Fred Schwab was born in Frankfurt. In 1935, he managed to leave Germany. His wife, Marianne Rothschild, came from the town of Bad Homburg. After the 1938 Pogroms, she fled to the USA via Britain. The couple visited their former country as guests of the City of Frankfurt, to which they kept close emotional ties. Both returned often, met former classmates and spoke at schools.
Their daughter Madeleine was invited by the City of Bad Homburg in 2013. She attended the opening ceremony for a deportation memorial in her mother’s home town. From here, her grandparents had been deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942.
Fred Schwab: “We Need To Look Ahead”
Fred Schwab was born as Friedrich Ernst Schwab into a Jewish family with a centuries-old history in Germany and Frankfurt.
Born into this metropolitan city in 1918, he grew up at Rheinstraße 7 in Frankfurt’s Westend district and visited the nearby Goethe-Gymnasium. Fred’s father owned a large business at Moselstraße 4 (Gebr. Feisenberger. Kurzwaren, Spielwaren, Strumpfwaren).
The family was firmly established among Frankfurt’s society. His parents married at the traditional Frankfurter Hof hotel, together with Christian and Jewish friends. The family was not very religious and attended the liberal Westend Synagogue. They celebrated “Weihnukka”: Hanukkah as well as Christmas (“Weihnachten” in German).
When Hitler was installed, the family did not even remotely consider leaving the country. At school, Fred hardly noticed antisemitism and the Nazis at first. However, in 1935, he left school with a ten-year General Certificate of Secondary Education (Mittlere Reife) to start a commercial apprenticeship.
The family thought more and more about emigrating. First they sent Fred, the youngest member, to the USA, because he had no prospects in Germany. His father and the older brother Hans (Hank) were arrested during the 1938 Pogroms and deported to Buchenwald.
After about four weeks, both were allowed to leave the camp, because Fred’s mother managed to get emigration papers, with the help of an uncle in the USA. In Buchenwald, the father lost 30 kg (66 lbs.) and any hope of staying in his native country.
In 1942, Fred was drafted into the US Army and sent to Germany, because he knew the language. Back then, he already worked for better communication. Not all Germans were Nazis to him, and not all party members were Anti-Semites. This attitude allowed him to pick up old friendships and make new ones in his later career in the chemicals industry. His contacts often led him back to Germany.
In 1995, the former Frankfurt resident got the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz) in 1995 for his lifetime achievements and his reconciliation efforts.
“We need to look ahead,” was his motto in life. Still, he cared about remembering the crimes of the Nazi regime and the fates of Jewish families.
In 1992, 55 years after fleeing Germany, Fred Schwab came back to Frankfurt as an official guest. The Project Jewish Life in Frankfurt arranged for him to speak at his former school, Goethe-Gymnasium. His wife Marianne and daughter Madeleine accompanied him.
Marianne Rothschild and Friedrich Schwab had known each other in Frankfurt and later reunited and married in the USA.
Marianne Schwab, Née Rothschild: “I Always Feel A Little Homesick For Bad Homburg”
Marianne was born in Frankfurt in 1919. She grew up in the town of Bad Homburg, where her father, Louis Rothschild, managed a bank. The family lived right downtown at Louisenstraße.
Unlike Fred Schwab’s family, the Rothschilds, were very religious and active members of the Jewish congregation. Marianne first attended the girl’s high school (Lyzeum) in Bad Homburg (today Humboldtschule). Later, she began an apprenticeship as a kinesitherapist.
During the 1938 Pogroms, on 10 November 1938, she witnessed the destruction of her parents’ apartment. After this sobering experience, the parents decided to send their children abroad first and follow later. On 17 March 1939, Marianne left Germany together with her grandmother. Her brother, Eduard, called Edu, was sent to the Netherlands. From here, he tried desperately, but without success, to also reach the USA. Marianne kept frequent mail contact with her parents. Her parents were forced to leave the house at Louisenstraße in Bad Homburg. First they moved in with relatives, later they had to move to a ghetto house at Gorch-Fock-Straße.