HHREC Offers Holocaust Exhibit,
“13 Drivers’ Licenses” at PMHS
Left to right: Dr. Maria Thompson, Director of Humanities, Lisa Salko, granddaughter of Sigmund Marx and speaker; and PMHS Principal Mark Berkowitz
By Stephen E. Lipken
Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC), in conjunction with Pelham Memorial High School, presented “13 Drivers’ Licenses,” a Holocaust Exhibit at the Blue Gym and talk in the Auditorium by Holocaust descendent Lisa Salko on April 12.
In the course of digitalizing their archives in February 2017, the Lichtenfels, Bavaria District Administrator Christian Meissner stumbled across an inconspicuous brown envelope containing 13 drivers’ licenses that had been hidden away under some files.
The motorists’ names were Leo Banemann, Arthur Goldmeier, Manfred Goldmeier, Max Hellman, Jenny Kraus, Josef Kraus, Alfred Marx, Sigmund Marx, Theo Nordhauser, Alfred Oppenheimer, Leo Wolf, Berta Zinn and Stefan Zinn.
After the Pogroms of 1938, ‘“Kristallnacht,” “Night of Broken Glass,” the SS leader Heinrich Himmler ordered all Jews to be dispossessed of their driver’s licenses and their cars confiscated. Passing the folder with all its contents on to the appropriate archives would have been the easy way out, according to official regulations. But Meissner decided to take a different path.
In his view, young people had to deal with these documents and bring light into the original owners’ lives. Ultimately, Manfred Brosamle-Lambrecht, history teacher at Meranier-Gymnasium and his students in 2018 reconstructed the lives of the 13 vehicle owners.
Salko is the granddaughter of Sigmund Marx; her great uncles are Alfred Oppenheimer and Alfred Marx. “I traveled to Lichtenfels in 2018 to claim our family’s licenses,” Salko said.
“I was there with my sisters and cousins. It was a week of discovery, exploration, reflection and ultimately, a reconciliation of sorts.
“It was a life-changing trip, from everything we learned from the students who did this research project. I was so deeply moved and touched by everything that I learned and experienced there. When I came back to the States, I had made a promise to the Germans that I would somehow tell this story.
“I was able to become affiliated with HHREC and through them have been able to speak at various schools, synagogues, educational symposiums, colleges, Museum of Jewish Heritage, German Consulate in New York City and in July will be sharing this remarkable story at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.”
Steve Goldberg, Director of Education of HHREC, expects this exhibit to be shown at more High Schools in the future. Since February, the exhibit has been featured at 10 schools and 3 Synagogues in Westchester County. In each school, the exhibit sets up differently, he says.
On May 19, the exhibit will be shown at Seven Bridges Middle School in Chappaqua, usually on view for one week.
“The HHREC are the only ones that have this exhibit,” mentions Goldberg. “We are very proud of it.”