work. +Then Alice had to part from her children. As she emphasises later, she believed that they were safe. She returned to Berlin with a feeling of relief. In her account, she states “I could see that I could trust this person to look after my children”.((Ibid.)) However, then she adds that once back in Berlin, she was supposed to send a food ration card, which she had to buy on the black market, for each child and money for food to Elly Möller every month. In the following months, she visited the children in Weimar several times. At first she was able to pay these expenses from the money she and Adolf Löwenthal had saved, and by selling the things she had stored in a friends’ flat. When their flat was bombed, she lost everything; from now on she could only keep up the agreed payments if she found work. 
  
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 Alice was introduced to Luise Nickel by Trude and Hilde Glase of Prenzlauer Allee, who were friends of Alice’s and of Willy Nickel’s before the war. Their mother, Frau Glase, knew Frau Nickel well and arranged the contact. As Alice herself reports, the brave woman encouraged her to bring others who were living in hiding to her house in Strausberg for a time. Eva Nickel knows that apart from her mother, Trude Razskowski, a relation of Herbert Süssmann, who had been in hiding since 31 January 1943, and Lotte Rattenbach also lived with her grandmother. Rolf Themal was also there sometimes, for a day at a time. All these people survived till Berlin was liberated, although Luise Nickel’s house was visited and searched by the Gestapo several times. Alice was introduced to Luise Nickel by Trude and Hilde Glase of Prenzlauer Allee, who were friends of Alice’s and of Willy Nickel’s before the war. Their mother, Frau Glase, knew Frau Nickel well and arranged the contact. As Alice herself reports, the brave woman encouraged her to bring others who were living in hiding to her house in Strausberg for a time. Eva Nickel knows that apart from her mother, Trude Razskowski, a relation of Herbert Süssmann, who had been in hiding since 31 January 1943, and Lotte Rattenbach also lived with her grandmother. Rolf Themal was also there sometimes, for a day at a time. All these people survived till Berlin was liberated, although Luise Nickel’s house was visited and searched by the Gestapo several times.
  
-In 1945, Alice managed to take advantage of the confusion arising from the huge numbers of refugees from the east now streaming into Berlin. She claimed to be a refugee and, with Elisabeth Gabriel’s help, acquired an identity card and food ration cards. In this way, she arranged an apparently legal existence for herself under a false name.(( ​16Ibid, P. 5 f)) +In 1945, Alice managed to take advantage of the confusion arising from the huge numbers of refugees from the east now streaming into Berlin. She claimed to be a refugee and, with Elisabeth Gabriel’s help, acquired an identity card and food ration cards. In this way, she arranged an apparently legal existence for herself under a false name.(( ​Ibid, P. 5 f)) 
  
 After the liberation of Berlin in April 1945, Alice did what she had been dreaming of for months: she took the key she had always carried in her handbag, opened her front door in Christinenstrasse 35 and re-entered her own flat. Now her only concern was to fetch her children, of whom she had no news. With the help of the revived Jewish Community in Berlin, Alice tried to make contact with Elly Möller “who had become a good friend” in Weimar. Only now, as she records in her account from 1955, did she hear that her daughters had been “taken away” from Weimar by the Gestapo in autumn 1944. Elly Möller was only saved from “great unpleasantness” by the fact that the American troops advanced unexpectedly fast, adds Alice in 1955. In explanation,​ she states that “a good friend of Elly Möller, who only guessed that the children were Jewish, but did not know, had denounced them. He acted from motives of revenge against my friend”.((17Ibid,​ P. 6)) That is the end of her account. There is a slight sense of doubt as she states elsewhere that “…but I knew my children were in loving hands. Or at least, that is what I believed!” ​ After the liberation of Berlin in April 1945, Alice did what she had been dreaming of for months: she took the key she had always carried in her handbag, opened her front door in Christinenstrasse 35 and re-entered her own flat. Now her only concern was to fetch her children, of whom she had no news. With the help of the revived Jewish Community in Berlin, Alice tried to make contact with Elly Möller “who had become a good friend” in Weimar. Only now, as she records in her account from 1955, did she hear that her daughters had been “taken away” from Weimar by the Gestapo in autumn 1944. Elly Möller was only saved from “great unpleasantness” by the fact that the American troops advanced unexpectedly fast, adds Alice in 1955. In explanation,​ she states that “a good friend of Elly Möller, who only guessed that the children were Jewish, but did not know, had denounced them. He acted from motives of revenge against my friend”.((17Ibid,​ P. 6)) That is the end of her account. There is a slight sense of doubt as she states elsewhere that “…but I knew my children were in loving hands. Or at least, that is what I believed!” ​
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 Alice could not and would not let go of her murdered children. They were always present in her dreams, thoughts and conversation. Photographs of Ruth and Gitti had a special place in the sitting room. A framed portrait of Adolf Löwenthal stood on Alice’s bedside table. When Eva was growing up, her dead sisters were ever-present. Her mother suffered from feelings of guilt and doubt, which she had tried to set at rest in the years immediately after the war. Now they came more and more strongly to the surface. Alice believed that she had abandoned the children; that she should have taken them away from Weimar earlier. Shortly before her death in 1987, she had the fantasy that Ruth and Gitti had returned. There is no written evidence of this. Eva Nickel, who has to bear the burden of the past, is the only person who can tell us about it. Alice could not and would not let go of her murdered children. They were always present in her dreams, thoughts and conversation. Photographs of Ruth and Gitti had a special place in the sitting room. A framed portrait of Adolf Löwenthal stood on Alice’s bedside table. When Eva was growing up, her dead sisters were ever-present. Her mother suffered from feelings of guilt and doubt, which she had tried to set at rest in the years immediately after the war. Now they came more and more strongly to the surface. Alice believed that she had abandoned the children; that she should have taken them away from Weimar earlier. Shortly before her death in 1987, she had the fantasy that Ruth and Gitti had returned. There is no written evidence of this. Eva Nickel, who has to bear the burden of the past, is the only person who can tell us about it.
  
-In the early 1980s, Alice was confronted with the full force of the question of what had really happened in Weimar in 1944. The suggestion was made at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial site, to honour Elly Möller as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations”, those who had helped save Jews, for her brave attempt to save Ruth and Gittel, among other things. The application came from Wiesbaden, where the old lady now lived in an old people’s home.((18Elly ​Hoffmann, Yad Vashem Jerusalem, Department of the Righteous Among the Nations, [DP], file ger 3033)) Alice tore up a letter from Jerusalem, in which she was requested to comment on Elly Möller’s actions and her children’s fate, in a fit of despair. The nightmares and crying fits returned. All the doubts, which she had suppressed for a time, came back. As the years passed, she had become less and less convinced of the version of events she had written down in her account in 1955, and now held Elly Möller at least partly guilty of her children’s deportation. Willy Nickel had already tried, soon after the war, to persuade his wife to start an investigation into what had really happened to the children in Weimar. Now her grown-up daughter Eva appealed to her mother to express her doubts in a letter to Yad Vashem. However, Alice flatly refused. In the end, she did not reply at all – probably for fear of being confronted with the true story and with her own guilt feelings. She wanted to have nothing more to do with Elly Möller. She also forbade her daughter to write to Jerusalem. ​+In the early 1980s, Alice was confronted with the full force of the question of what had really happened in Weimar in 1944. The suggestion was made at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial site, to honour Elly Möller as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations”, those who had helped save Jews, for her brave attempt to save Ruth and Gittel, among other things. The application came from Wiesbaden, where the old lady now lived in an old people’s home.((Elly Hoffmann, Yad Vashem Jerusalem, Department of the Righteous Among the Nations, [DP], file ger 3033)) Alice tore up a letter from Jerusalem, in which she was requested to comment on Elly Möller’s actions and her children’s fate, in a fit of despair. The nightmares and crying fits returned. All the doubts, which she had suppressed for a time, came back. As the years passed, she had become less and less convinced of the version of events she had written down in her account in 1955, and now held Elly Möller at least partly guilty of her children’s deportation. Willy Nickel had already tried, soon after the war, to persuade his wife to start an investigation into what had really happened to the children in Weimar. Now her grown-up daughter Eva appealed to her mother to express her doubts in a letter to Yad Vashem. However, Alice flatly refused. In the end, she did not reply at all – probably for fear of being confronted with the true story and with her own guilt feelings. She wanted to have nothing more to do with Elly Möller. She also forbade her daughter to write to Jerusalem. ​
  
-Even without Alice Nickel’s comments, Elly Möller was finally awarded the honour of the “Righteous”. Proof of the risk she took was provided by a statement made by Alice Löwenthal under oath, dated 9 August 1946. It reads as follows: “I hereby declare that Frau Elly Möller, Weimar, Jahnstrasse 3, looked after and provided for my children in her house for about 1 ½ years, at a time when we had to live in hiding as Jews  persecuted by the Nazis. She looked after the children in an exemplary manner. I was also able to stay in her house for months, with her husband’s knowledge, which was very dangerous for her because she knew we are Jewish. She has always been helpful and decent to me in every way. I have often heard her express her disgust at Hitler’s regime and the war and got to know her anti-fascist views.”((19Handwritten ​statement under oath by Alice Löwenthal, YV Jerusalem, DR, ger 3033)) These words, with Alice Löwenthal’s signature, seemed to justify the honour in every way.+Even without Alice Nickel’s comments, Elly Möller was finally awarded the honour of the “Righteous”. Proof of the risk she took was provided by a statement made by Alice Löwenthal under oath, dated 9 August 1946. It reads as follows: “I hereby declare that Frau Elly Möller, Weimar, Jahnstrasse 3, looked after and provided for my children in her house for about 1 ½ years, at a time when we had to live in hiding as Jews  persecuted by the Nazis. She looked after the children in an exemplary manner. I was also able to stay in her house for months, with her husband’s knowledge, which was very dangerous for her because she knew we are Jewish. She has always been helpful and decent to me in every way. I have often heard her express her disgust at Hitler’s regime and the war and got to know her anti-fascist views.”((Handwritten ​statement under oath by Alice Löwenthal, YV Jerusalem, DR, ger 3033)) These words, with Alice Löwenthal’s signature, seemed to justify the honour in every way.
  
 This statement was intended to support Elly Möller’s claim as a “victim of fascism”. Alice was willing to do this in 1946; to make the statement more effective, she exaggerated the length of her own stay in Weimar. She had only visited the children from time to time, but never stayed there for months. The food ration cards and money for food were not mentioned. In 1946, Alice could not have known that the children had already been deported on 10 August 1944. But it is striking that in this statement made under oath, she does not say a single word about the fact that the children were betrayed and deported. This statement was intended to support Elly Möller’s claim as a “victim of fascism”. Alice was willing to do this in 1946; to make the statement more effective, she exaggerated the length of her own stay in Weimar. She had only visited the children from time to time, but never stayed there for months. The food ration cards and money for food were not mentioned. In 1946, Alice could not have known that the children had already been deported on 10 August 1944. But it is striking that in this statement made under oath, she does not say a single word about the fact that the children were betrayed and deported.
  
-Among the papers which Elly Möller - now Elly Hoffmann – sent to Jerusalem is an undated typewritten text from the post-war period. It states the following about Ruth and Gittel Süssmann’s stay: “I could not register the children with the police and so did not receive food ration cards for them. I had to feed them completely illegally with my own food ration.” She adds, “Eventually I had to register the children under false names, and unfortunately they were traced by the Gestapo in December 1943, and I had to struggle with the police until, despite my efforts to cover up the facts, they were taken in June 1944 [!]. They were taken to one of the camps”. The next sentence really makes the reader prick up his ears: “However, Frau Löwenthal was able to escape to Berlin with my help (loan of money etc) and was not discovered”.(( ​20“Account of how I helped persecuted people (Jews) in the Third Reich”, in: ibid)) This version completely contradicts Alice Nickel’s account of events. ​+Among the papers which Elly Möller - now Elly Hoffmann – sent to Jerusalem is an undated typewritten text from the post-war period. It states the following about Ruth and Gittel Süssmann’s stay: “I could not register the children with the police and so did not receive food ration cards for them. I had to feed them completely illegally with my own food ration.” She adds, “Eventually I had to register the children under false names, and unfortunately they were traced by the Gestapo in December 1943, and I had to struggle with the police until, despite my efforts to cover up the facts, they were taken in June 1944 [!]. They were taken to one of the camps”. The next sentence really makes the reader prick up his ears: “However, Frau Löwenthal was able to escape to Berlin with my help (loan of money etc) and was not discovered”.(( “Account of how I helped persecuted people (Jews) in the Third Reich”, in: ibid)) This version completely contradicts Alice Nickel’s account of events. ​
  
 Elly Möller, who seems no longer to have had a comprehensive grasp of her papers and their exact contents, sent in another document – obviously intended to prove that the children were present in her household – which, however, proves her other statements to be lies. It is a certificate from the Weimar registration office, stamped on 5 January 1944. It states that Frau Möller had correctly registered her foster children Ruth and Brigitte on 15 June 1943 – which almost exactly tallies with the dates given by Alice Nickel - as being in her household after losing everything in the Berlin air raids. They are registered under their real names and birth dates, and above all, their actual last address, Christinenstrasse in Berlin, is given. The surname given is “Tahl”. Frau Möller knew the children’s real surname was Löwenthal. The registration form notes: “food ration card issued for the 58th period. Weimar, 5 January 1944”. Elly Möller, who seems no longer to have had a comprehensive grasp of her papers and their exact contents, sent in another document – obviously intended to prove that the children were present in her household – which, however, proves her other statements to be lies. It is a certificate from the Weimar registration office, stamped on 5 January 1944. It states that Frau Möller had correctly registered her foster children Ruth and Brigitte on 15 June 1943 – which almost exactly tallies with the dates given by Alice Nickel - as being in her household after losing everything in the Berlin air raids. They are registered under their real names and birth dates, and above all, their actual last address, Christinenstrasse in Berlin, is given. The surname given is “Tahl”. Frau Möller knew the children’s real surname was Löwenthal. The registration form notes: “food ration card issued for the 58th period. Weimar, 5 January 1944”.
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 Eva Nickel has recently succeeded in finding out more details about the fate of her half-sisters. A document which she found confirms what her Aunt Elisabeth, who continued to run her shop in Christinenstrasse until 1962, told her later. In the summer of 1944, a man from the Gestapo came into the shop and showed photos of Ruth and Gitti. The local customers who were present gave each other signs not to say anything. The man from the Gestapo asked whether these were Frau Löwenthal’s children. Fräulein Gabriel answered quick-wittedly that they hadn’t seen the children for years and that she couldn’t recognise them from the photos. At that, the policeman left the shop. Frau Qualitz, the old janitor’s wife, followed him. She was seen pointing to the windows of the Löwenthal’s flat on the opposite side of the street. This observation proved to be accurate: in Ruth and Gittel Süssmann’s file, there is a document with the following handwritten note: Eva Nickel has recently succeeded in finding out more details about the fate of her half-sisters. A document which she found confirms what her Aunt Elisabeth, who continued to run her shop in Christinenstrasse until 1962, told her later. In the summer of 1944, a man from the Gestapo came into the shop and showed photos of Ruth and Gitti. The local customers who were present gave each other signs not to say anything. The man from the Gestapo asked whether these were Frau Löwenthal’s children. Fräulein Gabriel answered quick-wittedly that they hadn’t seen the children for years and that she couldn’t recognise them from the photos. At that, the policeman left the shop. Frau Qualitz, the old janitor’s wife, followed him. She was seen pointing to the windows of the Löwenthal’s flat on the opposite side of the street. This observation proved to be accurate: in Ruth and Gittel Süssmann’s file, there is a document with the following handwritten note:
-“According to the wife of the janitor of the house, the Jewish children mentioned above were 4 and 6 years old. […] The Süssmann children’s mother is said to be in hiding. The flat is occupied by people whose flat was destroyed in an air raid. 9 October 1944.”((21Landesarchiv ​Berlin, A Rep. 092, File  Süssmann, Ruth)) By this time, the girls were already at the final collecting point for Jews in Berlin, which was set up in the Pathology Department in the Jewish Hospital in Iranische Strasse on 1 March 1944. It was referred to as “Schulstrasse”,​ where the entrance was located. Alice, who may have been staying very close to the children at that time, thought they were safely in Weimar. After the Gestapo had identified the two girls, seven-year-old Ruth and five-year-old Gittel Süssmann were deported to Auschwitz on 10 August 1944, on the 58th “osttransport” with 36 others. Alice Nickel, who died in 1987, never knew these details. She lived to the end of her life in Christinenstrasse 35, her aunts’ house, which now belongs to her daughter Eva.+“According to the wife of the janitor of the house, the Jewish children mentioned above were 4 and 6 years old. […] The Süssmann children’s mother is said to be in hiding. The flat is occupied by people whose flat was destroyed in an air raid. 9 October 1944.”((Landesarchiv ​Berlin, A Rep. 092, File  Süssmann, Ruth)) By this time, the girls were already at the final collecting point for Jews in Berlin, which was set up in the Pathology Department in the Jewish Hospital in Iranische Strasse on 1 March 1944. It was referred to as “Schulstrasse”,​ where the entrance was located. Alice, who may have been staying very close to the children at that time, thought they were safely in Weimar. After the Gestapo had identified the two girls, seven-year-old Ruth and five-year-old Gittel Süssmann were deported to Auschwitz on 10 August 1944, on the 58th “osttransport” with 36 others. Alice Nickel, who died in 1987, never knew these details. She lived to the end of her life in Christinenstrasse 35, her aunts’ house, which now belongs to her daughter Eva.
  
 [[thanks#​bridget_schaefer|Translation Bridget Schäfer]] [[thanks#​bridget_schaefer|Translation Bridget Schäfer]]