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GERMANY: Eric Boehm in Hof

This is the second extract from Eric Boehm's report on his trip through Europe. Incidentally, in the first extract, describing the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Eric referred to the sequencing of Old and New Testament themes. This is an old story; Pascal wrote what he called "correspondances," attempting to show that everything in the New Testament story picks up a theme from the Old Testament.

Eric is from Hof in northeastern Bavaria. He described his escape from Nazi Germany in We Survived. He has now revisited Hof, and he describes the change in its Jewish population, without saying what the response of the non-Jewish population is:

"In Hof, where I lived until I emigrated in 1934 (my only brother, Werner, left in 1933 and my parents just "made it" a few months before they might have been deported -- they left Germany for the U. S. in 1941)! Of the German classmates who were close to me, two were killed in World War II, the third died in 1955, and I am the only "survivor". Of the small Jewish congregation of Hof most emigrated in time. Hof now has a Jewish congregation headed by Leon Gonczarowski, an immigrant from Poland -- a charming and capable person. His family owns one of the largest textile mills- Like other German companies, the core factory in Germany has satellite sub-contract companies, which the family also owns, in other countries where labor costs are much lower --in his case in Morocco).

He took me to meet the local rabbi --from Israel; in my day the congregation in Hof was only large enough -- a hundred or so persons-- to warrant appointing a religious teacher who also did the Jewish services. Now the congregation has about 500 members, "99% from Russia". Leon wears the German government decoration of "Deutsches Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse". He wanted his son to move to Hof from Israel to run the business, but the family stayed in Israel, and the son comes to Hof for two weeks every month.

I was also interested to see that Hof recently became the head office of the distant learning university for Bavaria, and that it proudly displays a sign at the road entrances to Hof, as a sort of capital for advanced education. The buildings of the two schools I attended are now committed to higher education, beyond the high school level." [Eric is a pioneer in distance education in this country. RH].

Ronald Hilton - 9/06/00