stumbling blocks reminding of the Loewenthals

Borbecker Platz 2, 45355 Essen | 51.473718, 6.949758‎ | +51° 28′ 25.38″, +6° 56′ 59.13″

Millions of Jews shared the Loewenthal’s fate during the Nazi period (1933-1945). Ernestine Loewenthal (maiden name: Heymann) was born on 17th March 1888. Her family operated a business selling off-the-peg clothes in the center of Essen-Borbeck. On 27th October 1941, she was deported to Łodz by the Nazis. Nowadays, stumbling blocks remind pedestrians about the family’s period of suffering. The Kultur-Historische Verein Borbeck helped to establish the shimmering stones by means of donations. The stumbling blocks set up in the town center of Borbeck were placed there on 15th November 2005, right in front of the Loewenthal’s former home, forever casting light on the outrageous things happened in Borbeck during the Nazi reign.

Loewenthal 3 Steine

The other family members were also deported. Ernestine’s husband Sally Loewenthal (born on 18th December 1883) and their son Manfred (born on 7th February 1922) were arrested as well. Sally and Manfred were taken to the concentration camp of Dachau. After escaping from the camp, Manfred returned to Belgium, where he had completed an apprenticeship in former times. From there he was finally deported to the extermination camp of Auschwitz. He was killed in this camp by Nazi thugs on 14th September 1942.

Already in the course of the Reichspogromnacht (9th/10th November 1938) Ernestine Loewenthal’s shop had been devastated by Hitler’s supporters. During that night, Jewish shops and organizations were burnt and destroyed all over Germany. Synagogues – like the one in Essen-Steele which also occurs in our geocaching game – were wrecked in the first place by fascist mobs. Many Jewish people perished. This night was a foretaste of what would happen soon after during the Holocaust.

Sally Loewenthal was the general manager of the shop ran by the Loewenthals. A woman from Borbeck who was one of Loewenthal’s employees remembered the shop being a horrifying sight after being destroyed by the fascists.

„When I came to work in the morning, I saw from far away what had happened. Just chaos in front of and on the inside of the Goldblum shop. Up to the Dionysius church objects belonging to the interior decor were scattered or hung up on lamp posts. On a bust, I recognized my cap, which I forgot to take with me the day before. Inside of the shop, there was a mess. The window pane was smashed-in, the interior decor was completely wrecked, the suits were splashed with paint. I just met Mrs. Loewenthal. She was crying bitterly. They had taken her husband away.“

The information summarized on this page dates from Ernst Schmidt’s essay Es läuft da eine gewisse Aktion. Die jüdischen Schüler (engl.: „There’s a strange action going on. The Jewish pupils.“) This text was published in Klaus Lindemann’s book Dies Haus, ein Denkmal wahrer Bürgertugend (translated literally: „This house, a monument to true citizin’s virtue“). In addition, another report written by Ernst Schmidt was brought in. Besides, we used the edition Lichter in der Finsternis (engl.: „Lights in the darkness“), likewise written by Schmidt.

Exercises

1) Read carefully the facts given on this side, in particular the quotation of the woman describing the outcome of the Reichspogromnacht. Try to think ahead: how could a conversation between this woman and the wife of Sally Loewenthal look like? Does the woman perhaps try to console Mrs. Loewenthal? Does she rather propose to her to leave Germany as soon as possible? Imagine a dialogue and write it down afterwards. If you like, you may even try to make a roleplay out of this exercise

2) In general, there a relatively few facts presented by stumbling blocks. Develop – basing on this side – the draft of a commemorative plaque which could later on be placed next to the stumbling blocks. What should be the inscription of such a plaque? Is there probably a hint mentioning the Loewenthal’s fate or does your commemorative plaque point rather to general facts concerning the Holocaust? How about using a phrase drawn from the Old Testament as a principle.

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