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Get a place in your memory again

Get a place in your memory again

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The bumps in front of the house at Höchster Mittelstraße 45 are reminiscent of the former residence of Bertha Seligmann and her children Bernhard and Elise. © Ingeborg Schneider

The Nazis wanted to erase all her memories. Now they return to collective memory in the form of a stumbling block: the victims of the Nazi dictatorship in Hocht and Altenstadt.

With three events in one day, the Altenstadt community remembers its Jewish compatriots who were dispossessed during the Nazi dictatorship, forced to flee, and in many cases deported and killed in concentration camps. In the morning, the artist and initiator of the Stolperstein campaign, Gunter Demnig, had already placed five memorial stones in Höchst and twelve more in Altenstadt (see information box). In the evening there was an online conference with Holocaust survivor Ernst Grubb (we reported).

Interested residents and homeowners as well as representatives of religion and politics participated in the formal commemorative events in the afternoon in both Hocht and Altenstadt, not least the initiators of the comprehensive project, Sven Müller Winter as head of the Diversity and Diversity Initiative. Democracy in Altenstadt and Hans-Eric Seum as President of the Altenstadt Association for History and Culture (AGGK). As representatives of the Jewish community of Bad Nauheim, Wittrau and Ossingen, they welcomed their president, Manfred de Vries, and as a representative of the community, Councilor Norbert Heidke (Greens). In Hochst, Mayor Volker Erb-Trust, and in Altenstadt, Mayor Daniela Vogler and Protestant pastor Klaus Wilms participated in the ceremony. All speakers stressed the importance of this reminder and warning, especially against the backdrop of the AfD’s gains in the vote and the increasing “social viability” of right-wing ideas, which are completely inconsistent with democracy, freedom and living together in diversity and respect.

“Germany has fought hard for its democracy and is in danger of losing it again if everyone does not work hard for it,” said Manfred de Vries, who gave a moving and moving account of the impact of the Holocaust on his family. “We must be vigilant, not underestimate the AfD and its influence and discredit our democracy: the alternative, a right-wing dictatorship, would be disastrous for all of us.”

Addressing the fate of the victims who were honored as a stumbling block, De Vries said that under the Nazi dictatorship they were deprived of their most basic human rights, and that their names and families, and therefore in many cases, any memory of them, had disappeared. It was erased. Missteps would bring the degraded and destroyed people back into public memory and commemoration. De Vries was speaking in the Jewish language “Kaddish”, which is an expression of glorification and reverence for God, which is also recited in memory of the dead, at places of transportation.

Sven Müller-Winter and Hans-Eric Seum revived the fate of the individual Jewish families honored in Hocht and Altenstadt in alternating speeches. The source of her contributions was the book “Our Jewish Neighbors” by the late writer Elizabeth Johann. Specifically, a stumbling block was used to honor: In Hoechst, at am Friedhof 4, the head of the Jewish community, Isaac Haas, and his wife Janet. At Haus Mittelgasse 45, Bertha Seligmann and her children Bernhard and Elise. The mother and son managed to escape in a roundabout way, while the daughter was captured by Nazi henchmen in Belgium and deported to Auschwitz.

Twelve names in the patch

At Altenstadt’s Quergasse 7-9, three stumbling blocks were placed in front of the last voluntarily chosen residence of the brothers Rosa, Jenny and Sigmund Susskind-Adler. The Altenstadt Synagogue was also located on the property at that time. The large Siesel family is honored with five monuments in front of the Quergasse 1 estate – where Julius and Sarah Selma Siesel lived with the three children Sanna Steli, Siegfried (Perez) and Carola who died in the Holocaust. Some of the family’s sons and daughters were able to flee to the United States of America and South Africa.

The last stop of the day was the Hotel Mönchhof at Mönchgasse 5. The Bamberger family, who lived in Altenstadt until 1938, are commemorated there, along with parents Sally and Ida and children Lothar and Else, who were deported from Frankfurt in 1941 and killed in Lodz. For more in-depth information, Müller, Winter and Seyoum recommended reading “Our Jewish Neighbors,” which can be viewed at City Hall, among other places.

The artist Günter Demnig (r.) laid the stumbling block in Hochst and Altenstadt. © PV

At the relocation memorial events in Hochst and Altenstadt, Manfred de Vries, head of the Jewish community of Bad Nauheim with the district of Viterau and Ossingen, Chancellor Norbert Heidke and initiators Sven Müller Winter and Hans-Erich Seum (from left) remember Altenstadt the victims of the Nazi regimes. © Ingeborg Schneider