ABOUT INFOTRUE AND CONTACT INFORMATION
This is still under construction. I will continue to work on adding names and better pictures when I recieve them. The important thing is that we have accomplished our first goal of the Association to have the Memorial erected.
This is the picture of the second and third generation of Holocaust Survivors.
This is an exhibit of the lives of the Augsburger Jews. Mr. Roemer is standing in the middle of the photo.
This is the City Hall where the Memorial is displayed. Currently it is in a chamber off of the main lobby with the Memorial for those Augsburgers who died in World War I and World War II. In about 3 years the Jewish Memorial will be moved to a new location in the City Hall. It will be where the Police Station now is located.
This is the place where the ceremony was conducted. The Goldene Saal.
This is the future location of the Memorial. Note that the iron bars form a Jewish Star when viewed from an angle.
A picture of the Memorial. A professsional photographer is taking better pictures. It was hard to photograph glass without a flash with my camera. But it gives you an idea in the meantime.
This is a close-up of a section of the Memorial.
A close up of one of the panels of the exhibition.
This shows the entrance off the main lobby of the Rathaus where the 3 memorials are displayed. The Holocaust Memorial as well as the Memorials for those who died in WWI and WWII.
These are the plaques for the Memorial for those who died in WWI. I do not know if any are Jewish but the following close-up shows the name of Josef Gundel. Even though there is a cross next to his name.
Close Up of Josef Gundel's name on the WWI Memorial.
This shows a close-up of one of the Gundelfinger family who died in the Holocaust.
This is the Memorial for those non-Jews who died in WWII.
This is a close-up of a non-Jew named George Landauer.
This is the name of a Jewish person who died with the name of Martin Landauer. It shows how close the Augsburg people were. Many Jews and Non-Jews shared the same last names.
List of Survivors Who Attended(THE NAME OF THE HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS FROM AUGSBURG WILL BE IN CAPITALS AND the second (third) generation will be in lower case letters.)If you were left out, please let me know and I'll add your name.
Address for the Convocation of a Memorial Tablet for the Jewish Victims of Nazism from Augsburg.Delivered in the Golden Hall of the Augsburg City Hall on July 9, 2001 by Ernst Cramer.
Dear Lord Mayor Menacher,
Mr. Lewin, representing the Jewish community of Augsburg,
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends from many parts of the world, above all, former Augsburgers who have returned to the city of their birth for this festive occasion.
It is a great honor for me to give this memorial address. That I am here today to memorialize all those who, more than a half century ago, were chased out of their birthplace, their homes, and then killed somewhere or other is - believe me - a heavy load and an unspeakable burden for me.
For we recall today the hundreds, yes millions, of misdeeds which, with the passing years, become increasingly incomprehensible; we recall the murders of parents, sisters, brothers, friends, committed not by some foreign monster, but planned and executed by men of the immediate neighborhood, from the very German society to which the murder victims also belonged - people who were persecuted and killed, in a sense, by neighbors and colleagues.
Before I speak a few words of remembrance and recollection, I wish to give thanks. I am grateful that I may speak today for all of you, here in this early 17th-century space that was rebuilt 20 years ago and may just be the most beautiful secular renaissance space north of the Alps, so well known to me from my youth.
Far more, however, do I give thanks to all those who have made possible today's convocation of a memorial tablet for the Jewish citizens of this city who were expelled and then murdered almost 60 years ago. I am particularly mindful of the fact that this monument will shortly be placed at the historically, administratively, and emotionally most central spot of the city, the city hall by Elias Holl.
I give my personal thanks to you, Mr. Lord Mayor, and to all the department heads of the City of Augsburg who have made this possible.
I thank you, Mr. Lewin, that the Jewish community has supported and expedited this plan. I thank all those who have executed this labor, particularly Mr. Goth. My most particular thanks go to two men without whose initiative the entire concept would never have been brought to fruition. I am speaking of Henry Landman and Gernot Römer.
You, Henry, provided the stimulus three years ago that was then immediately acted upon. Having been the captain of our football [soccer] squad some 65 years ago, you have in the past decades been a mixture of spiritual administrator and chairman-in-exile of the former Augsburg Jewish community. Many thanks for coming up with the idea for a memorial tablet at the right time.
Never mind that this is happening relatively late. "To everything there is a season," goes the Solomonic prayer, "and a time to every purpose under the heaven." The right hour for this convocation is now.
You, Mr. Roemer, have done more than anyone else, Jew or non-Jew, that the "Jewish Passion" -- that is even the subtitle of one of your books - the path of suffering of the Jews from this city and from Bavaria-Swabia shall not be forgotten. You have also devoted unceasing energy to bring about the convocation of this memorial tablet today. I count you, dear Gernot Roemer, to paraphrase an old Jewish custom, as among "the righteous among the peoples" and thank God that you and people like you exist.
Ladies and gentlemen,
And now (as well as later in a City Hall chamber), we recall with this plaque the more than 600 women, men, and children hailing from this city and its Bavarian-Swabian environs who were torn from their homes in the '40s of the last century, dragged off into the unknown, and killed somewhere in the east.
We naturally also recall those who took their own lives to escape deportation. I need hardly explain that those in power in Germany then must be held accountable for their deaths, too, just as if they had been murdered.
We recall, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, a colossal crime, so monstrous that we somehow cannot even fathom it. It was a crime that was far more horrendous even than the many other terrible crimes of violence that were encountered in the 20th, the most gruesome of centuries in the history of mankind.
The invitation to today's proceedings reads: "We in Augsburg too, alas, must lament countless victims among them" - them being the Jews. This may be true and this lament is bound up with grief, conscience pangs, and atonement. This teshuva-- repentance and a real return to God - is valid for all, for new generations as well as those who outlived the bloodshed, for the generation of atrocities-- heirs and those who survived it.
But the wording of the invitation - "We too, alas, must lament…victims"- gives rise to a superficial interpretation, as if we were dealing here with some accidental, unavoidable misfortune, comparable to an avalanche, an earthquake, a tidal flood, some natural catastrophe. But that was not the case.
I must say that I do not agree with Daniel Goldhagen's thesis that "the Germans" were Hitler's natural accomplices. But there were sufficient numbers of men and also women - here in Augsburg as well as everyplace else - who were ready, for reasons of opportunism or blind obedience or also indifference, to serve as willing accomplices.
Naturally, there were also those - here in Augsburg as well as everyplace in Germany - who were opposed, who did not collaborate, who tried to help, who even offered resistance. But they were just far too few. The majority turned their backs. Enough were active participants and took part in the injustice, in the injustice that began with so-called petty details and wound up with murder. These collaborators, these facilitators of injustice - and this remains totally incomprehensible - were folks from next door, in our case from Augsburg and Bavaria.
The policemen that picked up my parents and my brother from their home in the Maximilianstrasse on Maundy Thursday 1942 were Augsburgers.
The bus driver who drove them to some or other railroad track or other was an Augsburger. The men who then shoved them into compartments of railroad cars in Munich, and who later prodded them into box cars were Germans.
Whether or not the prison guards of the death camps were Germans is irrelevant. In any case, it was Germans who set the stage and who organized the murders. Intentional, voluntary and often highly intelligent German murderers - a concept which down to this day is for me simply inconceivable.
What happened during those years, what happened - not solely but mainly - to the Jews of Europe, was a breach of civilization without precedent. Germans under Hitler were on the verge of destroying western civilization, stemming back to the Ten Commandments given to Israel in the Sinai desert and disseminated by Christianity throughout the world.
At least that did not happen, fortunately. On the other hand, centuries-old German Jewry was destroyed. Furthermore, the majority of European Jews was "liquidated," as they used to say. Hundreds of thousands were simply put to death, or "worked to death," as the SS that supervised the murders so cynically described.
Many others, too - gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled - were murdered. The war that was kindled by Germany led to millions of victims on all sides. Soldiers as well as civilians.
But our civilization, with God's help, survived and even grew stronger. Human rights, at least in the civilized areas of the world and most particularly in Germany, are more established than ever before. The wording of the constitution states that "human dignity" is sacrosanct.
The plaque which we are about to dedicate reminds us of the Augsburgers, the Jews of Swabia, who met their death because of the Nazi persecutions. If this tablet and similar monuments throughout Germany, including the proposed central memorial in Berlin, are to achieve their purpose, they have yet another duty. They must remind us and all future generations, not only once but again and again, what can happen when a people, just as the German people of yore, departs from ancient and honorable laws of man and humanity and permits itself to be seduced by scourges and criminals; when genuine values such as decency, dependability, and loyalty are carelessly exchanged for pleasant-sounding but hollow promises that can only lead to ruin.
In this sense, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, let us remember…
That we, who have lost parents, siblings, relatives and friends, continually remember goes without say. Not a day has gone by in all these decades that I have not thought of my parents, of my brother with a mixture of pain, melancholy, and guilt, including self-recriminations such as, "Why did I not do more to try to save them?" or "Why was I allowed to survive instead of them?"
The late Ignatz Bubis once said, "We Jews need no monuments." Remembrance, however, dies with those whose task it was to remember. The circle of former Augsburg Jews grows ever smaller. The former football players of yesteryear are ancients today.
Soon not one of the Jews who grew up prior to the "Thousand-Year Reich," who believed themselves to be Augsburgers like any other, will yet be alive. Personal recollection will be a thing of the past.
Nevertheless, it is vital that they not be forgotten - not today, not tomorrow, never - and this for the future's sake, for the future of our children and our children's children. Only remembrance can guarantee that the unspeakable may never again occur anywhere or at any time. This remembrance, this not forgetting, is what this plaque, that we dedicate today, is all about.
I close now with two requests to you:
First: Grant me the courtesy of not applauding, of not clapping your hands, when I am finished. Remembering the dead, particularly these dead, merits and should have no applause.
Second: please rise for a minute of silence in memory of those whose names are inscribed on this tablet; but also in memory of the millions of others who suffered similar fates and destinies.
Finally, please rise to the ancient Jewish plea to God which is reiterated on the Jewish High Holy Days, a plea which is also the very kernel of the most Christian of all Christian prayers: "Forgive us our sins."
Translated by George Sturm.
My experience of attending the Unveiling in Augsburg…This was the first time traveling alone with my father on a long overnight trip. My mother flew out to California at the same time to be with my brother for his 30th wedding anniversary. For one week I was submerged in a culture that simply doesn't exist anymore on this world. Everyone I spoke to was part of the pre-war German Jewish community. Relying on my simplistic ability to speak German, I think I only understood about 80% of what was occurring around me, but here is my impression of the week.
One by one strangers would come up to me and ask if I was the son of Heinz Landmann? My favorite opening line was "Ich bin der Sohn von dem Heinz Landmann." It seems that my dad has became the poster boy of a generation that comes together every decade for a reunion and now probably for the last time at the unveiling of a Memorial to their friends and relatives.
German was the only common language between all these people since this generation of former Augsburger Jews have really been scattered all over the globe. I shared meals and heard the stories of how people took the trans-Siberian railway to Shanghai or how others hid, or "got out just in time". My fellow guests were now living in Brazil, Uruguay, Israel, Scotland or America etc. or even still in Germany. But not one pre-war Jewish Augsburger still lived the city of their birth.
The days before the Memorial unveiling become one ever-growing reunion. Each day more former Augsburgers and their families would join the pack, until on Monday there were over a dozen who traveled back to Augsburg. Unfortunately, no one staged a group photograph on Monday when all of the group was assembled, but I did take a photo of a subgroup on Tuesday at the exhibition at the Augsburg Synaogogue. I will list all of the names of those who returned for the ceremony under the picture and mention those who were not pictured.
Monday's ceremony was held in the Goldenen Saal or Great Golden Hall of the Rathaus (City Hall Building). Over 200 people were in attendance. The event started out with two musicians playing Klezmer music. At first I thought it was strange to play this kind of music since it was not the music of those being memorialized, but then the only German-Jewish pre-war song that I could think of was "Bei mir bist du schoen!"
The first speaker was the Mayor, Dr. Peter Menacher and then Mr. Levine, the president of the current Jewish community of Augsburg spoke. He was followed by Mr. Gernot Roemer who explained how the list of names was created. In advance, I apologize for any misspellings or mistakes. It was a terribly hard investigation to find the 615 names and I know that in such an endeavor there will always be some errors. He and the other researchers had to screen through dozens of sources of information and records and parameters to make the final list. He also thanked all those involved in this lengthy endeavor.
Then Mr. Ernst Cramer gave the keynote speech. Mr. Cramer (and his wife Marianne nee Untermeyer) was born in Augsburg and after he fled to America and became an American Soldier he returned to Germany after the war. He and his wife are one of the only remaining pre-war Augsburg Jews that I know are still leaving in Germany today. (I am told that Elizabeth Oberdorfer Friedman is still alive and living near Augsburg.) He also thanked everyone, talked about his feelings and explained why the Memorial was so important. I will see if these speeches were typed out and will try to upload them on to the webpage in the future.
Then after another musical rendition we went downstairs to the main hall of the Rathaus where off to the side the Memorials to the Augsburger victims of World War I and II hung on the walls. For the next few years this will be the location for the Jewish Holocaust Memorial. But when the Police Station (which has a separate exterior entrance - that is shown on the webpage) is relocated out of the Rathaus, the Memorial will be relocated to this larger space. I believe that the lighting and treatment of the Memorial will be enhanced in the future setting, but they didn't want to wait another 3 years before having the unveiling ceremony. So even though a bit cramped, the current location has a special effect that will be lost after the move. You can now compare the amount of names and the similarity of the names between the various Memorials. Needless to say the 615 names of the Jewish victims are more numerous than the other war losses and some last names are very close if not identical. You can find Untermeyer on one and Untermaier on the other. Josef Gundel died in WWI and the Gundelfinger family died in the Holocaust. I wonder how many Jews from Augsburg were killed for the Kaiser in WWI? You can't tell from the plaque.
Then Rabbi Reuven Unger, the current rabbi from the Jewish Community sang El Maloy Rachamin and said the Kaddish for the memories of the Holocaust victims and the Memorial was then opened to the public.
The Memorial is in 3 pieces and was designed by Mr. Claus Goth. It is made out of tempered glass unlike the WWI plaque that is bronze and the WWII plaque that is made out of marble. The center piece is a collage of Jewish images and documents that allow the visitor to get a feeling of the desperation of the time. Then on either side are two pieces each containing two panels of glass with approximately 150 names alphabetically inscribed on each. It was hard to photograph them since the glass reflects the flash, but I tried my best.
It was followed by a reception where everyone could walk around and meet each other. This is where I met most of the second generation and we got to exchange our stories. The food service was interesting too. They did have a kosher table for those who are kosher, but they also served a rice and shrimp dish. It was an inclusive event for all those attending.
The next day, the program moved to the renovated (1985) Synagogue where there was an exhibition explaining what happened to Augsburg's Jews. The exhibition travels to places like schools etc. and describes the lives of this missing group of Augsburgers. Then Mr. Gernot Roemer played a German video that he compiled that contained interviews from about ten of Augsburg's former Jews. I learned that one member of this group (Mr. Dreyfus) had a father who served in the same group as Adolf Hitler in World War I. The video actually has a photo of the two men together. Mr. Dreyfus's father actually became the Mayor of Augsburg after the war for a short period of time. The video included the stories of an Augsburger who was on the St. Louis. That was the ship that traveled from Cuba to the US etc. and had to return to Europe because no country would allow the Jews to land. He was one of the few to survive. Others were on the Kindertransport or fled around the world before the war or survived through it.
After the video and group pictures we moved into the main sanctuary of the Synagogue where Mrs. Agnes-Maria Schilling gave a historical review of the building. We were one of the few groups allowed to stand on the ground floor and walk up to the bimah. Visiting tours can only stay on the upper level balcony for security reasons. The Synagogue was restored with federal funds and is open to the public in addition to the few times a year that the Jewish Congregation uses it. Shabbos services are conducted in the small chapel next to the sanctuary. We heard how the Synagogue was saved due to its location next to other important buildings that they didn't want to be destroyed and due to a rational neighbor who called the fire department when he smelled smoke on Kristallnacht.
I didn't go with the group to the Drei Mohren for lunch, but I hear that it was quite an elaborate meal. Later that night we attended an outdoor opera at the gates of the City of Augsburg and then flew back early the next day. I am always amazed at how close this group of people were and how much of that era they remember. My father and a friend (Gretl Wasserman Berlin) would walk down the streets and call off the names of the stores one by one that were there before the war. They would then proceed to point to the apartments where their friends used to live. Gretl's house became the Judenhaus where most of the remaining Jews had to live until deportation. During the 60th Anniversary of Kristallnacht there was a memorial service held in front of her former house.
It is also hard to believe how much knowledge some of the current non-Jewish younger Augsburgers have about this era of history, since they were not there at the time. Mr. and Mrs. Gernot Roemer can recite the same stories that my father tells, and Mrs. Schilling can also relate them to the visitors who ask what happened to the former group of Jews who once lived in this City.
Now that the Memorial has been erected, the next project that our Second Generation Group will conduct is a series of essays written by us (or if our parents want to participate that would be wonderful). The purpose will be for others (Augsburg's current Jewish and non-Jewish population) to get a better understanding of the diversity of what happened to our families and how we live today. I am asking if volunteers would write about what Judaism, the Holocaust, Augsburg, etc. means to them and what their lives are like now. I will then put these on our website and invite reporters etc. to read them. I will get the ball off by writing the first essay to give people an idea. I think that in a country where there is a ghost of a Jewish past that is not the same as the current Jewish culture, it could be very informative and helpful to see what happened to our parents and us.
It was also good to note that the Augsburger Allgemeine and the Sud Deutsche Zeitung covered the event with pictures and text.
If you want to read the past articles, letters etc. of the Memorial Project. Click Here. It also includes the early design and history of how the project came to be...
Back to the top of the page