Fanny Höchstetter

“It will soon blow over”

Ernie Hunter recounts the story of his mother, Fanny Höchstetter, and howlong-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.  Jewish shops closed over the High Holy Days.  Catholic and Jewish children played together.    Jews were leading members of the local social and cultural scene.

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 – and Fanny, Jewish and already at 30 a senior civil servant, did not want to retire!  Despite being physically bullied she bravely stood her ground, including demanding that her retirement be documented, eventually – and unusually – receiving a certificate.

Fanny eventually realised that “It would NOT soon blow over”.  Luckily her sister Bertl found her a job as a chambermaid in Wales – saving Fanny’s life.  Fanny managed to flee in August 1939 – days before WW2 started.

The story also mentions the fate of some family members sent on the first transport from Baden Württemberg [December 1941] for “Resettlement East” to an unknown destination.  They ended up in Riga, Latvia, where, on or soon after arrival, most were shot one on one.  Within a year, Jewish culture, religion – and life – in Laupheim had been extinguished.  Extinguished to this day.

The story is suitable for Year 9+ and adults.

"Ernie's talk showed what ordinary life was like before the Nazi's - and how life changed for the Jewish people.  Fantastic experience for our students."  James Marsh, History Teacher,  Dean Trust Wigan