In 1983, Manfred Rosengarten from San Francisco wrote to a former classmate in Themar about his homesickness. After being expelled by the Nazis, he, a Jew from southern Thuringia, had found a new home in the USA. A lively correspondence quickly developed between residents of Themar and Manfred Rosengarten. In 2011, descendants of the Jews from Themar visit the small town on the Werra for the first time. The memories will have a “healing” effect. For until 1933 they lived here peacefully door to door, as friends, neighbors, comrades. After the end of the Nazi barbarism, there were no more Jews in the region.
It is only in more recent years that dedicated local historians, interested residents and scholars such as the Canadian researcher, Sharon Meen, are seeking and researching the history of the Jews in the region. They establish contacts with descendants and they can fill white spots in local chronicles with words and pictures, and often the search for traces builds a bridge between yesterday and today. They find moving Jewish lifeways, everywhere.
Like a road movie, Ulli Wendelmann’s documentary tells of centuries of community. For Jews have a history of almost a thousand years between Rennsteig and Werra. They were traders, mechanics, teachers, merchants, bankers, factory owners. In some places like Berkach, they made up a third of the inhabitants. In Meiningen, the Jewish banker Gustav Strupp provided economic impulses far beyond his home region. In Oberhof, the Mecca of winter sports, Dr. Alexander Lion organized care at major skiing competitions from the early twenties. The medical columns of the doctor, who was expelled in 1935 because of his Jewish ancestry, became forerunners of the general mountain rescue service. The more than seven hundred year history of the Jews between Werra and Rennsteig is equally full of pogroms, expulsions and – the extermination of the Jewish population with the Holocaust.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)