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 thirty-three (33) 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-nine (39) members and relatives 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.
The Family of Samuel & 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. The name of Julius Schloss was engraved on the memorial in Sondheim vor der Rhön in the cemetery across from the home where parents, Samuel & Philippine Schloss lived. Courtesty: Elisabeth Böhrer, Sondheim v.d.Rhön
- Hermann Stern, b. 1891 in 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, and living in Dresden, was 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 & (1) Minna and (2) Josephine GRÜNBAUM
- Otto Schloss, brother of Klara Grünbaum (née Schloss), b. 1879 Schwanfeld, was killed on 26 November 1916.
- Son Karl Grünbaum, b. 1876 in Themar, served in the war.
The Family of Samuel & Blümche, née Lippmann, HOFMANN
- Grandson Salomon Hofmann was born in Themar in 1869, the son of Lippmann & Frederick/Frädel (née Sachs).
The Family of Josef & Hulda KAHN, née Walther
- Son Leonhard Kahn, b. 12 Oktober 1890 in Themar, was killed on 30 Oktober 1914 [place unknown]
- Son Friedrich Daniel Kahn, b. 8.10.94 in Themar, was killed on 02 Oktober 1914 [place unknown]
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.
- 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.
- Relative 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 in Schnaittach, served in the war between 1917 and November 1918.
- Son-in-law Heinrich Wolf, husband of Frieda, b. 14 Feb 1882 in Sulzbürg, was killed on 01 Oktober 1915. After his death, Frieda moved with their two children, Flora and Albert, to Themar to join her parents, Meier and Karoline Mayer, and her sister, Nanett Levinstein.
- Son-in-law Moritz Levinstein, husband of Nanett, b.17 Nov 1884 in Sontra, served in the army.
- 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, Max, and Frieda Steindler
- Relatives of Pauline Müller, née Steindler, included brothers Leopold and Max Steindler, cousins Fritz Schwager, Albert Schwager, and Leopold Schwager.
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 (see image at top). 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.
On 9 November 1918, the First World War ended. Themar honoured its dead in this elaborate war memorial. Behind it stood Villa Wolf (upper right hand corner of card), 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.
The names of the two dead sons of Josef & Hulda Kahn — Friedrich Daniel and Leonhard — were engraved in the memorial. 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 Friedhofskirche
“‘Große deutsche Patrioten’: Jüdische Soldaten im Ersten Weltkrieg,” SpiegelOnline, 29.06.2014
Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; München; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv. Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume: 5401. Kriegsstammrolle: Bd.G and other volumes, available through Ancestry.com, provide full detail of the men of Bavaria who served in the war.