On January 1 1939, forty-one Jews were still living in Themar where they faced rapidly escalating persecution. Many other Themarerjuden, who had left during the 1920s and 1930s for assorted reasons, such as marriage, economic opportunity, family obligations, faced equally brutal persecution. The possibilities of escape narrowed steadily.
The following chronology links the critical events in the years 1939-1945 to their effect on Jews living in Themar, or upon Themarenjuden living either elsewhere in Germany, or elsewhere in Europe.
- January 1: All Jewish buildings and workplaces are forced to close and sell.All Jewish men are forced to add “Israel” as a middle name; all Jewish women are forced to add “Sara” as a middle name.
- January 24:
By recommendation of Reinhard Heydrich, and by explicit order of Hitler, Hermann Goering establishes a Reich Central Office for Emigration in Germany, headquartered in Berlin. This office is similar to the one that had been established the previous year in Vienna under Adolf Eichmann, to deal with the emigration-and deportation-of Jews. On January 30, Heydrich informs all relevant institutions that the new office would be directed by Heinrich Mueller, chief of the Gestapo.
- January – September:
Themaren Jews continued to emigrate from Germany. A number were able to flee to Shanghai where they lived until the end of WWII. At that time most of the them moved to the United States.
Among those who made it to Shanghai were:
Karl and Recha Müller — Karl was the son of Babette Friedmann Müller and Meier Mayer, who had moved to Themar in the 1860s. He was the younger brother of Max Müller I and of Leopold Müller. He moved to Schleusingen and was the business partner of Oskar Schwab.
Oskar and Frieda Steindler Schwab — Oskar, the son of Abraham and Regina Schwab, had been born and grown up in Themar. His wife, Frieda, was the sister of Paula Steindler Müller, the wife of Leopold Müller and sister-in-law of Max Müller I. She was also sister of Max Steindler.
Paul and Berta Rosengarten and their sons, Manfred and Erich. Berta Rosengarten, daughter of Abraham and Regina Schwab, and born in Themar in 1893, was Oskar Schwab’s sister. Oskar paid for the family’s trip to Shanghai.
The Sachs Family:
Moritz Sachs — a resident of Themar since at least 1905, husband of Klara Katz, who died in 1937, and father of 6 children.
Anna Sachs and her husband, Harry Kleemann: Anna, born 1906 in Themar, was the eldest daughter of Moritz and Klara Katz Sachs. She had married Harry Kleemann in 1930; they lived first in Nordhausen and later moved to Berlin. She and Harry left from Berlin for Shanghai.
Feodor Sachs — b. 1901 in Themar, son of Moritz Sachs.
Louis Sander — Louis’s first wife, Hilda Frankenberg Sander, had died in 1938.
Other Themarens were able to flee to other countries including England and the United States. These included:
Julius Kahn, b. 1896 in Themar, the son of Josef and Hulda Kahn.
Arthur Plaut, b. 1901, Frankenau — the husband of Elly Bär Plaut, b. 1911, Themar.
Robert Sachs, b. 1915 in Themar — the youngest son of Moritz Sachs.
Marion Sander, b. 1923 in Themar — the daughter of Louis and Hilda Sander.
Adalbert Stern, b. 1917 Themar, the son of Hermann and Selma Schloss Bär Stern.
- May 4: All German Jews are to move into buildings or apartments owned by Jews.
It was decreed that the former Themar synagogue would be used to house Jewish families.
- September 1: German troops invade Poland, marking the beginning of World War II.
- September 28:
Themar Jews are forbidden from earning money through trade, rent or any other form of income. They are allowed to have small accounts in the German Bank in Suhl.
21 January 1940 — Norbert Sander, who suffered from epilepsy, is taken from Themar. His departure was noted — #47 in the list below — in the normal manner in the Themar Melderegister and the Sander family had to pay the administrative fee of 20 pfennig. Norbert was murdered in the Hadamar Tötungsanstalt/Killing Facility on 7 February 1941. He was twenty years old.
July 10: Julius Kahn and Adalbert Stern, who have been arrested as “enemy aliens” in Britain, are sent to Australian on the infamous ship, the Dunera. For further information, see:
“Enemy Aliens” & Internment in England
57 Days of Hell — The Voyage of HMT Dunera
City of Themar, Archives
Private Collections, Themar Families.
Das Deutsche Bundesarchiv, Gedenkbuch
Yad Vashem, The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names
Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA.
Nathan Michael Gelber and Stefan Krakowski. Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 3. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. p. 312.
Andrea Neuwierth, Gelsenkirchener Juden Im Nationalsozialismus: Eine Kollektivbiographische Analyse über Verfolgung, Emigration Und Deportation, 2002.
Anne Prior. „Wo die Juden geblieben sind, ist […] nicht bekannt”: Novemberpogrom in Dinslaken 1938 und die Deportation Dinslakener Juden 1941-1944. Essen: Klartext Verlag, 2010.