In memory of David Hoch.
(22 December 1898, Janikowo, Poland — 18 October 1941, Mauthausen, Austria).
The married couple David and Hella Hoch moved from Lódz (Poland) to Enschede after the First World War. David Hoch worked in Enschede as a textile merchant.
David was captured by the Nazis during a raid in Enschede on 14 and 15 September 1941. A group of 106 Jewish men from Enschede were transported to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. In October and November 1941 their next of kin were informed by the SS of ‘death as a result of pneumonia’. This notification immediately aroused suspicion among family and friends: ‘It simply couldn’t be true that so many, mostly young, healthy and strong men all died in such a short space of time from pneumonia’. The conclusion was obvious: These men were deliberately killed in Mauthausen. The same fate would be suffered by every deported individual. Nobody doubted that any more.
Following this, the Jewish Council in Enschede urged all Jews to realize how serious the situation was and, if possible, to go into hiding as quickly as possible. This advice led to a conflict with the Jewish Council in Amsterdam, and ultimately to an irreparable rift.
By then a resistance group had formed in Enschede under the leadership of clergyman Leendert Overduin. This group arranged safehouses as quickly as possible. My grandparents (the parents of my mother Jannette) Bauke and Gerridina Donia-Lansink were members of the ‘Overduin Group’.
Hella Hoch came to hide in their home. She also witnessed the liberation with them. After the war she lived with Anna Hartog (who stayed at my grandparents’ home from April 1942 until the liberation) in a flat on Boulevard 1945 in Enschede.
I often went to visit Aunt Hella and Aunt Anna. As a small child I knew them as ‘two of the many aunts’. It wasn’t until I was about 12 years old that I learned about their remarkable history. Everybody in my family disliked stories of heroism and stories of misery in equal measure. Aunt Hella and Aunt Anna were ‘just part of the family’ and ‘belonged’.
Every Friday afternoon there was an established ritual at the home of the Aunts that was very moving and unforgettable. Aunt Hella placed a simple silver vase with one flower beside the photo of her so dearly beloved David Hoch and lit the Shabbat candles. Luckily, she was able to do this for a long time, for she lived into her 80s.
May David Hoch live long in our memory.
Anita van Schouwen (1952),