Die Familie Dr. Arnold Kurzmann

Translated by Lesley Loy

Dr. Arnold Kurzmann, born on 19.03.1876 in Obbornhofen, taught as a secondary school teacher in Gunzenhausen from 1917 to 1931.  He was married to Sofie Engländer, born on 08.11.1875 in Delmenhorst.

The family initially lived at Hensoltstrasse 19 together with the Raphael Seeberger family, later in the house at Schillerstrasse 8.

Schillerstrasse 8 today
Former Gunzenhausen secondary school 1907 © Old photos of Gunzenhausen (Gunzenhausen in altenAnsichten) from W. Lux

The couple had one son :

Siegfried, born on 11.11.1912 in Nürnberg.  He qualified as an interpreter in the Spanish language in April 1932 in Nürnberg. 

In 1931 Dr Arnold Kurzmann, as a Jewish teacher, had problems with some of the Christian pupils at the Gunzenhausen secondary school. It even came to a court case against Karl Holz, the editor of the tabloid newspaper “the Stürmer”.

4th year class of the Gunzenhausen secondary school with teacher Arnold Kurzmann school year 1927/28 ©Frieda Schmidt, Gunzenhausen, STAGUN with publishing rights

'At the beginning of the 30’s a court case by the school professor Arnold Kurzmann of Gunzenhausen against the editor of the “Stürmer” newspaper, Karl Holz, caused quite a stir. Dr. Kurzmann, a Jew, was accused in an article in  newspaper number 14 1930 of having said, in the school, when the subject had turned to Christ as “the Lamb of God, that “it would be better to say “the Sheep of God” as a lamb will anyway become a sheep”.  The article in question claimed that Kurzmann had blasphemed against Christ in an insulting manner in the presence of his students. Kurzmann denied these statements and had lodged alegal complaint.  The local national socialist groups were very active on the case.  Girls and boys from the class had to testify in court as witnesses The trial from 15th to 19th October 1931 was reported almost verbatim in the local newspaper Altmühl-Bote.  Finally Holz was condemned for defamation and ordered to pay a fine. The sentence was published in the Altmühl-Bote on 14th July 1932. After 14 years in the Gunzenhausen school, Kurzmann had already had himself transferred to the upper secondary school in Fürth, effective 1st September 1931. An announcement in the Altmühl-Bote of 1st August expressed regret. During the trial the professor had stated that there was a witch-hunt against him, all the window panes in his apartment had been broken by stone-throwing during another similar court case.'

Source : “The night of broken glass. Repressed and forgotten. The persecution of the Jews in Gunzenhausen.(Reichskristallnacht. Verdrängt und Vergessen. Auf den Spuren der Judenverfolgung in Gunzenhausen). Publishedbythe Gunzenhausen SPD 1988.

The case was also reported on in the newspaper „Der Israelit“ on 12th February 1931.

“Munich, 25th January (1931).  The social democratic “Münchener Post” reports that the Franconian town of Gunzenhausen has a substantial Jewish population.  It’s a fertile ground for the agitators with their hate swastikas.  The young pupils are keen to buy the “Stürmer” newspaper, with its anti-semitic, erotic, pornographic content. In the Gunzenhausen secondary school, Jewish teachers were virtually spied upon by their pupils. It was reported that a teacher had insulted Christ, leading to an absolute witch-hunt against him.  Prof. Kurzmann was mobbed on the street. The “educated” part of the lower classes of this small town behaved the worst.  Until eventually, because of a lawsuit by the teacher against the swastika tabloid “Oberbayerische Rundschau”,  the whole affair came to court.  In the meantime there had been some sobering up.  Not one of the 17 or 18 year-old witnesses, who had meantime left the school, dared to swear under oath that Kurzmann had made this remark in connection with Christ.  The main witness, to whom the comment had been made, declared that the remark had most certainly not been made in the sense stated.  And so the responsible editor’s proof of truth collapsed completely.  The public prosecutor demanded a month’s imprisonment, the court pronounced a 150 Mark fine."

As of 1931 Arnold Kurzmann lived with his family in Fürth.

In May 2013 Ronald Langer of the municipal archive in Fürth informed us that according to their records,  Dr. Arnold Kurzmann was the victim of an accident on 07.02.1936 in front of his apartment in Nürnberger Strasse 134 in Fürth.

It was recorded in his obituary that he died at 17.45 h on the way to the town hospital.  Cause of death was given as fracture of the spine and multiple fractures of the skull.

His wife Sophie moved to Schifferstadt on 11.10.1937, their son Siegfried had already moved to Amsterdam on 16.07.1934.  An article regarding the death of Prof. Arnold Kurzmann (retired) (1936) appeared in the newspaper of the Bavarian Jewish Community on 1st March 1936 :

“In memory of Professor Arnold Kurzmann.

A road accident in the evening of 7th February has precipitously cost the life of Professor Arnold Kurzmann (retired), shortly before the completion of his 60th year.  A wide circle of friends and admirers join his wife, son and siblings in mourning the untimely passing of this excellent man. 

He was highly regarded by his colleagues, directors and educational authorities in his profession as teacher for modern languages in the Bavarian senior state schools.  His many pupils always remembered him with great appreciation.  He withdrew from his professional activity at the upper secondary school Fürth in Bavaria in 1933.”