Research Project Betar Professional School Darsmatdt, Germany 1947-48
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Testimonies of a Story to be told - The Professional School Darmstadt 1947-48

The story about the school still has to be told.
I always knew about the existence of the school but I knew no details.

Henning Sietz had began the research before me and he found the announcement about the school in the Darmstaedter Echo, which contains many details about the school.
The newspaper is one of the main and leading testimony. We need to give credit to the newspapers.

One of the problems a Margatere L. Myers(15) states is the lack of documentation from this period, partly since the camp administration or private people wanted to make a profit at the closing of the DP Camps and sold all the papers from the offices as "old paper". There were no history research papers writtne in the caos of the afterwar and most accounts available of the Dp's life was written by military officials or representatives of social welfare agencies. They wrote mainly about frictions within the organizations and authorities and not about the DPs themselves. We also find so little mentioning of the schools which were so important for the community and for the Dps themselves.

Below you will find information and stories about the school and the people that were, came in touch or lived in Darmstadt during the period of 1947-1950.
1. Moshe Mordchelewitz, Madrich at the School
2. Johanna Fraenkel, a student at the TU Darmstadt
3. Ursula Schneider, the secretary of Major Rose
4. Martha Schmetterling, a student at the TU Darmstadt
5. Rita Rubin, sister of student David Borenstein
6. Betty Borenstein, sister ofwife student David Borenstein

1. Moshe Mordchelewitz
The best source is a living witness and this is the Madrich, the Hebrew teacher, the Betar ideology teacher, the spiritual leader of the School, Moshe Mordchelwitz. He tells me his story over the years and I tried to write it down. All these years he has been, a close friend of Sophie my mother and Samuel Milek Batalion. He is now living in Cote St. Luc, Montreal, Canada.

Moshe holding the baby Lea 1948
Moshe Mordechelewitz, a life story in the writing (it is only at the beginning).  
(A letter written in 2007 in Hebrew. Translated by Lea Dror-Batalion.)
Dear Lea,
I begin to write a short introduction in order to understand the period after the Second World War. A lot has been written about the events of the war, a tremendous amount of literature, a lot of books and a lot of newspaper article and there is really nothing that I can add. I am sure that you, Lea, yourself are well read. 
I do not want to come to any conclusions regarding our activities after all the tragedies that we experienced and overcame so many obstacles.
The saddest and most significant event is that we lost our dear ones, that our families were destroyed, we lost our best friends and also the hope that the sun will shine once more. We also felt lost.
And then like a river that is overflowing on his borders, Jews began to appear from all the hiding places, from the woods, from Soviet Russia, from the Partisans and from the concentration camps. These are the survivors, the Sheerit Hapleita that stayed alive and began to meet  in Germany,  Poland, Czechoslovakia, Italy, they were searching for a place where they could unite. However many disappointments awaited us.
The trains coming from Soviet Russia went through Poland and there the Poles were approaching them and were cursing that Hitler did not finish the job and that too many stayed alive. This was very sad and it is impossible to describe our feelings during this time. This welcome paled our souls  and added grief and more pain to the existing questions:” Where to are we traveling and towards what are we heading to”. Yet, will all this happening we did not despair, we were not broken since we knew that tout there still alive is a large American Jews population and many more Jews spread out throughout the world.  There was still hope to meet and to connect with other Jews in order to create a better and brighter future. People that did not go through the war hell, can not imagine nor understand what we experienced   during the wartimes.  From here we began to understand that if we don’t help ourselves no one will help us. This is when we began the Tnua (Betar Movement?) which increased with the arrival of young men and women from all the surrounding areas.  The young men and women who were left only with themselves, their bodies and spirit, organized themselves in a frame work  in order to gain power and in order to have an impact on  the world surrounding us. Their aspirations were grandiose and we dreamed of the state to become. We were ready to fight and to sacrifice ourselves for this purpose. The eagerness and enthusiasm was immense and with this came action.
I myself, belonged already in 1937 to the  Betar Organization named after Jabotinsky. There I was active as a student in the cultural high school(?) until the outbreak of the war. Naturally all this stopped with the outbreak of the war but now we had another chance to be active to continue our path from before the war.
We arrived in Poland, at the end of 1946,   passing by on our road to Germany. I remember exactly the times when this happened but let’s not speak about this.
In Poland , I entered a Kibbutz with the Name Ichud and most of the young men and women came from the Shomer Hazair. As I was senior Betar activist, I was able to convinced  the group from Ichud to join the  Betar Pluga and I arrived with this group in Germany  in the DP Camp of  Hessisch Lichtenau in the area of Kassel, Hessen for a few days of Camp(?) and we were called  Herzog.* I came with the Kibbutz and I organized the whole Kibbutz. All in all there were approximately thirty young men and women. The majority was from Poland and Lithuania.
This is when I became acquainted with your father, Samuel Milek Batalion. They called him Milek and he was at the same time in the city Eschwege. There he was active in the Betar Organization. He organized the former Betar members from Poland, the younger and older ones. There in the camp, he was very active and very popular.
And you will know who is Milek!
Our contact began in 1947.  
We became friends and decided to organize a convention in Eschwege. To convention there was a big success. A large number of young men and women came (how many?). The target was to do a create a nucleus and to organize the group so that we could to appeal (leave to?) to the center in Munich. The main speaker at the convention was Milek, your father. He spoke with pathos and inspired all the people attending including me. After him I also spoke and we started a debate. We spend many hours there. We left there with excitement, empowered and full of eagerness. Since then I tied are very strong contacts with and we were almost everyday on the phone. After several new he moved to the camp Herzog, where that I was. The house where your parents lived was not far from the Betar kibbutz which I had organized. 
From here on, in the year of 1947, continued our friendship and our combined activities. Then the central committee in Munich decided to send me to a larger Camp by the name Bad Reichenhal*2. There I was both the instructor of kibbutz and chairman of the Betar movement. But the contact with your father did not stop, we saw each other from time to time until the later part of 1947. Then the idea of creating a professional school arose which of course at that time was a great idea. The decision was taken together with the central committee in Munich to establish this school in Darmstadt.
I spoke to your father at this time and he asked me if I would agree to be instructor(Madrich) and he would manage the school. After one month I was already IN Darmstadt and then began all the organization and activities with everything that was connected and needed to be supplied to the school. Everything there was destroyed in Darmstadt and it was  impossible to receive all the equipment and the tools for the school. First we had to acquire the permit from the American army for the establishment and operation of the school in order to request the assistance from the Germans. In the end everything there was organized and it worked out 100%.
(Honat- Plugat?) Herzog was a success, not only did we establish the school, but we were also active in the Betar movement and we were travelers together to meetings of comrades and to Betar demonstrations. Your father was fantastic speaker. He always aroused the crowds, and always spoke with pathos. I learned from him how to speak. Often he would joke with me and ask me “when I will receive a payment from you”. It continued this way until from the end of 1947 until May 1948. This is the time period that I spend in Darmstadt until my journey to Israel.
Now I want to describe to you what happened in school. The kibbutz that I was in with the young men and women was about 20 Minutes walking from the school. I was the instructor (Madrich) and the commander. Every evening we had a discussion with the members of the Kibbutz. I taught them Zionism and the Old Bible. I also taught them some Hebrew. In the morning they used to go to the professional school where they would have classed with the German instructors. Everything worked out perfectly. The active organizers were your parents. Your father managed the finances and other organizational matters and your mother organized the clothing and food.
I have to point out the relationship with and the assistance from the German city Darmstadt.
Your parents did everything possible to help the school. Every day they were very proud that we chose to come to the professional Zionist school. They took care of the everything, they organized works on the exterior are interior part of the building in order that the building would be beautiful. They invested many efforts in order that the building would look like new and all this thanks you to your mother. She was the authority with the Germans and handled all the contacts between the Germans and your father. If there was a problem, your father send her to resolve the issue. We received everything and everything went through her.
She was a very intelligent and bright woman, full of life and with many initiatives.
At all time she was busy with the Kibbutz and for example, the food that was left over would never be thrown out. She made contact with a agricultural big farm and every day they used to come to pick up the remainders of the food and the bread and we, in return, would received fruits and vegetables. We were even allowed to have a warehouse of products in a time that around us  there was nothing to eat. She, however, was able to open a supermarket for us. What didn’t we have! She even arranged fro us to have wine and conserves and everything thanks to your mother. She was the thriving force of the whole kibbutz in regards to all the every day needs. In all the two years that I had known your father, your mother was very active. 

Dear Lea, it’s been a long time since I wrote a journal. Today, from all of my memories after 60 year, I want to point out the period in Germany. A period of eagerness for deeds and of happiness and of satisfaction of life. This period in Germany, Darmstadt, there the most happiest time in my life. Of course, I was also young with full of pathos, energy and desire to succeed. In this I finish to write and send you all of this in order that you will be able to learn something that period.
If you want more details, I am always ready to help

A conversation with Moshe Mordechelwitz on Nov.2006 in a Hotel in Tel Aviv

Moshe speaks about Sam. Your father was a great speaker, with pathos. He even taught me to speak.In Darmstadt they were in a Betar Kibbutz. The Kibbutz lived in a building that was a hospital for disabled people in Darmstadt not far from the school - about 20 Minutes walking. Your father lived outside the kibbutz. Sam was the manager of the kibbutz, of the belongings and appliances, woodworks, steel. He said that he teaching Hebrew, Zionism etc. He was in Eschwege Herzog in May 46 (date needs to be checked) and arrived in Darmstadt in 47. The center in Munich asked for a teacher/madrich for the Kibbutz. They were there for about 10 month. Moshe went to Israel on May 15, 1948 (or the beginning of May- since he speaks of the establishment of the State). The group of the Kibbutz stayed behind. The Kibbutz was recruited later for the war in Israel. One of the leaders from Betar arrived to recruit for the Etzel.

Phone Conversation with Moshe May 15 2009

He repeated some of the things he previously said. So please refer to the link for further reading and information :

More conversations:
Conversation on Skype on June 12, 2009
Conversation on Skype on June 15, 2009

2. Johanna Fraenkel
3. Ursula Schneider
Frau Ursula Schneider wohnhaft in Darmstadt. Sie hat Germanistic und Deutsch gelernt. War drei jahren Juni 1945-April 1958 als Sekretaerin und Dolmetscherin im Buero. Es gab damals nicht so viel Aktivitaeten mit der Verwaltung. Die Buero’s haben sich immer wieder verkleinert und zusammenesetzt.  Bergstraesser, die Familie lebt nicht mehr. Buergermeister Metzger koennte vielleicht dabei gewesen sein. Vielleicht den Sohn fragen.
Der Oberst Rose. Rose war weniger als drei Jahre. Major Cohn war im Rechstwesen. Oertliches Govenment fuer Landkreis Darmstadt und dan Bezikrs – regional – auserhalb von Gross Gerau, Heppenheim, Erbach, zwischen Main und Nekkar gebiet und dort hat Frau Schneider gearbeitet. Rose was the commanding officer part of the time.  Nach der Eroeffnungszeremonie wurde im Hotel Post gefeiert. Es wurde auch jiddish gesprochen was man etwas verstehen konnte, ich haben den Offizieren auch uebersetzt. Der Major Cohn war auch dabei.
Interessant was dieselben Leute noch nach so viel Jahren in Erinnerung haben.  Frau Schneider war bei der Eroeffnung de Schule dabei und hat die Rede in Deutsch vorgelesen, die eine Uebersetzung  von der Rede von Oberst Rose war , der seine Rede in English gegeben hat. Die schule war nicht weit weg von dem Buero’s der Militaersregierung, aber sie fuhren mit dem Wagen- wahrscheinlich. Hotel Post existiert noch heute. Vom Bahnhof ist das Bahnhofhotel und da ist ein Bezirk.... da war das Hotel. In der Paterre den Hotels war die Kanteene der Militaers angestellten. Die bekamen Krieggefangene Rationen geliefert und davon bekamen die Angestellten ein Mittagessen. Es wurde kontrolleirt das ein Teil des Essens nicht verschwinded. Es gab auch Essenmarken.
Vieles wurde frueher telefoniert und weniger geschrieben. Auswaertsgespraeche gingen nur ueber Millitaer.
Der Oberst Leutnant Rose hatte zwei Kinder. Frau Schneider war zum Thanksgiving dinner eingeladen. Ein kind war so 12 JaHRE ALT. Tischsitten am Tisch, der Sohn wurde gemahnt das er seine Haende auf dem Tisch hatte.
Sie weiss nicht wann das Buero zu gemacht wurden sind?
Vielleicht existiert ein Zeugniss vom Oberst Rose
4. Martha Schmetterling
5. Rita Rubin , Interview June 2009 in Haifa

She visited the school and living quarters in 1948
She is the sister of the student David Borenstein

The full recollectionl of Rita from this peroid can be found here.
Picture takeb by Lea Dror-Batalion 1.6.2009 in Haifa Rita Rubin
In regard to the school: She remembered being in the living quarters of he students. She was in the rooms and in the kitchen. She remembers lighting the bigs stove. They had a head of cabbage and did not know ow to took it. So they just put it in hot water and cooked, with no salt. She remmebers that it was not tasty. When I walked into her apartment, the first thing she said was. Your father was also a Gingi (a rehead). I asked her how she remembered tha fact. She said that her mother also was a redhead and redheads were always standing out. She also described my father as a determined person who would achive what he has set out to do. She spoke of him in praise and admiration, that he took the young man in from the camps and the street and saved them. the young men were quite lost after the difficult period of the war, after the struggle for survival. They had no restraints and knew no borderlines.
She spoke of Mundek. I asked which Mundek and she did not know the last name. She said that he lived in Haifa (passed away a few years) and had a butcher job at Central Carmel (at Shederot Hanashi 124, at the Carmel Ceter shopping center. A not Kosher butcher shop). She said that Mundek liked Betty very much and tried to win her for himself. (Betty told that the person in Haifa was not Mundek but Nagos, who had curly black hair.)
Rita said that David studied auto mechanics in Darmstadt and she gave me his papers - a driving license, a mechanics school report and his identification card. David worked in Nazareth at the Susita factory thanks to the papers and studies in Germany. The owner of the factory lives in Denia, Haifa (owns the bowling).
6. Betty Borenstein

Thursday June 11, 2009 21:20
Betty Borenstein called from Winnipeg, Canada
She asked me if I know the Ehrlich twin brothers. She mentioned the name Johan and believes that he is still alive (I know that he died) in Offenbach.
She spoke of Isaac and Mundek Altkorn. Mundek Altkorn is the Mundek Rita her sister in law spoke about. There was no Mundek in Haifa.
There was a former student In Haifa. He was a butcher and they called him Nagos since he had curled black hair. He had his butcher shop across from Cafe Krips in Central Carmel.
She spoke of a student with the name Zipi and a pair they called Marans. She mentioned the wife's name Clara. They lived in Haifa and died.
Betty lived ,after the wedding, with the other students in the hospital building .
She said that I should speak to Johanna Fraenkel. The Fraenkel family lived across on the street of the hospital. She said that there was a synagogue nearby. The living quarters where in the middle of the city.
Every morning did the students march to the school. (If the hospital building where they lived is on Bismarsckstr. 59 then the distance to the school on the Steubenplatz is very nearby)
David was my fathers' driver and also a student at the school.
David learned to be an auto mechanic. This he learned outside the school in a Mercedes Repair shop since he could not study this at the school.
David, his mother and sister(Rita) arrived to Rabenhausen from Russia. From there they went by train to Rashel(?) nearby Kassel. David was afraid to leave  the train. (I was asking how did David reach the school – Betty did not complete the answer)
She described the hospital building. Entrance was the kitchen and the student lived in the first and second floor.
In the exhibition about Josef Fraenkel at the Jewish community in Darmstadt, there is a picture of her parents. they were the last family that left Darmstadt during the war.
She spoke of Udo Steinbeck, her nephew who wrote a small book series about famous Jews from Darmstadt.(See bibliography).
She spoke of Rebecca.(?)

For More Information Please Contact: Lea Dror-Batalion :
Administrative Services and Webmaster Jewish Professional School, Darmstadt 1947 Haifa, Israel