Julius Oestreich was born on February 28, 1876 in Langstadt/Babenhausen as the son of Nehm „Nathan“ Oestreich and Guthal Steiermann. The Oestreichs were one of four Jewish families among a population of 700 at the time. Julius married Sara Adler, born May 22, 1882 in Hintersteinau, Main-Kinzig-Kreis.
Julius and Sara had two children: Max, born on April 13, 1909 and Bertha „Betty“, born on December 23, 1913. They lived in their ancestor’s house in Langstadt and Julius took over the cattle trading business from his father. Son Max remembers:
Before the First World War there was no electricity or water in the houses. I lived twenty metres from the well where we pumped our water. In those days if someone needed water they took two pails to the well, filled them up and carried them back to their home. There was always clean water in the well.
Each family had a big house with plenty of room. We had a cooking oven in the kitchen and an oven for heating in the living room, both of which burned wood. Every year the [mayor] of the village would organise the cutting of the trees for fuel. These trees belonged to the village and after the trees were cut down the forest was replanted.
Every family had animals; chickens, cows and geese. Very few families had horses, except for the big farms, which needed the horses to work their large fields. The small farmers put cows to the plough and goods were brought from the fields by wagon pulled by cows. Every family had fields where they grew everything they needed, such as corn, potatoes, wheat and food for the animals. We baked our own bread.
Whenever we needed help to work in the fields we asked one of the farmers. We waited for rain, as there was no other way of watering the fields.
Every farmer had a big hole in one of his fields where he collected and stored animal waste and urine. When fertilizer was needed on the field, the farmer pumped out this liquid fertilizer by feeding a line into the hole and pumping the liquid manure into a barrel, on a wagon, for distribution onto the field. The toilet outside the house in the yard was located near the hole. The waste from the toilet was collected in a small hole, which had a pipe connected to the big hole. This was also mixed with the animal manure. Everything was used,
nothing was wasted.
I went to the school in the village. Although the children, generally, didn’t work, sometimes the farmers found work for us to do. We could take the animals on the plough and walk them up and down.
In 1918 my father succumbed to the influenza epidemic. After father passed away my mother, my sister and I were alone, so it was arranged for someone to help us in the fields.
I remember the day the First World War started. It was Shabbat and we were taking a walk in the fields. There was a declaration that the War had started. As we passed City Hall, we saw, posted outside, the notice announcing the War. I remember that someone had been killed and that had precipitated the outbreak of fighting.
We were prepared for it. The younger boys were called up for service into the army. As children we enjoyed watching the soldiers march through our village as they went from place to place. The soldiers were kind to us. In those days nothing was motorised, horses pulled everything. Because my father was a cattle dealer, we had a big stable where we were able to stable the horses for the soldiers.
When the army came through the villages they brought everything with them. They carried their own food and also food for the horses. They had their own kitchen, which was a big cauldron, on a wagon pulled by horses. They stayed only two days before they moved on. Although the soldiers had tents, some of them slept in the houses. The large houses of the farmers had plenty of room to accommodate the soldiers. We were always happy to see them.
In 1922 the stock market crashed and all the money people had in the bank disappeared, forcing them to start again. We didn’t worry about food because we grew it. In addition we had chicken, eggs, and milk. When we needed to shecht a chicken someone went on a bicycle to the next town and asked the Rabbi for a kosher shechitah. Every year we shechted a cow, which provided us with meat and sausages for the entire year. We smoked the meat in the oven to preserve it. The rear, the treifeh part of the cow, we gave to
the treifeh butcher to sell.
We had a nice life and were very happy. G-d gave us sunshine and he gave us rain. No one bothered us and the goyim respected us and the way we lived.
Max‘ sister Betty Aumann and her family were deported from Frankfurt.
We had a shul where originally, at the end of the 1800’s, there were 25 members. As the young people gradually moved away there appeared to be no future in the village. By the beginning of the twentieth century the world had changed. It was the same situation in the next village, a forty-minute walk away. In order to have a minyan for Shabbos every week, one Shabbos we went there, the next Shabbos they came to us.
On Rosh Hashanah we had our own minyan because the young people, who had their own businesses in the next town, came home. Usually they were apprentices in the textile stores where people bought all their necessities.
My mother’s brother and his wife had no children and lived in a different town, which had a better school. In order to attend that school I went to live with them and slept away from home.
In 1938 the war against the Jews started and people were forbidden to do business with them. I was in the textile business peddling cloth. I remember the day that I went to a customer who used to live in my village. She asked for some material to make a dress. As we were talking her 9 year-old son came in and said ’Mother, if you buy from that Jew I shall report you to my teacher.’ The teacher was the head of the party. I said to the customer, ’Katrina, forget about it,’ and put
my samples together and walked out.
On another occasion I was with my boss peddling textiles when a Catholic woman, whom we knew, saw us in the street. She called out ’you shouldn’t go home. They have put the synagogue [in the next big town] on fire.’
We went home anyway and the Police came and took us in. They put us in jail that night and the next day we were sent to Buchenwald. At that time if you had papers that you had applied to emigrate you were released. We had applied to emigrate to America and my wife went to the main offices of the Gestapo to show them our application papers. Although I was released after exactly four weeks, it was some time before we were able to set sail to America.
In our village we had a [mayor] who was ’a piece of gold’ and not a Nazi. In the village there were two other Jewish fellows. After I was released from Buchenwald in 1938, the [mayor] gave the three of us a jobs cutting down trees in the woods, so that we could make a living.
In 1939 my wife and I left for Frankfurt. The Jewish organisation that we were registered with sent us a letter that we had should go from there to Berlin where we were to join a group going to Lisbon. From Lisbon we set sail to America.
(Source: „Let them journey, True stories uniting the past with the future“, Jerusalem 2006)
(Source: Zentralarchiv zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland)
Max and his wife settled in New York and later made Aliyah to Israel follwing their daughter. Max died in Israel on November 6, 2009.
His sister Betty had married Sally Aumann from Eisenbach/Selters on March 14, 1939 in Frankfurt. They lived at Bornwiesenweg 34 but were later forced to move to Seilerstr. 35 where their daughter Judith (* 1940) and their son Jossy (* 1941) were born. Also Betty’s mother Sara moved from Langstadt to that address. The whole family was deported to Theresienstadt on Sep 16, 1942. Jossy died there on Nov 7, 1942 and Judith on Dec 9, 1942. Sally was deported to Auschwitz on Sep 28, 1944 and selected for work. He survived and emigrated to New York after the war since a new beginning in Eisenbach failed. Betty was deported to Auschwitz on Oct 4, 1944 and killed upon arrival.
At Bornwiesenweg there are Stolpersteine for Betty and her children. At Langstadt there are Stolpersteine for Max Oestreich and his wife Gertrud, Betty Aumann, Sara Oestreich and Gertrud’s father Bernhard Fuld.
- Julius Oestreich (1876-1918) ∞ Sara Adler (1882-1942), Langstadt
- Nehm „Nathan“ Oestreich (1846-1924) ∞ Guthal Steiermann (1846-1917), Neuwied
- Isaak Oestreich (1811-1891) ∞ Hanche Kahn (1814-1882), Langstadt
- Hayum Steiermann ∞ unbekannt
- Nehm Oestreich (? – 1815) ∞ Jendel Isenburger (1790-1864), Langstadt
- Abraham Kahn ∞ Sara … (1773-1863), Aschaffenburg