A holiday away from hell: a poignant picture of normality, 1938

Ruth with Alpine cattle
In 1938 life was getting increasingly difficult for my mother’s family in Dachau, with all the disadvantages attached to those deemed Jewish in Nazi Germany.  She and her brother Raimund were forced out of school in 1938. Their father Hans had already lost his job, and their mother found a little work to try to make ends meet. Yet they were determined to put a positive slant on things: at a time when Vera Neumeyer saw the family’s world coming to an  end, she rather wonderfully took the decision to spend a lot of their dwindling cash on holidays. In 1938 they travelled to the Austrian Alps and to northern  Italy. A few months later they were ordered to leave their house in Dachau during Kristallnacht and moved into an attic somewhere in Munich.

I don’t all the details of where they went on holiday, but we have plenty of photos stuffed into the album that her children Ruth and Raimund brought with them on the Kindertransport to England the following year.

I’ve just come across a couple of walking maps in the family archive of Austria, including one of the Kaisergebirge near Innsbruck, published in 1938.

Neumeyers walking maps of Austria

In Italy they visited Sienna and Florence as well as some other cities. In the 1980s Ruth and her husband Ronald took a holiday in northern Italy and found a hotel they’d stayed at on that trip. They explained the earlier visit to the hotel staff, who produced the visitors’ book from 1938 and found the Neumeyers’ signatures.

So here is a selection of photos and a couple of walking maps from those albums. Most speak for themselves. They give a poignant picture of normality.

These photos from Italy feature visits to Florence, Siena, Bolzano and the seaside resort of Riccione:

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The holiday in Austria is evoked by these seemingly carefree images, where the Neumeyers were determinedly putting their troubles beneath the surface:

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