“I’m a happy person.” Eva Hönigschmid said that just recently. On February 6th, her 103rd birthday, when there was a lot of hustle and bustle around her. District administrator and mayor came to visit, the phone didn’t stand still. A month later, last Saturday, Hönigschmid died. Peacefully, calmly and without pain, as her son Markus Hönigschmid tells.
She accepted that she had to go now, he says. Her health had deteriorated significantly in the past few months. It must have been difficult for a woman who has experienced so much, done and moved so much, to no longer be able to shape her own life. “That’s enough,” she then said. And that’s okay, says her son. He was grateful that she was able to stay at home until the end.
Hönigschmid was born Eva von Proskowetz in Kvasice, Czech Republic, on February 6, 1920, into a wealthy family of industrialists. On the same day as the concentration camp survivor Max Mannheimer, which she only found out much later, on her 90th birthday. Until his death, she was close friends with Mannheimer, her “twin”, as she called him.
Six months before the outbreak of the Second World War, Hönigschmid moved to Munich and began studying chemistry. At Unisport – Hönigschmid is a passionate fencer – she met Alexander Schmorell and Christoph Probst. She becomes friends with the men, especially Schmorell. In 1940 she moved back to Prague and married her childhood sweetheart, Wolfgang Hönigschmid. She kept in touch with Probst and Schmorell by letter, even after they joined forces with Kurt Huber and Hans and Sophie Scholl to form the Weisse Rose. Only when she is asked by the group to distribute leaflets in Prague does she refuse. At this point she already has two small children.
Up until her death, she was repeatedly invited to memorial services and asked to read from the letters the members of the White Rose wrote to their families before she was murdered in prison. The memory of the resistance group is important to her. They were magnificent people, she told the SZ three years ago. Now – a week after the death of Traute Lafrenz – Hönigschmid dies, one of the last people who knew the members of the White Rose personally.
A person who was good to laugh with
After her husband was released from captivity in 1946, the Hönigschmids moved to Bergkirchen. From then on, her beautiful life began, she once told the SZ. She will stay here until her death. Now everyone in town knows her. Because Hönigschmid built up the community library, organized reading hours for children and was the organist of the church for a long time. “She was a sore thumb here,” says Markus Hönigschmid. There were always many visitors in her house in Eisolzried. His mother liked it, he says. She liked being around other people. Hönigschmid leaves behind a large family: four children, six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
On her 95th birthday, a walnut tree was planted for Hönigschmid at the Bruggerhaus in Berkirchen. In Eisolzried there is also a reminder audio path to her life. Hönigschmid was an extraordinary person: awake, with integrity and committed. And never tired of learning new things. At the age of 90, she taught herself English, not least to read English crime thrillers “with enthusiasm”.
Anyone who has tried to reach Hönigschmid in the past few weeks will sooner or later get into conversation with Bori Hoffbauer. The Hungarian nurse has taken care of her for the past six and a half years. When you talk to Hoffbauer, it quickly becomes clear that Hönigschmid was not just a patient for her, but a friend. She was a good person, says Hoffbauer, audibly touched. And above all: a woman with whom you could really have a good laugh.