One of the mugs Irene sips her coffee from each morning.

Morning Coffee with Imping’s of Bocholt

I love my morning ritual.

Each morning, I take out one of the coffee mugs I purchased in a Bocholt, Germany shop in 2018. You can see their logo inside the cup in the photo. The act of pouring milk into the cup and warming it as my hazelnut coffee brews, then topping off the cup with said coffee, is deeply satisfying. But, even more satisfying, I look at the mug before taking my first sip of the day. I smile at the insignia, since 1875 it tells me. I say a quiet thank you to Mr. Imping, the coffee roaster. In 1938, he rescued my father (who was 12 at the time) and my father’s family from the roof of their home, 3 floors up, by way of a long wooden ladder.

The coffee shop of today, in the location of the coffee roaster’s one-time home, stands behind my family’s former Bocholt home. On November 10, 1938, Kristallnacht, my family escaped to their own roof to avoid the violence of the brown-shirts who were destroying the Stern-Herzfeld family store below. Mr. Imping hid my family in his horse barn overnight. In the morning, Mrs. Imping prepared for them a breakfast of “the finest cheeses and eggs, and you name it” (as my father said in his testimony video). Mr. Imping called a trusted limousine driver to take my family to the Dutch border.

I stop in the coffee shop whenever I visit Bocholt. I order a cappuccino and sit with a view of the entire shop and think about all the good in the world. I’ve gotten to know one of the baristas there. She told me that there are no Imping descendants, which makes me very sad. I want to talk with them about the ladder, the horse barn, the aroma of roasting coffee beans; about how Mr. and Mrs. Imping were the first of 18 individuals who demonstrated the courage, compassion, and kindness that ultimately enabled my father and his family to survive, and allowed me to be able to tell this story.

Today, as every day, I hold a lot of gratitude.

Irene Stern Frielich regularly speaks about her father’s Holocaust survival experience and how she unraveled his story. She is a periodic blogger covering topics such as Holocaust and WWII history, current events, memory, and hope. She is also the owner of an award-winning instructional design consulting firm in Sharon, Massachusetts. Irene is deeply grateful to the eighteen courageous individuals who helped her family survive the Holocaust. She carries their legacy forward through her book and through her acclaimed multimedia presentations.

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