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Looking for My Father

By Esther Starobin

I know my father, Adolf Rosenfeld, was born in 1898 in Korb, Germany. Korb is a very small place. He apprenticed as a baker when he was a young teenager. During World War I he was in the army. During his service in the war he lost a leg. Consequently, when he returned to Korb after the war, he could not work as a baker.

After his return to Korb he continued to live with his parents in what was considered a big house. This house in Korb also contained the synagogue. My father’s father died first. After the death of his mother, my father married in 1924. My older sister Bertl believes the marriage was arranged since she can’t think how he could have met our mother who came from Rexingen.

Our parents moved to Adelsheim, a place not far from Korb, soon after the birth of their first child, Bertl, in 1925. Our father had a business supplying grain for animals to the local farmers. Bertl believes that Uncle Sali, my father’s youngest brother, worked with him for some of the time.

According to Bertl’s memory, our father was very strict, which she believes was a result of his only having one leg. The children were not allowed to ride bikes or sled down the hill on which my family lived. I guess he was afraid one of his children would have an accident. Our father could tolerate any behavior except lying. My sister Ruth remembers that if you put food on your plate or asked for a serving of food and didn’t eat it, it was kept for the next meal. If the kids did something our father didn’t approve of, they received a spanking on their bottoms. However, according to Bertl, our father was very good with children. She said he sometimes took them in the horse and buggy when he went on business. Other times the family went by train to visit relatives in Heilbron. The children in the neighborhood all came to our house. If my siblings were playing away from the house, our father would stand in the front and whistle for them to come home. The entire neighborhood knew that whistle.

In preparation for the Sabbath, my sisters and brother and I had to line up so our father could inspect our fingernails, toenails, and hair. After that, we received the Sabbath blessing. On Saturday, my siblings accompanied our father to shul (synagogue). On Saturday afternoons, our father, Uncle Sali, and others played cards at a place called Die Linde.

Bread-baking was done by our father. He prepared the dough, which then had to be taken to the communal oven to be baked. Ruth remembers having individual small challah made by our father. He also made sausages and prepared sauerbraten. We kept kosher in the house, which was more of a concern for our mother than our father. Herr Bloch, who also taught Hebrew to children, was the shochet who did the kosher slaughtering of the animals. When Herr Bloch was forbidden to do this after the rise of Hitler, our family sent for kosher meat. One time it arrived and was bad; that was the end of our family maintaining a kosher home. We also had one of the first telephones in Adelsheim. The telephone was kept in the front parlor. One time when it rang at an inopportune moment our father tore it out of the wall.

Writing this piece has provided an occasion for my sisters to try to remember things about Adolf Rosenfeld, our father. I have to depend on their memories because I was just two years old when I was separated from my parents. I never saw them again after I went to England on the Kindertransport. Bertl spoke to a cousin in Florida to ask her some questions. I have e-mailed Reinhart Lochmann, the man who has been collecting information about the Jews of Adelsheim and the surrounding area, to ask if he can find answers to some of the questions that have arisen in my writing this piece. I don’t think I have found my lost father yet. 

©2006, Esther Starobin. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.