Unfolding CommunitiesThe Lost Jews of Mellrichstadt
In 1912 Nathan Stern made a donation in honour of the Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria – so called Prince Regent Luitpold Jubilee Fountain. In a solemn ceremony it was given to the town in the Market Place on 12 March, 1912.
His parents were Levi and Regina Stern, nee Sacki.
Levi Stern came from Willmars, Regina Stern was the offspring of an old Jewish family from Mellrichstadt.
Levi and Regina Stern had a clothes shop in today’s 39 Main Street.
Moreover they were the owners of a bank house in today’s 7 Main Street.
From Mellrichstadt to Chemnitz
Nathan Stern had left Mellrichstadt, when he still was a young man of 22. He settled in Chemnitz where he was registered beginning with 16 October 1893.
On 20 January 1900 he married Else Goeritz from a well known family of Jewish factory owners.
In Chemnitz two children of this married couple were born:
Charlotte Marianne, born on 1 January 1901, and Ludwig Hans, born on 28 September 1905.
In Chemnitz Nathan Stern was the co-partner of a factory making stockings.
From 1902 up to 1912 he was the owner of the gloves and hosiery manufacturing Max Bergmann. He belonged to the most distinguished members of the Chemnitz Jewish community. And he was an associate member of the DIGB (Deutsch-Israelitischer-Gemeinde-Bund = German-Israeli Community Association).
He always felt attached to his “father town”, as he called Mellrichstadt. Also his fervor for hunting, brought him back to his former home town again and again. In the Fladungen hunting ground he went hunting and shot many a “splendid capercaillie cock”.
On 12 March 1911 Prince Regent Luitpold celebrated a double jubilee: It was his 90th birthday and the silver jubilee of his accession to the throne. On occasion of these two jubilees Nathan Stern intended to give 25,000 goldmarks to the Bavarian Landesstiftung, which the Prince Regent had founded himself.
The District Office persuaded Stern to give 5,000 Goldmarks to erect a fountain at the Market Place of Mellrichstadt in honour of the Prince Regent. Nathan Stern accepted this request.
This explains why the fountain could be erected not earlier than one year after the proper year of the jubilees. It was given to the town in a solemn ceremony.
On 7 March, 1912, Mellrichstadt’s Town Council under Town Mayor Thaddäus Sterzinger decided to bestow the rank of a honorary citizen to Nathan Stern for this generous donation. In return for this honour, Nathan Stern made the gift of a bell on the table of the Town Council.
For his generous donation in favour of the Landesstiftung Stern was bestowed the title of a Royal Bavarian Councillor of Commerce by the Prince Regent.
From Chemnitz to Berlin
On 23 February 1912 Nathan Stern and his family left Chemnitz to move to Berlin-Charlottenburg. There he lived in 117 Kaiserdamm.
In 1920 the marriage with Else was divorced.
From Berlin to Munich
On 19 March 1920 Nathan Stern left Berlin and moved to Munich. There he married the widow Adele Löffler on 21 April 1920.
Together with his wife and 90 employees, in 3 Weinstraße, he ran the firm Gerstle & Löffler, a shop for linen goods and clothes provision.
In 1932 and 1933 he was a member of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce at Munich.
The era of National Socialism
On 14 August, 1933, the Mellrichstadt Town Council under Town Mayor Hermann Recknagel unanimously decided to withdraw the honorary citizenship from Nathan Stern.
Some years later, during the Night of Broken Glass in November 1938, the fountain donated by Stern was destroyed and removed from the Market Place.
Also the bell that he had given to the Town Council, disappeared from Mellrichstadt’s town hall.
From Munich to London
In Munich Nathan Stern and his wife Adele lost their shop Gerstle & Löffler. But they could save their lives, emigrating to London on 20 April, 1939. There, in 342 Latymer Court Hammersmith Road, they again had a shop for women’s underwear.
One year after their emigration, on 16 August 1940, his wife Adele died at the age of 56.
Eight years later, on 15 April 1948, also Nathan Stern died at the age of 77.
After the end of the National Socialist regime the bell of the Town Council was brought back to the town hall. Up to this very day, it is helpful for every town mayor at the town council’s meetings.
The fountain, once given by Nathan Stern and destroyed in 1938, was re-erected at the Market Place not before 25 May 1992 under Town Mayor Oskar Herbig. Also the honorary citizenship was given back to Stern.
Since 2004 his name has been the first in the list of honorary citizens at the wall of the so called “Bürgerhaus” at the Market Place (once the town hall).
In 2012 the fountain was moved to the place in front of the building that accommodates the town administration.