The decision, Sept 1941, to ship the German Jews to the ‘East’.

Wedding, summer 1938. Source: Private property.

In the late summer of 1941 – 70 years ago – there were about 145 relatives of members of the Themar Jewish community (parents, spouses and children) still living in Germany or somewhere in occupied Europe (Holland and France). After that, from September 1941, the Nazis gave free rein to their hatred against the German Jews.

The waves came swiftly and violently: most ominously, Hitler’s mid-September decision to instruct top Gauleiters such as Joseph Goebbels in Berlin and Karl Kaufmann in Hamburg to push with all their might the new plan to exterminate German Jews. Instead of emigrating voluntarily, albeit forcibly, to a country that offered refuge to German Jews, they were now shipped to “the East” to uninhabitable and squalid homes where they were subjected to disease, hunger and cold with no help. This massive resettlement was to begin before the end of the war, not after, as previously envisaged. The first transports were scheduled for mid-October, after voluntary emigrations were banned.

What happened to the Jewish community in the three and a half years following September 1941 is a story of unceasing pain as a once proud community was destroyed by the politics of hatred, sheer indifference and/or fear of most of the city’s non-Jews.

The photograph above gives us a deep insight into this story: shortly after this wedding photo was taken in August 1938, Willy Müller, the brother of the groom, emigrated to Palestine to a new life. Herbert Müller and his bride Flora Wolf and her mother Frieda Wolf, née Mayer (next to the groom), still left Europe from Lisbon to USA in July 1941. But the parents of the bridegroom, Max Müller II and his wife Clara née Nussbaum did not get their visas in time despite all efforts of their families. They were deported to the “East” with the first Thuringian transport on May 10, 1942.

About the following months, we want to share now after 70 years what we know about the fate of the Themar Jewish community. See 1941:
 “Innige Küsse” – the letters of Clara and Max Müller to their sons.
The deportations from Themar: May 1942 to Belzyce Ghetto near Lublin 


Translated with (free version)