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The fate of the Jews after 1930

Through the special political situation of the Saar district, the National Socialists could not carry out the power struggle with the same radicalism as in the “Reich.” After the First World War the Saar district was subordinate to the League of Nations. It was transferred to the administration of a ruling commission. Up until the incorporation into the “Reich,” the Jews stood under their protection since the Treaty of Versailles guaranteed religious freedom for the residents. The state had authority over the Jewish cultural communities since Prussian law of 1847. After the incorporation this worked negatively for the Jews. Even though the Saarland administration felt itself responsible for the protection of the Jewish population, it was unable to prevent, even on the Saar, years before the seizure of power, anti-Semitism becoming stronger and making its appearance openly.

As Jews and Christians lived in harmony with each other in the towns Dillingen, Nalbach and Diefflen, so was it in the whole Saar district in the decade of the 1920's. Anti-Semitism was rarely observed. The new anti-Semitism, which developed into a powerful movement in the decade of the 1870's in Germany within all sections of the German people – especially took hold among the educated – also promoted some actions in the Saar district at end of the century. However, these were limited to a few places. The first anti-Semitic riots, which came to the Saar district at the end of the decade of the 1920's, arrived together with the rise of the National Socialist movement.

Already in 1926, the weekly newspaper “The Saar Germans” was banned by the administration due to its anti-Semitic propaganda[28]. But the voices did not die down; they became louder as the day of the seizure of power drew nearer. And so it was that seven Saarland deans and eleven Catholic associations and societies drew up a petition to the administration to restrain this development: The administration should see to it that extreme radical elements do not bring nasty divisions into the life of the population through the spread of racist ideas among the people and through songs and writings to inflame the youth to hatred and violence.[28]

The NSDAP [Nazi party] of the Saar restrained itself from radical measures. In the meantime it joined with other parties of the Saarland (National, Liberal and Center) to form the “German Front” (DF). Before the Saar plebiscite they did not want to bring critical thoughts about their true intentions to the voters of the Saarland. Perhaps they even hoped to win Jewish voters in the plebiscite in favor of Germany. The industrialist Hermann Röchling expressed himself in this way in a discussion with Hitler and in two letters. In a letter to the reichs chancellor he expressed the exhortation that one should take care that the Saar district should not become a Jewish ghetto for the whole of Germany.[29]

It is natural that the anti-Semitic posture manifested itself in the work of some men with such influence, among the thousands of its followers. The periodical “Grenzland” wrote in the edition of 23 December 1934: … At another time the Röhling employees went to the DF, so as not to lose their jobs. On the right side of the office they received their membership of the DF, on the left side they received their dismissal papers. Each was free to decide.[30]

A political report about the Dillingen foundries in the “Saarlouiser Journal” states firmly:
… with truly few exceptions the management of the Dillingen foundries are strongly active for the National Socialists, also the major part of the workers is strongly opposed to reprisals against the non-compliant employees… [W]ithin the gates of the Dillingen works officials, white-collar workers and laborers greeted each other in truly provocative style with the so-named “Heil Hitler” greeting.[31]

In both of these texts there is no actual anti-Semitic behavior. But how can it be understood that the political campaign against the Jews intensified itself also in our midst in 1933? Whoever identified himself with the National Socialist ideology could scarcely hold himself far from anti-Semitic tendencies. Anti-Semitism is one of the essential features of this view of the world.

Here is an example about this from the hometown press. The “Dillinger Anzeiger” of 1 March 1933. A Jewish advocate was thrown out of a court case. This is how the journalist expressed himself: He was not permitted to appear. In April we find the opinion of some journalists in the same journal: non-Aryan officials may appear before a court only in exceptional cases. It appears in a repeated article that it was directed against Jewish jurists. The justice administration in the Saar district sympathized with National Socialism. Was professional jealousy at play?

The confirmed National Socialists restrained themselves until after the plebiscite was won. That illuminated the political climate in the Saar region: the influence of the Nazis grew increasingly in all areas of public life. After the vote was clear in 1935- from an article of 11 August 1937 the campaign against the Jews cannot be ignored: … Only then could the clear dissociation from everything Jewish be put into effect, when it was carried out in all districts without compromise.

A journalist reported on 22 March 1935, when the market scene in Dillingen changed: The first annual market in Dillingen after the reunification had a fundamentally different appearance from what one was accustomed to in the previous years. The undesirable, if not altogether annoying, races of Orientals, Gypsies, Polish Jews from nearby Lorraine who flooded our market with their colored tablecloths, carpets and rugs and other non-genuine goods had completely disappeared at one stroke.

Even before the plebiscite neither the Saarbrücker Zeitung, the newspaper of the Saarland nor the small regional newspaper of our area expressed themselves decisively for the rights of the Jewish population. For lack of courageous defense, terrorism was able to take hold. Already in 1933 it appeared repeatedly and violently in our district. The Jews defended themselves through legal charges as long as they were able to do so. These have been collected in the archives of the federation. Minutes of the meetings of the governing commission of the Saar-district for the years 1933 and1934 report on vandalism in Dillingen, Nalbach and Diefflen. I emphasize this, because many citizens believe that terror against the Jews started only on so called Kristallnacht.

  1. 28 June 1933 Report concerning violations against numbers 11, 10 of GB street. Two accused from Dillingen who, by means of circulars on 20 May 1933, called for a boycott of the Jews through stoppage of business traffic and of purchasing from Jews.
  2. A report on 14 June 1933 against unknown due to ostracism of holders of Jewish business credit and due to instructions on posters for a boycott of Jews in Dillingen.
  3. 18 June 1933 – Insult and threat of ostracism to the Israelite Harry Schott from Dillingen.
  4. 30 July 1933 – Insult of a Jewish funeral procession by two drunken foundry workers from Dillingen.
  5. Insult, threat and ill treatment of the Jewish business man Adolf Alkan. Adolf Alkan was killed in Theresienstadt in 1944. He emigrated to Luxemburg with his family after 1935.
  6. On 25 December 1933 a threat to the Jewish business man Hermann Levy several times in a pub Dillingen.
  7. 1 April 1934 – Insult and serious bodily injury of the Jewish cattle dealer Karl Levy in a pub in Dillingen.
  8. 3 July 1934 – Insult of the traveler Rosa Levy as a “dirty Polish Jew” in Nalbach.
  9. 2 October 1934 – Untrue claim in the “Volksstimme” (voice of the people) number 215 concerning damage to graves at the Israelite cemetery in Diefflen[32]. The article in the Nazi-newspaper “Saardeutsche Volksstimme” about Cemetery Treatment in Diefflen was taken from the air. But among the people it left an impression of general hatred for the Jews.

These examples from the three towns, Dillingen, Diefflen and Nalbach – only a few have been singled out – characterize the situation. I am convinced that even these few examples suffice. But behind the culprits there certainly stands the machinery of power which systematically promotes the persecution of Jews.

From all levels of the Saarland populace many were also caught in the wave of anti-Semitism already before the plebiscite. So, many cases were half heartedly processed by the police and by the authorities. They sometimes remained at a distance. In such cases the populace, those not infected by the poison of Jew-hatred and prejudice, were bypassed, were pushed aside and were silent. Already at that time the Nazis tried to push them out of the way where ever possible.

The administration probably tried to protect the Jews. Already in March 1933 – two years before the reunification – they ordered that Jewish businesses were until further notice under police surveillance. But this did not break the anti-Semitic wave. It is difficult to determine whether the majority of the populace was aware of these events and of their extent. Prior to 1935 people were primarily concerned with the return to the “Reich.” The Jewish people of Saarland also considered themselves German and mostly voted in favor of Germany. Even if a person was racially defamed, he was still able to value being German. Thus the year 1935 was a turning point in the history of the Jews of Saarland.

In fact there was one year of grace after the plebiscite. An agreement of the League of Nations with the German government came into being, due to the pressure of a number of states. The so-called “Resolution of Rome” of 1934 ensured for the Jews of Saarland that no restrictions whatsoever would be allowed on account of their race, language or religion. They could sell their property and take the proceeds with them out of the country without hindrance. The resolution was nevertheless limited until the end of February, 1936[33]. The short time to cope with the extensive preparations pressed on in a hurry. Nevertheless the Resolution of Rome paved the way to emigration for the Jews of Saarland under relatively favorable conditions in comparison to the Jews in the “Reich.” The majority of Jews from Dillingen also took advantage of this.

The Dillingen municipality recorded 129 persons who left under the title “Political emigrants.” An act of political snooping is hidden behind this term. It covers not only Jews but also other emigrants. According to the census of 25 June 1935 there were still 81 believing Jews living in Dillingen[34]. Analysis of the population registers yields the following summary of the emigration:

1933/1934 20 persons departed
1935 54 persons departed
1936-1939 28 persons departed
It is not certain if these data are accurate because not all cards were filled out in an orderly manner. Almost all the Jewish families from Dillingen emigrated to Luxembourg, France or Belgium. Of the ten Jewish residents of Diefflen only four emigrated. Ten of the 24 Jews of Nalbach left their hometown before and after 1935. (Date of validity 16.6.1933).

Although the Jews of Saarland could dispose of their property, and up till 1936 were exempt from the federal export tax, they had to take into account heavy losses in their careers. Regarding the sale of houses and plots of land, it is difficult to evaluate today if they were able to ask for normal prices of the day.

Ask yourself urgently: were the early refugees, who escaped the persecution up till 1940 in defeated France the least protected against material poverty? Could the aged and elderly (whose homes were still comfortable, with business and with employer cooperating, who practiced their occupations in the course of the first wave of refugees) set up a new business and practice their accustomed occupation? Where would they find a home if they could not take shelter with relatives? How long would they be able to live off their savings?

It seems to me: aged and elderly Jews apply to the emigration office of their home community for a certificate of residence to attest to their German nationality. With this certificate they could expect a measure of security. An anecdote follows from this: A certain Levy family lived at 44 Kaiser Wilhelm Street, the present day Johannes Street. Three unmarried siblings emigrated to Metz in 1935/1936. In December 1938 the communal authority issued a residence certificate, limited for one year, to each of them. We observe the age of the siblings at this point. The unemployed Eva was 67 years old. The small animal dealer, Josef Hermann Levy did not succeed in building a new livelihood. He was 65 years old. Gottfried Levy, age 63 years, could no longer practice his profession as a clerk at law. The aged, and all poor Jews scraping along on social benefits, could not afford the leap overseas, or would not dare on account of their age.

Why did the majority of emigrants prefer such nearby places as Freisdorf, Busendorf, Stiring-Wendel, Saargemünd, St. Avold, Forbach, Metz or even Luxemburg? Did they hope or even believe that the whole political fuss would soon come to an end and that they could return to their home-town and ordinary routine? For sure, they believed that on the other side of the borders of the Reich, they could escape from the menacing danger of the National Socialist Jewish policies. As early as 1935, only two families and one woman from Dillingen emigrated overseas and to Palestine. The fruit and vegetable dealer Salomon Marx emigrated with his family to San Pietro die Morabio, presumably a region in a South American state [San Pietro di Morubio is a commune in Italy, near Venice – translator]. A few days before the referendum, the family of the trader Heinrich Maier, with two daughters, moved to Palestine; he had a leather business. Auguste Levy emigrated to the USA. In 1938 Heinrich Mängen emigrated to Brooklyn in the USA.

In 1985 Willi Grandmontagne reported in detail about the fate of the Diefflen family Weiler: After the war he held a series of meetings with this family in Diefflen and in the USA. His information is very informative. The siblings Fritz and Else, of the Moses Weiler family, succeeded in their flight to Chicago USA after a short stay in Luxembourg in 1936/37. The parents had to begin their path with the deportation to France in 1940. Against great difficulties and after the payment of a sum of 1200 dollars, the son arranged that the parents could travel to the States.

Except for a few, those remaining behind were elderly. The youngest in Nalbach was Lore Korschelnik, ten years old in 1935. In 1940 she traveled to Berlin. She was deported to a camp in Riga and remains lost without trace. The three daughters of the trader Joseph Hanau from Dillingen were at that time: Marga aged 9, Lore aged 10 and Gertrud 14 years old. The three sisters appear in the book of remembrance “Victims of the Persecution” under the category missing without trace, Auschwitz. I was unable to discover where and when they were deported. Hannelore and Hans, the children of the trader Julius Alexander, were 9 and 7 years old.

Despite the departure of the Romans, and since protection was guaranteed to the minorities, the anti-Semitic propaganda was limited, but the activities were carried out on a broader basis. In September, 1935 the new Saarland government informed the school councils, the district councils of the Saarland and the mayor of Saarbrücken as follows: from the academic year 1936 all the school-related clauses of the race-regulations must be implemented for school-children[35]. In Dillingen and Nalbach this decree affected three school-going children, who from 1936 could attend only the Jewish community school in Saarbrücken.

From March 1936 the Jews who still remained in the Saarland were subjected to the anti-Jewish Nuremberg laws. The kernel was formed by the Reich citizenship law and the law for the protection of German blood and honor. This pair of laws provided a basis for a variety of regulations and decrees which restricted the Jews politically, economically and commercially more and more in the years that followed. Their lives were really not worth living. What was inflicted on them every year is seldom passed on to the remaining population. They are poorly informed about it to this very day. A large segment is openly unwilling to allow itself to be informed about it. In this respect I am not thinking about the so-called Kristallnacht, the deportation and the final solution, but about the continuing harassment that the Jewish co-citizens were subjected to, not only by the authorities, so long as they were on German soil or in German administered lands.

The Reichsbürger law stipulated that only a person of Arian blood was a citizen of the Reich. Through an addition to the law, citizens of the Reich were the sole bearers of political rights after proclamation of the law; non-Arians could be left without legal rights after proclamation of the law. At once it resulted in the dismissal of all officials who were still employed in the service of the state. Jews could no longer vote. Certificates of Jewish doctors were withdrawn. Jewish lawyers could no longer practice their profession. From 1 January 1939 all Jews had to adopt the first name “Sara” or “Israel.” With that they were required to wear the Jewish star as a visible identification. Finally, driving licenses were rescinded. Radios, typewriters, bicycles and cameras were confiscated. Curfews were imposed in summer from 21:00, in winter from 20:00.

The law for the protection of German blood and honor forbade marriage or a relationship between an Aryan and a non-Aryan partner; Aryan women could be employed in a Jewish household starting from age 45. In Saint Wendel the Jewess Erna Berl stood before a court of law and was punished. While she was ill, two sales-women helped out in her household.

The measures worked especially to the detriment of the Jews who were shut out of the economic life. It began with the boycott of Jewish businesses in 1933 and reached a high point in 1938 after the events of the so-called Kristallnacht when the Jews were held responsible for the resulting damage and made to pay the sum of 1.25 billion reich-marks as a consequence. In the same year Jewish real-estate and capital in the Saarland were dissolved by the government. Concerning this, the district economic adviser of that time, W. Bösing, published the following in the newspaper “Saar-Grenzwacht” on 12 November 1938: the conclusions of the case (he referred to the murder by to the Jew Grünspan) were drawn irresponsibly and could only stand if the Jewish property was now transferred immediately to German hands.

In the Nalbach community, possession should be taken of Jewish agricultural land. From the above one understands that the Jews were required to vacate their property. In these cases, if it went to the enrichment of supposedly Aryans, one had no objection to dealing with Jews. In Dillingen 20 to 21 hectares of meadowland on the Saar were scheduled for a new housing development[36]. For the event, acquisition or liquidation of Jewish property, at that time one used the term “Aryanization” or “de-jewification”. Jewish land was “de-jewified”. It strikes me, how strongly and how often the rulers of those years used the German language to express power.

Through the various decrees the Jews were forced into a ghetto-like existence. They saw no possibility to practice a profession and to earn a living in a normal manner. This also led to the impoverishment of the local Jews. Together with this came social isolation which often led to extreme loneliness since the families became ever smaller because members emigrated. The Dillingen community, which still numbered 81 Members in June 1935, shrank to 28 persons by the end of the year 1935. A bitter consequence resulted for the Dillingen synagogue community which became so small: in September 1935 the representative council unanimously applied for the dissolution of the community – after an existence of merely six years. The dissolution starts with the following written statement: Due to the departure of many of its families, the dissolving community

The ownership rights of the synagogue and its grounds were transferred to the Prussian lands association of the Jewish community of Berlin. The fate of the synagogue came to pass three years later. Nathan Posamentier signed as chairman of the petition. As witnessed by the citizen-notary-officer Nicola of Dillingen, we declare before the district administration, that the representative council has dissolved itself with only eleven eligible voters still living in Dillingen. And at the end of December, only six souls remained, due to further emigration. The chairman Posamentier also emigrated. Only six persons signed the petition for the dissolution. They were: Adolf Lipper, Albert Emanuel, Benny Levy, Ludwig Salomon, Isaak Levy. The written statement of the community-elders ends: The synagogue community of Dillingen is herewith dissolved.[37]

With that the history of the Dillingen synagogue community found an end, but not so for the history of the few Jews, who still lived in Dillingen and the others, who had emigrated. The fate of the last representatives of the community was recorded. The chairman N. Posamentier moved with his wife Klara and then 21 year old daughter Lieselotte to Saarbrücken. In the memorial book of the victims of the persecution he appears in the section Missing without trace, Auschwitz[38]. The eldest daughter Hertha survived the war. According to information from Ms. Paula Karrenbauer, North Alley, she was married and lived in Holland.

Adolf Lipper, called “Polish” in the registration cards, possessed a permit for residence in Germany only until 29 February 1936. In the register it states that he moved to Paris on 5 August 1936 without documents. The expression “without documents” or “departed” is found many times for Jewish persons, with the date of departure and new place of residence. In this way the departed could be supervised later on. According to the information from Ms. Karrenbauer, Adolf Lipper died of a heart attack in Paris. She had no information concerning his wife, Judith, born Birkenfeld, who emigrated to Busendorf already in December 1935. The Lipper family possessed the “Herz” shoe store in Hüttenwerk street.

Albert Emanuel moved to Paris with his wife Johanna, born Alkan, and daughter Helga. He came to the end of his life in the Majdanek/Lublin camp. The master-tailor Benny Levy, known as “the red Jew”, emigrated from Johannes Street to Forbach with his wife Berta, born Mayer. They died in the course of emigration. The four children, Rosa, Ida, Arthur and Elfriede, who survived, moved earlier than their parents to France. The cattle-dealer dealt not only in small cattle; he also slaughtered cattle for the farmers in the villages. He was, especially in Pachten, a well known and loved person[39]. The businessman Ludwig Salomon emigrated in 1935 to Nyons. The population register provides the date of his death as 4 June 1944.

The Nalbach Jewish community was not a legally constituted synagogue community. There was no need for agreement of the state to dissolve it. On 27 February 1937 the citizen-registrar of Nalbach wrote to the distict council: The synagogue in Nalbach, and the plot of land of 344 square meters on which the same was built, are … registered in the name of Bonn Moses, businessman and joint owner… – Other cultural property is not owned by the Jews of Nalbach and Diefflen. It was important for the authorities to know the size of Jewish properties in the community.

One also discriminated against supposedly Arian Germans, if for example they worked for Jews. Alfons Welsch of Pachten received his trade certificate in 1934. After 1935 this certificate was no longer recognized, because he learned his craft from the Jewish master-tailor Benny Levy. It already affected one during apprenticeship in trade-school.

We learn as well, that in February 1937 some 15 members of the Israelite religious community still lived in Nalbach and Diefflen. According to the data of the population register, 23 Jews still lived in Dillingen. After a statistic of the Nalbach community-management published in 1961, in February 1937 there were still 10 persons in Nalbach and 8 in Diefflen.

The year 1938 was a singularly high point in Jewish persecution. The 17 year old Polish Jew Grynspan shot dead the German diplomat Rath in Paris. Grynspan had been informed through a letter from his sister about the deportation of his family and the dreadful accompanying conditions. The act of desperation of the young man was the immediate cause of the organization of a wave of persecution in Germany. That began on the night of 9/10 November, the so-called Kristallnacht. The riots against the Jews were represented in the Nazi press as if they were spontaneous outbursts of popular rage. The following memorandum, for example, proves that this was not so: Chief storm-troop-commander Rossel reported on 10 Nov. 1938 at 9:15 AM: Tonight the synagogue in Saarbrücken was set on fire, while the synagogues in Dillingen, Merzig, Saarlautern, Saarwellingen and Brotdorf were destroyed. The Jews were taken into protective custody. The fire brigades were engaged in fire fighting. In the Standard 174 area all the synagogues were destroyed.[40]

The Standard 174 includes the Ottweiler and St. Wendel districts. The report contains the considerable events of that night, that were ordered by the highest party leadership in Munich. The obedient henchmen in the cities and towns then went into action. The precise report of Rossel reveals which actions were ordered from above. The extent and the violence of the attacks against Jewish persons and their property depended to a large extent on the commanders who were delegated to the suburbs.

Descriptions show that in many places genuine Jew-hatred expressed itself in sadistic rioting. Lehnert (1968 Page 350) reported what played itself out in Dillingen: On this night the synagogue went up in flames, equipment and religious objects were desecrated, Jewish homes were smashed by gangs of unscrupulous rampaging crowds of people, furniture, clothes etc., even a piano were thrown onto the streets, and the helpless people within were ill-treated on top of that. The police and fire brigades did not lift a hand to stop the tyranny. Lehnert drew up this report 20 years ago. At that time many Dillinger residents were still alive, with whom the local citizen Lehnert could inform himself about the events. Whatever he wrote is certainly authentic. He described (see Page 642) the destructive action at the Jewish cemetery: … The entrance gateway with the adjoining hall was … destroyed, Hebrew bibles were torn up and their pages were scattered over a wide area and many gravestones were overturned. It is not clear if the desecration of the cemetery took place on Kristallnacht. Lehnert gives the time-frame as “after 1935 …”. The manner of the destruction indicates a one-time action which was typical of that night.

In her written report, Maria Schlaegel of Heiligenberg street describes an encounter with a victim of Kristallnacht. The young midwife was on her way to the hospital at 6 AM to perform her duties. There she met the businessman Siegfried Alkan who had a shop for musical instruments in Johannes street. Blood streamed over his forehead and face. Horrified, I asked him: “Mr. Alkan what happened to you?&# 148; … “Oh what they have done to me! They hit me, they wrecked everything. They threw the piano on the street.” … he cried. The midwife wanted to take the thoroughly beaten man to the hospital where his wounds could be treated. “They will not help me.” he said. He refused to go with her, as she alluded to the nurses in the hospital. The eighty year old man had lost all faith in Christian help and was going further in the direction of the synagogue. Ms. Schlaegel knew nothing that morning about the onslaught on the synagogue. The unmarried Siegfried Alkan remained in Dillingen. In the register of the population-authorities the name “Israel” was appended to the name given to him at birth. This means that he still lived in Dillingen in 1939. His subsequent fate is unknown[41].

In almost all towns and cities of the Saar district there were units of the SA, which not only organized the attacks, but also were the main perpetrators. One SA man from Dillingen – who for a long time rented a furnished apartment in the house of Lion Levy – boasted to a family well known to him, about what he had done on that night in the home of the Levys. The lady of the house told him of her outrage at his viewpoint and explained to him unambiguously that he could enter her house no more.[42]

These examples stand for a terrible, person-hating brutality, but they also indicate the occasional humane behavior of people at that time. A Nalbach citizen[43] told me, his grandfather had opposed two young local SA-men when they wanted to enter the house of the neighbors, where a Jewish family lived. He threatened them with a dung-rake and they moved away. Afterwards, the grandfather removed the picture of Hitler from the wall of the living room, while saying that from now on there is no place for it in his house.[43]

This leads to the insight that in many towns, where one could allow oneself, resistance of a similar kind could certainly have prevented a series of riots. But the Nazi propaganda – accompanied by violent gatherings, which had already been common-place in the Saarland for several years – generated a kind of anxiety psychosis in the population that was opposed to the system. No one was prepared to stand with the suffering brothers. The fist in the pocket and debate within the family remained as the means of opposition. On looking back, the events of the so-called Kristallnacht were the definitive test to evaluate how much one held the population in hand and how far one could go. For the holders of power, the results were a writ of freedom to enact new anti-Semitic regulations and with them to aggressively escalate the persecution of the Jews.

In Nalbach the synagogue did not go up in flames; apparently because of the danger that the houses of the neighbors, which were built adjoining it, would likewise fall victim to the flames. The activists smashed the windows and demolished the furnishings and the cultural equipment.

Jewish men were arrested for various lengths of time. Moses Weiler of Diefflen was taken to Dachau like most of the men. He was released to freedom after four weeks[44]. Did his service in the first world war play a role? He earned an iron cross grade I and grade II for his bravery and for sustaining severe wounds. But in 1940 when he was deported to southern France with his wife, no one asked anymore about his patriotic service.

There are also cases of freedom with no further consequences. I determined from the registration cards some 14 persons in Dillingen who experienced the so called Kristallnacht. In that group were two married couples as well as the Alexander family with four persons. There were eight persons in Nalbach and six persons in Diefflen. The numbers were then about two less than the count in 1937.

How did the local press react to the ninth November 1938? The “Saargrenzwacht” carried an article on 11 November about the events in our home town: It came there, where Jews still lived, as a result of the cowardly bloody deed of the Jew Grünspan … to incite the acts of revenge of the enraged groups of people. Thus, in Dillingen the synagogue went up in flames and other Jewish houses and apartments were demolished.

The article goes to the extreme in that there is no word about maltreatment of Jewish citizens or the taking of the men into custody. It hushes up what occurred in other Saarland cities and towns. The following publication in the month of November contains no concrete information about that which happened in our home town. The on-going systematic Jew-baiting of the “Saargrenzwacht” provides only the slogans that the system prescribes for it.

The following extract in an article of 18 November shows how frightfully the then press censorship affected journalism. It is a reply to an English newspaper report: The report therein, that a few synagogues in Germany were set on fire and a few display-windows were broken by an angry crowd, fills one with outrage.

The concept of world Jewry was presented to the German people as a danger of a threatening war brought on by the Jewish people of the whole world. This was the best cover for their own preparation for war. On the other hand, the damages caused by the SA were played down.

At the meetings of the Dillingen Nazi party, the Judas demon was called up repeatedly from then on. Concerning this, the “Saargrenzwacht” reported on 22 May 1939, that almost 250 mothers had gathered in the Dillingen flute-hall, to rescind the decorations worn by honored persons. In a clear well-aimed explanation the party comrade N. defined the position of mothers in the life of the nation… Thanks to the struggle of the Führer, the time was past, in which the foreign Judaism wanted to destroy the German people over the mothers. One asks oneself if on such occasions there was not a little secret disagreement.

The businessman Kuno Selinger was deported on 28 October 1938 – even before the events of Kristallnacht – with his family. His family was a victim of the first mass transfer of Polish Jews to the East. His origin was that of an East-German, born in a region that was annexed to Poland after the First World War. Henceforth, this became a reason to deny him rights of residence. In the writings of the Saarbrücken Police-chief to the district council of Saarlouis stands the decisive sentence: The denial of rights was carried out through deportation of Selinger by means of transport to the border of the Reich …[45]

The year 1939 was a disaster for many Saarland Jews. Due to the outbreak of war in September of that year, the whole population of the border zone, the so-called red-zone, was evacuated to inner Germany.

Six members of the Weiler family, who still lived in Dillingen in 1939, were evacuated with the population and returned in 1940. In Dillingen, the evacuation of Jews did not proceed in the same ways. Several citizens confirmed for me, including Ms. Käthe Riehn, that the Jews were evacuated separately from the population. It remains in darkness, who was responsible for these measures. The register cards say that in 1939 seven Jewish citizens still lived in Dillingen. With certainty the married couple Maximillian Levy and wife Bella, born Samuel, with their 14 year-old daughter Helga, were among these. Also the married couple Lion Levy and wife Johanna born Feist had their home in Dillingen, as well as the unmarried businessman Siegfried Alkan and the day-laborer Josef Hanau.

A return for the last Jews of Dillingen was not to be, since their names do not appear on the lists of those deported to southern France in 1940. But in the book of remembrance to the victims (1986) all were recorded up to Johanna Levy born Feist. The evacuation was the way of deportation. Since September 1939, no more Jews lived in Dillingen.

An elderly Jewess was warmly received by the inmates of a home for the aged. She lived there up till the evacuation. In 1939 she was taken at night in uniform. She spent the night on the railway platform. In the morning she tried to go home under guard to get some warm clothing. She disappeared at the Dillingen train station. This instance, whose authenticity is vouched for by the then matron of the home for the aged[46], shows unambiguously that the evacuation of the Jews proceeded by different rules than for the other population. The final stroke against the Saarland Jews, who did not leave the land and who survived the evacuation, followed in 1940. The first and also the largest mass deportation of German Jews from the Saar-Pfalz administrative region encompassed 1150 people and about 6300 from Baden.[47] After the defeat of France, an agreement was drawn up between the armistice commission and the French delegation: All Jews of French nationality out of Alsace and Lorrain should be deported to unoccupied France.

Both directors of the administrative regions Bürkel (Saar-Pfalz) and Wagner (Baden), who were also the Reich governors of Lorrain and Alsace respectively, organized the action which took place in July 1940. Von Bürkel and Wagner took the additional initiative to deport the Jews from the German administrative regions to Southern France. The following document shows that Hitler stood behind the undertaking. On order of the Führer, all Jews from the Saar-Pfalz and Baden administrative regions were deported in new special trains to unoccupied France by the 22nd and 23rd of October…The action proceeded without friction.[48]

We find the names of those who were deported from the Saarland as listed in the reports of the Neustadt Gestapo, which are still preserved.[49]

In 1961 the Nalbach office drew up a list of Jews, that lived in Nalbach and Diefflen in 1933 (qualifying date 6 June). The cancellations were precisely marked with date and new place of residence. For those deported to Gurs, only the year 1940 is given, not day nor month and place. The list is detailed in regard to the number of Diefflen Jews. The list agrees with the data drawn up by Willi Grandmontagne in 1985.

Seven persons were deported from Diefflen:

Weiler, Moses and his wife Paula born Freundlich
Weiler, Therese born Levy
Weiler, Julia and Weiler, Martha, her daughter
Weiler, Samuel
Weiler, Josephine, his daughter

Four persons were deported from Nalbach:

Kahn, Hermann and his wife Lina born Baum and their daughter Kamilla
Bonn, Rosa

With these transports, the Jewish community of Diefflen-Nalbach was finally dissolved. Kamilla Kahn, who survived the war and later became Mrs. Stökler, spoke to me about the arrest and subsequent fate of the family. The family possessed a furniture shop in Nalbach. Of the three children, the daughter Else was married to Sötern. The family was deported and perished with the children. The brother Max emigrated to Brussels. He survived with his family.

The decree for the deportation in 1940 runs thus … all persons of Jewish race, who are fit to travel, must be transported away.[50] Kamilla, 44 jears old at that time, lay in bed with a fever. The house-doctor, who was called to her, refused to issue a certificate that she was not fit to travel. So she was obliged to embark on the journey of the deportation with her parents.

The procedure of the arrest is noteworthy. The relevant officials of the Gestapo and the police were given a page of instructions in advance. It shows German thoroughness in how the instructions are set out:

Before leaving the home the following must be attended to:

  1. Cattle and other live animals (dogs, cats, song-birds) must be handed over to the official in charge, the local farm supervisor or another suitable person in return for a receipt.
  2. Perishable foodstuffs must be placed at the NSV for distribution.
  3. Open fires must be extinguished.
  4. Water and gas lines must be shut of.
  5. Electricity fuses must be unscrewed.
  6. The keys to the home must be tied together with a label marked with the name, town, street and house-number of the owners.
  7. The arrested must – as far a possible – be searched for weapons, ammunition, poison, foreign currency, jewelry and so forth, before being taken away.

The instructions up to 13 take a, b, c, d into more detail. Instruction 13 is blatantly cynical, to one who knows the destination to which the arrested would be obliged to go: It is absolutely essential that the Jews be treated properly upon arrest.[51]

The point of collection of the Jews of Saarland was the plaza of the Saarbrücken castle. Those, who still possessed assets, had to sign before a Notary a legal document ceding their property to the state. In a school in Forbach they were humiliated further, by undergoing a search for money and jewelry. After three days of rail travel in over-loaded cattle wagons, 6000 people from Saarpfalz and Baden were expelled to the already over-filled camp of Gurs at the foot of the Pyrenees. Nearly 4000 German citizens, mostly Jews, were already interned here. They were put to flight for the second time before the German invasion of France, Holland and Belgium. In 1940 a total of 14000 people lived, or rather eked out a meager existence, in this camp.

The intolerable conditions lead to the death of many victims. Hermann Kahn lived for only three weeks after the transport. His wife Karoline died following a brief stay in another French camp in a hospital in Toulouse. Rosa Bonn, from Nalbach, was registered in the Gurs camp until 19 March 1942. From this point on she disappeared. The elder members of the Weiler family died in the French camps, Therese Weiler born Levy died 1943 in Dryney; Samuel Weiler in Gurs.

For the younger inmates, Gurs was an intermediate station to the death camps in the East. At the Wannsee conference in January 1942, the so-called final solution was decided at the highest level. The deportation of Jews from France to the annihilation camps began in August 1942. The sisters Julia and Marth Weiler and their cousin Josefine came to Auschwitz. Kamilla Kahn was taken to the Majdanek camp. She, together with five other women from Saarland, lived through the liberation of the camp by the Americans. For health reasons she would not have been able to survive the life in the camp much longer, because she was completely emaciated. After a short stay in Nalbach and Saarbrücken she emigrated to Bolivia, where she lived for 11 years. After the war she married the Hungarian Jew Stökler. Following his death she returned to her home-town. Frau Stökler died at age 91 in 1987 and was interred at the Jewish cemetery. Her stepson, from the marriage with the widower Stökler, came from Florida to take part in the funeral. Apart from Kamilla Kahn, only the couple Moses Weiler and Paula, born Freundlich, survived the deportation of 1940.

It remains to report how the destiny of the emigrants to the borderlands evolved, if they were unable to flee before the invasion of the Germans. The instance of one family from Dillingen serves as a typical illustration of the fate of many Jewish emigrants. The broker Hermann Levy lived in Weinlig street. In Dillingen and the surroundings everyone knew him by his nickname “Heimchen”; his grandfather's mother was born as a Heim. For the lower-class people of Dillingen he was the money-lender. In 1935 he emigrated to Busendorf with his mother Sara, born Voß, three sisters and his fiance Emma Elgaß from Pachten. The Odyssee of the family through France began after the invasion of the Germans. Hermann Levy registered himself reluctantly. The women repeatedly changed residence between Paris and Toulouse. Even in unoccupied France there was no security for Jews. They found shelter in vicarages and with families. They lived to the end only in concealment. The hunt came to rest only after the invasion of the Americans. “Heimchen” also survived. After the marriage, Hermann Levy settled down in Metz. He died in 1962 and was interred at the Jewish cemetery. Ms. Emma Levy lives in Saarlouis.[52]

The Jewish physician, Dr. Paul Kuhn, emigrated likewise to Busendorf. Citizens of Dillingen informed me that Kuhn often treated destitute patients without charge. Jewish physicians frequently distinguished themselves with similar philanthropic acts. However, the fate of this physician was deportation and death in the annihilation camp Majdanek.

The following list gives an overview of the victims in Dillingen, Diefflen and Nalbach. It rests on the data of the memorial books published by the Federal archives of Koblenz. I supplemented it with information from the population register of the Dillingen town council and statements from Käthe Riehn. About 50 Jews, from the three districts under consideration, became victims of the Nazi racial delusions in 1940. The Kuno Selinger family has not been taken into account. It is not clear to me how large this family was. To the attempted genocide corresponds that whole families were murdered. In my consideration, this holds for the families Maximilian Levy, Adolf Hoffmann and Bernard Weiler.

Today Jews no longer live in Dillingen, Diefflen and Nalbach. It is true that a few elderly survivors of the Holocaust returned; though they have died in the mean time. Descendents live overseas and in Israel.

Nazi victims among the Jews of Dillingen

Alkan, Siegfried 30.03.1858 Vanished Unknown place
Alkan, Adolf 20.05.1877 20.05.1944 Theresienstadt
Birnbaum, Maximillian 02.05.1916 26.08.1942 Auschwitz
Birnbaum, Moritz 24.08.1908 26.08.1942 Auschwitz
Cahn, Alice born Gans (wife) 22.02.1909 26.08.1942 Ravensbrück
Cahn, Paul (husband) 02.03.1897 26.08.1942 Majdanek-Lublin
Emanuel, Albert 13.12.1889 Death confirmed Majdanek-Lublin
Hanau, Josef 04.09.1883 Vanished Auschwitz
Hanau, Gertrude (sisters) 15.09.1921 Vanished Auschwitz
Hanau, Lore (sisters) 11.03.1925 Vanished Auschwitz
Hanau, Marge (sisters) 04.04.1926 Vanished Auschwitz
Hoffmann, Hildegard born Loew (mother) 17.03.1879 31.05.1943 Auschwitz
Hoffmann, Ludwig (son) 20.10.1903 31.12.1943 Auschwitz
Samson, Carla born Hoffmann (wife) ?.?.1906    31.01.1944 Unknown place
Samson, Josef 17.12.1900 31.01.1944 Unknown place
Kahn, Siegmund 22.02.1894 14.12.1944 Dachau
Levy, Benjamin (husband) 06.04.1871 Disappeared Auschwitz
Levy, Auguste born Alkan (wife) 21.11.1878 Disappeared Auschwitz
Levy, Max (father) 22.11.1888 Death confirmed Auschwitz
Levy, Bella born Samuel (mother) 25.09.1881 Death confirmed Auschwitz
Levy, Helga (daughter) 18.02.1924 Death confirmed Auschwitz
Levy, Lion (father) 10.03.1865 Disappeared Auschwitz
Levy, Elfriede (daughter)
(after information from Käthe Riehn,
Elfriede L. was murdered with her son)
03.05.1897 Disappeared Unknown place
Levy, Elfriede 19.08.1908 Death confirmed Auschwitz
Mühlstein, Moses (husband) 21.09.1877 04.10.1946 [?] Auschwitz
Mühlstein, Cäcilie born Berl (wife) 25.11.1876 08.03.1943 Theresienstadt
Posamentier, Nathan (father) 23.08.1881 Disappeared Auschwitz
Posamentier, Klara born Glaser (mother) 27.09.1879 Disappeared Auschwitz
Posamentier, Lieselotte (daughter) 02.08.1914 Disappeared Auschwitz

Nazi victims among the Jews of Nalbach

Baum, Fanni 01.01.1857 Disappeared Auschwitz
Bonn, Rosa 18.09.1887 Disappeared Gurs
Hanau, Charlotte born Wolff (wife) 26.07.1877 Disappeared Auschwitz
Hanau, Simon (husband) 31.12.1878 Disappeared Auschwitz
Hirsch, Meta 28.08.1906 Disappeared Auschwitz
Kahn, Hermann (husband) 28.09.1864 14.11.1940 Gurs
Kahn, Karoline born Baum (wife) 25.11.1864 02.06.1941 Récébédou
Korschelnik, Lore 18.06.1925 Disappeared Auschwitz
Metzler, Therese born Levy 13.08.1908 Disappeared Auschwitz
Rahovsky, Max-Markus 15.10.1893 Death confirmed Sobibor
Wolff, Eugen 07.05.1897 Death confirmed Auschwitz

Nazi victims among the Jews of Diefflen

Freundlich, Leonie 12.03.1890 Disappeared Place unknown
Weiler, Samuel (father) 28.11.1855 Disappeared Gurs
Weiler, Josefine (daughter) 12.12.1889 12.08.1942 Auschwitz
Weiler, Theresia born Levy (mother) 01.04.1857 05.04.1943 Drancy
Weiler, Julia (daughter) 01.08.1887 12.08.1942 Auschwitz
Weiler, Martha (daughter) 24.02.1899 12.08.1942 Auschwitz
Weiler, Moritz (son)
(after information from Käthe Riehn Moritz W. with wife and daughter were shot by the Nazis)
? ?  

  1. see Herrmann 1974, P. 267 return
  2. as above P. 316 return
  3. see Paul 1984, P. 145 return
  4. as above P. 142 return
  5. see Zimmer 1982, P. 1451. return
  6. see Herrmann 1974, P. 381. return
  7. see Knopp 1975, P. 161. return
  8. see Herrmann 1974, P. 395. return
  9. as above P. 456. return
  10. as above P. 405. return
  11. see Memorial book 1986, P. 1164. return
  12. Gretel Fischer-Becker, the spokeswoman of Pachten, dedicated a poem in the Pachten dialect to his memory. return
  13. see Herrmann 1974, P. 452. return
  14. see Memorial book 1986, P. 1652. return
  15. after a statement by Käthe Riehn, born Fellinger. return
  16. Hans Klein, Nalbach. return
  17. see Grandmontagne 1985, P. 65. return
  18. see Herrmann 1974 No. 109. Compare with the placard of Gretel Fischer-Becker as well as the portrayal in the 1981 contribution of the preacher in the pages of this volume. return
  19. after a suggestion by Gretel Fischer-Becker. return
  20. see Herrmann 1974, P. 285. return
  21. as above Nr. 126. return
  22. see Rudnick 1975. return
  23. see Herrmann 1974, Nr. 125. return
  24. as above Nr. 124. return
  25. after a statement by Gretel Fischer-Becker. return


District archive Saarlouis no. X A: Jüdische Synagogengemeinde Saarlouis (1817-1888)

Various holdings of the archives at the Holy Sacrament church, Dillingen, the city administration of Dillingen, the community administration of Nalbach and the community administration of Saarwellingen.

The address register for the residents in the Trier government region 1847.

Documents concerning the history of the Jewish population in Rheinland-Pfalz and in Saarland from 1800 till 1945, edited by the district archive authorities of Rheinland-Pfalz / district archive of Saarbrücken. Koblenz 1972 – 1982 ( = publications of the regional archive authorities Rheinland-Pfalz volume 12 to volume 20).

Volume 1 G.F. Böhn About the legal situation of the Jews in the 18 century.  
  E. Bucher / H.Mathy The Jews during the French period 1789 /1801-1814. Koblenz 1982
Volume 2 M. Willmans The path towards equal rights for the Jews. Koblenz 1979
Volume 3   The Jews in their communal and public lives. Koblenz 1972
Volume 4 Fr.-J. Heyen Enlightenment, equality, reform and self-esteem.  
  K.-H. Debus The relationship of the Jews with the Christian religious communities. Koblenz 1974
Volume 5 W. Knopp Statistical overview through the history of the Jewish population till 1935. Koblenz 1975
Volume 6 H.-W. Hermann Development in the Saarland from 1920 to 1945. Koblenz 1974
Volume 7   Documents of the remembrance. Koblenz 1974
Volume 8 Th. Zimmer (editor) Inventory of the sources for the history of the Jewish population in Rheinland-Pflaz and in the Saarland from 1800/1815 till 1945. Koblenz 1982

Book of remembrance. Victims of the persecution of the Jews under the national socialist tyranny 1933-1945. Koblenz 1986. 2 volumes.


George Baltzer Historical notes about the town Saarlouis and its immediate surroundings. Reprint 1911.
Unknown author The Jewish contribution to our life. The evidence still lives on. Berlin etc. 1965.
Martin Buber The Jews and their Judaism. 1963.
Hans Peter Buchleitner Memorial pages of Saarlouis. Contributions to the history of the town and the district of Saarlouis. Saarlouis 1953.
Georg Colesie A short history of the Nalbach valley (area chronicles), in Our Hometown, 9th year 1984, edition 3 pages 151 – 165.
Georg Colesie A reader's letter about a reader's letter from Willi Grandmontagne, in Our Hometown, 11th year 1986, edition 1 page 56.
Anton Delges The synagogue communities of the Saarlouis district, in: Local history yearbook 1966, pages 323-326.
Nikolaus Fox Saarland peoples history. Reprint Saarbrücken 1979.
Hans Georg Frank The Jewish community in St. Wendel. Research and notes on its history. St. Wendel 1981.
Hans-Walter Herrmann and Kurt Hoppstädter Historical studies of the Saarland region, Volume 1. Saarbrücken 1978.
J.B. Keune Commentary about Dillingen. In the Trier magazine 1935.
Wilhelm Laubenthal The synagogue communities of the Merzig district (1648-1942). Saarbrücken 1984.
Aloys Lehnert History of the town Dillingen/Saar. Dillingen 1968.
Otto Nauhauser The Jewish community in Illingen. Illingen 1980.
Heinrich Nießen History of the Saarlouis district. 2 Volumes. Saarlouis 1893/1897.
Gerhard Paul A German motherland for you. Why Hitler failed to hit the Saar. Köln 1984.
Walter Petto So-called Jews in the economic history of the Saarland at the time of the principality. In Saarheimat 30th year, 1986, from page 266.
Hans Prümm Contributions to the history of the Saar area. Dillingen 1912.
Lothar Rotschild Fate of the Jews on the Saar. Through the history of the Jewish population of Saarbrücken. In the Journal for the history of the Saar area 19th year, 1971, pages 249-264.
Heinrich Rudnick Research on the various fates of Jews from the Saarland who were sent to Gurs on 22 October 1940 and those wearing “Jew-Stars” in Saarland. In Yearbook for the history of the West-German lands, volume 1, 1975, pages 337-372.
Philipp Schmitt Dillingen and its inhabitants before the French Revolution. In Treveris 3rd year, 1836, Number 14.
Heinrich von Selasinsky Statistical presentation of the Saarlouis region and community report for 1859-1861. Saarlouis 1863.

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