Gerd (Gerald) von Halle– Born December 2nd, 1922 in Hamburg, Germany, Gerd grew up in Germany but moved to Holland in 1933 shortly after Hitler rose to power. While I was growing up, my grandfather, “Papa”, recounted stories of his experience during the Holocaust. Sadly, my grandfather passed away at the age of 89 after losing a long battle to Alzheimer’s disease. His story is a huge part of my life and inspires me to continue to document and pursue all branches of his amazing, unique, and captivating story.
Hans Jürgen von Halle- Born May 7th, 1921, Hans Jürgen was Oscar and Henriette’s first born child. My grandfather described him as incredibly handsome, athletic, and popular. Hans Jürgen is credited with saving my grandfather’s life. He was transferred to Mauthausen Concentration Camp in July of 1941. There, Hans Jürgen was subjected to medical experiments and forced labor. He was eventually killed by getting “parachuted” off the top of the quarry ledge. “Parachuting” was the act of Nazi guards pushing prisoners off the ledge to their death. He died on September 27th, 1941.
Oscar von Halle- My great grandfather, Oscar was born on October 1st, 1886. Oscar served in the German military during World War I and became a prominent architect throughout Germany. He specialized in designing department stores. Oscar married Henriette Cohn in 1920. They had two children, Hans Jürgen and Gerd Siegmund. Oscar was extremely busy with work and left much of the child rearing to his wife. Oscar was captured while hiding in the Holland countryside. His wife and son had to watch silently as Oscar was dragged from the farmhouse by four Gestapo agents. While being taken, Oscar removed his wedding ring and tossed it under the bed where Henriette was hiding. Oscar was eventually sent to Auschwitz, via Vught, where he was murdered on November 15th, 1943.
Henriette Cohn von Halle- Henriette was born on March 29th, 1896. Raised in a religious household, Henriette’s decision to work as a nurse on the front during World War I was viewed as “unladylike”. Henriette worked as a nurse for much of her career. After meeting Oscar and having children, Henriette dedicated most of her time to her children. It was not until they moved to Amsterdam that Henriette had to work again. The Germans forbade Oscar from working and Henriette became the breadwinner of the family. Henriette survived the war and moved to New York City in 1946. She never remarried. Her story was never recorded. She passed away in 1987, also from Alzheimer’s.
Siegmund von Halle
Sophie von Halle
Marjorie Shuler Charles