Forced walk: Honouring Esther! 15th April 2015
This walk, commemorating 70 years of liberating Bergen – Belsen and honouring Esther Brunstein, my Yiddish teacher in the 1980s, started at the place were the Synagoge of Memmingen stood until its destruction in 1938.
read the full report here:
I passed the building were the first Synagoge in Memmingen had its place.
Translated it means: Former church funded by Voehlin, house of the Memminger reformer Dr. Christoph Schappeler 1513 – 1525, First Synagoge of the Jewish community 1873 – 1879
Passing the main market place of Memmingen. After a walk of about 12 km I arrived in Fellheim. Fellheim was in the mid 19th century a village with 70 % Jewish population. The first five Jewish families settled in 1670. In 1786 they built the Synagoge of Fellheim.
The Synagoge was destroyed in November 1938 and was used after the war as a normal house. In 2007 the village counsel bought the Synagoge and since 3 years it is being rebuild as a Synagoge. the adjoining Jewish cemetery is due to the reconstruction work closed, since it lays behind the Synagoge. There are still some 160 graves on this burial ground.
In the 19th century Jewish community life flourished and a primary school was built.
From 1836 – 1911 it was the Jewish school. End of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century many Jewish families moved away into the bigger towns and cities and the Jewish school was closed and it became from 1911 until 1983 the village school. The architecture even today shows the small houses of the former Jewish population, since the were not allowed to farm. However, there are some examples of more affluent citizens.
The last 13 Jewish citizens of Fellheim were deported in March and July 1942 to Piaski in Poland.
After visiting the village I walked the 12 km back to Memmingen. And I was lucky. The weather was a warm spring day and not a cold and wet day when so many people were forced 70 years ago to evacuate the various concentration camps all over Europe.
Memmingen, 29th April 2015