Jewish Life at Haigerloch
Part 3 - The Guests' Thoughts and the Museum Opening
The festive opening of the old Synagogue, described in Part 2, was marked by the visit of twelve former Jewish residents of Haigerloch. Mayor Roland Trojan described it as an "event of historical importance" and Klaus Schubert admired the "courage of the Jewish guests to make their way to Haigerloch". Their visit to Haigerloch demonstrated that forgiveness and reconciliation might lead to a better future for all.
The magnificent stained glass window, depicting a Star of David, was fitted in the front, oval window and a Menorah was donated by the Gideon family. Frank Abraham and the son of Ruth Ben David, nee Spier, recited the Kaddish. They were supported by Ari Moses, the cantor of the Israelite congregation of Stuttgart, with a prayer for the Jews who died during the Holocaust. Norbert Baer (94), shared his memories with the audience and thanked us all in Hebrew. Phillip Levy donated a picture of his father to the museum and said that his father, who died in 2001, would have been deeply moved had he lived to see the day.
At the same occasion, the square in front of the Synagogue was renamed to "Gustav Spier Place". Gustav Spier was born in 1892 at Zwesatern, near Kassel and arrived with his wife in Haigerloch as a schoolteacher. Until his deportation on 27th November 1941, together with his wife, his son Julius and 108 other Jews, he served as a teacher, a preacher and the head of the Rabbinical office of the Haigerloch Jewish community. As an observant Jew and a Zionist, he taught his pupils Zionism and after his son Julius (born 1925) completed his schooling, he sent him to a Zionist seminar in preparation for emigration to Palestine.
His daughter Ruth (born 1921), was sent to England in February 1939. Her Brother Julius and her parents were murdered in Riga. Ruth Spier later met her husband in England and they both emigrated in 1947 to Palestine, via the USA. They have lived ever since in the beautiful Kibbutz of Tirat Zvi in the Jordan valley.
She was deeply moved by the unveiling of the memorial plate as the square in front of the Synagogue was named after her father.
Mrs. Susan Niven delivered a speech of thanks in her mother's name, Jettchen Ullmann. Tom Wolf and his elderly mother joined her, demonstrating the reconciliation of the second Jewish generation after the Holocaust. The festivities were accompanied by the music of the saxophone quartet of Haigerloch.
This colourful, soul-touching experience had a "historical dimension" that was best appreciated through personal participation.
Celebration of the reopening of the "Old Synagogue Haigerloch" as a museum
On 13th June 2004, seven months after the reopening of the Haigerloch Synagogue, it was opened to the public as a museum. This marked the completion of the first goals set by the association of the "Old Synagogue of Haigerloch" and a new focal point for the "new history of Jewish life at Haigereloch".
This time, the ceremony was not held inside the Synagogue, but in front of it. Many honourable guests, friends and members of the association joined the occasion and many former citizens of Haigerloch travelled to attend the celebration. Others sent their greetings, which were read out to the gathering. They expressed appreciation of the work done by the association and thanked all contributors. Mayor Trojan stressed that the history of Haigerloch was inseparable from the story of its Jewish citizens. "We must not forget the event of 65 years ago. This house and the exhibition serves to commemorate Jewish life at Haigerloch, Hechingen and the Zollernalbkreis."
Great thanks were also expressed to the employees of the "House of History, Baden-Württemberg" for their valuable, professional support in founding the museum, and also to the county Rabbi (retired) and to Dr. Joel Berger for his advice on all Jewish matters.
Especially moving was the speech of Margot Anker, nee Weil. Coming from the USA with her husband, this was her first visit to Europe and Haigerloch, where she spent her youth. She was overcome by emotion as she thanked Mayor Trojan and donated a Chanukah candelabra and a Kiddush cup to the museum.
A band from Haigerloch accompanied the celebration, as Mr. Karl-Hermann Blickle, chairman of the association "Old Synagogue Hechingen", said: "May these two places, Hechingen and Haigerloch, attract many people and remind them of past events. We wish this place God's blessing!"
Report by Uta Hentsch, Bisingen, Germany
Read about Hechingen: Where Dreams Come True
Read about the Christian Declaration of Berlin, 11/September/2004.
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