On 1 August 1914, Germany declared war on Russia; on 3 August 1914, Germany declared war on France and marched into Belgium. On 4 August 1914, when Germany did not withdraw from Belgium, Britain, supported by its Commonwealth countries, declared war on Germany. “The War that ended Peace” — the title of Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan’s distinguished account of the road to war — began.
Germans, both Jewish and non-Jewish, responded to the call to arms with enthusiasm. Ten thousand Jewish males volunteered to serve and their overall contribution to the war effort was remarkable: “100,000 Jewish men fought in the German Army, Navy, and Colonial Troops, and [at least] 12,000 remained on the field of honour.” Among those who fought for their Fatherland were at least twenty-five (25) men related the Jewish families of Themar. Of this group, three — all members of the Josef & Hulda Kahn family — did not return home.
The War affected the Jewish families of Themar as it did all families of the small city. Sons & grandsons — or cousins and/or relatives through marriage — entered the war. Its end brought new people to town — it seems probable that Paul Rosengarten, returning from Russia, came to Themar and simply decided to stay. He met Berta Schwab, married and soon the Rosengarten family was part of the core Jewish families in Themar.
The Honour Roll below identifies thirty-five (35) men of the Jewish families of Themar who fought in WWI and defines their relationship to the families. We also present some of the sources that have assisted in the search for traces. We thank the families for sharing with us their precious documents and photographs.
At the moment, we do not have any information about the direct involvement of the Jewish women of Themar in the war effort, although we know that their informal role would have been significant. If anyone visiting this page has information to contribute we would welcome it. Over the next while, we will be posting more pages about World War I and how it affected the Jewish community of Themar.
The Family of Samuel u. Jette BAER née Walther
- Great grandson Herbert Grossmann, son of Hulda Grossmann, née Bär, b. 1897 in Chemnitz and killed in battle on 06 November 1916.
- Relative through marriage: Julius Schloss, b. 1893, was the brother of Selma Bär, Samuel & Jette’s daughter-in-law. Julius was killed on 24 July 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.
- Relative through marriage: Hermann Stern, b. 1891 Hildburghausen, fought in the war and survived, but had a leg amputated. He and Selma Bär, née Schloss, who had become a widow in 1913, married in March 1917.
The Family of Löb & Jette FRANKENBERG, née Hermann
- Grandson Julius Mühlfelder, b. 1891 in Themar, was rejected for military service, owing, his son Ludwig wrote in his Autobiography, “to his slight build and health status.” Instead, Julius was sent to work in the Jewish company, Simson Werke, producing arms for the war.
- Grandson-in-law Louis Sander, b. 1889, husband of Hilde Sander, née Frankenberg.
The Family of Samuel & Lotte GASSENHEIMER, née Stein
- Son Siegmund Gassenheimer, b. 1882 in Themar, served in the ambulance corps.
- Grandson Paul Marcus, eldest son of Emma (née Gassenheimer) and Simon Marcus, b. 1891 in Dessau, served in the army.
- Grandson Siegfried Marcus, son of Emma (née Gassenheimer) and Simon Marcus, b. 1893 in Dessau, served in the army.
- Grandson Erich Marcus, son of Emma (née Gassenheimer) and Simon Marcus, b. 1896 in Dessau, served in the army. Erich was wounded.
- Grandson Herbert Gassenheimer, eldest son of Ernst & Rosa Gassenheimer, b. 1898 in Themar, fought on the front. According to Dr. Ernst Ledermann’s letter to the Gestapo in 1938, Herbert was gassed.
The Family of Noa Grünbaum
- Otto Schloss, brother-in-law of Noah’s eldest son, Hugo Grünbaum, was killed on 26 November 1916.
- Son Karl Grünbaum, b. 1876 in Themar, the son of Noah & Minna Grünbaum (née Friedmann), served in the war, although details are not known.
The Family of Samuel & Blümche, née Lippmann, HOFMANN
- Salomon Hofmann was the grandson of Samuel and Blümche. Salomon was born in Themar in 1869, the son of Lippmann, geb. in Marisfeld, and Frederick/Frädel, geb. Sachs, born in Breach
The Family of Josef & Hulda KAHN, née Walther
Two sons of Josef & Hulda Kahn were killed in the war, exactly where is unknown. Their names were engraved in the WWI memorial (see image at top of page). The memorial was destroyed in WWII, but Fritz Stubenrauch ensured that the plaques bearing the names were saved and they are now to be seen in the Friedhofskapelle.
- Son Friedrich Daniel Kahn, b. 8 October 1894 in Themar, was killed on 02 Oktober 1914 [place unknown]
- Son Leonhard Kahn, b. 12 Oktober 1890 in Themar, was killed on 30 Oktober 1914 [place unknown]
- Son-in-law Markus Rosenberg, husband of Else Kahn, also fought in the war. Markus’s brother, Max Rosenberg, was killed on 14 February 1918.
The Kahn family suffered other losses:
- Son Albert Kahn, Josef and Hulda’s eldest son, died in 1909 the result of an accident in the military camp he was at in Meiningen.
- Grandson Bernhard Kahn, b. 11 April 1899 in Marisfeld, was killed on 24 September 1918.
The Family of Meier & Karoline MAYER, née Eisenfresser
- Son Hermann Mayer, b. 1877 Schnaittach, served in the war between 1917 and November 1918.
- Son-in-law Heinrich Wolf, husband of Frieda, b. 1882 in Sulzbürg, was killed on 01 Oktober 1915. [Photograph left below] After his death, Frieda moved with the two children, Flora and Albert, to Themar to join her parents and her sister, Nanett, and the Levinstein family.
- Son-in-law Moritz Levinstein, husband of Nanett, b. 1884 in Sontra, served in the army. [Image right below]
- Grandson Ernst Mayer, b. 1893 in Fürfeld, son of Moses and Mathilde Mayer, served in the army and lost one leg from the knee down.
The Family of Solomon & Karoline MÜLLER, née Friedmann
- Grandson Max Müller I, son of Maier & Babette Müller, b. 1873 in Themar, served and returned.
- Grandson Karl Müller, son of Maier & Babette Müller, b. 1886 in Themar, served and returned.
- Grandson Max Müller II, son of Nathan & Bertha Müller, b. 1884 in Marisfeld, served and returned.
- Relative through marriage: Clara Müller, Max Müller II’s wife, lost her brother, Salomon/Sally Nussbaum; he was killed on 6 May 1916 in Cumiers-Wood in the Battle of the Verdun.
- Adolf Neuhaus, husband of Emma Steindler, sister of Pauline, Frieda and Max Steindler
- Max Steindler, brother-in-law of Leopold Müller and later husband of Max Müller I’s daughter, Marta, served in the war.
The Family of Hirsch & Rosa FRIEDMANN, née Laub
- Grandson Georg Sachs, b. 1872 Berkach
- Grandson Max Sachs, b. 1874 Berkach
- Grandson Felix Sachs, b. 1895 Themar
- Great-grand-son Fritz Schwab, b. 1891 Berkach
- Great-grand-son Kurt Schwab, b. 1891 Berkach
The Family of Abraham & Regina SCHWAB, née Epstein
- Son-in-law Paul Rosengarten, husband of Berta Schwab, b.1893 in Herbede, fought on the eastern front. It is possible that he stopped in Themar on his way home and simply stayed, marrying Berta and forming a family.
- Paul Rosengarten’s older brother, Adolf, b. 1889 in Herbede, was killed in April 1916.
Other Jewish males of Themar families who may have served in the war include:
- Julius Kahn, b. 1896 Themar, living in Nürnberg
- Julius Wertheimer, b. 1886 Themar
- Milton Wertheimer, b. 1886 Themar
- Nathan Wertheimer, b. 1890 Themar
- Josef Katz, b. 1893 Themar, living in Dessau
- Erich Katz, geb. 1898 Themar
And on 9 November 1918, the First World War ended. Themar honoured its dead in this elaborate war memorial. Behind it stood the home of the Meier & Karoline Mayer, Frieda, Albert & Flora Wolf; across from it was the Adolf Kahn Metzgerei, and the home of Elsa and Marcus Rosenberg.
“‘Große deutsche Patrioten’: Jüdische Soldaten im Ersten Weltkrieg,” SpiegelOnline, 29.06.2014