Hans Ludwig Biglajzer (1926-2017)
Hans’ father, Wolfe Ruben Biglajzer, originally came from Poland. Wolfe was drafted into the Russian Army during the First World War. He was a prisoner of war in Germany where he met his wife Julia Nathan, who was from Bonnheim. They were married in 1918. Wolfe was a tailor and furrier, as was his father and grandfather. Hans, born March 24, 1926, was the youngest of three children, and went to a public school run by the Catholic church. He completed seven years of elementary school, but not the required eighth year because of the war. Hans and his siblings had home tutors for Jewish studies and Hebrew lessons. Although the town had a synagogue, there were not enough men to hold weekly Sabbath services; during High Holy days, people would come from even smaller towns so that they could hold services. There were five or six Jewish families in town, but the Biglajzers were the only children. After Kristallnacht, the synagogues were closed, so Hans had his bar mitzvah secretly in someone’s house. When the edict came in 1934 that forbade Jews to go to school with Christians, the family moved to Bonn where a Jewish school had been started.
Hans’ father, Wolfe, and Hans’ sister applied to come to America, with the plan to send for the rest of the family. However, Wolfe was not given a permit because he was still considered a Polish citizen, and his wife Julia had automatically been granted Polish citizenship upon their marriage. In 1938 Wolfe was sent back to Poland, where his family joined him in Lodz in 1939. (Meanwhile, Hans’ sister managed to get a work permit to leave Germany; she first went to England, and now lives in North Carolina.) The family was moved to the ghetto after the German occupation of Poland. In early 1942, Hans’ brother was sent to Poznan, where he died. His mother, Julia, was transported in the summer of 1942, destination unknown, and she died. Wolfe died of starvation in December 1942. Hans stayed with an aunt and uncle until the ghetto was liquidated in 1944, when they were sent to Auschwitz and then Dachau, where his uncle died of typhoid. Hans was liberated by a French tank unit assigned to the American Army.
Hans moved to the United States and started making saddles in downtown Manhattan, New York and later moved to North Carolina where he met and married his wife Doris of fifty four years. In 1962 they moved to Portland where he started his own English saddle business. He perfected his trade until he retired at the age of eighty seven.
Hans passed away September 22, 2017.