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Jonas and Ruth Tiefenbrunner sit at their dining room table [probably at the Mariaburg DP children's home near Antwerp].

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 60089

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    Jonas and Ruth Tiefenbrunner sit at their dining room table [probably at the Mariaburg DP children's home near Antwerp].
    Jonas and Ruth Tiefenbrunner sit at their dining room table [probably at the Mariaburg DP children's home near Antwerp].


    Jonas and Ruth Tiefenbrunner sit at their dining room table [probably at the Mariaburg DP children's home near Antwerp].
    1945 - 1946
    Mariaburg, [Antwerp] Belgium ?
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Judith and Joseph Schreiber

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Judith and Joseph Schreiber

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Judith Schreiber (born Judith Tiefenbrunner) is the daughter of Jonas and Ruth (Feldheim) Tiefenbrunner. Jonas was born June 18, 1914 in Wiesbaden, Germany, two years after his parents had moved from Poland. The family was deeply religious and Jonas had eight siblings. He was active in the Orthodox Zionist Ezra youth movement and belonged to an agricultural hachshara [Zionist collective] in Frankfurt, where he met his future wife, Ruth Feldheim. In November 1938, when his parents were expelled to Poland, Jonas managed to escape to Belgium and joined his brother, Phillip, who had previously settled in Antwerp. In Heide, a town just north of Antwerp, Jonas founded a youth home and yeshiva for religious boys aged 15 to 17 who had come to Belgium on a Kindertransport. The students divided their time between work on nearby farms and their religious and secular studies at the school. Ruth Feldheim had fled separately to Belgium and worked as a cook in another children's home. She and Jonas renewed their acquaintance and were married on May 9, 1940, the day before the Germans marched into Belgium. Both Ruth and Jonas were briefly detained as enemy aliens and released. The children at Jonas' home had dispersed in the meantime, and Jonas immediately set out by bicycle to find them. He reestablished his home on the General Drubbelstraat, in what had been an old age home, but lacked for the basic necessities, including food. One day an anonymous donor rang the doorbell and gave him a large sum of money that solved his worries for the short-term. Funding for the home became more secure when the AJB (Association des Juifs en Belgique) assumed official responsibility for it in late 1941. Officially called Orphelinat Israelite de Bruxelles, but affectionately known as "Chez Tiefenbrunner", the home moved to rue Patriotes in Brussels. The home was able to operate openly because the Germans wanted to maintain the pretense that only able-bodied adults were being sent for forced labor. All the children were under the age of 17 and most were refugees from Germany and Austria who arrived in 1939. Jonas ran the home like the father of a large religious household. He blessed each child individually every Sabbath eve. Throughout the war, there were daily religious services at the home, and all Jewish holidays were observed (including building a Sukkah and baking matzah). In addition, the children were taught both secular and Jewish subjects. The older children helped care for and teach the younger children. On a few occasions, the Gestapo raided the home looking for children over the age of seventeen or adults illegally hiding there, and once arrested Jonas. He was released almost immediately and no harm came to the children. In August 1944, SS Lieutenant Burge decided to deport all previously protected Jews, including the orphans in the AJB homes. Luckily, Jonas received advanced warning and was able to take all the children to a convent run by an acquaintance, Father R.P. Robinet. Two weeks later, Brussels was liberated. After the war, Jonas Tiefenbrunner started a new children's home in Mariaburg for children who had been interned in concentration camps and orphans who had been in hiding. They later moved to Antwerp in a building that belonged to the Jewish School on the Van Ruisbroek Straat and the to Gl. Drubbelstraat. Jonas Tiefenbrunner continued to direct the home until 1960. Two years later he died of heart failure at the age of 48.
    Record last modified:
    2004-05-24 00:00:00
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