Antwerp reunion and onward to France

Antwerp reunion and onward to France

This is an except from The Ruby Family Histories (2006), written from Helga Ruby's point of view. 

From Liege, we headed to Antwerp, a raucous port town near Holland with a large Jewish population. We would stay there for three months.

In Antwerp, we reconnected with Hilda, who, as noted, had left Germany earlier with her husband Herbert Peiser. He was a bad man, very greedy, and after we all got to New York he sued my mother in New York State Superior Court, claiming falsely that he had supported my mother and I while we were fleeing together with him and Hilda through France and Portugal and now we should pay him back. The charges were thrown out of court.

As noted, we saw some of the worst of humanity in those years; first my father’s business partner who cheated us, then those despicable Belgian smugglers and finally Peiser, who sued us despite everything we had gone through together. Hilda was furious at him for that act and left him shortly after that.

Antwerp was quite a scene. You could see Hasidic rabbis would take uncut diamonds out of their shtreimels (fur hats worn by the Hasidim) and displaying them. We lived in a hotel room. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t going to school, and, in fact, would be out of school for the next three years until we got to New York.

I got upset because Ogi would go out with men at night. She went to clubs with Belgian soldiers. I felt abandoned and would have panic attacks, but that didn’t deter her. A couple of times, I even called the police and asked them to find her.

We left for France just before the end of the year. We spent Christmas Eve, 1938, at a train station in Paris on our way south to Nice, to which Hilda and Peiser had already moved. It was cold and snowing at the station. Then we went on to Nice, where we would spend the next 18 months.