Hilda Frankenberg was born in Themar in October 1890, the daughter of Nathan and Bertha (née Rosenthal) Frankenberg. In the completed family of Nathan and Bertha, Hilda was the third child and third daughter, as Rosa, b. 1885, had died in 1888, before Hilda was born.
On 1 August, age 30, Hilda became engaged to Louis Sander. How she met him and when, we do not know. Louis was born in 1889 in Hurl (near Empel in Kreis Kleve) in North Rhine Westphalia, about 500 km west of Themar. He was the son of Josef and Minna (née Gumpel) Sander.
They married on 12 October 1920, and Louis moved to Themar. They lived with other Frankenbergs in the large house in Bernhardtsstrasse (now Leninstrasse). Hilda and Louis had two children: Norbert, b. 18 July 1921, and Marion, b. 28 June 1923. The family was recorded in the Jewish Register:
verh. hier am 12 Oktober 1920 mit Hilde Frankenberg geb. 19. Okt. 1890, Tochter des verst. Viehhändler Nathan Frankenberg u. seine Ehefrau Berta, geb. Rosenthal
1. Norbert, geb. 18.7.1921
2. Marion, “ 28.8.1923CC
Hilda ran a business out of the house; in one of the few newspaper ads to be found is this one in 1928.
In 1933, when the Nazi Regime began, the family was living in Themar. In 1936, the photo at left was taken of a group of boys still in Themar just as some of them were about to leave; Manfred and Erich Rosengarten for Meiningen, and subsequently, Shanghai; Meinhold Müller for Italy and subsequently Sweden. Willi Müller, Norbert Sander, and Walter Rosenbaum remained in Themar. (Willi left for Palestine in 1938 and Walter went to Hamburg and subsequently to Spain and the United States.)
Circumstances veered sharply downward in early 1938 when Hilda died in a Würzburg hospital on 2 March 1938. Marion, who had moved to Würzburg to be near her mother, returned to Themar. Then, on 14 June 1938, Louis Sander was arrested as one of the 2500 Jews arrested in the „Juni Aktion“ and hauled off to Buchenwald. (Ten thousand men were arrested in two Actions that took place between April and June 1938.)
Barely home from Buchenwald in the fall of 1938, Louis was rearrested in the Reichskristallnachtpogrom. According to an eyewitness account:
„Das Auto fuhr dann zum Haus Frankenberg. Als wir dorthin kamen, war die NSKK schon im Haus und holte den Juden Louis Sander aus dem Bett, schleifte ihn auf die Straße und verprügelte ihn. An dieser Aktion war zum ersten Mal ein Zivilist beteiligt … “
Seventeen-year old Norbert Sander was also arrested on 10th November 1938. On 2 December 1938, Norbert was still imprisoned, and Dr. Ernst Ledermann wrote a letter to the Gestapo in Weimar, appealing for his release. We do not know when Norbert was released from Buchenwald.
On 22 March 1939, Marion travelled to Berlin to visit the American Consulate and obtain a visa to enter the United States. On 4 May 1939, she left Germany, sailing from Hamburg to New York City. She was sponsored by a cousin.
The entry for Marion in the ship’s manifest identified Louis Sander as living in Themar at the time of her departure. Sometime after May 1939, therefore, he left for Shanghai.
Entry to Shanghai did not require an entry visa but whether his father tried to take Norbert with him, we do not know. Norbert lived in Themar until 1941 with his 85-year-old grandmother, Berta. Then, because of his epilepsy, Norbert was taken by Nazi authorities to Hadamar Killing Centre. On 7 February 1941, he was murdered in the Euthanasia program.
On 14 February 1943, Marion Sander married American-born Charles Syktich in Miami, Florida. Charles was in the American navy. In May 1944, Marion applied for American citizenship. *
Louis Sander also married: In 1947, Louis Sander left Shanghai and immigrated into the United States, sponsored by Marion who was living in Pennsylvania. His new wife was Margaret Brinitzer. Louis Sander died, age 79, in 1968 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Charles and Marion Syktich had four children. Charles Syktich died in 1979; Marion Syktich, born Sander, in Themar, died in 2009. She was 86 years old.
We would like to thank the children of Marion Syktich for sharing photographs of their family with us.