Yesterday, amongst all the gloom of the Brexit vote, I received one ray of sunshine. This first photograph is of the lady whose family moved into Görgenstrasse 6 (second photo) late in 1939, the same block of apartments in Koblenz, Rhineland, where Ida and Alfred lived since January of that year, when Alfred was released from Dachau. Ida and Alfred Stern, as you will recall, are Joe Stirling’s parents who perished in the Holocaust. By the time the new family moved in, Günter Stern (Joe’s birth name) was in England, having arrived here in July 1939 on a Kindertransport. Following my recent book events in Koblenz and Nickenich, directly resulting from coverage in the local Rhineland newspaper, Rhein-Zeitung, I received this email from Hildegard Rockenfeller. I quote:
“My mother is the daughter of Anna and Anton Marzi living in Koblenz in Görgenstraße 6 during the 2nd world war. She vividly remembers Alfred and Ida Stern who were living on the 3rd floor in the same house by then. My mother is 90 years of age by now, she didn’t know Joe Striling personally, he already had gone to England when my mother and her family moved into the house in Görgenstraße 6. My grandparents had 4 children, 3 sons and a daughter, my mother. One of my mother’s twin brothers also was named Günter. The twin brothers are still alive, her eldest brother Kurt died in 1999. My grandfather Anton was a shoemaker and had his shop on the groundfloor in Görgenstraße 6. My mother always speaks with great respect of Alfred and Ida Stern, she liked them very much.”
I hope that both Hildegard and her mother enjoy reading about Joe’s escape from Nazi Germany and that his biography will bring back fond recollections of Alfred and Ida Stern for Hildegard’s mother. May their memory live on.