Hildegard Blum and Arthur Herz met in Rochester, N.Y., after World War II. Both of them had fled Nazi Germany with their families. Arthur’s family left before Kristallnacht and Hildegard’s family, after. Both families had longer than expected stays in other countries before being permitted to enter the United States.
Hildegard has no detectable German accent though after more than 60 years of marriage, she claims to have picked up some of her husband’s accent. They finish each other’s sentences and remind one another of their differing experiences and attitudes toward the events that shaped their lives.
Both admit to a naiveté that delayed their comprehension that their status as German citizens had eroded and that they would have to leave their homeland to survive.
Hildegard wanted to teach modern dance to deaf and blind people. She wrote to the main branch of the YWCA in New York City and they told her of an opening in Rochester, New York. With limited geographical knowledge of New York State, Hildegard thought Rochester sounded like “New Rochelle” and was another suburb of New York City! Once in Rochester, she became acquainted with other German-Jews in the community. One day, in 1945, a German-Jewish woman invited her to a social gathering .
The two men invited were dressed in military uniforms – one of them was Arthur. After they left, Hildegard recalls saying, “I just met the man I’m going to marry but he doesn’t know it, yet!” She did not see Arthur again until a year later, when she was a director at a Y camp on Canandaigua Lake. Two young men, taking a tour of Canandaigua Lake by boat, got out at the camp dock. One of them was Arthur. As one of the camp directors, Hildegard was strict about what time counselors returned to the camp after going out on nights they were off duty. But that night, Hildegard went on a date to The Goodie Shoppe in Canandaigua with Arthur. At 2 AM, some puzzled counselors went to look for her and found she and Arthur were still there!
They were married a year later, in 1947. The first of their four children, Judy, was born in 1948. They have four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Biography written by Bonnie Abrams, Director, Center for Holocaust Awareness and Information