Over the centuries jews have always belonged to the communities in the region of Thueringen. Their neighborhood with the christian population was changeful: On the one hand the neighbors had an interest in services jews offered to make their living. The jewish cettle and corn traders, the small bussiness men and moneylenders where indispensable to the oeconomic circuit of the region. On the other hand their excitence was never assured. It depended on the arbitrariness of the authorities whether they accepted jews for the reason of political power or monetary issues or set free the constantly present anti-Semitc temper.
According to this fact the history of southern thueringen is not only stemped by prosperous coexistence but also by progromes, jewish displacement and absurd religious accusations. Jewish life nearly became extincted in southern Thueringen when in the 13. century persuance and displacement was common among this region. The enlightenment and impulses from the french revolution slowly forced the long and difficult process of jewish equality. Very reluctantly the authorities and most of the christian neighbors were willing to let go of the minority status held by the jews. By the end of the 19. century the process of equality had torn down all exicting borders. Jews were now equaly respected citizens and not people with restricted rights. The constructive power of jewish culture could now fully evolve. Their part in civilising the region was enormous. The catastrophe that was cause by the national socialists was unexampled in their history.
Neighbors became foreigners, which were seperated at first than displaced and in the end murdered. The every day anti-semitic behaviour by the majority of the population was as devastating as everywhere in the Reich. Real solidarity was offered only in rare cases which are remembered well. In the meantime jewish life has evolved again in Thueringen. The intention to extinct our jewish people has not come to fulfillment. The interest in our history is increasing as well as the painful awarness that the Shoa has inflicted a huge loss upon Germany.
Today quiet a lot of people and groups concentrate on the historic topic about jewish life. The most impressing initiative is shown by a group of more than two dozen of historics under the direction of Hans Nothnagel that searches with true passion for all evidences of jewish excitence. With the collection of 36 lokal chonicles the authors present the results of their work. They do not claim to have written a scientific monography.The exceptional value of this work is represented by the overwhelming amount of information which provides the material to draw out a detailed picture of jewish life.
This way the six volumes of the collection are a repository for the use in schools and for political education but also for continuative historic and jewish research. I hope that all readers take interest in the chronicles because the knowledge about jewish life is needed more than ever. I would like to see an big and open-minded reading circle.
Wolfgang M. Nossen
Greetings from the prime minister of Thueringen Dr. Bernhard Vogel for the publication of volume 6 "Jews in southern Thueringen - protected and haunted"
With volume 6 the documentation "Jews in southern Thueringen - protected and haunted" has come to an end. She is astounding by all means. Astounding because a group of historicly interested people has come together to work on a neglected and for this reason even more important topic in the history of their region. The history of jewish life in southern Thueringen.
Astounding even more because all authors did not only focus their documentation on the 13 fatal years of national socialist pursuance but started much further back in time. With the help of lokal chronicles they have search for early traces of jewish life in southern Thueringen and have found many unknown and never analyzed sources.
In the end the project is remarkable because commited historics who thought of it as their lifes work tried to write down the developments in jewish life from the beginning without getting discouraged. They have not subscribed to the view that history has to be forgotten and took in consideration the opinion of the american philosopher George B. Santayana: " Those that will not remember the past are condemned to repeat it!" The authors of this collection intented to remember the past and consciously wanted to envision the past. Remembering as a moral duty against oblivion. This lokal chronicle fulfills an important task. It does not tell an abstract story of discrimination, pursuit and fight for equality but tells about the life of single persons that lived here and made history come alive. The actually staggering fact is that in Thueringen people were segregated, haunted, displaced and murdered only because of their religion. People that had the same hopes and dreams and wanted nothing more than to live. They were fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, relatives, neighbors, friends and colleges. Today their fate can not be unconcerning to us. The authors and researchers were not unconcerned about the fate of their ancesters and jewish fellow citizens. Even knowing that this project was established by many others one man has made a huge contribution with more than twelve years of researching. Representative I want to thank Hans Nothnagel for his sacrificing and precious work when trying to document jewish life in southern Thueringen. His commitment deservs acknowledgment.
We are glad that today a small jewish community is growing and developing again. We have many reasons to be thankful for that and I associate the wish that it is possible to provide a bigger basis for this community. It has to be our aim to develop a consciousness of jewish culture, traditions and religion apart from this community. The british historic Arnold J. Toynbee once said: "We are not condemned to let history repeat itself . We are free to decide whether it shall take a new direction or not. Humans are gifted with this freedom of decision and can not give over this responsibility to god or nature." With this consciousness about our past we shall shape our present and future. This cronicle contributes to this vision.
Dr. Bernhard Vogel Erfurt, 20. Juli 1999
A meticulous collection of facts , 6. November 2001
The meanwhile departed Hans Nothnagel execllently managed to collect facts about the jewish history in southern Thueringen. Over years he meticulously wrote down what he was able to find. In a very clearly arranged form and a precise language he presents the fate of single persons or groups in an authentic way and ordered by regions. The many pictures and tabular overviews make it easy to understand what happend in each epoch. As especially oppressive there is to name the perversion of the Nazis. Only through the detailed accounting it is possible to trace the lifes of hunderds or even thousends of jews in southern Thueringen. Many, too many, ended on the death lists of the concentration camps operated in the Third Reich. Thus the work not only is a specific collection of historic books but a politic appeal.