I wrote Tuesday about Gabriele Thimm's coordination of a memorial ceremony for Essen's Jewish community on the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Here are her words from what sounded like a very memorable evening:
Yesterday evening was moving.
The pupils were very concentraded. The darkness was lying above the town. The weather was clear and the full moon was shining through the trees. The shops were opened and much people walked along.
We began with a little music with the Kontrabass (double buss?) Then the pupils read the first text.
1. station: Bochumerstr.6, previously Berlinerstr., history about the families Levy and Wilhelm Stern.
2. station: Hansastr.22 and 15. Family Coppel, Seligmann and Bukofzer.
3. station: Family Dr. Joseph Löwenstein.
The pupils told about the Jewish Live in the 19. and early 20. century. The jewish family Rindskopf celebrated their golden wedding with all the citizen of Steele. The sinagouge was to small for all people. Citizens have adorned the street and all people celebrated the golden wedding. Rindskopf were living on the Berlinerstr. 33, today Bochumerstr.
Jewish people lived as german parents, friends, did their profession, sports colleagues...
It was told about the broken glasses, about sorrow, bewilderment and devastation. Men would be arrested and the women had to pay money for her husbands to be free. Jewish people lost their profession and also the participation to for example sports clubs.
Original documents were shown and read. Also was told of the deportation and that the people were murdered.
Much people stay around us, heraring the text and look at the pictures. So it goes on to all stations, also the people went with, also to the house of Löwenstein in Alte Zeilen 22.
After reading the text (translated), your original text was shown at the screen, as well as the old and the new photos of your family. The last part of the presentation was "Live goes on".
The last photo which was shown, it was the wedding picture of october and the pupils played with flute and double buss "Bey mir bistu schejn" 1932 text: Shalom Secunda, music: Jacob Jacobs for a jiddish musical. Meanwhile the other pupils destributed candles to the visitors.
We were accompanied by police, but there was no terrorism.
The whole project was done in collaboration with my girl friend Katja Schütze of the Bildungswerk der Humanistischen Union. She organized the technic and provided for the approval by the City of Essen.
Now we try to get some money for your flights.
All best wishes to all of you Gabriele
Here is the statement we sent as a family:
Dear Ms. Thimm, parents, teachers, and members of the Essen-Steele community,
It is with gratitude and respect that we write this note to register our appreciation of the commitment you have shown to confront the dark chapter in Germany's past and to commemorate the lives of residents in the community who were killed during the Nazi era.
Ms. Thimm, we honor the courage, character and persistence you have shown in undertaking this project, and we also want to acknowledge the support you have received from your supervisors and the other members of the community in making a public and permanent acknowledgment through these memorials of what happened here during the period when Adolf Hitler ruled the country.
This memorial and the ongoing teaching of the children about what occurred represents an important act of acknowledgment that has, in its process and substance, contributed to a healing process. It is also a critical, but not sufficient, element in allowing young people to emerge into adulthood with a full understanding of what has been part of their nation's past, but what need not be again should they act with the same decency and humanity demonsrated by so many of the people who are gathered here today.
We regret that we are not able to join you on this momentous occasion, but want to be emphatically clear that our inability to attend in person does not in any way signal a lack of awareness, appreciation and respect for what you have done and what you will continue to do this in this area.
We look forward to the day, hopefully this spring, when we will be able to meet and express our gratitude to you in person. In the meantime, we hope the ceremony goes well today. Please know that it is deeply appreciated by us.
The Lowenstein Family
And here are some pictures from the evening that Gabriele sent.