“Everything that happened to me was the hand of god”
Writer: Shimrit Turgeman
Photographer Credit: Haim Versano
Religion is the foundation of Moshe Hildesheim's life and the narrative of his and his family's survival during WWII. This is also why Moshe is pictured in front of the big synagogue in Rishon Lezion, where Moshe worked as a due collector for decades. Moshe was born in Germany in 1927 to a Danish mother and a German father. Moshe's parents were able to move to Denmark due to the fact that Moshe's grandparents lived there. Moshe clearly remembers the arrival of the Germans in 1940: ”I saw hundreds of German aircraft darkening the sky of Denmark at 6 in the morning.” During the war, Moshe attended a Jewish school, and in the summer went to summer camp. “Life was normal. However, we tried our best not to provoke any harm towards us; we lived in fear,” he recollects. In 1943 after the Danish government stepped down, the situation became increasingly difficult for the Danish Jews, and prior to the action, most were warned to escape: “Friday night German soldiers came looking for Jewish households according to their lists. Most of them were away. One of my uncles was home with his family and they were taken to Theresienstadt camp.” To this day, Moshe remembers the horrific cries of his grandmother over her son and his family.Moshe’s mother used her father’s inheritance to escape to Sweden, and this is how the grandfather saved his family both in life and death. His father arranged to sail Thursday morning from the port of Copenhagen. They couldn’t take any luggage with them, so as to not draw any attention, therefore they wore all the clothes they could, and Moshe also took with him his prayer shawl, phylacteries, and a shofar he inherited from his grandfather. There were about 30 people. In order not to raise any suspicions, the vessel did not sail immediately to Sweden, but rather went along the Danish coast. Around 2 in the afternoon, Moshe remembers crossing to the Swedish boat, where they were greeted with coffee and sweets. “It is important to me to mention David Sompolinsky, a vet student, who gathered Jews and under disguise brought them to hospital, he recollects. However, David stayed until the end of the Sukkot holiday in order to find Jewish children that were hidden among non-Jewish. David was also one of the organizers of resistance groups in Denmark. His heroic acts saved lives.” Moshe says. Today Moshe is working towards naming a street in Rishon Lezion after him. In 1945, Moshe returned to Denmark, was active with Bnei Akiva and Keren Kayemet, completed his high school diploma, and was admitted to Ort Geneva teaching carpentry. Together with his wife and children he immigrated to Israel in 1958. Moshe kept teaching carpentry, and since his retirement he still gives classes.