For six centuries, Hellman’s grandfather’s family had lived in Gunzenhausen, a Bavarian town of about 16,000 people, 35 miles southwest of Nuremberg, Germany. Then, in the mid-1930s, tens of thousands of Jews emigrated from Germany for fear of persecution, including Hellman’s family.
However, before they were able to leave Germany, the Hellmanns were witness to Kristallnacht. As their home was ransacked, the Hellmanns fled in the dark of night with nothing but the clothes on their back, while Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues all over Germany were vandalized and set on fire.
The Hellmanns drove to different cities across Bavaria, seeking refuge with friends and family, eventually finding shelter in Nuremburg. It was not until the following September that they were able to secure tickets on a train to Antwerp, Belgium.
From there, aboard the Veendam, a ship of the Holland-American line, the family arrived in Hoboken, N.J., on Nov. 9, 1939, on the one-year anniversary of Kristallnacht.
“My family’s story enriches UW-Stout’s story,” Hellman said. “I want to spread a message of tolerance to everyone and add to our university’s tapestry and diverse community.”
For a complete story, visit Stanley Hellman’s article, “Kristallnacht: a Family’s Saga,” published in WhereWhatWhen.com.