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Verblasste Spuren

Obermayer German Jewish History Award 2015 

The Jewish Altenburg

85 years ago: the "Boycott of Jews"

Since the 1920's an anti-Jewish boycott movement had formed in the German Reich which should get a nationwide importance in particular under Julius Streicher (1923 founder of the Nazi smear-sheet "Der Stürmer") as head of the "Central Committee of defense to the Jewish atrocitie and boycott smear".

On April 1, 1933, the National Socialists had called on the Germans to boycott Jewish businesses, medical practices, lawyers' and notaries' offices. The goal was to carry out the boycott from 1st April 1933 until the "surrender of the foreign press" which – according to the National Socialists – was carrying out "atrocity propaganda" against Nazi-Germany. The centrally controlled "boycott of Jews" was prepared by local "action committees" that wanted to implement targeted measures for the respective regions.

boykottaufruf1933Also in the Altenburg County there were such "action committees". In Altenburg the local "Action Committee" called to a march and a mass rally on March 31, 1933, which should ring in the boycott. At 7.30 pm, all SA and "Stahlhelm" formations, guilds, the retail trade and the entire middle class were to gather at the "Hindenburgpromenade" (now Teichpromenade) for a march which was accompanied by a public mass rally in the "Preussischer Hof" (a festival hall).

From newspaper we know that the announced march went over an hour through Altenburg streets. Teacher Walter Panzer, member of the "Action Committee," announced for the following day, the start of the planned boycott: "On April 1, Bismarck's birthday, the SA stands in iron discipline, but in relentless severity at the entrance of the Jewish shops. The names of those who try to enter a Jewish business are identified and published. " He went on to talk about the situation in Altenburg: "The Jew was able to master the entire authority lastly, including Altenburg, where we also witnessed the scandal that German children celebrated Christmas at the Jews [editor's note: This refers to the department store "M. & S. Cohn"]. As if the Jew was feeding children out of mercy. (...) The boycott is not only directed against business, it is also directed against Jewish lawyers; Jewish teachers, and not just those who are race Jews, but also those who are married to a Jewish woman [editor's note: an allusion to Kurt Holzhausen who was married to a niece of Marianne Bucky]. It also will not happen again that a Jew plays the violin in a German church [editor´s note: Felix Freilich is meant.]". This was followed by a series of other direct attacks on Jews of Altenburg and culminated in the call for a boycott which should begin on April 1, 1933, 10 am.

mscohnOn April 1, there were traceable boycott measures in Altenburg, Meuselwitz and Schmoelln – but probably also in Rositz. In Altenburg in particular the Sporenstrasse was the object of interest – in addition to the big department store "M. & S. Cohn" (family Bucky / Levy) there were "Nordheimer's shoe store" (family Blank) and the "shoe house Dannemann" (family Dannemann). The entire street was over and over with people and the uniformed SA forces with their signs were heavily outnumbered. There were out of the crowd "Ugh"- and "Freedom!"-calls against the Nazi henchmen and a general solidarity with the Jewish business owners. There was less crowding at "M. Kaiser" (Albert Levy) and the "Shoe house Loewenstamm" (Kurt Loewenstamm) on the market or at "Konys & Kruschke" in house Baderei 1 (a successor of "Wohlwert" with Jewish partners). There are no references for the boycott of the shops of the Goldberg families at Kornmarkt 21, Topfmarkt 1 and Baderei 12 as well as the "Isaak Rotenberg & Co. OHG (Rotenberg / Liebermann families) on the Topfmarkt, Kornmarkt and Teichstrasse, although it is quite possible that the said businesses were closed due to the Sabbath. Since most of the other Jewish families operated out of their homes the boycott did not take place here either.

khfruchtmannIn Meuselwitz the police was already dealing with the facts before the start of the boycott measures. In a service consultation it was clearly prescribed "ill-treatment of persons and accumulations of all kinds, especially before Jewish businesses, are to prevent with all sharpness". The boycott was directed primarily to the department store "Jacob Fruchtmann", the shoe store "S. Hausmann", the stocking shop of Isak Katz and the shoe store "J. Leschziner" (family Pick) in the Bahnhofstrasse as well as the raw product business of Leib Rubin in the Heymer-Pilz-Strasse. Also in Meuselwitz the boycott was accompanied by protest. So members of the "Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold" [editor´s note: a left-sided alliance of political groups] gathered in front of Fruchtmann's business to protect it. Around 3.45 pm the boycott in Meuselwitz ended. Overall, the situation in Meuselwitz remained very quiet.

gottliebFor the town of Schmoelln there are only a few references to the "boycott of Jews". It is known that the department store "S. Gottlieb & Co." and the "herb vault" (drugstore of Johannes Langer) on the market and the textile goods store "M. Tondowski" (family Lipinski) in the Bahnhofstrasse were affected by the boycott measures. There were uniformed forces with signs in front of the respective shops.

As in all parts of Germany, the "boycott of Jews" was largely unsuccessful, and in Altenburg and Meuselwitz there was evidence of one last major solidarity movement with the Jewish neighbors. The failure of the boycott measures prompted the Nazis to "suspend" the "boycott of Jews" on the evening of April 1, 1933, and three days later he was declared over. Despite the failure, the "Jewish boycott" pointed to the clear aim of the National Socialists. Only a few days later the legal exclusion of Jews began which increased in the coming months and years more and more extent and speed. The first Jewish inhabitants of the Altenburg County recognized the signs of time and prepared their emigration. Those who stayed or had to stay increasingly endangered their belongings, health and life.

Christian Repkewitz