Boy to have barmitzvah in German city his grandfather fled on Kindertransport

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Boy to have barmitzvah in German city his grandfather fled on Kindertransport

'Jever is where my father came from and where he couldn't have his barmitvah,' Jacob's mum Lori Gale-Rumens, 58, told JN. 

Left: Jacob Rumens in yellow, with his family; right:  Jacob in blue with his brothers Sam and Oli
Left: Jacob Rumens in yellow, with his family; right: Jacob in blue with his brothers Sam and Oli

A boy from Northampton is to celebrate his barmitzvah in the north German city his grandfather fled before he could mark the milestone.

Jacob Rumens will be having his barmitzvah in Jever at a Shoah museum built on the ground of the local shul, which was destroyed during kristallnacht.

“We’re doing it in Jever because my father couldn’t do it there,” Jacob’s mum Lori Gale-Rumens, 58, told JN. “That’s what is so amazing about it.”

“My dad would think it’s fantastic. It’s something so good that came out of something so bad,” she added.

Jacob’s grandfather, the late Frank Gale, née Fritz Groschler, made a miraculous escape to Dovercourt in Leeds on the Kindertransport at the age of 12, with his brother Hans, who was 15 when he made the journey.

In Leeds, Gale worked various jobs, including as an ice-cream vendor, on a Hoffman press and in a factory, before moving to London at the age of 18 and joining the British Army.

His father Julius Groschler ran a cowhide supply business in Jever and was a warden of the local shul. He was deported with his wife Hedwig in 1943 to Theresienstadt, and they were murdered a year later in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“They were prominent people in the town,” Gale-Rumens said. “They lost their homes and their factories, and this was all situated in the centre of the town overlooking the schloss (castle).”

Around 30 people are expected to attend the ceremony in Jever later this month at the Gröschlerhaus, a Shoah museum standing on the ground of a shul burnt to the ground on kristallnacht.

The museum, founded by local history teacher Hartmut Peters and pastor Volker Landig, was named after the Groschler family and features an audio recording of Gale and even a mezuzah that belonged to him.

Gale-Rumens said: “These people in this small town in Germany have made the effort to make the Gröschlerhaus in memory of the people who perished, in memory of my grandfather.”

Her father, who passed away in 1997 before the museum was built, returned to Jever several times after the war.  “Nobody knew that we were going but he was only in the town for two hours and somebody spotted him and they knew who he was,” she said, describing a trip the family made when she was 11.

In the late 1980s, Gale was among a number of survivors invited for a civic reception in Jever’s schloss attended by local dignitaries. “My father was never bitter and he always spoke warmly of where he came from, and even when I was a child I knew the name Jever,” she added.

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