The Story of Fanny Höchstetter
Ernie Hunter recounts the story of his mother, Fanny Höchstetter, and how long-standing friendly Christian-Jewish relationships in the small market town of Laupheim, Germany were destroyed by the Nazis.
Laupheim was mainly Catholic, with a Jewish community. The Jews enjoyed a full religious and cultural life. In March 1933 many Germans, including Jews, felt that surely the Nazis could not crush German democracy. They felt ‘it will soon blow over’. Fanny Höchstetter was one of those, and almost left it too late to flee Germany.
Within days of the Nazi Party taking control of the Reichstag, legislation forced the retirement of Jewish civil servants and political opponents of Hitler. Fanny, Jewish and already at thirty a senior civil servant, did not want to retire, but, when forced to do so, bravely demanded and received a retirement certificate.
Fanny eventually realised that it would not soon blow over. Luckily her sister Bertl found her a job as a chambermaid in Wales, thereby saving Fanny’s life. Fanny managed to flee in August 1939 days before World War Two started.
The story also mentions the fate of some family members sent on the first transport from Baden Württemberg (December 1941) to an unknown destination for ‘Resettlement East’. They ended up in Riga, Latvia where, on or soon after arrival, most were shot one by one. Within a year, Jewish culture, religion – and life – in Laupheim had been extinguished forever.
Presented by Ernie Hunter
Ernie Hunter, a retired accountant and management consultant, formerly ran his own Europe-wide consultancy. He has been involved in Holocaust education for over 12 years, speaking in schools, places of worship, universities and civic organisations. Pre-Covid, Ernie returned annually to Germany to speak, in German, about his family, in schools and at the Museum of Christians and Jews in Laupheim.
The experiences of Ernie’s family of intolerance and hatred of the ‘other’ in the Nazi period made him realise the continuing importance and relevance of Holocaust education in standing up against antisemitism, Holocaust denial, racism and today’s genocides. This passion led Ernie to set up the Northern Holocaust Education Group. He also sits on the Education Advisory Board of the Manchester Jewish Representative Council.