Presentation Robin Devries (04.06.2014)
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
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which he had known – an angry, intolerant and withdrawn person – who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
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
Text: Ruth Warrener (Translation: Graham Warrener)