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COMMEMORATION BOLLENDORF NOVEMBER 9, 1938 - NOVEMBER 9, 2008

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COMMEMORATION 1938-2008
JONATHAN GOLDSCHMIDT: WHAT THE COMMEMORATION IN BOLLENDORF ON NOVEMBER 9 MEANS TO ME
A SHORT HISTORY OF JEWS IN BOLLENDORF
MEMORIES OF BOLLENDORF
BELLA HEPPENHEIMER
MARTHE KRISTELLER
HELEN HERRMANN
DANIEL MAYER
WALLY MAYER
A MAP OF BOLLENDORF
IN MEMORIAM
PHOTOS OF BOLLENDORF, NOVEMBER 2008
STOLPERSTEINE PROJECT

Family and friends gathered in Bollendorf on March 8, 9 and 10 to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, and to install 2 plaques honoring the members of the Bollendorf Jewish Community killed by the Nazis between 1938 and 1945.

A very moving ceremony took place at 2:00 P.M on Sunday, November 9, 2008 in front of the Catholic Church,  only a few yards from where the Synagogue used to stand.  The Mayor, Hermann Schmitz, the Catholic Priest, Father Norbert and the Protestant Minister, Pastor Debus, all spoke on this occasion, as well as a representative from the present-day Trier Jewish Community.  The Youth Orchestra from nearby Biesdorf High School performed several well-chosen pieces for the event.  
 
About 45 descendants from the former Bollendorf Jewish community were present.  Some came from France, others from Belgium, Germany, Israel, and the United States.  Some came for the day, others spent a few days at the Waldhotel Sonnenberg in Bollendorf.  Another 40 or 50 present-day Bollendorf residents joined us for the ceremony.  Many conversations and reminiscences took place before and after the event with Bollendorfers who had had special ties to some of the Jewish families in the past,  in particular those who had been helpful during the violent period before deportations started.
 
We were grateful for the remarkable way the city of Bollendorf organized the day's events.  Mayor Schmitz conducted the ceremony with feeling and seriousness.  Chairs had been set up under a white canopy to protect most of the attendees from the rain. 
 
The plaques were unveiled and the commemorative candles were lit as each of the names were read aloud, one after the other.  Psalm 23 was recited in German, English and French and the memorial service was concluded with the chanting of the special Holocaust Kaddish.
     

Speech by Hermann Schmitz,  Mayor of Bollendorf

 

Fellow-citizens, former and present members of the Jewish community of Bollendorf, Mrs Kyll, Father Norbert, Reverend Debus, ladies and gentlemen,

 

Today we commemorate the events that happened 70 years ago, which marked the beginning of the unimaginably inhuman atrocities to which millions of people fell victim.  Prepared long in advance, the assassination of an official of the German embassy in Paris was a pretext to start the systematic expulsion and murder of the Jewish population, first in the German Reich and then throughout Europe. While the Nazi propaganda machine presented the events of 9 November 1938 as a spontaneous reaction to this assassination,  official documents now prove that these were targeted measures that had been under preparation for a long time.  Heydrich issued instructions which included the following passage:

 

“Burn synagogues only if there is no risk of fire to adjacent buildings.  In shopping streets, particular care should be taken to ensure that no damage is caused to non-Jewish stores.”

 

He further ordered that:

 

“As soon as the events of this night allow use of officials for this purpose, in all districts as many Jews - in particular wealthy ones - should be arrested as there is room available to keep them in detention.  First, healthy male Jews  – not too old – should be arrested.  After they have been arrested, the competent concentration camps should immediately be contacted to put the Jews in the camps as soon as possible.”

 

The synagogue of Bollendorf was also set alight, and shops were destroyed and plundered on the initiative – as I was told – of workers on the Siegfried Line who were stationed in Bollendorf.  But there were also local people who helped their Jewish fellow-citizens and took them into hiding. We now know that the Reich Pogrom Night marked the beginning of an unimaginable abandonment of all restraint in dealing with the Jewish population.  The Jews of Germany and Europe were persecuted and butchered with horrendous cruelty.

 

Today, 70 years after the start of this

terror,  we unveil a commemorative plaque

in commemoration  of our former fellow-

citizens of Bollendorf who perished in that 

period.

 

In the space of a couple of years, a once

flourishing Jewish community was also

completely annihilated. The

commemorative plaque and also the 

plaque dedicated by you, dear former

citizens and relatives, should stand as a

warning that this must never happen

again.

 

Nor must the memory ever fade.  It should

serve as a call to vigilance to future

generations too.  A form of remembrance

must be found that is perpetuated in the

future.

 

For today we must still remain vigilant. 

Indifference towards the fate of fellow-

citizens is on the rise again.  How else can

one interpret occurences in which

foreigners or other vulnerable people are 

chased, beaten up and sometimes even

killed.  Of course, there are only a handful

of such instances.  But our Western culture

and our experience of what happened on 9

November 1938 and afterwards should

give us cause to stop them before they

take root.  Only the indifference of the

masses give the perpetrators the

opportunity to commit their vile crimes.

 

Before proceeding to unveil the plaque,  I

wish to salute all those who through their

presence here today want to express their

sympathy.  I wish to extend a special

welcome to the former Jewish fellow-

citizens of Bollendorf and their relatives. 

You have in many cases travelled from far

and wide in order to attend today’s 

commemoration.  Even though my powers

of imagination do not suffice to conceive of

the suffering that has been visited upon

you and your relatives,  I do sense what

inner resistance you must have had to

overcome to return to your former

homeland or that of your relatives.  I am

very pleased that you have turned up in

such great numbers.

 

I hope that you will have the opportunity

to get an impresion of Bollendorf as it is

today. A great deal has changed here, and

not only in the town’s outer appearance. 

Today, more than 30 nations live here

together in peace.  Neither creed nor

nationality is now a criterion for

exclusion.  You will find here a diverse and

vivacious Bollendorf where there is room

for everyone.

 

In remembrance of the past, but also with

an eye to the future, let us now unveil the

commemorative plaque of the Municipality

of Bollendorf in commemoration of its

former Jewish citizens.

 

        Hermann Schmitz, Mayor of Bollendorf

        Translation by Harry Swalef

[Translation of the sermon by Reverend Debus]

 

Honored Assembly:

 

Seventy years ago today, synagogues were ablaze in Germany. The ones in Bollendorf and Kyllburg were also destroyed.  Jewish citizens were chased, pursued, murdered.  Germans were thereby guilty towards God's People.  Moreover, they were guilty before the Lord.  As said the Prophet Zacharia: "Whoever toucheth thee, toucheth the apple of my eye" [Zach 2, 12].

 

Jews have experienced most persecutions because of Christians: by the Church Fathers shortly after the Church came into being, by the Inquisition and its forced conversions, by Luther, by building Churches where Synagogues once stood.  Paul's warnings in Romans II were not believed and not taken earnestly. Thus, the religious anti-Semitism served as a good argument for political anti-Semitism.

 

When we take into account that our position towards God's People is a major factor in our consideration of the well-being of our creed, it is necessary for us to recognize guilt and ask for forgiveness.  To recognize one's guilt is not easy.  But it is necessary.  As mentioned in Psalm 32.3, the guilt that one does not recognize makes one unwell.  Guilt destroys our life as it destroys relationships -- relationships between us as people and, above all, relations to God.

 

To recognize one's guilt is difficult as we are afraid of punishment.  Time and again, the Bible tells us: whenever we recognize our guilt, then is God true and just, in that He forgives our guilt and cleanses us of all misdeeds.  God gives us new life.  He removes guilt from our shoulders and creates new relationships --between Him and us, and between people.

 

Because God forgives us, we too are in a position to ask for forgiveness and thus take a step closer to reconciliation.  This I ask in the name and the stead of those who in our land were guilty of deeds against the People of Israel:  Please forgive us this great sin, in the goodness and mercy of the Almighty Will.

 

Seventy years ago, some in our land began to set in motion events that were aimed at destroying God's People.  God -- to our bewilderment -- allowed these deeds to take place.  The number 70 has a special meaning in the Bible; it describes togetherness and defines a human lifespan.  Thus, after 70 years, we have a new chance to experience forgiveness and reconciliation.  What goes with this is that we Christians should realize: Israel is and remains God's People.  He never took back the promises He made to His people.  Christians are guilty of depriving God's people of those promises at a very early date.

 

For this, too, do I beg: Forgive us this great sin in the goodness and mercy of the Almighty Will. The 70th Year of the night of the Reichs Pogrom -- an opportunity for remembrance, to ask for forgiveness and conciliation.  In the reverence of God, The Almighty, from whose Goodness we all live, Amen.

 

PRAYER:

Thou, oh Lord, art true and righteous.  Thou forgiveth us our sins and dost not forever cling to Thy wrath; for it pleases Thee to show goodness and love. We recognize that Thy promises to Thy  people are everlasting.  Help us to show goodness to Thy People and to live in reconciliation.  Comfort those who mourn their loved ones.  Give them new courage to live and to have proof of Thy Trust.  We thank Thee for all those who make an effort to offer succor to Thy people.  Let us live in togetherness in confidence in Thee and in the worship of Thy Name.  For it is through Thy Goodness that we still live. Thy compassion is not yet at an end, Thy Love is renewed every morn and Thy trust incredibly great.  Thou, oh Lord, art our One and All; we therefore place our hopes in Thee.  AMEN

 Copyright 2011 Suzanne Mayer Tarica

Email: suzanne.tarica@gmail.com