Unfolding CommunitiesThe Lost Jews of Mellrichstadt
Robert Rothschild – a former citizen of Mellrichstadt
Mellrichstadt, Marketplace around 1900,
House Raph Neuberger (Raphael Neuberger was the grandfather of Robert Rothschild), today Marketplace 3, the parental home of Robert Rothschild.
Mellrichstadt about 1910,
Looking through the Hauptstraße to the parental home of Robert Rothschild, right part of the house is visible. (Raph Neuberger).
Robert Rothschild, at the age of fourteen years.
At this age he came to the (KZ) Buchenwald concentration camp.
Entrance gate to the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Inscription – JEDEM DAS SEINE – at the entrance gate to the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Robert Rothschild with his son Gerry in July 2000, in front of his parental home, Marktplatz 3.
Birth in Mellrichstadt
Robert Rothschild was born on 15 January 1924, in the house at 299 Market Place, which is 3 Market Place today.
His parents were Willi and Jette Rothschild, nee Neuberger.
Willi Rothschild originally came from Zella-Mehlis, Jette Neuberger had been born in the selfsame house at the Market Place.
Robert had an elder brother Siegfried. He had been born on 7 August 1922.
Grammar School at Bad Neustadt
The two brothers attended the elementary school at Mellrichstadt and went to the Bad Neustadt Grammar School (in German called “Gymnasium”) after that.
But as they were Jewish students they were forced to quit that school in 1937.
Jewish children not being allowed to attend even the regular school at Mellrichstadt Robert finished his school education at the Jewish elementary school in Unsleben. His brother started his apprenticeship as a locksmith.
Apprenticeship as a tailor at Zella-Mehlis
After his compulsory school attendance time had ended Robert, in Zella-Mehlis, began to work as an apprentice with his uncle David Rothschild, a brother of his father.
Imprisonment in CC (KZ) Buchenwald
During the Pogrom Night in November 1938 Robert, 14 years old, was imprisoned, he was transported to the Concentration Camp Buchenwald.
He didn’t know that, at the same time, his father was imprisoned at the CC Buchenwald. His father had been sentenced to imprisonment because he had fallen prey to a wicked denunciation.
Father and son didn’t meet at the concentration camp.
Robert never forgot the traumatic experience from Buchenwald. He fixed them in writing. Later on he reported of them in speeches in the USA (cf. “My ten days in Buchenwald”).
Emigration to London
After he was discharged from the CC Buchenwald his mother succeeded in getting Robert to Great Britain where he was save. He left Mellrichstadt on 1 February 1939, emigrating to London.
One of his mother’s uncles lived there. He paid for the traveling costs and allowed Robert to live with him, taking him in. In London he learned the trade of a confectioner.
Also his parents and his brother Siegfried, who had stayed behind in Mellrichstadt, could save their lives – they emigrated to New York in Mai 1941.
Family re-united in New York
In March 1947 Robert left London and moved to New York as his mother wanted to re-unite the family.
Marriage in New York
In May 1948 he married Susan Heimann in New York. The two had met in London. Susan Heimann together with her parents and her sister had emigrated to London from Beuthen in Upper Silesia.
They had two children, Karen and Gerry.
In New York Robert Rothschild opened a confectionary shop, running it for many years together with his wife Susan.
Later on he took over a company making adorning material for the presentation of jewelry.
Study of history
When he had reached the age of retirement and had given away his business, he made a dream come true, the implementation of which he had been forbidden since his childhood and his adolescence. He studied history and graduated as a Bachelor of Arts.
Visiting his old home Mellrichstadt
Because of his traumatic experience in his teenage years in Germany he, for that matter, had never meant to enter German soil anymore.
In July 2000, in spite of that, he travelled to Mellrichstadt, accompanied by his wife Susan, his son Gerry and his daughter-in-law Karen.
Together they visited his ancestors’ gravesites at the Jewish cemetery, he had a look at his parents’ house and walked through the lanes of his childhood.
Death in New York
Only some months after his journey to Germany Robert Rothschild died from cancer in New York.
He died on 27 June, 2001 at the age of 77.
The guideline of his life
Helping other people – that was the guideline of all of his life.