Nurit Bachrach

The Child with No Name

The cover page of the Bachrach/Kritzler Family Tree which was compiled by my late father Hans Bachrach

My mother celebrated her 70th birthday in Jerusalem on a crisp winter evening in December 1995. The caterers had set out the food, the music was playing, her friends and children and grandchildren had arrived, but we were unable to start the birthday party.  My father had not arrived and in that pre cell-phone era, we were unable to contact him.  Our initial frustration became cause for concern and then, just as we were about to start calling hospitals, he suddenly appeared.  His face beamed with excitement as he brandished a bound book in his hand – this was his special 70th birthday present for my mother.  It was the first copy of the Bachrach-Kritzler Family Tree, the result of more than a year’s intensive work.  At the time, I  did not share his enthusiasm  but now, more then 25 years later,  I am beginning to make sense of it.

My grandfather was one of nine children.  Only one of these families was still intact after  those murderous years.  Most of  my father’s uncles and aunts  cousins were  murdered during the war.   My father spent his lifetime searching for information about the murder of his parents. At a psychological level, perhaps this family  tree was my father’s way of processing the loss while searching for all of those aunts, uncles and cousins.  He expanded the tree to include as many  relatives as he could find and included them in the tree, the extended families of his daughters’  spouses – maybe in an effort  to replace some of those relatives who were murdered.

I am not convinced about the need to set up a new ritual text for Yom Hashoah such as Michal Govrin has created.  I would however suggest that we use Yom Hashoah as an opportunity to bring to life at least one memory of an uncle aunt or cousin who has no direct descendant or relative to remember them today. I came to this idea after discovering  a relative who was murdered  but was not able to  appear in the  data base of Yad Vashem.

While those discoveries can now be done with a few keystrokes on a laptop, I decided to begin my search with the old traditional sources: memories and documents.

In that family tree, my father notes that Cilly Carlebach married Adolf Bachrach – one of those 9 children back  in 1912.  Nothing else is listed under her name but there is more information about her husband.  Adolf Bachrach was born in Neudstadt in 1880 and died in 1928 from diabetes in Marburg.  The family tree also shows that the couple had 2 daughters.  Hilde Stibbe born in 1924, and Judith (born 1919).

In 2016 our family did a roots –stoppelstein tour of Germany. At the Marburg cemetery there is memorial for Holocaust victims and on this memorial plaque right at the bottom, three names, all relatives of my father  appear – Sarah Kapp born  Bachrach 1975-1941, Cilly Bachrach (born Carlebach 1887-1943) and Hilde Emilie Stibbe (born Bachrach) 1914-1941. I assume that these names were added at my father’s behest.  As I delve further into date bases I realize that the dates were probably inaccurate and Hilde died after her mother.   Perhaps it would have been even more terrible if   Cilly Bachrach had gone to her death knowing  about her daughter’s murder.

Part of the Memorial Stone from the Marburg Jewish Cemetery. The name “Cilly Bachrach (nee Carlebach) 1887-1943” appears at the bottom.
Part of the Memorial Stone from the Marburg Jewish Cemetery. The name “Hilde Emilie Stibbe (nee Bachrach) 1914-1941” appears at the bottom.

The Yad Vashem Database informs me that Cilly Bachrach nee Carlebach was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany in 1887. Her daughter Hilde Emilie Stibbe nee Bachrach was born in Marburg, Germany in 1914. She was married to Jozeph. Prior to WWII Hilda lived in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and was deported to Theresienstadt in 1943

My search  threw up another link  providing more details about the family and is based on data from six other  internet sites and databases. I read that the  marriage between Emilie Stibbe nee Bachrach and Jozeph Stibbe took place in The Netherlands in 1938 and they were deported to Westerbork on July 6th, 1943, and from there to Sobibor extermination camp. The listings contained the following information. “A child (born) during the holocaust, both parents and child presumed perished at Sobibor.”

But what of Judith, Cilly’s other daughter?  We used to visit Judith Bachrach  in London – she had escaped Germany before the war, never married nor had children. She died in 2005. While I remember has as an intelligent and slightly maverick woman, what I recall most was her tremendous sadness when talking about her sister, Hilde. I am able to  visit Judith’s grave virtually and on her gravestone she is described as “admired missed and remembered by her many family and friends for her warmth good humor and fortitude.” The description is apt, and I see in these words a duty to remember her – my second cousin.

During her lifetime Judith mourned her parents and her younger sister as well as that missing child -a nephew or a niece, who  does not appear in the Yad Vashem data base -A child without a name.  My online searches have given me the basic information but they reveal nothing of the dreams and hopes of that young couple,  Hilda from Marburg Germany and Jozeph from Amsterdam who married and had a baby  during  those terrible years.  Cilly Carlebach would never have met her grandchild – the child who would have kept the branch of the family alive.  An infant who should have been cherished and protected and instead was brutally murdered by the worst of men during an era of evil.  A child  who who was robbed of a  future, of  an opportunity to contribute, to love and  to celebrate pivotal  historical events  which most recently include his or her own relative  Eytan Stibbe  being  the second  Israeli  astronaut  and the first to return safely to earth.

Once upon a time, the survivors of the Shoah were the keepers of the memories. Yet, going forwards, if no one ever mentions their names, the names of the  survivors and those that died, it is as if they never existed. Recently a friend mentioned that her daughter was married into the Carlebach family.  When I heard the name Carlebach I remembered Cilly Carlebach – my great aunt, murdered during the Shoah,

When there is no-one left to remember, the memories will be kept alive in documents such as my father’s family tree. The search engines on the internet are  the   keepers of our memories.  On Judith’s grave these words appear: “In memory also of her mother and her sister Hilda and family who died during the Holocaust”.  The information is available and we have a new responsibility, in fact a duty, to access it, to read it and share it and in doing so, to preserve their memories.

The gravestone of Judith Bachrach from the Jewish Cemetery in Bushy London
About the Author
Nurit Bachrach made Aliya from Australia in 1985. She is a qualified lawyer who worked for 10 years as a public prosecutor in Israel, founded the Mosaica Center of Conflict Resolution by Agreement in 2003 and has been the executive director of Mosaica , Religion, Society and State since 2016. She lives with her family in Jerusalem.
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