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The Letters of Dr. Ernst Ledermann

Between late November 1938 and the middle of January 1939, Dr. Ernst Ledermann, wrote letters to the Gestapo on behalf of the Jewish men of Themar appealing for their release from Buchenwald. The one attached here was written on behalf of Adolf Kahn, born in Themar in 1902. Ledermann cites the distinguished service that the Kahn family displayed in WWI (two of Adolf’s brothers — Friedrich Daniel and Leonhard — were killed in the war). He also states that telegrams confirm that emigration documents for Kahn are underway, and he emphasizes that, as a master butcher, Kahn has the skills to earn a livelihood and establish a new life elsewhere.

How and why Ledermann came to write the letters for the Themar men is not yet known in detail. Ledermann was himself rounded up with the other Jewish men of Gotha on November 9/10, 1938 and imprisoned in Buchenwald. He was freed by mid-November and returned home to put his own affairs in order. In January 1939, he left for England followed later in the year by his wife and son. And yet, in that brief period of time and under enormous personal pressure, he found time to write on behalf of Jewish men. We know that two of the largest Jewish businesses in Themar, the Gassenheimer Agricultural Machinery Co. and the S.J. Baer Department Store, were clients of Ledermann. Shortly after his release from Buchenwald, Herbert Gassenheimer travelled to Gotha—we assume this was to visit Dr. Ledermann. Ledermann had a very large clientele throughout Thüringen and it is possible that he wrote on behalf of those imprisoned from Gotha and Arnstadt, his birth place.

Ernst Ledermann’s letters to the Gestapo on  behalf of Themar men are at the links below:

Herbert Gassenheimer
Adolf Kahn
Herbert Kahn
Fritz Katz
Max Müller
Arthur Plaut
Julius Rosenberg
Max Rosenberg
Max Steindler
Norbert Sander

Who was Ernst Ledermann?Ernst&Irmgard Ledermann

Ernst Ledermann came from a family with deep roots in Thüringen in the northern part of the state. The first ancestors who can be identified are Ernst’s great-great grandparents, Simon Levi and Ricke/Rieka. Where the original place of settlement for the Ledermann family was is unknown, but we know that Simon and Ricke were living in Unsleben in Rhön-Grabfeld (Bavaria) when their son Meier was born in 1764. Thirty years later, we find Meier and his first wife, Bertha, living in Bauerbach, 27 km southwest of Bauerbach, when their first child, Simon, was born in 1794.

Bauerbach was in the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen (later Thuringia). It was a small village of about 236 residents in 1811, 91 of whom were Jews.

The outline of his family is available here.