This is some sort of epilogue, these pictures came into my possession in 1983/84, sent to me by Willi Förster, Margarete Mittag née Blau and Irmgard Gehler née Schubert.
First about Kurt Schubert, he was a play and school comrade of mine, and the last who deserted me after quite a few beatings and pressure. He died in about 1971 of diabetes. His sister, Irmgard, writes to me.
I remember, when it was built in 1933. I made some comments about that in a letter to Irmgard,
but of course in German, so somebody has to translate.
Back row, Standing l/r: Röhmhild, Karl Heinz Kerner, Kurt Wallburg, Herman Kaydel
Middle Row l/r: Helmuth Gottwald, Kurt Schubert, Heini Rückert, Hommelt and Ross
Front row l/r: Richard Hoyer, Lehmann and the other Ross boy.
Most of these boys went to school or played with me, some are still alive, most of them perished in WW II. With some I had bloody fist fights. The Ross brothers, everybody thought they were twins. They were not, only very close in age. Their father was sent to Themar from the Black Forest to be the leader of the local Storm-Troopers. These boys taunted me on the 30th of January 1933 with “Atrch Hitler is dran,” “Ha, ha, Hitler is in office.” It made me so mad, that I, for the first time in my life, started a fight. I literally saw red and beat both of them bloody. Some teacher tore me away and held me down. About Kurt Schubert, Karl Heinz Kerner, and Lehmann I wrote in other places. Herman Kaydel had a soccer ball, so we formed a soccer club, wandered from place to place as far as Lengfeld, to challenge other boys to games. His father was a druggist.
Fritz and Walter died in WW II. Fritz was the tallest boy in our class, I was fifth, Günter Assmus was the smallest. Fritz did not like me very much, because he could not beat me in the 100 meter and 800 meter track event, only one time, after I had sprained my ankle and he challenged me for a re-run, did he beat me by ½ a step. I could not walk right for weeks. I never had track shoes, my mother made some home made slippers. That’s all we could afford and still I retained the school and district championship for 2 or 3 years.
Erich, myself, and Walter and his brother played together in the Mauergasse, they lived 4 houses from us. They were very poor, my mother often gave them something to eat, although we did not have much ourselves. The father of these boys was so desperate, that he committed suicide in a horrible way, he hung himself on the crossbars of a window and must have died very slowly, because he kicked a big hole in the wall. I will never forget that wall. Walter wrote me completely unexpectedly from Braunschweig, West Germany, after a reunion in Themar.
Editor’s Concluding Comment
The photo album stops with this photograph of Walter Gütlein. Presumably Manfred intended to keep adding to the album, but lots of projects competed for his attention: he assembled other photo albums — of his father’s family, the Rosengartens of Herbede, Witten; of the Berlin family of his wife, Eveline Berger; of the trip from Genoa, Italy in May 1939 to Shanghai; of life in Shanghai, 1939 to 1947; and of life for the Rosengartens in the United States from 1947 on.
The focus on Themar shifted from the photo album to the ongoing exchange of letters with his non-Jewish school chums. The number of people actually writing letters to Manfred increased after 1983 to include two former Themarens living in West Germany. But, as I learned on my first trip to Themar in April 2008, the number of readers of Manfred’s letters was much, much larger. A letter from Manfred would be circulated among many of the city’s residents who wanted to keep in touch with his news. I was surprised and pleased to see that Manfred’s first letter to Themar, in August 1983 to clockmaker Karl Saam, was already in the City of Themar archives. These letters, it is hoped, will also be made available on this website.
Manfred did not, therefore, write a formal endnote to the album and somehow that seems just right — his voice lives on and the story continues. If I am allowed to add two photographs to the album in this virtual world, then let me add these two — of Willi Förster, Manfred’s dear friend, and myself — as we explore Manfred’s photo album and the memories it prompts!
Sources used to update Themar, Thüringen: My Hometown, include:
- Ancestry.com databases. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc.
- Das Bundesarchiv, Gedenkbuch: Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Germany 1933 -1945
- Freie Universität Berlin. Zentralinstitut für Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung, Gedenkbuch Berlins der jüdischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus: Ihre Namen mögen nie vergessen werden! 1995.
- Themar City Archives
- Yad Vashem, Database for Victims of the Shoah.
Material from M. Rosengarten, Themar, Thüringen: My Home Town may be reproduced in part or whole, in any print or electronic format for non-commercial purposes provided that the author, editor, copyright holders, and publisher (www.judeninthemar.org) are acknowledged.
© 2011 Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. © Sharon Meen, Vancouver, British Columbia