The Jewish Communities of Marisfeld & Themar from the mid-1600s to early 1900s

K. Witter, Amtshaus Themar, 26 November 2019 Foto: Joachim Hanf

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Presentation on 26 November 2019 in Themar 
Amtshaus 

Remarks on the content of the lecture: As an archivist at the Meiningen State Archives, my primary concern is to show what information I can contribute to shed light on the history of the Jewish community of Themar and its predecessor in Marisfeld.

Remarks on the legal situation:

Already in the Middle Ages Jews lived in our area, especially in the cities. Although they were subjected to persecutions, expulsions and pogroms several times, Jewish families repeatedly settled here. As it is well known, that they were denied access to a whole range of sources of income, which is why they had to seek their livelihood mainly in commerce and money lending, which helped some of them to great wealth, but which of course also caused periodically envy and distrust. In the 15th and 16th centuries, their situation deteriorated again when they were repeatedly harassed by various measures and finally expelled from their respective territories by the various sovereigns. Elector Johann Friedrich of Saxony issued a corresponding decree in 1536, the Counts of Henneberg denounced the protection of the Jews in 1556, and the same happened in the Würzburg monastery in 1560.

In this situation, numerous members of the imperial knighthood offered Jews admission to their small estates. (Fig.) The imperial knights were aristocratic owners of manor who were directly subordinate to the emperor and independent of the neighboring sovereigns. These places included, for example, Aschenhausen, Bauerbach, Berkach, Bibra, Gleicherwiesen, Marisfeld and Walldorf, but the dominion of Schwarza belonging to the Counts of Stolberg. The Jews taken in there had to pay protection money to their lordship, and this additional source of income certainly suited the imperial knights very well.

Later the policy of the sovereigns towards Jewish immigration partly changed again. In 1680, when the duchy of Gotha, Duke Heinrich von Sachsen-Römhild, divided the land into two parts, the office of Themar, which had been assigned to it, surrounded the manor Marisfeld. After the death of Duke Heinrich in 1711, the Themar office came into the joint possession of the Dukes of Saxony-Coburg-Saalfeld and Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg until it fell entirely to Saxony-Coburg in 1805. In 1826 it was transferred to Sachsen-Meiningen. The dukes of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg did not permit the settlement of Jews in their duchy until 1768. In the Duchy of Saxony-Coburg Jewish inhabitants were tolerated again only in the 19th century. In the neighbouring duchy of Saxony-Hildburghausen, however, Jews settled in the town of Hildburghausen from the 18th century on, and in the duchy of Saxony-Meiningen there was a Jewish community in Dreißigacker.

In 1806 the old German Empire ended and the emperor resigned. Now the surrounding sovereigns had the opportunity to integrate the territories of the imperial knights into their country. Marisfeld now belonged officially to the Themar district with a manor. The Jews living there no longer had to pay their protection money to the family of the Marschalk von Ostheim or their court administrator, but to the office of Themar and the sovereign administration dealt for the first time with the rights and duties of the Jewish population. In this context, numerous files were created in which the Marshal court administrator had to deal with the new official administration in Themar or the state administration in Coburg. In 1826 the office of Themar fell to Sachsen-Meiningen.

The files of the court administration of Marisfeld, a good part of which are still preserved from the time before 1806, as well as those of the official administration in Themar and the responsible Coburg and Meiningen state authorities form the basis for my lecture. I can also evaluate here some files, which I have found in the last two years during the indexing of the holdings of the State Archives.

The legal situation of the Jews in Saxony-Meiningen was regulated by the so-called Tolerance Patent of 5 January 1811, which also became valid for the Jews of Marisfeld from 1826 onwards. This law already guaranteed the Jews certain rights. The Meiningische administration, however, was of the opinion that they had to acquire a better education and had to strive for a different way of earning money until they were to receive full subject rights. They remained bound to their previous places of residence and had to continue paying protection money. The edict also stipulated the adoption of fixed surnames and the keeping of civil status registers analogous to church records. The new Jewish surnames were not established in Marisfeld until 1839; they can be read in the government journal for Saxony-Meiningen (Fig.). From the neighbouring Bavarian area it is known that there the surnames were partly determined by officials and were sometimes downright insulting. This does not seem to have been the case here.

Generally, in the first half of the 19th century we find a strong influence of the state on the life and religious education of the Jewish inhabitants. That is why there are so many files from this period, which deal with their religious practice, school, health conditions and their economic situation in the Duchy of Saxony-Meiningen. With regard to the practice of religion, one can see the effort to impose Christian ideas on Jewish believers. The highest state authority for church and school affairs was the Konsistorium in Hildburghausen, which in 1848 was transformed into the Department for Church and School Affairs of the State Ministry and moved to Meiningen, while at the local level the Protestant pastor and the Church and School Office in Themar acted as supervisory authorities. With the employment of a Landrabbiner, who had his residence in Walldorf, in the 40s of the 19th century a separate advisory body for Jewish religious and school matters in the duchy was created.

In 1849, the Jewish communities were united with the political communities in the Duchy of Saxony-Meiningen. The law of 22 May 1856 concerning the standards for the conditions of the Jews finally brought about their complete equality with the other inhabitants of the state. Now, finally, they were allowed to choose their residence freely in the Duchy of Saxony-Meiningen, which ultimately laid the legal foundation for the emergence of a Jewish community in Themar.

Marisfeld

But I would like to come back to Marisfeld again, because it is the predecessor of the Jewish community of Themar and there are new insights into this. So far, the opinion had been expressed in literature that in 1679 Duke Friedrich von Sachsen-Gotha had permitted the owner of the manor Johann Friedrich Marschalk von Ostheim to take in the Jew Solomo from Friesenhausen in Marisfeld. This always seemed strange to me, but I assumed that the membership of the Marschalk von Ostheim family in the knighthood of the Reich might not have been so strong that Johann Friedrich could simply take in a protective Jew without the consent of the sovereign. Now I found the documentary confirmation that my doubts were justified. The Marschalk von Ostheim zu Marisfeld and Walldorf were part of the free knighthood and had largely emancipated themselves from the sovereigns.

The imperial knights had protected their interests in so-called cantons, which provided legal assistance to their members and settled disputes. The Marschalk zu Walldorf and Marisfeld belonged to the canton of Rhön-Werra, whose office was located in Schweinfurt. I have now succeeded in finding in the State Archives Meininigen documents of this chancellery, which reached Meiningen after the dissolution of the imperial knighthood. Based on these documents, the circumstances surrounding the beginning of Jewish life in Marisfeld could now be reconstructed.

When Duke Friedrich of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg had learned in the summer of 1679 from his bailiff in Themar that a Jew had recently been living on the manor, he wanted to prohibit Johann Friedrich Marschalk of Ostheim from continuing his stay in Marisfeld. However, Marschalk complained in a letter on 15 July 1679 to the Chancellery of the Imperial Knights in Schweinfurt about this interference and asked for assistance. He explained that in December 1678 he had defended a Jew who would only buy up old feathers and not disturb anyone, and that he could not understand why the Duke would forbid him to keep this Jew with him by letter of 30 June. The knightly captain should write to the duke and point out to him that he could not forbid him, as a knight of the Reich, to take in Jews.

The knight captain, however, thought that Marschalk could also insist on his rights vis-à-vis the duke himself and formulated a corresponding passage, which he could attach to his letter. On October 9, Marschalk was able to report to Schweinfurt that the Duke had given in and informed the official administrator Johann Mendel Winter in Themar accordingly. Johann Friedrich Marschalk, however, was informed by the Duke that the Jew had to adhere to the regulations in force in the Duchy if he wished to trade in Themar.

By the way, a copy of the letter of protection (ill.) for the Jew Solomo from Friesenhausen can be found in the manor archive Erlebach, where he presumably came to through family relationships of the manor owners. This archive is also located in the Meiningen State Archives.

1681 a raid on two Jews in the open field between Tachbach and Oberstadt by soldiers quartered in Themar is reported. Their names are not known, but one was supposed to come from “Neustatt in Franken”, the other from Marisfeld, the former denied that his bag had been stolen. Finally, in 1696 an investigation was initiated in Schwarza against the Jew Joseph Levi of Marisfeld and the Matern Köhler of Rohr for brawl, Sunday desecration and “other excesses” in the Count’s inn at Schwarza. Thus we know the names of two Jews who lived in Marisfeld at the end of the 17th century, namely Solomo, from Friesenhausen, and Joseph Levi.

The fact that the relationship between the Christian and Jewish population was not always easy can be seen, among other things, from the following report. On October 9, 1731, the mayor of Themar, Johann Peter Volckmar, appeared before the office in Themar and stated “that now 12 Jews stayed in Marisfeld who would have sneaked into the village only recently and that one had to asked, what such a great number would mean, because surely there were Jews among them, who were no longer admitted in other villages and therefore send away.”

But nevertheless they are admitted to Marisfeld and taken care of, and would be very harmful to the local city and office because they were poor and corrupt Jews, who earned their living by betraying the people and therefore he wanted to inform the officials about their presence”. The Jews were accused of having brought the cattle plague in Franconia into the country and of having been driven away by the Lord of Truchsess, that is to say by their former village rule. Duke Franz Josias of Saxony-Saalfeld then issued a rescript in the name of his brother Christian Ernst, stating that the rights of the widowed wife of Marschall zu Marisfeld to protect the Jews should be revoked. As can be seen from my explanations above, however, the Duke could not do this at all. His co-regent, Duke Frederick II of Saxony-Gotha, accordingly limited himself to prohibiting the subjects in the city and office of Themar from trading with the Jews under penalty of punishment. But since in the end the Jewish traders were needed for the economic life of the village population by trading cattle or supplying the farmers with articles that would otherwise have been much more difficult for them to obtain – just think of haberdashery – this rescript might also have been ineffective in the end. Incidentally, there have been complaints about usury driven by Jews in the past, as can be seen from a rescript by Duke Friedrich of 16 November 1725.

Furthermore, I have found a file that reveals a little about the Marisfeld Jews around 1738 on the basis of disputes between the lords of Marschalk in Walldorf and those in Marisfeld. In order to understand these documents I must once again point out that the Marschalk von Ostheim owned both the Marisfeld manor and a Walldorf manor. The Marisfeld estates consisted both of the manor itself and of the so-called “Söhn- und Töchterlehnbaren Schaurodtischen Hof”, which, depending on the presence of corresponding family members, over the course of time either lay in one hand or were divided among several. At that time, the ownership situation was such that Franz Friedrich von Marschalk zu Walldorf in Marisfeld was able to acquire the so-called “family court”. Schaurodtische Hof, and the children of his deceased brother Johann Heinrich von Marschalk owned the actual manor (Fig.). At the Schaurodtische Hof lived – just like at the actual manor – some Jews whom Franz Friedrich von Marschalk had given protection and allowed them to “keep school”, i.e. to go to the synagogue. The Jews living on the manor also visited the synagogue and entertained a “saint,” i.e., a cash register for their cult needs and a Jewish schoolmaster. In 1737 a dispute broke out between two Jews over a school (= synagogue) stand. This meant that there were fixed places in the synagogue – here specifically for the women – just as it was also usual analogously in the Christian churches. In the concrete case the wife of Simon Josua had died, and the wife of the Jew Isaac Löser von Schweinshaupten, who had just moved to Marisfeld, took the place of the deceased on the advice of her husband, but against the will of the widower. Then the widower nailed this stand, his adversary ripped it open again, and so it went back and forth for a while. In the end, the dispute of the rulers was presented, in this case to Franz Friedrich v. Marschalk zu Walldorf, who immediately banned the “Marisfeld” Schutzjuden, to whom the newcomer belonged, from entering the synagogue. He was to be granted admission only after the payment of one Reichsthaler per year.

This demand sparked a dispute between the Walldorfers and the Marisfeld line of the Marschalk, which concerned the entitlement to collect fees, the question of the participation of the respective protective Jews in the services for the community, the burdens to be borne and the ownership of the land on which the Jewish cemetery was located (Fig. cemetery).

What is interesting for us here is that in 1737 a Jewish community already existed in Marisfeld, which maintained a synagogue and employed a Jewish teacher. It was also part of the whole community and had a cemetery.

In order to settle disputes it was customary at that time to interview witnesses, for which the Jews were summoned by the Walldorf Party on 28 March 1738. Specifically it was a matter of: (Fig. names)

1st Michel Isaac

2nd Isaac Michel

3th Isaac Hirsch sen.

4th Isaac Hirsch jun.

5th Meyer Menle.

Their questioning provides us with further previously unknown details. First they were asked how long they had already enjoyed protection of the court at Marisfeld.

  1. He has lived for 2 years in Marisfeld (Rittergut), but 35 years in the court there.
  2. He had been born and raised there, was 36 years old and had been living on the farm for 10 years under protection
  3. 9 years
  4. He had been under protection on the Marisfeld farm for 3 years, his father Hirsch had lived in Marisfeld, but not on the court, for 35 years and subsequently moved to Bauerbach
  5. His father had lived there for about 20 years, but had died a year ago. He himself had served about 7 to 8 years in a foreign country, the rest of the time he had been with his father.

With the second question, inquiries were made about how long there was a synagogue in Marisfeld:

Originally, there had been no school, because they were too few, only Pentecost 10 years ago they had held the first school in the court to Marisfeld.

To the next question, namely whether the Jews had not asked the Lord of Marshall zu Walldorf for permission to employ a school, they replied, “Yes. Isaac Michel and the father of the Menle together with Hannß Fritzen had been with the gracious gentleman in Walldorf 10 years ago, and at that time he had allowed them to do so against the payment of 2 Reichsthalern school fees. Thus it is clear that the first synagogue must have stood on the site of the former Schaurodt court. Since about 1727 one can assume that so many Jews lived in Marisfeld that they could hold a common service and form a congregation (10 men).

Back to the testimony: 4. that this permission had only applied to the Jews living on the estate of the Marschalk zu Walldorf. They affirmed that there had been no other Jews in Marisfeld either. After all, 5. the court administrator wanted to know how many Jews now lived outside the Schaurodt court in Marisfeld and how long they been living there. At present it was only Simon Frohna who had been there for 6 or 7 years. A Doctor had been there before him, but he had not been a protective Jew. After all, Isaac Löser had also been there for half a year, but now he had left again.

Finally they answered the question why Jews who did not live on the court at Marisfeld were taken into their school without the permission of the gracious Lord at Walldorf, that it was common for them to come here, i.e. that they could not deny anyone school.

Finally, the so-called Walldorf Jews were sentenced to pay 6 Reichsthalers for allowing the other Jew to attend the synagogue service.

In the statement of the von Marschalk zu Marisfeld, an extract from the “Petersgerichtsrechnung” was quoted from which it can be seen that between 1702 and 1710 three Jews were resident in Marisfeld, but in 1711 only Jud Michel and Aron, who still lived there in the following two years.

From the years after 1742 some isolated invoices about the manor Marisfeld have been preserved, but they only contain one protective Jew with the name Salomon Simon, who is already elderly. After the death of Franz Friedrich Marschalk von Ostheim zu Walldorf, his property fell to his nephews, the owners of the manor Marisfeld Friedrich Gottlieb and Heinrich August Marschalk von Ostheim. Therefore, in the estate account of 1744/45 all protection Jews appear, who lived at that time in Marisfeld:

Salomon Simon (pays protection money and house rent) in the manor, while Jud Hirsch, Jud Meyer, Jud Löser, Jud Itzig, Jud Michel and Jud From lived at the Schaurodtische Hof for half a year and also paid protection and house interest.

Not until 1784/85 do we again have an estate bill in which protection money payments are listed. According to this there lived in Marisfeld Löw Schmuel (6 fl.), Jacob Mantel (6 fl.), Joseph Wolff (3 fl. 9 bz.), Moses Löw (3 fl. 9 bz.), Schmus Mantel (3 fl. 9 bz.), Michael Löser (3 fl.9 bz.), Salomon Schmuel (3.9.), Isaac Abraham (3 fl.9 bz.), Schie Salomon (3 fl. 9bz.), Elias Säckle (6 fl.) and Mantel Meyer (3fl. 9bz.). One is certainly not mistaken in the assumption that the different levels of protection money are related to the financial situation of the respective debtor.

As a rule, a Jew was accepted for protection when a Jewish man decided to marry and at the same time to pursue an independent trade. As long as the Jewish men worked under the name of their father or widowed mother, they did not have to pay protection money. Here, in 1806, the new sovereign administration essentially took up the practices previously used by the manor. In particular, the applicants were required to have a certain amount of assets, some of which could even be proven as a loan. Both the manor and the state rule were probably primarily concerned with the income to be achieved with the protection money, so that no consideration was given to the objections of the Christian inhabitants or the lower authorities against the acceptance of protection Jews. This also applied to the purchase of houses by Jews, which was forbidden elsewhere. After it had been proven that individuals had already acquired a house at the time of the imperial knighthood, this was also approved by the ducal administration.

The exercise of the profession of trader in wandering was also subject to approval. Anyone who wanted to trade in cattle or cut goods (see figure dealer) had to acquire a trade permission for the area in which he wanted to trade and pay fees for this. The efforts of the ducal administration were aimed at “educating” the Jewish population to take up skilled trades. In practice, however, this was not so easy because most craftsmen were not prepared to accept Jewish apprentices. Moreover, in the age of the Industrial Revolution, the effects of which were also felt in the Duchy of Saxony-Meiningen in the middle of the 19th century, handicraft production was inferior to industrial production, and the possibilities of earning a living in this field were severely restricted anyway. These were poor starting conditions for an increase in Jewish craftsmen.

As already mentioned above, administrative intervention in the religious life of Jewish inhabitants increased sharply in the first half of the 19th century, especially under Myingusian sovereignty. For example, the teacher candidates desired by the community were not approved, and in 1832 even the teacher Levi, who had already been employed, was sent away again. The result were several fierce attacks on Ludwig Schimmel, the teacher chosen by the ducal administration and who must have attended the teachers’ seminar in Hildburghausen. In addition, the administration ensured that both boys and girls attended school regularly. This was not a matter of course, since especially in poor families the sons were involved in the trade at an early stage. Traditionally, there was no great importance laid on the attendance of school for girls. When building the new school in Marisfeld in 1832 (Fig.), care was taken to ensure that the bakery and slaughterhouse were not housed in the same building, as had previously been the case, in order to be able to hold classes without disturbances. The influence on the practice of religion culminated in 1844 in the enactment of the synagogue order, according to which the divine service was to be carried out according to the Christian order. The situation is similar with the Bar Mitzwa or Bat Mitzwa in the style of the Christian confirmation.

Health considerations were decisive for the supervision of the mikvah, i.e. the Jewish ritual bath, about the purpose and nature of which the administration informed itself in detail in 1833.

The income of the Jewish inhabitants of Marisfeld was for the most part very poor, although there were also some well-off or even wealthy people, such as the long-time Parnas Gabriel Castle. This became apparent, for example, after the enactment of the law of 22 May 1856 concerning the norms for the conditions of the Jews. With this law, as already mentioned above, the Jews were legally put on an equal footing with the other citizens of the country. As a result of this law, all residents had to acquire municipal rights by paying the citizen’s or neighbor’s money. Of the 39 Jewish families resident in Marisfeld, three, namely Isaak Reinhold, Abraham Reinhold and Meier Goldmann, were unable to raise the required funds.

The economic emergency also forced many Jewish inhabitants of Marisfeld – as well as many Christian ones – to emigrate to America. Of course, the admission of the Jewish members into the political community of Marisfeld was a cause for many a dispute, because it also involved the use of rights and participation in the community’s assets which had previously only been granted to the Christian inhabitants. Unfortunately, however, only things that give cause for clarification are learned from the files; the files say very little about “normal” daily life.

Origin of a Jewish community in Themar

As already mentioned, after the enactment of the 1856 law on the norms for the conditions of the Jews, they were free to choose their place of residence and thus settle in Themar. It took a few more years, however, until it was actually so far. The Jewish inhabitants of Marisfeld stayed there for the time being, even though we know from our files that some of them had already established a business in Themar. For example, the master butcher Walther opened a shop in Themar, and the cap maker Aron Bär also ran a shop in the city. Only a big fire, which broke out in 1866 in Marisfeld (fig.) and in which also several Jewish inhabitants lost their house or their flat and their fortune, led some to move to Themar. In 1869 there were already about 15 families living in Themar, who had come not only from Marisfeld, but also from other communities. They organised their own church service under the supervision of the Landrabbiners, which was held in a rented prayer hall according to the regulations of the synagogue order issued by the Konsistorium in 1844. Nevertheless, the Jews of Themar did not yet form their own religious community, but remained part of those of Marisfeld. The teacher who had to give religious instruction to the Jewish children also lived there at first. The children living in Themar received “normal” instruction at the municipal civic school already for a long period, unless they attended a grammar school.

There was no shortage of friction between the Marisfeld and Themarers, especially as fewer and fewer Jews lived in Marisfeld, while their numbers in Themar continued to rise. Because the Themarers had doubts about the payment of the religion teacher, however, they were not interested in the formation of an independent community for a longer time. It was not until the state agreed to pay part of the teacher’s salary that they decided in 1877 to form a religious community in Themar, whose branch Marisfeld was to become. The teacher Leopold Ludwig, who had previously been resident in Marisfeld, moved to Themar, but he still had to give religious instruction to the children in Marisfeld on a regular basis. It was only now that the Jewish inhabitants of Marisfeld decided to send their children to the local elementary school; by this time they had received all their lessons at the Jewish elementary school from the previous religious teacher. In Themar a separate synagogue and school board was elected.

Jewish religious community of  Themar

It took a long time to convert the prayer room provisionally furnished in the Steitz family’s house into a proper synagogue, after the community had finally bought the house from them in 1893. Considerations about building a new synagogue had led to a negative result for financial reasons. In 1879 a dispute broke out about the purchase of an organ, which Ludwig wanted to finance out of his own pocket (Fig.) but this would have a resconstruction of the building.

Ludwig considered the singing and its accompaniment by an organ to be an essential element of the church service. However, even the proposed reconstruction of the synagogue, which would increase the space for the women in the synagogue and enable the girls to take part in the service, could not change the congregation’s mind. At the suggestion of the State Ministry, however, at least one harmonium was purchased.

Teacher Ludwig, who had come from Marisfeld, had to retire in 1888 for health reasons, although a vicar (Leo Kahn from Bibra) had been temporarily given to him for support. After his retirement in 1889 Gustav Hofmann was employed from Walldorf, who was transferred to Meiningen in 1896. 1900 followed Hugo Friedmann as a teacher, who went 1909 to Bernkastel. The last known religion teacher was Moritz Levinstein from Sontra, who was later employed at the citizen school. He died in 1938.

From the files we also know the names of the respective cult community boards, which were newly elected every three years. In 1886 Parnas Mayer Müller applied to the State Ministry, Department of Church and School Matters, for approval of the new statutes of the “Kultusgemeinde”.

Various disputes within the Jewish community are also reflected in the files. The names of the heads of families can be taken from the lists for the payment of the community levies. As examples here the names for

1905: Max Baer, Selig Baer, the siblings Baer, Louis Baer, Emil Baer, Max Eppenheimer (only from 11.06.-30.06.), Nathan Frankenberg, Louis Frankenberg, Sara u. Meta Frankenberg, Hugo Grünbaum, Karl Grünbaum, Ernst Gassenheimer, Leo Häusler, Julius Haas, Jos. Kahn, Adolf Katz, Meier Müller, Max Müller, Leopold Müller, Karl Müller, Jonas Mühlfelder, Sara Muskatblatt (19.06.-30.09.), Max Jul Stern, Simon Sachs, Moritz Sachs, Arthur Simon (01.01.-30.06.), Abraham Schwab, Alfred Walther, Louis Walther and the widow Emma Wertheimer.

1913: Max Baer, Selig Baer, siblings Baer, Louis Baers widow, Emil Baers widow, Nathan Frankenberg, Louis Frankenberg, Sara Frankenberg, Ernst Gassenheimer, Hugo Grünbaum, Karl Grünbaum, Heinrich Grünbaum, Theodor Grünspecht, Leo Häusler, Josef Kahn, Nathan Krakauer, Joachim Liebes, Max Müller, Leopold Müller, Karl Müller, Markus Rosenberg, Moritz Sachs, Hermann Stern, Abraham Schwab, Alfred Walther, Louis Walther, Leonhard Kahn and Max Bachmann.

1920: Louis Baers widow, Louis Frankenberg, Nathan Frankenberg, Sara Frankenberg, Ernst Gassenheimer, Herbert Gassenheimer, Hugo Grünbaum, Leo Häusler, Josef Kahn, Julius Kahn, Nathan Krakauer, Meier Mayer, Max Müller, Leopold Müller, Karl Müller, Moritz Sachs, Abraham Schwab, Hermann Stern, Alfred Walther, Louis Walther and Nathan Wertheimer.

With the November Revolution of 1918, the direct influence of the state on religion finally ended, as state and church were now separate. Therefore we unfortunately learn nothing more from the files on the inner life of the Jewish community. Only the register of associations and clubs  gives us a small insight into the activities of the teacher Levinstein, who in 1922 initiated the foundation of a Jewish Youth League in Themar, which pursued the purpose of “striving for the cultivation of conscious Judaism and true patriotism while unconditionally maintaining neutrality in political and religious matters”. “He wants to gain decisive influence on the moral and spiritual further education of his members by opening up the Jewish and German cultural treasures. He also wants to educate and strengthen his members physically by taking care of hiking”. This should be achieved through regular meetings, a library, lectures and discussions on topics of the Jewish past and present and all other areas of public life, knowledge, art and through social events. This association then had to be forcibly dissolved under the Nazis in 1936.

Otherwise there are court files which contain testamentary or estate matters of individual persons. Commercial register files provide information about the existence of businesses of Jewish entrepreneurs, but all these things can only be made accessible if one knows the names of those involved. In the Meininger State Archives there are documents from the Nazi period which show the persecution of the Jewish population using the example of individual families or persons, e.g. files of the tax offices to which the Jewish inhabitants had to pay a Jewish property tax and which were thus deprived of their property. At this point, however, I would also like to refer to the homepage about the Jewish inhabitants of Themar, which exemplarily deals with the fates of the various families.

With this I would like to close my excursion here. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.