Jakob & Edie Eisenhardt

jakob&edieeisenhardtfilmX-Men: Apocalypse is finally in theatres, and there are several more characters we didn’t see in the trailers. In order not to spoil anything, let’s start from the recurring ones: Jakob and Edie Lensherr, Magneto‘s parents. Of course, being long time dead, they only appear in a picture in baby Nina‘s medallion, and later in Magneto’s memories and flashbacks. The couple first appeared in X-Men, portrayed respectively by Kenneth McGregor and Rhona Shekter: they only appear in the first sequence, in a Nazi concentration camp, where they get divided from their son Erik as soon as they arrive, never to be seen again. In X-Men: First Class they appear again, portrayed by Georg Nikoff and Éva Magyar: we learn that, if Jakob was immediately taken to the camp, Edie was saved for the time being, in order to be used as leverage against her son and later killed before his very eyes by Dr. Klaus Schmidt (the future Sebastian Shaw). Now, let’s see who these tragic parental figures are originally.

Jakob Eisenhardt was born in NurembergGermany, around the end of the XIX Century. He was a bit older than the woman he fell in love with, Edie, from Nuremberg as well. Jakob lived with his younger brother Erich, but he had to leave both him and Edie when World War I engulfed Europe, and he was called to enlist. While Edie and the rest of the family prayed that he came back alive from the front, Jakob joined the German Sixth Army, and in 1914 he was sent to fight in Ypres. The battle would have been later known as Der Kindermord bei Ypern, meaning The Massacre of the Innocents, and it turned out to be a real carnage. The soldiers couldn’t do anything against the experimental gas the enemy was using, and Jakob himself got blinded by the mustard gas and forced to stay in the infirmary for most of the time (and that’s probably the only reason he survived). Jakob accomplished his duty as a soldier by burying a seemingly infinite amounts of comrades every night, in mass graves that erased even jakobeisenhardtcomics1their memory from the world. Finally, Jakob’s blindness disappeared, and he could come back to active duty: he fought for two years in the trenches, witnessing senseless massacres over an inch or two of territory (an inch that would have been lost during the following battle). In 1916, during a retreat, Jakob spotted one of his superiors, Major Jurgen Scharf, caught under heavy enemy fire, and without even thinking about it he came back, grabbed the officer and dragged him to safety in the trench: this act of bravery earned him the gratefulness of Scharf and the esteem of his superiors, and a few months later Scharf himself honored him with the Iron Cross medal. Jakob Eisenhardt came back home as a hero, recognised as a “proud son of Germany”…despite this, the horrors he witnessed during the war still made his nights haunted with nightmares. When the war was over, Jakob hoped he never saw anything like that ever again…but something even worse was coming.

Back home, Jakob and Edie finally got married, and they had two children: Ruth and Max. Life wasn’t easy, as the war had left a deep scar in the country: Jakob worked as a watchmaker, while Edie took care of the children, but poverty was spreading, and along with it, also anger. A new political movement, the Nazi Party, started gaining consensus among the population, channelling all the rage coming from the humiliating peace conditions that followed the war. One of the main pillars of the Nazi ideology, however, was antisemitism, and for Jakob and Edie, who were Jews, things were about to become even harder. When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor, the Nuremberg Laws heavily discriminated Jews, and when Erich was targeted by a violent mob and forced to wear a sign declaring that he had dishonored a German woman, Edie tried to convince her husband to leave Germany in search of a safer place for their family. Jakob refused, and tried to speak with Jurgen Scharf, who after the war had become major, to obtain immunity, but he only received a severe beating, and was threatened to be killed if he ever came back. Despite this, Jakob insisted that they stayed in Germany and “figure out the rules”, and he taught his son not to fight back in order to avoid unnecessary violence…but after the Kristallnacht in 1938, when the Nazis violently attacked the Jewish communities, he finally gave up, and the edieeisenhardtcomics2Eisenhardts escaped to WarsawPolland, where they started living in the local ghetto. The Eisenhardts were safe, but that lasted only for a couple of years, as Germany invaded Polland and brought the antisemitic laws in there as well. In 1940, eventually, the Nazis attacked Warsaw’s ghetto, and prepared to bring all the inhabitants to the extermination camp of Treblinka: Jakob and Edie tried to escape with their children, but they were soon caught with other escapees, and put in line for immediate execution. In a last heroic deed, Jakob managed to put Max out of the line of fire without anyone noticing, and while he, Edie and Ruth were killed by the soldiers’ bullets, the boy managed to survive, and to dig his way out of the mass grave they were all buried in.

Jakob and Edie Eisenhardt are two heroes in their own right: one is a brave veteran who shows his courage and valor even in a harsh everyday life, the other is a strong woman who does her best to support her family even with the entire world against her. As most of Jews during the 1930s and 1940s, the Eisenhardts find themselves living in a world suddenly gone crazy and cruel, and their first concern is always for their children, even at the cost of their very lives.

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  1. […] Jakob & Edie Eisenhardt […]


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