The Place of Departure. Looking at the train track, Köln-Deutz railway station, April 11, 2010.
Have you ever felt surrounded by inner and outer darkness and suddenly, you glimpse a light?
It is both Passover and Holy Week as I write, and I’m remembering the past, the sorrow and the joy.
If you could only choose three, which books greatly influenced your life journey, so far?
Today, my answer would be:
- The Bible
- Judenverfolgung und Fluchthilfe im deutsch-belgischen Grenzgebiet. (Persecution of Jews and escape assistance) by H.Dieter Arntz
- Deportationen 1938 -1945 by Dieter Corbach
Meine Krone in der Asche with two books that enlightened my journey.
All three have penetrated my soul and guided my path like sign posts to healing and restoration, often accompanied with pulls and pushes beyond my immediate understanding.
I first encountered Dieter Corbach’s book, Deportationen 1938 – 1945 in London, the date was June 27,1999 George and I were attending a reunion of the Kindertransport, we were eating a kosher lunch at a table labelled Köln. A tall quiet, dignified middle aged German woman approached our table bringing with her a big pile of heavy books. Her name was Irene Corbach, the widow of Dieter Corbach. She had completed his mammoth work of research on the fate of the Jews in Köln.
We purchased a copy and carried it back to Phoenix where it sat on the bookshelf gathering dust until the day I broke through my pain and apathy to discover the names of my parents, Markus and Amalie Zack on a list titled Transport: Litzmannstadt 30.10.41, page 383. Their assigned numbers were 964 and 965.
For so many years after I escaped to England in July 1939 I was ignorant of their ending.
At long last in 2010 I had the desire to follow my parent’s final foot steps. But how could I find their way in the days before Google?
That year, while visiting Köln, our friend, Walter took us on a tour of important jewish sites. In the tiny, cramped reception area of the EL- DE Haus, a museum dedicated to the history of Cologne Jews and the former Gestapo Headquarters, Walter pulled from the bookshelf a big book, Deportations. The very same book sitting on my Phoenix bookshelf; Walter opened the front cover and I saw a large bolded map showing the death places in the East. There was our route from Köln to Lodz to Chelmno.
This special week in 2022 Dieter Corbach’s book has come back like a drone to hover over my consciousness for a third time.
My friend Dr Amy Williams sent an email connecting me with Dr Imogen Dalziel. She is researching the history of the Schild family who sent their two sons to safety with the Kindertransport.
This family lived across the street from us in Köln and the parents, Martha and Julius Schild, left on the same train, on the same day, for the same destination, to the same ending as my parents. They were numbers 811 and 812.
Martha and Julius Schild
And the story continues….
And what about the first book on my personal list?
Dieter and Irena Corbach selected words from Isaiah chapter 25 verse 8, for their introductory pages.
Perhaps as comfort on their own journey into the dark history of their home town but certainly to comfort their readers.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people
he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.