Hess and Spier families papers
The Hess and Spier families papers consist of two typescript memoirs: "Refugee's Journey: A Memoir" (365 pages), by Walter Hess, and "An Extraordinary Woman," by Hannah S. Hess (421 pages, undated, circa 2007), as well as pre-war photographs of the family of Hannah Spier Hess, taken in Germany. The memoir of Hannah Hess focuses on the life of her mother, Ruth, describing her childhood in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, the history of her parents, Siegfried and Fanni Steinberg, her marriage to Alfred Spier, the birth and childhood of their two daughters, her immigration to the United States with her daughters following her husband's death, and their life in New York, primarily in Washington Heights, from the 1940s through the end of Ruth's life. The memoir of Walter Hess focuses largely on his childhood in Ruppichteroth, Germany, describing their farming life, his dawning awareness of anti-semitism toward the late 1930s, the imposition of anti-Jewish measures in his town, his family's eventual emigration from Germany by way of Holland, their arrival in Ecuador in 1939, and later immigration to the United States, his childhood and adolescence in New York, and his induction into the U.S. Army, including his deployment to Germany and return to his hometown in 1953.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Walter and Hannah Hess
Record last modified: 2021-11-23 11:17:58
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn551365
Also in This Collection
Hanukiah that belonged to Ruth Spier’s husband Alfred and was carried by his family when they emigrated from Germany in March 1939, to escape persecution. The Hanukiah is lit during the festival of Hanukkah. It has eight candles in line with each other with a ninth candle at a different height that is lit first and then used to light the others. Ruth and her husband Alfred lived in Hannover, Germany, where he taught at a Jewish school. Alfred unexpectedly died of a fever in 1937, leaving behind two young daughters, Elizabeth and Hannah, and Ruth a widow. As part of Kristallnacht, on November 10, 1938, Ruth’s father and brother were arrested by the Gestapo and transported to Buchenwald concentration camp. They were released 6 weeks later. With the increasing violence, Ruth and her brother decided it would be best to leave Germany. In March 1939, they secured passage for their families to Ecuador. By this time, anti-Semitic legislation required Jews to relinquish their valuables to the state. Ruth defied this decree and risked her life by sewing her remaining valuables into the lining of the clothing and linens she was permitted to take with her to Ecuador. Ruth and her daughters spent 1 year in Ecuador and then immigrated to the United States in May 1940, where they settled in New York.