Letter from Manfred Rosengarten to Karl Saam (California, Aug. 23, 1983) (Text)

San Martinez, California, 8.8.1983

Dear Mr. Saam.

It is not easy to start this letter. I should have written to you a few months ago. Around Pentecost, a couple of friends passed through Themar who were talking to you at the time and through whom I got your address. They wrote me that you can still remember my family. I am Manfred Rosengarten and I was born in 1921 in the house of the Urhmacher Saams, who was probably your father. My grandparents, Abraham and Regina Schwab, rented an apartment in this house and my parents, Paul and Berta Rosengarten, lived there with them. My mother always said when I was little that I would probably become a watchmaker or a cook. Well it almost came true, I became a goldsmith and I can cook too.

I would like to tell you briefly what happened to some of the Jews from Themar. My parents, my brother Erich and I escaped to Shanghai, China, where we lived in a refugee camp for 8 years. Moritz Sachs, his son Fedor, and his daughter Anna and her husband also went there. After the war, we all emigrated to the United States. We all met again in San Francisco. Old Moritz and my parents are long dead, of course. I haven’t heard from the others for a long time. Hilde Sachs also came here from South Africa. A few years ago, shortly before his death, I met Herbert Gassenheimer and his sister Lotte Rosenbaum and son Walter, who are now in New York. Heard from Marion Sander many years ago that Robert Sachs had a stroke at a young age and is said to be living in Israel, if he is still alive. Herbert, Meinhold, and Willi Müller are also said to have survived.

It always amazes me what has become of my former schoolmates and playmates.

Above all I would also like to know whether the old hatred still exists. I forgave my hatred a long time ago, but I cannot forget it. I always imagine that if I would meet and recognize someone, I would laugh with all my heart. I would like to know if someone still remembers me, my brother and I have had enough quarrels with some people.

My brother lives in Boston with his wife, he is a sausage maker, ran a business. He has a son and a daughter. I also have a son and a daughter. The son is a school teacher, in the summer during the vacations he goes fishing, he has a fishing boat, he catches laxe and fishes in NW of Canada near Alaska. He has two boys. My daughter is a writer.

All these years I have often thought of Themar, even dreamed of it many times. Unfortunately, I did not manage to come for a visit. I did not manage to scrape together enough money to be able to afford it and now I am also in poor health, I survived a robbery and still have about 200 grains of shot in my shoulder, also my heart is broken, had a heart operation. So now I have to do without many things.

I have always wondered whether the old synagogue on Hilburghäuser Street was burned down during Kristallnacht. Also whether still something of the old municipality, except the cemetery in Marisfeld, where my grandfather was here, still something remained. Would like to have a souvenir, also from the city, do not even have a postcard.

Of my schoolmates, neighbors and playmates I still remember Karl Heinz Kerner, his father had the hotel “Three Roses,” Walter Wallburg, Fritz Öhrlein, Werner Damme, Horst Pfaff, Horst Störmer, Bodo Hofmann, Siegfried or Siegmuch Schwartz, Margarethe Reinhard and her boyfriend, Irmgard Köte, Erich and Erika Lehmann, Marianne Weber, my friend Schubert who lived on Meiningerstrasse, unfortunately I have forgotten the first name. The son of the head teacher Stapf, Anneliese Birkigt, Roswita Ziegert our class beauty. Grandchildren of Seiler Papst and all in Mauergasse [Mangergasse] where we lived with Seiler Papst, Willi Förster, his father was with Heuberg [brewery].

Of my teachings, some were good and some were bad. I still name Bätz, Stapf, Schindhelm, Ziegert, Fräulein Pfanne and Kirchner. From Themarer types I still remember the “holy Gustav”, the crooked wreath, the one-eyed forester master, the old Avokat and shyster, whom we always called, Mei schnappmesser Markfutzig, markfutzig” after, Erich von Nordheim, who played the accordion, Max Rüger, the old man who led the procession with his green and white flag, the “Huscher Metha” who cried when “Husch” lost.

Heun’s Puppet and the old billy goat, Mrs. Vogt from the civil service school, the painter Klett, his daughter Elfriede who also went to school with me, and many many others.

From the sights, I still see before my eyes the monastery Vessra, the Osterburg, the Iltenbgerg, the Einfallenen Berg, the Eisloch, the Red and the Green Villa, the bridge over did Werra, the Steinerne Kirche, the Dicke Eiche, the Birkenwäldchen, the church and the monument 1870/71, the war memorial 1914-1918, where one had ausgemeiseld the names of the Kahnjungens, they were Jews and so they have fallen of course not for their fatherland. . . . , the monument to Walter von der Vogelweide in the Birkenwäldchen, and the quarry, the Apfeldberg with gliders, the Weissbach, where my father helped to reduce the flooding.

Otherwise, everything is probably still dassebe and “The railroad machinery, which drives the Werrgrund ˙ahnre hie, with people, sows and anner cattle.”

This is now the longest letter I have ever written in my life, so I will call it a day. I hope you will excuse my mistake and my bad handwriting and maybe I will hear from you, also I would be glad if someone would let me hear from you.
I wish you good health and remain respectfully your former fellow citizen.

It always amazes me what has become of my former schoolmates and playmates.
Above all I would also like to know whether the

Manfred Rosengarten