Frankfurt high school students receive the Beni Bloch Prize from the Jewish community
Dagobert was a completely normal, fun-loving boy. One who probably didn’t worry his parents much because he was top of his class at the Wöhlerschule, which he had attended since 1931, and also played the violin in the school orchestra. One for whom the future was open, as the saying goes. But then, in January 1933, the National Socialists came to power. What happened to Dagobert, whose surname was Salomons and who was a Jew, in the years that followed is now known by a number of Wöhler students. Thanks to the commitment of the search for clues working group in the Gymnasium am Dornbusch. Since the 1990s, the biographies of Jewish welfare students who were persecuted during the Nazi dictatorship have been processed here. For this, the AG was recently awarded the Beni Bloch Prize for youth engagement by the Jewish community in Frankfurt.
Podcast reminds of Dagobert Salomons
The jury felt that the students’ idea of not only recording these life stories in writing, but also in digital form: as podcasts, i.e. as audio contributions that can be accessed via the Internet, was particularly worthy of the award. Afterwards, many younger people preferred listening to podcasts than reading books. That’s how the range grows, hoping Vincent and Caroline, who are involved in the research group – together with students in the ninth and tenth grades and from the Q phase. Interviews and historical audio testimonies can also be incorporated into the contributions. The students now want to use the prize money of 1,000 euros to get the equipment for the podcasts, such as microphones, cables and editing software.
With the help of teacher Dorothée Guillemarre, who has been leading the working group for several years, they have already collected a great deal of information. Example about Dagobert Salomons. Hanna initially lives with his parents and younger sister in Westend, where the high school was then. The family later moved to the Bornheimer Hang. As one of the last Jewish students, he had to leave the Wöhlerschule in 1936 at the age of 16 and began a commercial apprenticeship before fleeing in 1938. He makes it across the border to the Netherlands and later to Colombia by bike. Although he lost most of his family – including his parents and sister – in the Holocaust, he returned to Germany after World War II.
The young people also know something from the life of the classic Wöhler student from a long conversation with his daughter, whom they tracked down in Darmstadt. “This meeting was a very impressive experience for us,” Anne and Darya recall. Among other things, the daughter told them that her father was never able to gain a foothold in Germany after his return and also had bad experiences with old Nazis. Because, adds Hannes, “there was no zero hour, as is always claimed, but a continuity of personalities. I found that really crass.”
Against the background of the resurgence of right-wing extremism in Germany, he and the other members of the working group wanted to tell about the fate of persecuted Jewish Wöhlerschule students, says Hannes. For example, by Friedrich Schafranek, who was deported to the Lodz ghetto with his parents and brother and finally ended up in the Auschwitz concentration camp. His striped prisoner jacket can be seen today in the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt. Incidentally, a display case in the Wöhlerschule, designed by the Working Group for Traces, has been reminiscent of Dagobert Salomons for a year now. Among other things, it shows photos from his childhood in Frankfurt, an English textbook from that time and also a pocket knife that he once found. In this way one wants to make one’s fate tangible, explains Darya – to show that the Holocaust is not a collection of abstract numbers and data, but was a horrible reality for Jewish welfare students and millions of other people. Because, says Anne, “we also have the responsibility that history is not forgotten”.