Erich Neumann was born in Kassel in 1908, the oldest child of Salomon Neumann and Frieda, née Dorfzaun. He studied at the Teachers’ Seminary in Wuertzburg, and was trained as a teacher, cantor, and shochet. He was employed by the Jewish communities of Spangenberg, Schluechtern, Giessen, and Eschwege.
Erich was married to Fraenze née Mueller; they had two sons. He was arrested during Kristallnacht and sent to Dachau concentration camp. His release was obtained by Fraenze, who was able to “prove” to the National Socialist authorities (via forged documents) that Erich could emigrate, but that he needed to first appear personally in Paris. He was released and returned to Eschwege, where the authorities kept reminding him that he was supposed to go to Paris: otherwise, it would be back to a concentration camp.
Erich learned that a small number of men could go to England, if they met the requirements of age, urgency of emigration, and had plans to leave England as soon as possible. The applications for England were being processed by the Reichsvertretung der Juden, headquartered in Berlin. One of the directors was Victor Loewenstein, who was a friend of the Neumann family. Fraenze travelled to Berlin to see him, and he agreed to include Erich Neumann in the group.
Erich’s hope had always been to bring Fraenze and their sons out of Germany as soon as possible, but the war intervened; Fraenze and the boys were killed in Auschwitz.
In England, at Kitchener Camp, Erich worked as a waiter and as the Gabbai (supervisor) for the Orthodox services; he was involved with obtaining food for those who kept kosher.
When Kitchener camp was closed, Erich was interned on the Isle of Man, where he functioned as “house leader” for one of the houses where over 50 Orthodox men lived; he was instrumental in obtaining kosher food.
At the end of 1940, Erich left the Isle of Man and then lived in various places in England, where he served as teacher and as secretary at a number of schools and synagogues; in fact, his last job in England was as secretary of the Willesden Synagogue, London. He left England for the United States on 12th June 1947 on the ship Marine Falcon.
In America, Erich change his name to Eric, and remarried. He and his wife Anita née Eldot had two daughters. In New York, he was employed as a cantor in a synagogue whose members were German Jews; he trained the choir, read the Torah, and edited their newspaper, while also teaching and preparing boys for their bar mitzvah.
Eric died in New York in 1984.
Written by Fredel Fruhman, in commemoration of her uncle, Eric Neumann