Sarah Gabriely

Tel Aviv, Israel 2012

My name is Sarah Gabriely. I was born in 1931, so that means I am now 80 years old, that is no secret. I have lived in Israel since 1951. I had gone underground in the Netherlands and came to Israel and here I met my husband Hans Gabriely.
He was born in Marburg and spent his early years there, until 1934. My husband was born in 1921. Neighbours, good neighbours told his parents: there is going to be trouble here now, because in ’33 the German regime had begun its reign. Go abroad and come back after a year and by then everything will have calmed down again… And that has saved this family.


I won’t talk about my past, that is very painful – the parents have perished, my brother has perished…
At that time there was an opportunity to send a certain contingent of children to England, Switzerland or the Netherlands. I came to the Netherlands as a child, have stayed there during the whole war, had gone underground and got along very well with my non-Jewish host family who hid me.

I have lived through it, that is why I do not talk about it much. But there have been generations who have not been guilty. Many were simply camp-followers, and many were truly bad, but the generation after them really has nothing to do with it, or little, perhaps they picked up something about it from their parents.


In Marburg after the war

One remains tied to one’s home country somehow… and also to the language, I realized that, otherwise I would not have married someone from Germany.

My husband had only good memories and always wanted to go back to Marburg. And we came back to Marburg and have found many friends there, and also friendships have been cemented and cultivated.

When we came to Marburg for the first time, my husband wanted to visit friends, children with whom he went to school. And it has only been one family, I don’t remember the name, and God forbid I should tell it anyway… He saw him [my husband], and he was terribly alarmed and quickly closed the door shut. So I said: “He probably needs that, he needs time to think it over, or he just went along with the majority, so leave him alone.“ And other people were very glad to see us: “Come in!“ We were offered a drink and so forth.

I was rather sceptical, because I had had a different past. I was very sceptical until I finally perceived that people meant well, that they are honest. But afterwards I saw that really… real friends, not only in word but also in deed, and ready to help and caring.
Yes, I was very sceptical when… But there was also some criticism about the Netherlands. Many took in people who had to go underground. I also went underground, just like Anne Frank, I knew her from school. She really was a talented girl. And then afterwards they said they could have done so much more. They handed over the lists, which Jews were left. So, it is like when you look, whether the glass is half full or half empty.

The Synagogue

Every shabbat they went to the synagogue. As a child… he loved it. That was why he would have liked to go back to Marburg. At one time he thought perhaps we could live in Marburg in summer sometime, there the climate is more pleasant, because he suffered very much from the heat, and the winters here. But it all turned out different. We hadn’t expected it to happen that way…
During a visit to Marburg my husband got ill. It was cancer, and he died in Marburg. And he told me he wanted to be buried at the Jewish cemetery in Marburg.
The connection to Marburg has never really been severed because when my husband left Marburg he kept good memories. There were friends, it was a small town, everybody knew everybody else and… that was pleasant.

Jewish Life in Germany

Not everyone likes the Jews. But you cannot generalize, say they are all alike because someone said that. Likewise with the Christians, you can not say after all just because they took in only some few people gone underground… I think they were wonderful. A pity there were not more who dared to do that, but they saved my life! And not only mine, also that of many other people, otherwise I would not have survived. After all none of us can choose where he is born into the world. You cannot choose whether your father is a Muslim. We could have been Muslims just as well, no? And you have to somehow find a solution so that you can live in peace. That, I believe, is a universal desire. That is the most elementary desire. You do not have to share the same opinions. Just as there are various differing opinions politically, there are also religious ones… There is nothing to discuss there. But in general the Jews can again live freely in Germany.

Remembering and Forgetting

You said it is important to remember. How about forgetting? That is important,
too, isn’t it?

Forgetting should be remembered. Forgetting should be remembered…
When someone forgets something, you can remind him of it. And that should really be what you are doing. The young people learn and forget: ah, now what was it that happened before our time, whom does it concern? Shoah, is that so insignificant? After all it is a part of the history of Germany.

People have suffered much, and it is hard to forget. People have witnessed terrible things but try to forget them. And some are lucky because their memories are like erased. I know people who say: I don’t remember any more. I ask them: How can you forget that? It probably is a therapeutic device. But not everyone can do that.

I have got one very peculiar trait: I always forget bad things that happened to me. Gone, like that. Good things I will never forget. People who helped me, have been nice to me. Never, as long as I live – I will always be grateful then. And there have been enough of them. That is…. But the bad things one should forget. Then again, this Shoah was a bad thing, but it was an act in which really everyone was involved. It is a part of history. That should not be forgotten, you understand? But personally, if you had a bad thing happen to you, forget it, it’s easier.