The following excerpt is from an article by Elaine Alexander, published in the St. Louis Jewish Light.
Earlier this month, 94-year-old Elsie Hirsch Levy received an astonishing phone call from Buettelborn, Germany, the town her family had fled during the Nazi era. The excited caller was Levy’s grade school classmate, Marie Beisswenger, with whom Levy has been in frequent contact. Apparently, for seven decades, Levy has had a date with destiny. And the singular moment had just arrived.
In 1941, before Levy’s parents were deported by the Nazis to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, a fellow neighbor named Marie Specht had received a box from them for safekeeping.
Specht passed away in 1987, leaving “The Box” in the hands of her daughter, Irma Bund, and her family. In it, the Bunds found some two-dozen photographs and a set of Hebrew-German makhzorim (prayer books) printed in 1907 and dedicated to different holidays of the Jewish calendar. Interested in seeing these artifacts returned to their owner, Irma’s son, Axel, went about trying to fulfill this mission.
Addresses and persons named on the back of the photos, including Elsie Levy’s grandfather, Abraham Bruchfeld III, led Axel to Joachim Hahn. Hahn is the author of numerous books on the Jews of southern Germany, a leader in Christian-Jewish relations and webmaster of a Jewish-German history website.