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Presentation Robin Devries (04.06.2014)


Vortrag Robin Devries

Presentation by Robin Devries

On June 4th 2014, Robin Devries and his wife Jeannie were our guests. He had journeyed from Sydney in Australia to Goch in Germany to be present at the laying of stumbling stones for members of his family, and to give two related talks at our school.

In the morning Robin Devries told pupils from the advanced-history class and their teacher Katja Bodden about the history of the Devries family and the life of his father Max-Adolf after emigration to Australia. In the late afternoon, after the laying of a total of twenty stumbling stones in Goch, Robin and Jeannie returned to the Gesamtschule Mittelkreis for coffee and and informal discussion in the school’s restaurant.

After welcoming addresses by the headmistress Dr Teetzman and Goch’s deputy mayor Gabrielle Theissen, Robin Devries then spoke to numerous residents of Goch. He told them that not only had he undertaken a long journey from Australia to Goch, but also, whilst preparing his presentation, he had made a long journey back into his family’s past. Through perusal of the vast collection of photographs left in his father’s estate – he had discovered a new side to his father. He saw a young man who had wanted that which we all wish for, family, career, love and fulfillment in life. This was a different man to the father which he had known – an angry, intolerant and withdrawn person – who had feared anything which involved the slightest risk.

Through this window into the past he had finally recognized how his father had been influenced and changed by what he had experienced during the National Socialism era. He and his generation had been denied the right to live in dignity, in freedom and in personal fulfillment , they were robbed of all opportunities and hopes.

Robin reminded those present that we all are indebted to that generation, and that the stumbling stones symbolize an initial instalment to pay off this debt. He also stated that we should recall the history of Goch’s Jewish community and pass that knowledge on to our children and grandchildren.

The moving presentation of the Devries family history was supported by many photographs, enabling the audience to gain a retrospective insight of Goch’s Jewish past and Max Devries’s new life after emigrating to Australia. Robin’s many personal anecdotes and the open and cordial manner of his presentation moved all of those present.

Robin Devries closed his presentation with a reminder that it is all too easy only to recall the terrible events of the past, and to see only the evil. He however attempted to seek out the good and the civil and he had experienced both in Goch through the laying of stumbling stones, making new contacts and by the interested attention of his audience.

We thank Robin and his wife Jeannie for making this long journey, for their commitment to bringing the life of the Jewish citizens during the 1930’s closer to us and for their warm and friendly manner throughout the visit.

Text: Ruth Warrener (Translation: Graham Warrener)

Robin Devries, Ruth Warrener

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Erstellt von :
R. Warrener
Text von:
Gymnasium Goch

(B1) (c) Annette Wozny