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Jüdisches Leben im LK Hildburghausen

In remembrance of the Jewish Römhilder

Responsibility is the answer from the past for the future

Honest, Babette - née Schulherr, 09.04.1867 Dormitz/Bavaria, 05.05.1944 KZ Theresienstadt

Honest, Carry - Emigration to the USA

Honest, Emil - 27.07.1861 Römhild, 08.01.1933 Römhild

Honestly, Hermann - 1882 Römhild, 1939 Emigration to the USA

Honestly, Max - 08.01.1888 Römhild, d. d. Internment camp Gurs/France

Honestly, Sally - 17.02.1878 Römhild, deportation target April 25, 1942 Krasnystaw/District Lublin

Elkan, Jenny - née Heß, 05.02.1874 Römhild, suicide 20.05.1942 Eisenach

Elkan, Richard - 25.05.1862, 08.01.1920

Friedmann, Anna - née Kahn, 10.02.1892 Römhild, 1942 Ghetto Belzyce/District Lublin

Friedmann, Heinz (Meir) - 27.02.1919, Emigration to Palestine

Friedmann, Gerd - 1924, emigration to Palestine

Friedmann, Max - 09.05.1887 Berkach, 1942 Ghetto Belzyce/District Lublin

Friedmann, Solomon - 17.06.1870, emigration to the USA

Friedmann, Ida - née Kahn, 14.06.1872, emigration to the USA

Friedmann, Hilde - 29.08.1901, emigration to the USA

Friedmann, Frieda - née Rosenbaum, 21.06.1855 Römhild, 12.11.1942 KZ Theresienstadt

Hammerstein, Klara - née Heß, 08.04.1877 Römhild, 16.05.1944 Extermination camp Auschwitz

Kahn, Adolf - 25.09.1889 Römhild, target for deportation 19.03.1943 extermination camp Auschwitz

Kahn, Frieda - née Linke, 18.05.1895 Schottwitz/Landkreis Breslau, 05.03.1946 Römhild

Kahn, Nanny - née Seligmann, 11.08.1867 Gleicherwiesen, 12.07.1943 KZ Theresienstadt

Katz, Jenny - née Ehrlich, 17.08.1874 Römhild, October 1942 extermination camp Auschwitz

Lefor, Isidor - 11.09.1881 Barchfeld, deportation target 12.08.1942 Extermination camp Auschwitz

Lefor, Margarete - née Kahn, 17.08.1893 Römhild, 08.02.1942 Internment camp Pau/France

Löwenstein, Käthe - born 27.02.1917, emigration to USA

Naumann, Hanna - 15.08.1937 Römhild, deportation target 10.05.1942 Ghetto Belzyce/District Lublin

Naumann, Hugo - 26.10.1898 Gailingen/Baden, deportation target 10.05.1942 Ghetto Belzyce/District Lublin

Naumann, Margot - 01.04.1933, 30.06.1933

Naumann, Martha - née Ehrlich, 14.10.1898 in Römhild, deportation target 10.05.1942 Ghetto Belzyce/District Lublin

Naumann, Mathel - 03.10.1938 Römhild, deportation target 10.05.1942 Ghetto Belzyce/District Lublin

Naumann, Ruth - 12.05.1935 Römhild, deportation target 10.05.1942 Ghetto Belzyce/District Lublin

Speech on 9.11.2015 in Römhild on the occasion of the unveiling of the stele in memory of the Jewish Römhilder

This evening marks the 77th anniversary of the Reichspogromnacht, the night on which the Jews were officially declared "bird liberations" by the German state.

In this pogrom - a Russian term meaning devastation and destruction - about 400 people were murdered or driven to suicide. More than 1,400 synagogues, prayer rooms and other Jewish meeting rooms as well as thousands of shops, apartments and Jewish cemeteries were destroyed by willing Nazis.

From 10 November, approximately 30,000 Jews - men between the ages of 18 and 60 - were imprisoned in concentration camps, hundreds of whom were murdered or died of the consequences of their imprisonment. During the days around 9 November 9845 Jews arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp, including Max Friedmann from Römhild.

Today, on 9 November 2015, 77 years later, we remember the fates of the Roman Jews with this stele.

There are 29 names on it.

The impetus for this public memory was given by the 90 year old Gert (Gad) Friedmann, the last living family member of the Friedmanns, who himself still lived in Römhild, in today's Heurichstraße.

All his life after his escape from Germany he spent commemorating his parents, grandparents and passing on the knowledge of the Roman past to his children and grandchildren.

His already deceased brother Heinz (Meir) Friedmann and he visited Römhild several times after the political change in 1989. In 1990 Gert wrote after his first visit: "If I can't visit my parents' grave, at least I would like to visit the places where they lived."

A short insight into the family history:
After the parents Max and Anna Friedmann succeeded in sending their three children Heinz, Gert and Käthe abroad, their aim - like that of the other Jews of Römhild - was to find a safe country for their own departure. At the latest after the enactment of the Nuremberg Race Laws in 1935, they saw no future in Germany. The problem, however, was that many countries in the world did not accept older, destitute refugees or refused entry shortly before the arrival of the ships, or left the refugees to the Nazis or demanded guarantees, etc. The problem was that the refugees were not allowed to enter the country, and that they were not allowed to do so.

There were enough reasons not to help. In addition, there was the outbreak of the war in 1939. In early May 1942, all remaining Römhild Jews received the news that they were to be "resettled" and would have to arrive in Erfurt on the ninth of the month. Two days before their deportation, Max and Anna Friedmann wrote a farewell letter to their children and deposited it with acquaintances in Meiningen. On Max Friedmann's 55th birthday, his parents were taken to Weimar and from there deported with hundreds of Thuringian Jews to Belzyce in the east, where they were certain to die. The Friedmanns' grandmother, Nanny Kahn, died on 12 July 1943 in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Only five years later, when all family members of the Friedmann family had been wiped out, did the children receive this farewell letter from their parents. Today we comply with the wish of Gert Friedmann and he knows it - unfortunately he cannot be there because of his age. But photos of this event and of the stele will tell him about it.

A brief insight into the history of the Jewish community for you:
In Römhild Jews are already documented in the Middle Ages. The first record dates back to 1298, when they were persecuted by the butcher's gangs called Rintfleisch. They went murdering through Franconia and Thuringia and killed about 5000 Jews.

Decades later there was a resettlement of Jews in Römhild and after the transfer of the town to the Wettin Margraves in 1555 all Jews are said to have been expelled.

In 1750 a census showed that 18 Jewish families lived in Römhild.

In the second half of the 19th century some families from neighbouring communities moved to Römhild. However, the number of Jewish inhabitants remained small - 20 to 30 people in four to five families. In particular, the Ehrlich families were the first of the Jewish families to move to Römhild.

Jewish families opened several shops. Around 1920, Meier Friedmann owned a hardware and household goods shop (which was later taken over by his son Max Friedmann), Adolf Kahn owned a manufactory shop, and Salomon Friedmann had a cattle shop. They were all integrated into the city: for example, Max Friedmann was active as a member of the voluntary fire brigade until 1933.

In 1933 33 people of Jewish faith lived in Römhild.

In the following years some of them moved away or emigrated due to the consequences of the economic boycott, the increasing deprivation of rights and the reprisals:

  • Heinz and Gert Friedmann to Palestine; their sister Käthe to the USA
  • Salomon, Ida and Hilde Friedmann also to the USA
  • Herrmann and Carry Ehrlich emigrate to England, later to the USA

These eight Römhilders survived only by fleeing.

Max Friedmann was arrested during the November pogrom in 1938 and deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

In 1939 the house of the Kahn family in Heurichstraße 8 became the so-called "Judenhaus". The Jewish people still living in Römhild had to move in here until they were deported to extermination camps in 1942. Jenny Elkan chose suicide in 1942 before her deportation. For the vast majority of Jews, 1942 was the year of fate - the year of deportation to the so-called concentration camps - I prefer to call them all extermination camps.
  • In the concentration camp Theresienstadt two Römhilders died.
  • In the VL Auschwitz four Römhilder died.
  • In the district of Lublin - Poland - eight Römhilders died.
  • In France, two Roemhilders died.

The circumstances of her death will probably never be resolved. Frieda Kahn, née Linke, was the only Jewish inhabitant to survive in the town. After her marriage to Adolf Kahn, she was converted to Judaism. She had to experience many hostilities and humiliations, but she died a natural death on June 5, 1946 in the Meininger hospital and was buried in Römhild.

Other Jews are to be remembered - two places play a special role in this:
  • On the Römhild cemetery at Mühlendamm there is a memorial for 169 victims of the "work education camp 'Großer Gleichberg'" established by the SS at the request of the mayor of Römhild, SS-Obersturmführer Alfred Schmitt. The list also includes the name of Israel Schönthal. The people who were forced to work in the "work education camp" died as a result of the catastrophic living and working conditions (including the mining of basalt lumps). Some of the 169 victims were buried in two mass graves on the eastern slope of the Großer Gleichberg.
  • In the Waldhaus district 4 km away from Römhild there is a "Way of Remembrance" for the mass murder of 70 concentration camp prisoners of different nations - among them certainly also Jews - in March 1945. The dead were buried in 1947 in a grove of honour of the cemetery in Hildburghausen.

Almost nothing is known about the life of the Jewish Römhilders. In 2004, Caroline Bartholomäus and Susanne Henneberger, two high school graduates from the Hildburghausen Gymnasium Georgianum, researched the Friedmanns' family history. That was a beginning. Many undiscovered files are slumbering in the Thuringian archives - including those on the perpetrators.

Students, search for these files and even the last witnesses can still be questioned. Fills Jewish history with former life - with funny and sad stories of Römhilder characters. Recognises what National Socialism made of Germans: Murderers, spectators, people filled with fear - and only a few had the courage to oppose the inhuman system of humanity or to actively fight against the Nazi regime.

This should be a sign of respect for us in order to resolutely and courageously oppose all right-wing extremist ideas and all anti-human actions in our region.

Humanity should be the supreme commandment of all action!

As it says on the stone: Only responsibility can be the answer from the past for the future!

A Jewish ritual from the time of the wandering through the desert is the laying of a stone as a sign of remembrance and appreciation on the grave of the beloved. Those who wish can now place a stone on and next to the stela as a sign of remembrance of the Jews of the city of Römhild. We remember!