Unfolding CommunitiesThe Lost Jews of Mellrichstadt
History of Mellrichstadt’s Jewish cemetery
The Jewish community of Mellrichstadt attained permission to install a cemetery of their own. This made things a lot easier for the Jews of Mellrichstadt because prior to that and for several centuries they had been obliged to bury their dead at a regional cemetery at Kleinbardorf.
On November 2, 1871, the Jewish community was notarially certified a field within the boundaries of the area “Am Kniebrecher”. One half of this field was installed as the cemetery, the other half was rented for economical purposes.
The first burial took place in October. The dead was Salomon Goldschmidt, three months old. He had died on October 2, 1872. He was entombed in the department for children’s graves (see grave nr. K001).
On April 13, 1873, Salomon’s grandfather Joseph Goldschmidt died. He was the first adult to be buried at the cemetery (see grave nr. 001).
As the cemetery was now nearly completely employed the community decided to make use of the hitherto rented part for burials. They bought a stretch of land for the vehicular access to the new part.
The cemetery was enlarged and surrounded by a wooden fence. A fence of spruce trees was planted, together with additional birch trees and some shrubs.
The community had the entrance door renewed.
Seven big ones and three small tombstones were upset by force. The culprits were not found out.
In the course of the November pogroms the cemetery was completely devastated. Nearly all tombstones were upset, many of them were broken. Still today six tombstones for adults and ten for children are missing. Many name boards were smashed. Most of them are missing still today.
Ida Rosenbaum’s funeral was the last one at the cemetery. She had died of a skull fracture on August 10, 1939, after Nazis had pushed her down the staircase in her home (see grave nr. 155)
After the deportation of the last Jewish community members the cemetery was not taken care of by anybody. Up to that date141adults and 32 children had been buried there.
15 places for tombs had been dedicated for family members, most of all married couples. But they were not used any more.
A remark about the fate of these 15 family members:
Three of them were able to escape the Nazi terror by emigrating. Six had left the town and died at other places. Five had been deported from Mellrichstadt that year and had been murdered. One member committed suicide at another town.
The American occupying forces demanded the immediate restoration of the cemetery.
The Town Mayor of that time Oskar Will had the tombstones re-erected, broken stones were agglutinated.
In the old part of the cemetery, however, the stones were erected with their sides reversed, which means that the front side now is turned to the west.
The cemetery was transferred into the possession of the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (IRSO).
Again 16 tombstones were upset. Again, the culprits were not identified.
As far as possible the damage was repaired, the cemetery was surrounded by a new batten fence.
Youth organizations took care of the cemetery and of its defense. Moreover three persons were ordered to watch over the cemetery. Besides, a sign was fixed, reading that the access of un-authorized persons was strictly forbidden under the threat of punishment.
On the whole, the cemetery was in tolerable condition again. But in the years to follow the foothold of the tombstones had to be corrected again and again.
1951 and 1954
The Regional Association of Jewish Communities in Bavaria bought the various parts of the cemetery from the IRSO for a symbolic amount of money. Since that year the Regional Association has taken care of the cemetery.
The wooden fence around the cemetery was replaced by a mesh wire fence.
The cemetery was included into the list of historical monuments.
As caused by a heavy storm almost all spruce trees of the old part of the cemetery broke – but miraculously to say – the trees fell between the tomb rows and nearly no damage was caused.
After the gale all spruce trees were removed.
The enclosure was renewed by a stone wall instead of the mesh wire fence.