74542 Braunsbach

Im Rabbinat 6



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Memorial stones for the Jews of Braunsbach – Their message and symbolism

You can find photos of the inauguration ceremony in the photo show
You can find photos of the inauguration ceremony in the photo show

Intention of the memorial stones
The Memorial Stones for the Jews of Braunsbach were erected in memory of all citizens of Jewish faith who lived here between 1606 and 1942.
In the design, the idea of the Rabbinatsmuseum Braunsbach was taken up, which wants to remember the history of the coexistence, juxtaposition and opposition of Jews and Christians in the village for more than 350 years.

Installation site of the memorial stones

Memorial Stones for the Jews of Braunsbach are deliberately placed in the village center, where many Jewish families lived and where their paths met with those of the Christian population, and in a place to which the paths of the Jewish population often led, to their Rabbi, their advisor and teacher. The individual paths of the Braunsbach Jews led into the Hohenlohe region and beyond, they led away from the village, which had become home, to the whole world. And yet they led their descendants back to Braunsbach again and again.

Design and message of the memorial stones
The memorial consists of three stelae made of shell limestone, on each of which is a glass pane with names of former Jewish citizens of Braunsbach. They represent the Jews who were travelling on trade routes in the region, who emigrated from the village mainly into the United States and Palestine and who were deported and murdered by the National Socialists.

Symbolism of the memorial stones
Stones: They stand firmly on the ground of facts and are intended to stimulate thought and reflection. Their material is limestone, which is typical for this region. With its patterns and inclusions it has preserved past times. The memorial stones are also intended to preserve the past in the memory of the viewer: times of plentiful life and times of death.

The stones each have a downward sloping break edge – just as the coexistence of Jews and Christians was broken off and came to an end.

The stones are split – the Jewish population also lived largely inwardly separated from their Christian neighbors; they lived according to their own laws and traditions, which were often met with incomprehension. To this day, the question of how to deal with history divides people, also in Braunsbach. In ancient times, stones in connection with names were often a symbol for eternity, a name carved in stone guaranteed a continuation of life after death.
Three glass panes rise in front of three stones: Three is the number of perfection according to the Kabbalah, a Jewish work of mysticism. Glass is transparent, one can see through it and maybe see some things more clearly like through glasses. But it is endangered and fragile, vulnerable and hurting. The coexistence of Jews and Christians often proved fragile in past centuries. We all know about the persecutions and pogroms to which Jews were subjected in Europe. Anyone who stood up for Jewish interests and people during the Nazi era lived dangerously in Germany. Even today, the commitment to the past of the Jewish part of our population seems suspect to some.
On the glass panes, the paths of the Braunsbach Jews are mentioned. To be on the road quite often means to be unhoused and homeless. For many centuries, Jews had no longer been living in the country which God had promised them according to their faith; therefore they lived, and still do today, in the diaspora. The Jews who came to Braunsbach at the beginning of the 17th century had experienced persecution and expulsion. They bought protection by the local lordships as they were neither allowed to live in Württemberg, nor in the Hohenlohe region or the imperial cities. They were not allowed to acquire land or to practice a trade. So they had to be on the road time and again, in order to earn their living by trading. That is why the stelae mention Jewish citizens of Braunsbach on trade routes. Some even achieved prosperity, but most were denied it. Thus, in the 19th century, after their equality with their Christian fellow citizens, the paths of many led abroad; they emigrated. Many hoped for a better living in the New World and emigrated to America. From letters, we know about their loneliness there, when there was no news from home, family and friends. At last, in the 20th century, the previous coexistence in the village became an antagonism. Jewish shops were boycotted; they wanted the Jews to leave. Finally, the synagogues were desecrated, and Jewish citizens were arrested. In Braunsbach, it was only of some use for a short time that the then mayor Thaidigsmann asked his superior authority to leave the Jews in the village, because “otherwise his citizens would have to die of hunger”, for quite a few earned their living from prosperous Jewish fellow citizens. Ultimately, the Jews were deprived of their possessions and sent on their final journey, on the death marches to the Nazi concentration camps and gas chambers.
There are some names of Braunsbach Jews listed on the three glass panes, in the place of all those who lived here in our village between 1600 and 1942. To have a name means to matter. Whose name is forgotten, his "remembrance fades from the earth, no afterglow remains for him in the land" (Job 18:17). And in the prophet Isaias it says, "To all of them I am erecting a memorial within my house and within my walls; I am giving them a name, everlasting name I am giving them that will never be blotted out." Yad Vashem - i.e. a name and a monument! Anyone who has ever been to Israel knows the well-known memorial in Jerusalem, which commemorates the names of the Shoa victims.

You are welcome to download a more detailed description as a PDF.