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Jewish Families from Schwanfeld, Lower Franconia, Bavaria (Germany)

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  • Anna Gutmann (1883 - c.1942)
    Anna Blaettner was born in Schwanfeld, Unterfranken, Bavaria, on 26 Jul., 1883, to David and Ricka Stern Blaettner. She married Julius Gutmann, also of Schwanfeld, and they had two children. Anna and J...
  • David Aron Kohn (deceased)
  • Wolf Aron Kohn (1791 - 1868)
  • Nathan Gattmann (1823 - 1855)
  • Jacob Gattman (1826 - 1893)
    Jake and brother Morris (Moritz) were founders of the town of Gattman, MS. A Jacob Gattman is listed in US Civil War Jewish-American Veterans as Private, Company C, 18th Regiment, Mississippi Infantr...

Schwanfeld is a rural town of approximately 83k people located at Latitude 49°55', Longitude 10°08' in the area once called Lower Franconia (Unterfranken) in Bavaria, in the district of Schweinfurt, about midway between the town of Schweinfurt and the city of Würzburg.

Jewish presence in Schwanfeld goes back to the Middle Ages and the town itself is mentioned in documents recounting the 1298 Rintfleisch massacres in which around 100,000 Jews were murdered. The 16th Century saw a considerable Jewish settlement there, with the cemetery inaugurated in 1579, along with an active Jewish school, court system, and rabbi. Beginning the following year, the Schwanfeld Jewish community was obliged to pay an annual tribute of 12 guldens. A Mr. Hirsch is mentioned in a 1622 document, as a farmer and horse dealer and the owner of two houses.

The Schwanfeld cemetery also served as burial ground for Jews from the nearby communities of Bibergau, Dettelbach, Estenfeld, Gochsheim, Untereisenheim, Theilheim, Rimpar, and Schwebheim. A Chevra Kadisha was established, probably in 1712, according to a date chiseled on a stone basin in the tahara house. Schwanfeld's synagogue was built in 1786.

The Jewish population of Schwanfeld peaked in the 19th Century, numbering 230 in 1816 (possibly a third of the total population). A Gemillus Chassadim (charitable organization) was founded in 1821, and in the same year an organization for the promotion of Jewish arts and crafts. That same century saw pogroms, as attested by this article from the May 23, 1866 issue of the local newspaper “Der Israelit.”

By 1924, with a total of 81 Jewish inhabitants, there was a private school for 10 Jewish children, as well as a mikveh. Community leaders included Josef Frankenthal and Max Blättner, while Siegbert Friedemann served as teacher, prayer leader, and shochet. The Chevra Kadisha was still functional, directed by David Blättner, with 14 members, as was the Chevra Gemillus Chassadim, led by Emanuel Gutmann up until 1932, with 10 members. A Bikkur Cholim (health assistance organization) was headed by Josef Frankenthal.

In 1931-33 there were still about 58 Jews in Schwanfeld, while community organizations continued to function, co-led by Julius Gutmann and Ferdinand Bamberger: the Chevra Kadisha, a Women’s Organization, led by Mrs. L. Blättner, with 15 members, and a religious school headed by interim teacher and cantor Martin Selmanson, who instructed five children in religion in the 1931-32 school year.

With National Socialism came the ransacking of the synagogue on Kristallnacht in 1938, ending its life as a house of worship. The community continued to dissolve, due to increased repression and deprivation of rights, with the bulk of the population emigrating, the majority to the USA, followed by England, Palestine, and other German areas. In 1942, eight of the remaining ten Jews were rounded up and sent to Würzburg, where they were shipped off to the Izbica "holding camp." The remaining two Jews were sent to Theresienstadt. Community leaders Max Blättner and Julius Gutmann were among the victims, both perishing in Izbica in 1942.

The most illustrious Schwanfelder, but one whose life is emblematic of the destruction of the Schwanfeld Jewish community, was Dr. Ludwig Frankenthal. Born in Schwanfeld on 27 November, 1885, the first of the ten children of Josef and Clothilde Veilchenblau, Ludwig studied medicine at Munich and Berlin, becoming a specialist in kidney injuries and kidney tumors. He was invited to Leipzig, where he became one of the medical directors of the Israelitsichen Krankhaus Leipzig. He excelled in both personal treatment and in research, publishing 50 medical papers by 1937. While in his workplace he was arrested by the Gestapo, the day after Kristallnacht, and ordered to leave the country with his wife, Ilse, an artist, and their two young sons. The family attempted to get visas to travel to the US, but ended up in Holland, where three of Ludwig’s brothers were living. Forced to practice medicine in a Dutch concentration camp, Ludwig disobeyed an order to sterilize 13 women, knowing that the penalty would be the gas chamber. Transported soon to Terezin, the family's ultimate destination was Auschwitz, where Ludwig and their younger son, Wolfgang, were immediately murdered, on October 14, 1944. The elder son, Günther, died shortly after liberation. Ilse survived five concentration camps and lived out her life in Brunnsum, Holland, lending her name to an organization for the arts, the Ilse Frankenthal Stichting, whose spirit is based on Ilse’s motto, “Don’t bring art to the people; bring the people to art.” Of the ten children of Josef and Clothilde Frankenthal, eight perished in the Shoah.

Today all that remains of Jewish life in Schwanfeld is its dead and a few monuments. The Jewish cemetery is currently without a caretaker familiar with the gravestones, which are in drastic need of documenting and preserving. Many of them are so worn as to be unreadable. Two references to the cemetery can be found in JewishGen's International Cemetery Project. The two-story tahara house still stands and still contains the stone washing table and basin. The building that housed the synagogue still stands, used today as a private residence, and located at No. 17 Wipfelder Street. The last person buried in the Schwanfeld Jewish cemetery was Miriam Schwab of Rimpar, who died on January 22, 1939. With the death, in 1984, of the last Jew born in Schwanfeld, the road leading to the cemetery has been named in his honor and to commemorate the disappeared Jewish community, "Ludwig-Gutmann-Weg." Visitors are evidently welcome in Schwanfeld.

Text largely taken from JewishGen's KehilaLinks.

See also: http://www.xn--jdische-gemeinden-22b.de/index.php/gemeinden/s-t/177...