My journey to learn my heritage:
As I grew up, I had questions about my family. I knew my family was from Germany, but other than that, not much else. The only members of my family from Germany that were still alive would not open up to me about what happened to my grandfather or great grandparents.
My Father, Uri Hanauer was born in Berlin, Germany on February 6, 1940. I had no idea that he was a holocaust survivor until after his death on December 5, 1981. My grandmother pulled me aside at my father’s memorial service and told me that she and my father had been in a concentration camp during WWII. She said she needed to tell me this so I would understand why my father was never open with me about his childhood. I asked her the name of the camp and she would not tell me.
In 2002 my grandfather’s sister, Ilse had told me the name of the camp that my father, grandmother and great grandfather were taken to. It was Terezin (Theresienstadt) located in the Czech Republic. I started looking on the web for information on Theresienstadt and learned there was a museum in Israel that had the records of when people were transported to the camp. I had contacted the museum and they sent me copies of the transport documents for both my father and my grandmother. This was the beginning of my quest to learn the whole truth about my family’s survival during the holocaust. The only problem was that the 3 members of my family who had survived were now all deceased.
I then started sending emails to various German agencies on what I knew about my family, which at this point was very little. Fortunately my great aunt Ilse had given me names of some of my relatives just before her death in 2002.
I started out by not knowing anything about my family. I have learned the following from documents I have obtained from many agencies around the world starting in 2003. The notebook that holds these documents is 5″ thick and filled. I have added another note book with correspondences I have had with The International Red Cross, historians, authors and German’s who knew my family during the war:
My grandfather’s name was Hans Heinz Hanauer and he was born on June 19, 1918 in Berlin.
My grandfather Hans and grandmother Ursula were married April 30, 1940 in Paderborn, Germany. Almost 3 months after my father’s birth.
On March 3, 1941, Hans had been warned not to leave his hiding place, because an arrest warrant had been issued against him. He was a member of an underground organization that had been plotting the assassination of Hitler and the organization had been infiltrated by a Nazi spy. Hans did not believe he would be arrested and he left his hiding place. As soon as he was spotted on the street, he was arrested.
Hans was then transported to the train station where he boarded the train that would be taking him to the labor camp, Gut Winkel in Spreenhagen. My father was with my grandmother at the train station where my grandfather had been taken. They were there to see him off. A soldier had asked my grandmother to hold my father, because he was trying to run to the train to be with his father. As Hans sat on the train, the wife of one of the soldier’s had given him a pen and piece of paper so he could write a note to my grandmother. The original letter Hans had written to my grandmother Ursula as he sat on the train is below the translation. The letter was hand delivered to my grandmother by the wife of a soldier that was on the train. My father’s half brother had given this letter to me in 2003. I had it translated right away. This is the exact translation:
My Dear Love!
Now at day’s end I want to send a few lines. At noon you were standing by the train and I thought you had already left. Just as the train started to pull out, the wife of one of the soldiers said that you are still there. I looked right away but you had already started to walk away. That made me so sad because you were standing there and I didn’t look to see if you are still there.
That is the reason I wanted to write to you immediately so you will know that I am always with you in thought and I will always be thinking about you when there may be bad days like maybe today. Always know that there is someone thinking about you.
Dear Ursula I hope you won’t have to suffer because of me, I hope all will be good again. I am hoping to hear from you, so I can stop worrying about you. Greetings and kisses from your loving, sometimes a little stupid
Give Uri a kiss from Pappa.
Written on side of postcard from the wife of one of the soldiers who had hand delivered note to my grandmother Ursula:
“You do not know me but I am sending greetings, Ester Binder”.
Hans spent 2 years in Gut Winkel. This labor camp was set up to educate young Jewish men and women in agriculture and wood working so they could immigrate to Palestine.
Hans was transported from Gut Winkel to Auschwitz on March 4, 1943. There were 1159 people on the train and Hans was the 983rd person registered on the manifest. Hans was registered on the manifest as Hans Heinz Israel Hanauer. Hans arrived in Auschwitz on March 6, 1943 and was given the prison #106433. Hans was murdered at the age of 24 in Auschwitz on March 31, 1943.
Both of my great grandfathers were Jewish and both of my great grandmothers were Christian.
My great grandfather (Ursula’s father) Jonas Rosenfeld had been incarcerated on 3 occasions. He documented all of the dates in a journal that my father’s half brother had. I had made a copy of this journal in 2003
Jonas was held in a facility on Rosenstrasse (Rose St.) in Berlin with over 10,000 other Jewish men, women and children. This was from February 27, 1943 until March 8, 1943. This was to be the last evacuation of the remaining Jews in Berlin, most of which were in mixed marriages (Christian/Jews). When the Christian wives of the Jewish men found out they were being held there, they began to go to the building and protest against the detainment of their spouses. The protest actually ended on March 6, 1943. The prisoners were released in alphabetical order one by one. Because Jonas’ last name was Rosenfeld, his release date was March 8, 1943.
There was a movie released in 2003 and made by German director Margarethe Von Trotta named “Rosenstrasse”. I saw this movie in 2005, and at that time I had no idea that my family had been involved in it. I actually purchased the movie the very next day, because I felt compelled to watch it again. It would be about 5 months later that I would go to the copied journal looking for birthdates of Jonas’ family members. As I was going through his notes I came across the translations of his dates of arrest. I was in shock when I saw in his own handwriting the date 27 Feb. 1943 until 8 Mar. 1943.
I had been told that my family was protected by my great grandmother’s Christian heritage. My great grandmother Emma Tscharntke-Rosenfeld died on August 16, 1944. On August 21, 1944, my father, grandmother and great grandfather were arrested. On September 8, 1944, the three of them were transported to Theresienstadt. They were liberated on June 7, 1945 and returned to Berlin. They left Berlin on May 29, 1946 on the SS Mariner and arrived in New York on June 18, 1946.
I was contacted by Michael Schneeberger in August of 2007. He was with the Ephraim Gustav Hoelein Genealogy Project of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation located in Wuerzburg. He said my email was forwarded to him from an office in Berlin that had received my email over a year earlier. Michael had located information on my family which was held in Lower Franconia and created a family tree for me. In September 2007, I received my family tree that traced my Hanauer family back to Abraham Hanauer born in 1727 in Wiesenfeld, Bavaria. Michael had done a lot of research and had documented on property that was taken from my family, which included Gestapo numbers placed on the property. He had also included camps where my family were taken and murdered.
I have found 3 extended family members; Mike Jones lives in England, Ella Bauer lives in Las Vegas and Enrique Kahn lives in Buenes Aires. We have all come together through a website that bares our family name, Hanauer.
According to the German government, my grandfather Hans and grandmother Ursula were considered “Mischlinge” (half-breed). This was the label given to Christian Jews. All who were of Jewish heritage were mandated to take new middle names as they registered, “Israel” for males and “Sara” for females. This was how the Jews were identified by the Nazi’s.
My great grandfather Max Hanauer owned a women’s clothing factory in Berlin. It had been taken away from him during the holocaust and was destroyed during the bombings. In October, 2007 I received from Enrique Kahn, whom I came in contact with in 2006, a copy of listed addresses for businesses in Berlin in 1927. It shows my great grandfather, Max Hanauer’s name, address and what type of business he owned.
My great grandmother Frieda Hanauer had sewn all of Max Hanauers’ mother’s jewelry into the hem of her clothing. She had also sewn family pictures into the lining of her dresses. There are over 200 photos dating back to the mid 1800’s that were saved.
My great grandparents, Max and Frieda Hanauer were hidden in a small cabin in Grunau, just outside of Berlin. This was the property of a woman named Lotte Mader who was an employee of my great grandfather’s clothing factory. I have learned this from Tutti. Tutti was an employee of my great grandfather’s factory. She was friends of Ilse and Hans and she decided that it was time for our family to know the truth of what happened during the war. In 2005, Tutti had sent me a bowl and plate that my grandfather Hans had made as an apprentice and had given to her in the late 30’s.
I have documented Max Hanauer’s voyage to America in 1903. On the manifest, it showed him as a Brewer from Berlin. He had over $400 cash at the time he arrived to Ellis Island.
He traveled from New York to Salt Lake City to spend time with 3 cousins living there who owned the HANAUER SMELTING WORKS UTAH at Salt Lake City, Utah. I have learned that Hanauer St. in Salt Lake City was named after my family.
From Utah he went to San Francisco, where he survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. He had taken 2 panoramic pictures of the devastation and I have the copies. My cousin Juliette Hanauer has the originals. He went back to Germany sometime in 1906. I am still trying to find out where he had traveled and when he actually left America.
My great-great grandfather David Hanauer was a Hops and Barley trader in Bavaria. His brother’s owned farms and were the growers of the hops and barley. He traded in Russia and China. My cousin, Mike Jones had told me that one of the Hanauer brother’s had owned a tobacco farm in Bavaria.
There were many Hanauers’ that were murdered during the holocaust.
I would like to share my story with the world. I know there are many stories already published about the holocaust, but I do believe mine has many pieces of German history not really known to the world.
Every word written is the truth backed by documentation from many sources. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has documented many pictures and documents of my family and I have donated my father’s ID card and his release card from Theresienstadt to the USHMM.
This is a testimonial to how God has answered my prayers. I had prayed to learn my family history and I was given the most amazing documentation.
As I finalized my father’s family documentation, my mother asked me to start on her genealogy. Now, that is a whole other story that holds an amazing tracking of her ancestors as Mormon pioneers. I have a feeling I will find a connection between my great grandfather, Max Hanauer and one of my mother’s ancestors in Salt Lake City. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit.