The Association

History of the Association

Growing up in Finland in a Protestant family of pastors, Eeva Huber-Huber, the founder of the association “HILFE und HOFFNUNG”, experienced food rationing in the post-war years. Under the motto “You will not miss what you give away”, her parents supported the needy from different backgrounds with food and clothing. From an early age, her upbringing included respect and dignity for Judaism and information about Nazi barbarism.

When she moved to Austria, she was shocked by the lack of information and the lack of willingness among the population to talk about this topic. The consequence for her was: “What happened cannot be undone. What remains is to speak of it and never to forget it.” As a result, she asked herself where Jews who need support still live today.

Soon afterwards, in the early 1980s, she became aware of the very difficult situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union, who often lost their jobs because they wanted to emigrate and thus lived in great poverty. This was the start of Eeva’s travels. She brought them food, money and literature for religious and Hebrew lessons, often at risk to herself. At the end of 1986, when Jews were allowed to leave the Soviet Union, she, with the help of Finnish friends, set up a refugee center at the apartment at Schüttelstraße which had originally been used as a storage room for relief supplies. Hundreds of people came every day. The first ones came at 7:00 a.m., the last ones left at 10:00 p.m. There were classes for children, lectures for adults, doctors, hairdressers, food, clothing distribution, concerts and film nights. The Jewish festivals were also celebrated there. She was mainly supported by her husband Berti and their children Tamara and Samuel. There were also volunteers, mostly from Finland. In the five years of this activity, around 60,000 people have been cared for both at the center and at their private accommodations. Those who had already immigrated to Israel were also supported until the 1990s, with hundreds of kilos of clothing and other relief supplies being sent to Israel.

A transit camp in Budapest was also supplied with aid transports. HILFE und HOFFNUNG delivered beds and linens, anoraks and toys for children and household packages with cooking pots, linens and hygiene items for families for a new start in Israel. During the two years, 160,000 Soviet Jews emigrated to Israel via Budapest, then the camp was closed.

During the Waldheim election campaign in the 1980s, Eeva Huber-Huber worked as a journalist for the Finnish press. She witnessed the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Austria and recognized that people’s ignorance of Judaism and its contribution to Austria’s cultural heritage was one of the reasons for that resurgence. This was her cause and motivation to integrate the Christian-Jewish dialogue into her work.

At the beginning of 1990, after the revolution in Romania, Eeva and Berti Huber-Huber organized the first aid transport for the Jewish community in Oradea. Since then they have traveled to Romania, initially monthly, later 5-6 times a year, and supported 18 Jewish communities with food, medicines, medical supplies and clothing. They also endeavored to counteract the decay of the synagogues that still exist. The number and splendor of the temples still existing in Romania today is unique in Europe.

From 1992 they also went to the Ukraine, where they looked after the communities in Chernivtsi and Mukachevo. During the Balkan conflict, they brought 26 aid transports to Sarajevo, first via Belgrade and later via Split.

In May 2007, Eeva Huber-Huber received the Golden Decoration of Honor for services to the Republic of Austria on the basis of a suggestion from then State Opera Director loan Holender, who comes from the Romanian city of Timisoara.

Each trip was an enrichment for the life of the Huber-Huber couple. They often reported on people in Romania who survived the Holocaust and suffered a lot during the Ceausescu era and yet remained life-affirming and humorous. Eeva and Bertie happily had a share in their world.

Eeva-Elisheva and Berti Huber-Huber died in a car accident on April 18, 2008 in Romania. The HILFE und HOFFNUNG bus was rammed head-on by an oncoming vehicle that was just overtaking. Eeva and Berti were on their way to Tirgu Mures, where they wanted to celebrate the Seder at the Jewish Community Center. This community was one of the numerous Jewish communities which they have supported with their aid transports for many years.

We at HILFE und HOFFNUNG are convinced that it is in their interest that the work continues. We are proud to be able to follow in the footsteps of such great role models.

Thank you for every donation.