Carole Blueweiss

Giving Victims of National Socialism a Face

Giving Victims of National Socialism a Face

Descendants of the Levi family travel from New York for the transfer

By Josef Schneider

Ellwangen – Since Whit Monday, ten new stumbling blocks in downtown Ellwangen have been reminders of the fate of former fellow citizens who were persecuted under National Socialism. The Ellwangen stumbling block initiative led by Frank Keller and Peter Maile had prepared the laying of the stones in collaboration with the artist Gunter Demnig.

The first five stumbling blocks were laid in front of around 200 spectators on Schmiedstrasse in front of building number 5/7 (Kicherer). This is intended to commemorate the fate of the family of the Ellwangen cattle dealer Julius Levi, who fled to the USA in 1938, to Babette Levi, born Schlossberger, to her son Julius Levi, to her daughter-in-law Melanie Levi, who came from Speyer , née Suessel, and their sons Erich Levi and Max Levi.

Elias Levi, who came from the rural Jewish community in Unterdeufstetten (died in 1917 and was  buried in the Jewish cemetery in Ellwangen), and his wife Babette came to Ellwangen with their four children, Mina, Sigmund, Betti, and Julius, in 1904 and then lived in different houses in the Gartenstrasse, in the Schoener Graben, on the market square, in the old calibration office, in the Apothekergasse and finally in the Schmiedstrasse with the Kicherer family. Very soon they had integrated into the social life of Ellwangen, were involved in various clubs such as the Schuetzenverein, as Peter Maile from the Ellwanger Peace Forum and member of the Stumbling Stones Initiative presented. Erich and Max Levi attended kindergarten in the Graf house and then elementary school. Erich then went to high school. Max to secondary school. After the National Socialists seized power in 1933, the family was subjected to evictions, harassment, assaults and professional bans.

Peter Maile recalled this Student project 2001/2002 the title “Who was Erich Levi?” In which students and teachers researched all the Jewish students at the high school, and the novel by the teacher Inge Barth-Grozinger with the title “Something Remains.”  

During the Nazi era, Erich and Max Levi soon experienced exclusions from their classmates, reported Pius Hauber, a student at the Peutinger Gymnasium. There was also propaganda against the Levis in the city, Julius Levi’s business was no longer going well and many citizens avoided contact with them. All the agitation and exclusion against Max an Erich reached its sad climax in March, 1935, when the then principal of the Peutinger Gymnasium asked them both to leave the school on their own. After psychological terror against the family, the Ellwangen National Socialists drowned Levi’s cows in the hunt in 1935. In 1938 he managed to escape to America. Erich Levi returned to Ellwangen as a soldier in 1945. Where he was involved in denazification and looking for national socialists who were also responsible for the persecution of his family at the time. Classmate Denise Gentner gave the speech in English. White roses and candles were placed on the stumbling stones. 

Eight members or descendants of the Levi family, Michael Levi with his partner Vicki and his children Jacob and Elena, as well as his cousins Carole Blueweiss, Jim Levenson, and Daniel Klein came from New York to lay the stumbling stones. They were greeted with applause by Burgermeister Volker Grab on Schmiedstraße. He affirmed to keep the culture of remembrance alive. “People should get faces through the Stolpersteine Initiative.” The confrontation with the National Socialist era was important, Grab said, opposing any form of it Anti-Semitism. He said it was important to give people back their dignity by giving them a gift. 

Another stumbling block was laid at Sebastiansgraben 27 in memory of the former Jewish fellow citizen Rosa Heinrich nee Englander, who was married to the merchant and cattle dealer Salomon Heinrich. The Jewish woman was forced to emigrate to the USA in 1938 at the age of almost 70. Rosa’s brothers, Jacob and Hugo Englander were murdered in Auschwitz in 1942 and their in law Rosa Braun nee Heinrich 1942 in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Meanwhile, the married couple Sigmund and Lea nee Adler lived at Apothekergasse 3 with their son Erwin. This family also emigrated to the United States of America in 1938. Sigmund Levi was born in 1884 in Unterdeufstetten. Lea Levi was born in 1893 in Markelsheim. Their wedding in 1919 is documented on a shooting target from the Ellwangen shooting guild.

The fourth location for laying a stumbling stone is at Amtgasse 6 Hilda Muller, the ninth of twelve children of a shoemaker, lived here. In 1933 she was transferred from Ellwangen to the Schussenried sanatorium. As part of the T4 campaign, the woman, who had never suffered from schizophrenia, was euthanized as a mentally disturbed victim in the killing center at Grafeneck Castle on July 9th, 1940. 

The laying of the stumbling stone was musically accompanied by Gina Principi (violin) and the duo Ulrich Brauchte (guitar) and Klaus Prochaska (clarinet) and was co-designed by students from the Peutinger-Gymnasium. “More and more forgotten victims are coming to light” siad Peter Maile at the end.