The Holocaust in Beckum


The terror against Jews and their businesses started early in Beckum.  Posters appeared:  Die Juden sind unser Unglück!  (The Jews are our Misfortune).  SA-men in their brown uniforms marched through the streets singing their vulgar songs:  Wenn das Judenblut vom Messer spritzt, geht’s uns noch mal so gut!  (We shall rejoice when Jewish blood will squirt from the knife…)   It is understandable that under such circumstances most Jews did not venture out into the streets.  Even the children were harassed.


Shortly after 1933, three Beckum Jews, unable to face the increasing hatred, chose to put an end to their lives.  They were Albert Falk, Albert Stein and Kurt Windmüller.


At several places in Beckum posters appeared with anti-Jewish messages.  Some local citizens, among them the old Salomon Windmüller, ventured to remove them.   According to a newspaper report (see section Bibliography: b. Newspaper articles), three citizens mentioned by name, one of them a clergyman, (“opponents of the National-Socialist movement and government”) were each sentenced to three weeks imprisonment.   The 73-year-old Jew Salomon Windmüller (see photo on Left) was sentenced to six weeks.  The report stated that the verdict had made it abundantly clear that the National-Socialist state would not be intimidated by anybody, not even by the catholic clergy, and that in future all subversive activities would be severely punished. 

                                                                                        See: Sentence-Original  See: Sentence-Translation


Where the Nazis failed to find support, they spread fear.  The residents of Beckum could see how their Jewish fellow citizens were being harassed and how their livelihoods were destroyed.  They became concerned for their own safety.  Those of them who continued to associate with Jews, were mocked with Judenfreund  (Jew lover).  Very few dared to visit Jewish families to render them comfort.   Here the name of Mrs Hilde Wieler, Südstrasse, deserves mention.


Shortly before the Kristallnacht  the Terhoch family left Beckum for Wiesbaden.   In Beckum  the Kristallnacht began late in the evening of 9 November 1938, at about 10:30 pm.  It started at the lower end of the Nordstrasse, where the Synagogue and the school were demolished, as well as the apartment of the teacher. Windows and doors were smashed.  SA and SS-men, most of them not in uniform, entered the building. Everything inside the building was smashed and thrown out into the street.  The old teacher Fuld and his wife were beaten and chased into the street.  Then also the Synagogue was devastated.  They did not even relent before the Thora  scrolls…


The mob proceeded to the house of Falk where the 81-year-old Alex Falk still lived.  Here too, windows and doors were smashed.  They entered the apartment.  On seeing the destruction, Alex Falk in his nightgown fled in distress to the entrance of the room of a young Christian woman who was managing the nearby “Hill” grocery store.   The fanatic mob caught up with him and beat him relentlessly.  When they left, the old man was dying.  He was taken to Münster that same night, where he died.  Also Regina Nordheim, Alex Falk’s housekeeper, was being mistreated. 


Some residents, terrified and helpless, watched the ongoing madness from their windows.   Also in the old house of the Löhnberg family the mob wrought destruction.   The two old ladies Elfriede Lebenberg and Rieka Löhnberg who lived alone in their house, were chased into the street only scantily dressed.   Harassed by the mob they wandered around aimlessly, crying and wailing…


The house of L. Stein, Senior, opposite the Marienplatz on the Nordstrasse, was similarly devastated.  


73-year-old Josef Stein was beaten badly at his Oststrasse  home, after he had refused to hand over his valuables.   He received treatment that same night, at the Beckum Hospital.   Later, Josef Stein managed to leave Germany to join his son Dr Carl Stein in Palestine, where he died.   Years later, in January 1968, the grandson of Carl Stein, Amnon Paz was one of the victims of the tragic loss of the Israeli submarine "Dakar". There is a plaque in Amnon Paz's memory, on Carl and Edith Stein's tombstone here in Haifa.   And only a few steps from their grave, is the grave of my own parents Jacob (Jack) and Lilly Raphael.


The steadfast Philipp  Windmüller managed to escape with his family to a nearby barn,  from their home at Weststrasse 32. The following morning the Jews were ordered to clear up the rubble in front of their homes. Their fellow-residents were able to observe the extent of the devastation.  In front of the Synagogue they could watch Erich Stein chipping off, with hammer and chisel, the Hebrew lettering above the entrance to the Community Building on the Nordstrasse: 


        For mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people  (Isaiah, 56, 7) 


That same morning the young woman who lived in the Falk house, was led through the town carrying a board: Ich deutsche Frau habe mich mit einem Juden eingelassen!     (I, a German woman, have let myself become entangled with a Jew.) 


The events  had a sequel:  There was an attempt to take legal action against  Ortsgruppenleiter (local party chief) Hugo Scheifhaken.   However, on that same day, by order from highest authority, all investigations by the public prosecutor were transferred to the Gestapo, and thus called off.   This also applied to the investigation into the circumstances of the death of Alex Falk. 


Julius Rose managed to leave for England, and Moritz Fuld and his wife went to the USA.  The last to leave Beckum was Philipp Windmüller with his wife and their two sons.  They went to the USA, via Russia and China.  For a summary of their escape, see: Philipp Windmüller


At that time, Louis Rose was only rarely seen in town.  It was a ghostly sight to watch him walk the streets in his long coat on which the yellow star had been stitched.  He tried to cover it with his briefcase, and wore the Iron Cross…  He lived in the empty Synagogue building, until 1942.  Then they too were sent to a concentration camp and to their death.  That was to become the finale of the long established Jewish Community in Beckum. 


The “Geschichte und Schicksal der Juden zu Beckum” includes lists of Jews that lived in Beckum, or had left Beckum, at various periods.   It also has chapters devoted to the fate of 16 individual Jewish families of Beckum: 


          1.       Alex Falk

          2.       Bruno Heine

          3.       Sally Hertz

          4.       Julius Katz

          5.       Dr Walter Kronenberg

          6.       Josef Osterman

          7.       Hermann Löhnberg

          8.       Jakob Raphael

          9.       Leopold Stein

          10.     Salomon Stein

          11      Josef Stein

          12.     Abraham Terhoch

          13.     Leopold Windmüller

          14.     Philipp Windmüller

          15.     Salomon Windmüller

          16.     The Windmüller family of Beckum


List of Beckum Jews who perished in the Holocaust


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