Hilda Liebman

Israel family reunion

On a whole different front, Walter is getting ready to meet up with our Israeli family next week, as he travels there despite the war before meeting up with Tanya in the Ukraine. Meanwhile, Joanne has canceled her visit to Israel, but will instead travel with Lani to Venice, Paris and London. In London, she has hopes to contact Helga's cousing Edit who is reported by one of the young Israeli relatives to be alive and well.

To give a flavor, here is a series of emails, with Walter's latest update on contingency plans for meeting the family if Afeq remains unsafe.

Jo,

I had a long talk with Dalit and Tal on Thursday and Tal offered to have me picked up at airport upon arrival in his company car and brought to their house in Zichron. That is on the morning of the 7th. Dalit said that if the present situation is continuing at that point, the family reunion set for August 8th on Afek will be moved to Zichron, which as you know is about 15 miles south of Haifa and no rockets have gotten there yet, although some have gotten pretty close. The problem, of course, will be what to do about Ze'ev ,who might not be able to move to Zichron, though Raya, Pnina etc. certainly can do so. But the feeling is 'you do what you can' and 'zeh mah she yesh' and if we need to hold the reunion in Ze;ev's absence thats what will have to be. Tal said rockets have landed all around Afek and they themselves wouldn't travel there at this point at least.

Dalit, who I havent spoken to in about 30 years, was a delight, an absolutely charming person, very thoughtful, speaking about the sense of fragility of life in Israel--one moment a beautiful summer season, the next moment all of this horror. The situation is bringing people together and causing people to rise to the next level of generosity and collectiveness and all of that, but its still a dispiriting mess.

So, presumably the family reunion will take place on the 8th, probably in Zichron and of course you can be involved by phone. They all very much wish you could come, but understand and respect your concern about Lani.

I dont remember the address of the chateau in Neuilly--I have a picture of it in my mind's eye, but wouldnt know how to find it. And, as I may have mentioned, Clerc is gone. It used to be on the Place de La Opera, but I couldnt find it when I was there with Tanya in January.

But look at this link I just found on Google.

it seems to be the same firm. Do you think Gerald is Arnaud's son? So, according to this, the firm appears to have been created in 1874 on the Place de L'Opera and Joe Leibman must have taken it over at some point.

Love, W.

On 7/29/06, joanne ruby wrote:

joanne ruby wrote:
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 23:05:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: joanne ruby
Subject: Re: Edit and Gina
To: Dan Ruby

good go, Dan. I will write Achikam shortly w/ this and see what he can add for preparation to my talking by phone or in-person w/ Edit Aug. 14-16 in London.

Walt, shall we think about when/ how we can communicate while you are in Ha'aretz w/ our cousins. I think you definitely need to show them all the blog. Can you access Dan's photo album on line? would surely blow them away. are you taking the CD - Stories of Helga and Stan Ruby? wow. you two sure are pulling it all together. Walt, do you have recollection of location of Hilda's mansion in Neuilly? I'd love to find it. Is anyone buried there we need to find? Now there's a question (am I blogging yet?): where is Hilda buried?

Dan Ruby wrote:
Edit and Gina were daughters of Bette Ringel, who was Hermann's sister. There
was a third sibling Rosa, mother of Ze'ev and his sister Margot. We
don't know anything about Hermann, Bette, and Rosa's parents.
@festivalpreview.com>@festivalpreview.com>@sbcglobal.net>@sbcglobal.net>

Who was Emile Gissot?

Yesterday, as a result of our contact with Olivia Mattis at the Aristides de Sousa Mendes Foundation, we learned the identity of the Portuguese consular official in Toulouse who issued a Portugal transit visa to Elly and Helga Ruby on July 11, 1940. Here is that visa. Notice the signature in two places of one Emile Gissot.

Gissot was known to the people at the Mendes Foundation as one of several vice-consuls in cities near to Bordeaux who cooperated with the actions of Sousa Mendes during his campaign of mercy. The foundation has several records in its files of families with Gissot visas from Toulouse. They had been working from the assumption that the vice-consuls in Bayonne and Toulouse had acted under instructions from Sousa Mendes, the senior consular official in the region. But in at least one of their cases, and now with our new Ringel instance, some Gissot visas date from a week or more after the Sousa Mendes campaign had ended in his summary recall to Lisbon.

So who was Emile Gissot? You don't have to go far to find out, since he has a wonderfully google-able name and a fair number of notable achievements. More in the next post.

Intrigue at Neuilly as a coup is plotted

Why would Colonel Engelke move from his position as chief of SS adminstration in Paris in June 1944 to an SS prison cell in Dachau in April 1945, if in fact he's the same person? That is the implied question that forum poster Ian Sayer asks on the Axis History Forum mentioned previously.

The answer is speculative, but it leads to a theory about what might have been discussed at those parties with Madame Kleinknecht, the one-time cabaret dancer who is now a premier hostess in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Der Spiegel mentions "German generals" being present at Neuilly, though not by name. Likely one of those would have been Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel, a general of infantry from the Eastern Front (where he was responsible for atrocious war crimes) who in March 1942 was made the military commander of occupied France.

Stülpnagel goes down in history as one of the prominent actors in the Hitler July 20 assassination plot. In the plan, Hitler's killing by bomb blast at his Wolf's Lair bunker was to have been followed by mobilization of the Army Reserve, establishment of a new military government, and a negotiated end to the war.

In fact, the bomb injured Hitler but did not kill him, but this was not known for some hours. Meanwhile, aspects of the plan went into effect while other parts began to break down. In Paris, Stülpnagel went ahead with his part and rounded up all the SS and Gestapo officers in Paris. However, expected support from another top general, Field Marshal Günther von Kluge, evaporated as it became clear that the assassination had failed.

Stülpnagel was forced to release the prisoners. Recalled to Berlin in the bloody aftermath of the plot's unravelling, he attempted suicide but was well enough to stand trial by the so-called Peoples Court for high treason.  He was found guilty and immediately hung on August 30, 1944.

Kluge was also recalled for possible involvement in the plot. Unlike Stülpnagel's, his August 17 suicide attempt, by cyanide capsule, was successful.

So from this it is not hard to imagine that some of the conspiratorial talk in the weeks leading up to the July 20 plot probably took place in the villa on the rue de la Saussaye.

We know from Der Spiegel that both of the Kleinknechts were much involved with spying and intelligence. "Valuable information came in this way from the capital of occupied France in Gestapo headquarters in Berlin. A large number of Germans and Frenchmen were arrested on Laure's messages out," according to the publication.

We're told that Laure went to Berlin in the hot summer weeks before or after July 20 (it is not clear), and that she had meetings directly with Hitler and Himmler. After the plot was foiled, we are told that Walter Kleinknecht was shot dead (presumably by Gestapo) in Paris and that Laure was imprisoned. Weeks later, Paris was liberated and Laure was able to convince the Allied side that she was a member of the resistance and not a Nazi collaborator.

In the context of the Hitler plot, it makes sense that Col. Engelke could be the same man who is in a military prison at the war's end in April 1945. Or that his brother might also have been investigated and then transferred to a combat post.  If there is a question, it is why Engelke is only in jail and not dead.

Many more people than were actually involved in the July 20 plot were rounded up and executed in its aftermath. However, all the evidence seems to point to key military and SS figures in Paris, including Generals Stülpnagel and Kluge, military administrator Engelke and industrialist Kleinknecht, being prime movers on the Paris end of the operation.

It is chilling to imagine the intrigue alive in those rooms of the Neuilly salon as Madame Kleinknecht, the one-time Anika Moor and future Laure Dissard, acted the perfect hostess.

Corrupt SS operations chief Fritz Engelke

The Der Spiegel article mentions SD chief Colonel Engelke as a regular at the Madame Kleinknect's salon. He doesn't rate a Wikipedia entry, but there is a fascinating discussion thread about him on Axis History Forum, described as an apolitical forum for discussions on the Axis nations, as well as the First and Second World Wars. From information on the thread from three researchers, we can piece together a biography.

Friedrich Engelke, known as Fritz, was born in Hannover in 1900. He prospered as a merchant and textile trader. During the 1930s he joins the administrative division of the SS, or Schutzstaffel, the paramilitary organization run by Heinrich Himmler. In November 1940, Engelke is identified as an SS-Ustof, or second lieutenant, with the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt, SS-WVHA, the organization responsible for managing finances, supply systems and business projects for the SS, according to Wikipedia. In June 1944, he has the higher rank of SS-Stubaf, or brigade leader.

He was stationed in Paris and placed in charge of the Buying and Distributing Office of Stocks and Commodities--sort of like the chief purchasing agent. One commenter notes that "it seems that he was corrupt and managed to loot a considerable amount of French property!"

A person by the same name was held as a prisoner in Dachau by the SS in April 1945. It is uncertain if it is the same one. However, there is also a suggestion that another SS officer who may have been his brother, Johann Engelke, was investigated for an unspecified relationship and was subsequently transferred to a military unit and reported missing in action.

After the war, Friedrich Engelke was convicted and sentenced in absentia for War crimes by the French on June 13, 1951. It was reported by another poster that he was still alive and residing in Hannover as of 1975.

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