Aron Klein

Marktplatz 35

Haus um 1920. Foto: Archiv Theo Ott Haus im Jahr 2002
Constructed by: Matthias Faß
Year of Construction: 1692

Change of Ownership:

  • In 1715 the house was divided into two halves and one half sold to Wolf Conrad Lingmann, tailor and chandler

    1734 Christoph Schneider, shoemaker, acquired the other half.  Several other changes of ownership followed.

    In 1856 the house was turned into a shop by Johann Georg Kleemann, watchmaker

    In 1877 it was bought by the Jewish tradesman Samuel Seeberger

    In 1908 it passed to his widow Jeanette née Oberdorfer.

    In 1919 her daughters Martha and Hedwig Seeberger inherited the house

    In 1942 it was sold to Arthur Riegel, ropemaker, under the authority of the municipal office of absentee caretakers (städtischen Abwesenheitspfleger) for Jewish property owners

    1960 he closed his rope-making business and the house passed to his daughter Sophie Elise Riegel

The story of the house and the family

The ground floor of the house was converted into a shop in 1856. The owner at that time was the watchmaker Johann George Kleemann. However just one year later he sold it to the Jewish tradesman Samuel Seeberger, married to Jeanette née Oberdorfer. She can be found under this name, Jeanette Oberdorfer, in other documentation, for instance when the house was handed down to her daughters Martha and Hedwig Seeberger.

Daughter Martha married the shopkeeper Aron Klein from Badolo on 01.03.1921, but she remained registered as the owner of the house at Marktplatz 35. She and her husband ran a household goods shop there, mainly selling tableware and glass plates.

After Kantor Rehfeld retired in October 1933, the Jewish community conferred some of his responsibilities on the Kleins. Which meant that Aron Klein was responsible for leading prayers in the synagogue on work days, while his wife Martha was responsible for the ritual baths.

In view of the reprisals against Jewish citizens and the boycott against Jewish businesses, they gave the business up in 1937 but only left Gunzenhausen on 25.01.1939 when they moved to Prague. The town assumed ownership of the house.

The house at Marktplatz 35 (on the far right of the photo) in 1885. From “Gunzenhausen in alten Ansichten” (old views of Gunzenhausen) by W. Lux

According to the present owner, the “Nazis” sold off the remaining inventory of the shop at this time. Arthur Riegel rented the premises from the town for his rope-making business which he had previously run in the Rathausstraße next to the Blasturm. He had to pay the town 100 RM for the remaining beer mugs which were left in the shop.

As the house had a better location for business, the Riegel family decided to purchase it in 1942. So they contacted the Kleins in Prague. The latter replied that they no longer had any authority regarding the house. Based on that, the purchase price was paid to the town. We have, until now, not been able to find out how much this was.

At this time the extension at the back was rented out to a lawyer. Mr Riegel later used it as a workshop for his rope-making.

In 1946, when the American Military Administration was checking all ownership of Jewish property, the Riegels again tried to contact the Kleins in Prague to have the legitimacy of the sale confirmed. But the letters came back unanswered. The couple’s fate is not known but it is presumed that they died in a concentration camp. In 1953 they were officially declared dead effective 08.05.1945.

Letters sent to relatives in Israel also remained unanswered.

Rent then had to be paid for the house for the period of 1946 to 1956. In 1956 a final hearing took place in Nürnberg, resulting in a judgement that the purchase price was again due. Mrs Riegel could no longer say who actually received the payment.

The judgement ruled out any further claims by third parties.

A short time later a relative of the Seeberger family visited Gunzenhausen from Israel and recognized pieces of furniture belonging to his family in the Riegel's house, but based on the ruling he could no longer make any claim to them.

Arthur Riegel closed his ropemaking business in 1960 for age reasons but carried on running the shop with his wife and younger daughter. The elder daughter Sophie Elise Riegel ran the shop as of 1980, selling handicraft material and waxed table cloths.

She told us the story of the house shortly before her death in the summer of 2001.

Samuel Seeberger had planted a chestnut tree in the courtyard, and this was only cut down in the 1990’s.

Arthur Riegel's company sign can still be seen today (as of 2021) above the rear entrance door.