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BETTY PHEIL (1921- 2001): A HISTORY IN PHOTOGRAPHS
This is the story of Betti Cilli (Beilah Cilli) Goldschal. She was born in October 25, 1921 to Israel Goldschal and Jochewed Goldschal (nee Jungermann), just three years after the Great War had ended, the war to end wars. No-one then could have predicted the cataclysmic destruction that followed in its wake. Least of all Betti, as seen in the picture on the left. Betti, a happy smiling baby who was totally oblivious of the growing storm clouds about to break over Europe. Storm clouds that would bring with it the rise of Hitler and Nazi tyranny and the near total displacement and destruction of European Jewry. On the right, you see the photo taken some time after the wedding of Betti's parents, Israel Goldschal (b. 1892 d. 194?) and Jochewed Goldschal, nee Jungermann (1897-1988).
Jochewed Jungermann was born to Bluma Devorah and Reb Menachem Jungermann. Bluma Devorah was expelled from Prussia along with their then three children: David (b. May 1, 1891); Moshe (b. August 7, 1893); Esther Chasha (b.March 3, 1894); She was pregnant at the time of leaving, with Jochewed. Jochewed was born on March 3, 1897. Jochewed had a twin, but the twin did not survive. Anti-semitism was rampant. Reb Menachem Jungermann already had German nationality, so he didn't have to leave, but Bluma Devorah had Polish nationality. Her father was a rabbi and talmudic scholar in Warsaw. Along with other Jewish immigrants at that time, the Jungermanns settled in what became the Jewish quarter of Berlin, the Scheunenviertel, located in the eastern part of the city, near the Alexanderplatz. The neighbourhood was one of the oldest in Berlin, but had been rebuilt in the 19th century. This area contained the Higher Institute of Jewish learning, near the New Synagogue. The building is still there. It also contained the offices of the Berlin Jewish community, Jewish schools, theatres and art galleries. It was a very vibrant Jewish area. Jews from all socio-economic levels, both rich and poor, lived together in one community. It was also one of the most politically active areas in Berlin. The Jungermanns made their home in a flat in the Hirten Strasse.
Reb Menachem served the Jewish community both as a shochet (ritual slaughterer) and mohel (carried out circumcisions) for the local Jewish community. He ran a small Yeshiva. He was also a businessman. Bluma Devorah, his wife, ran a small butcher shop that sold chickens. Two more children were born to them: Sarah Miriam (b. April 4, 1904) and Avrom (b. April 27, 1910).
Reb Menachem died in 1930, following a stroke. This is only one known photograph of Reb Menachem Jungermann.
Jochewed's husband, Israel Goldschal, may or may not have been introduced to Jochewed when he was a guest at the Jungermanns one Shabbat. The Jungermanns followed the Jewish tradition of inviting strangers into their home from synagogue for a Shabbat meal. Once married the Goldschal's moved to the Grenadier Strasse. After Bluma died, in 1936, the Goldschals moved to the Linien Strasse. Israel Goldschal was a master tailor by profession. Israel and Jochewed had two machines at the home of Jochewed's parents. Israel rented, or bought, large premises in Berlin, Wedding. He manufactured ladies coats and at one time employed 20 people on the premises as well as other home workers. The products were sold in Wertheim and KaDeWe, both big department stores which were then Jewish owned. He must have been successful since he also managed to buy land and build a summer house. He was arrested following the passing of the Nuremberg Laws, September 1935. The Nuremberg laws, among other things, deprived Jews of German citizenship, designating them "subjects" of the state. This led to the trial of about 250 men. All were imprisoned. Israel's small tailoring factory was confiscated. The list of the accused can be seen in the Jewish section at Auschwitz. However, back in 1921, when Betti was born, there was no indication of these future dark events.
Betti was the first to go to school. She attended the modern orthodox Jewish Adass Yisroel school. Here Betti is seen holding the customary Zuckertuete (also known as a Shultuete). There is now a memorial stone standing where the old school stood. It reads in part "Remember! Adass Yisroel, the modern orthodox Jewish Community in Berlin, was founded in 1869. Dr. Esriel Hildesheimer served as its first Rabbi. On the Jewish New Year 5685 (1924) a school and a synagogue were officially dedicated at this location, 11 Siegmundshof. In 1939 all of the community's institutions were destroyed by the Nazis. Its members teachers and pupils were tortured, deported and murdered by thugs and their accomplices. Let the memory of the just be blessed!"
Avrom ("Brummel") Chiel Goldschal
Brummel's photo was taken at age 6 when school life began. He is seen holding the traditional Zuckertuete. The last major family get-together was at Avrom's Bar Mitzvah in 1936.
Rosa Goldschal was the youngest of the three. She was born in 1925. She was about five years old when this photo was taken.
Rosa arrived in England in the Kindertransport in December 1938. After about three weeks at Dovercourt Bay Holiday camp, that included Hannukah - the first day of Hannukah that year was Sunday December 18, 1938 (Kislev 25, 5699) - she was sent to Edinburgh, Scotland to a Jewish family, as a domestic, despite her young age.
This photo shows Rosa, circled in red, arriving at Edinburgh's Waverley Station. The children are met by Rabbi Dr. Salis Daiches, leader of the Jewish Community in Edinburgh.
In July 1939, Rosa received a letter from her mother, Jochewed. Included in that letter was a photocopy from the German police. It stated that unless her mother and Betti left Germany within two weeks they would be arrested. She was also told to change her family name from Goldschal to Goldszal. Rosa was very upset and asked help from the people she stayed with. It seemed they could not or would not help, but a copy of the letter must have been sent to London, to Woburn House. Betti managed to get a domestic visa, but not her mother. However, her mother Jochewed, understood how important it was for Betti to leave. Initially, and totally understandably, Betti took the separation from her mother at the airport very badly. She became ill at the time and very distressed. She arrived in Edinburgh on September 1, 1939. She stayed with Rosa at the Jewish family's home for a short while. Betti had already started training as a kindergaertnerin, a nursery school assistant, in Germany. In Scotland, children, nursery school age included, were evacuated from major cities, and Betti was billeted in Galashiels to care for a group of nursery children. Although talented in her ability to communicate with young children, she couldn't speak or understand a word of English. She learned on the job, simply by listening and the very young children teaching her. There were no fancy English courses then. Reading and writing was learned from reading newspapers and books.
The nursery school children were returned to their families in late 1940 and Betti had to leave the eastern part of Scotland. (Edinburgh and the surrounding area was a protected area because of the Forth Rail bridge and Rosyth Naval Yard. Aliens over the age of 16 were not allowed to live there). She went to Glasgow. There was quite a large number of German, Polish, Austrian and Czechoslovakian refugees in Glasgow at that time. One of the refugees, Dr. Blau, introduced Betti to a Church of Scotland minister, the Rev. MacDonald and his wife. The Church of Scotland had nurseries, and Betti was given a position in Partick. The Rev. and Mrs. MacDonald took Betti under their wing and she was welcomed to their home.The Reverend was well versed in the Old Testament. Mrs. MacDonald made many efforts to convert Betti to Christianity, but Betti told her in no uncertain terms that this was out of the question. Betti stayed in the women's hostel in Renfrew Street in Glasgow. It was run by the Quakers and the matron was not a woman who was liked by the residents.
War is Over
BerlinThe First Pessah: (Passover) Festival of Freedom - April 1946
This is the bread of affliction...
GlasgowAt the end of the war, the Education Department started a new educational course in nursery education run by Miss Ella Ferguson based in Jordanhill College. Betti was highly thought of by Miss Ferguson who was very supportive of her during her training and afterwards. They remained in contact until Miss Ferguson's death many years later.
War ended in May 1945. Berlin was divided into four sectors: American, Russian, British and French. Jochewed, having survived in hiding in Berlin for the duration of the war, originally found herself in the area that was to become the Russian zone. Jochewed had the presence of mind to relocate to West Berlin, keeping in mind that her two surviving daughters were in Britain. Throughout the war she had carried with her the Edinburgh address of her daughters. She asked a British and an American soldier to help her make contact with Betti and Rosa. In order for Jochewed to immigrate to Britain, Betti and Rosa had to prove to the authorities that they could support Jochewed and provide housing. It was the job with the Corporation of Glasgow that gave Betti the necessary requirements, a stable job and income, to allow her to put in a request to the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR) that her mother be given a permit to come to Glasgow and live with the family.
REUNIONJochewed Goldszal reached Scotland safely by train on February 27, 1947, arriving at Glasgow Central Station. She was met by her two daughters.
Triumphant victory! 1947. The reunion at Trefoil Avenue. Betti is on the left, Jochewed, center, and Rosa on the right. The war is over, at last!
Reality slowly sinks in. The hidden scars of displacement. The above photo was taken one Friday night, at Trefoil Avenue, Glasgow, in 1947. The occasion was a Shabbat evening meal. From left to right: Miss Schur, Jochewed Goldszal, Mr. Doktor, Rosa Goldszal, and Betty Goldszal.
Mr. Doktor, a refugee, a commercial traveller, unmarried was helping his nephew and niece. Ilse, his niece and Rosa Goldszal shared digs in Allison Street. Miss Schur was also a refugee, a dressmaker. She went back to Berlin to look after her sister who was critically wounded during the fighting in Berlin. Unfortunately, once her sister died, Miss Schur committed suicide.
After all this upheaval, Betti married Henry Pheil (Heinrich Pfeil), also a refugee from Berlin, on June 7, 1949.
From left to right: Jetti Szydlo (Betti's cousin - the daughter of Esther Chasha - Jochewed's sister) ; Rosa Goldszal; Henry Pheil; Betti Goldszal now Betty Pheil; Jochewed Goldszal; and Norbert, the best man, Henry's friend, also a refugee.
Jetti Szydlo had been sent to safety during the war years in Denmark. She is the only survivor of six brothers and sisters (Leo, Harry, Paula, Yankele, Chiel, Heine).
Betti subsequently left her job at the Corporation of Glasgow as it was either career or marriage for women at that time and Betti had chosen marriage. She was then asked to run the Jewish Nursery at 17 Queen Mary Avenue. When this nursery closed, she was asked by Rabbi Rubinstein of Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue to start a nursery in Giffnock. Betti chose the equipment and laid the foundation for the curriculum. She worked there until the birth of her first child, Maurice, in 1954. Her second child, Rose, was born in 1960.
Betti returned to work as a nursery school teacher, re-called by Miss Ferguson, her teacher and mentor,about 1969. In 1985, after the death of her husband, Henry, she immigrated to Israel. After a great deal of hesitation and with many mixed feelings, she accepted an invitation from the Mayor of Berlin to visit the city of her birth as a good-will gesture "Wiedergutmachung". Betti died after a brave fight with illness in 2001.