For German text, please see 09 November 2023: ein Kommentar
November 9, 2023 marks the 85th anniversary of the Kristallnacht or “November Pogrom” in Germany, when Nazi forces destroyed over 1400 synagogues and places of worship; about 7500 businesses and homes were destroyed; and Jewish cemeteries and other Jewish community institutions were ravaged. Approximately 400 people were murdered or driven to commit suicide.
Fifteen years ago, on November 9, 2008, the first commemorative event was held in Themar: three descendants of the Jewish families of Themar came from Denmark and the United States; mayor Hubert Böse presided over the events; and Barbara Morgenroth and other Themarens prepared a moving exhibit, “They were Themarens,” about the Jewish families, displayed in the Amtshaus gallery.
My contribution was to tell the story of how I learned about Themar and its Jewish community through the letters that Manfred Rosengarten, b. 1921 in Themar, exchanged in the 1980s with his non-Jewish friends still living in post-war Themar.
A journey began: descendants of the Jewish families have regularly visited Themar; Stolpersteine have been laid for 66 Jews of Themar whose lives were distorted by the Nazis; documentary films made and newspaper articles written. This bilingual website, Their Voices Live On: The Jews of Themar, has attracted thousands of visitors, including members of Themar’s Jewish diaspora throughout the world. Many in today’s Germany, who know some hitherto unknown aspect of the story of Themar’s Jews, have contacted me and added to our knowledge.
This year, in early October 2023, members of the Gassenheimer family came to Themar. Their intent: to explore the ancestral roots in Bibra, Bauerbach, and Berkach, as well as nearby places, such as Themar, Hildburghausen and Coburg, where the families were an integral part of the larger communities. Splendid weather, knowledgeable guides, an exhibit at the Kloster Vessra Museum featuring a Gassenheimer agricultural machine, and an evening in the Themar Amsthaus sharing memories and stories: so many thanks to Themar trifft Europa and others who made their visit memorable.
Thank you to all the readers of this page and others in the website — our journey continues and we welcome your questions and comments.
Sharon Meen, PhD, D.Litt.
Leading Researcher & Curator,
Their Voices Live On: The Jews of Themar