Commemoration on November 9, 2019
Under the motto “Geislingen against anti-Semitism – commemoration on November 9”, a commemoration event followed by a memorial march to the concentration camp memorial took place on Saturday, November 9, 2019.
The Geislingen initiative “remembering – honoring – reconciling” organized a commemoration event on the occasion of November 9 in the large hall of the Red Cross Community House at Heidenheimer Straße 72. Among the numerous participants were many young people as well as Senior Mayor Dehmer with his wife and Dean Elsässer.
Eva Kerner gave a brief overview of the significance of November 9 in German history. Besides the appreciation of November 9, 1989, on which 30 years ago the Berlin Wall fell and paved the peaceful way for the reunification of Germany, the end of the Empire and the beginning of the Weimar Republic, the first democracy in Germany, the Hitler putsch – which could be prevented by the Bavarian police, the foundation of the SS as well as the pogrom night “Reichskristallnacht” in 1938 fell on a November 9. The Goeppingen synagogue also burned – and in the Jewish Museum Jebenhausen – by the way one of the earliest founded Jewish museums in Germany ever, you can see how Goeppingen firemen are prevented from extinguishing the synagogue. Jewish businesses were also destroyed and Jewish men arrested in Goeppingen.
“Anti-Semitism is a personal choice” Eva Kerner quoted the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Josef Schuster.
She explained that no one is born a Christian, for example, but it is always a personal decision to follow the Jew Yeshua, Jesus – as his first disciples, also all Jews, did when Jesus met them at their place of work and asked them to come with him. That’s where a decision is needed, even today.
As another example of how everyone always has a choice, she cited Adolph Schoofs, a foreman at WMF at the time when the 800 Jewish girls and women there had to do forced labor. Schoofs made the personal decision to help these people e.g. by letting them sleep during working hours and watching out that they were not discovered – knowing full well that he was putting his own life at risk. He had a choice, he made a personal decision.
“We today, each and every one, also have a choice and make a personal decision – today we are here to stand up AGAINST anti-Semitism – in Geislingen – on November 9, 2019” Kerner called out to those present.
Afterwards, Rosemarie Schneider used photos to show the story of getting to know the surviving women in Israel who were imprisoned in the Geislingen satellite camp and had to perform forced labor for WMF, the creation of the name plaque in front of WMF and the memorial on the bike path to Eybach, and the good, friendly relations with the families of the former concentration camp inmates today, which are in no way a matter of course.
In February 2015, a few weeks before the planned silent march and memorial event on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, the Schneider family traveled to Israel for a week.
In her presentation, Mrs. Schneider also referred to the laying of the stumbling block on the sidewalk in front of the WMF initiated by the Raetsche culture club and explained the motif of the wooden shoes at the memorial. The way from the concentration camp to the WMF had to be covered daily in wooden shoes – some older people can still remember the sound. When students from the Michelberg High School came to the memorial ceremony in wooden shoes in 2015, it touched Miryam Sobel very strongly – an inner film ran. Like her daughter Chani, she was unable to give her planned speech in Jahnhalle. Chani’s gesture was all the more moving, as she spontaneously joined in the Israeli dances performed at the conclusion of the 2015 event.
The families of Hanna Mann and Miryam Sobel, who have since passed away, also came to the dedication of the memorial along the bike path.
This friendly bond between survivors of the Geislingen satellite camp, their descendants and Geislingen citizens today is by no means a matter of course. The initiative “remembering – honoring – reconciling“ would like to expand and deepen these relations by promoting encounters between the young generation of Geislingen and Israel. In April and June 2020, 13 students from Geislingen and 13 young Israelis will deal with the respective culture of remembrance under the motto “remember yesterday – live today – shape tomorrow” and show each other their countries. These encounters are sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and supported by Albwerk Geislingen eG, Volksbank Göppingen, Kerner Cad for Cam GmbH Bad Überkingen, Mirjam Care GmbH und Co.KG Bad Überkingen and private donors.
“Not with a gun in the back, but proudly with the flag of Israel” as Chani Rieger put it in 2015, not with anti-Semitism in the heart, but in honorable remembrance of the victims and in friendly solidarity with their descendants, not with lights of destruction but with lights of hope, the approx. 50-70 participants of the Geislingen commemoration against anti-Semitism then made their way to the concentration camp memorial with candles, banners and Israel flags in their hands.
There, Leoni, a participant in the future student exchange, read from Jeremiah 31, among other things: “You nations, hear what I, Yahweh, say; proclaim it in the farthest islands! Shout, ‘God scattered the Israelites to the four winds, but now he is gathering them again and protecting his people like a shepherd protects his flock.'”
At the end of the event, before the participants placed their candles at the memorial, Mrs. Schneider, her daughter, as well as Charlotte, another participant of the Israel exchange performed the song “Osse Shalom” in Hebrew and German: You who make peace on high, give your peace also on earth to your people Israel, peace and healing for us and Israel.