The story of the family of Dr David Rueck

Dr. David Rueck was a General Practitioner (GP) in Gunzenhausen from 1913 to 1914. He was born on 29.11.1874 in Eichstetten to Moses Aaron Rueck, a teacher, and his wife Golde Lurié.

His wife Flora Epstein also came from Eichstetten. She had been born there on 05.07.1882, daughter of the merchant Heinrich Moses Epstein and his wife Rosa, née Burger.

Dr and Mrs Rueck moved to Gunzenhausen in 1913 and had three children.

Tirza (Thirza) Malina *10.03.1907 in Eichstetten She married Franz Ehrle of Ludwigshafen in 1932.
Assa Moses *17.06.1912 in Eichstetten  
Moses Aron Esrah *19.08.1914 in Gunzenhausen On 24.08.1935 he married Gertrud Liane Bettina Bodenheimer (*07.09.1912 in Munich) in Munich and the couple emigrated to Haifa, Palestine on 15.10.1935. (source Munich City Archive on 03.11.2000)

Article from the Altmühl-Boten (local newspaper) on 28.11.1913

A fourth doctor has now settled in our town, Dr Rueck, previously in Eichstetten near Freiburg i. Br. Dr Rueck enjoys a reputation as a hardworking and conscientious doctor, is well liked and popular with his patients. Dr. Rueck's apartment is in the Fränkischen Hof.

The Rueck family moved house several times in Gunzenhausen. After the Fränkischen Hof they then lived at Bahnhofstrasse 20, followed by Hensoltstrasse 17. They later moved to Seckendorffstrasse 3 (photo left) and lastly to Bühringerstrasse 20 (photo below).

When the First World War broke out, Dr. David Rueck was called up as a military doctor.

Article from the Altmühl-Boten on 21.02.1919

Dr. D. Rueck, GP, died in a military hospital in Bucharest on 9. December 1918. Cause of death was influenza. Although he spent only a short time here, his pleasant personality and personable manner won the hearts of everyone he was in contact with. For this reason the news of his death, which arrived here only yesterday, caused great sorrow to all the town's citizens.

Dr. Rueck was called up on 7th August 1914 and was posted first to the Reserve Military Hospital in Lahr/Baden and then to the officers' prison camp in Vöhrenbach in Schwarzwald He then applied for active duty at the front and came to Romania in May 1915. Here he was mainly responsible for the setting up of the typhus hospital, became its director and won great respect for this exemplary facility.

His contribution was honored with various medals : the Iron Cross 2nd class, the Baden Cross of Merit and the Bulgarian Order of Alexander - a decoration that is otherwise only awarded to higher officers .

He will be long remembered in Gunzenhausen, both as a doctor and as a man.

© Documentation on the Jewish residents of Gunzenhausen, by Werner Mühlhäuser

Haus Seckendorffstraße 3, where Dr. Rück had his surgery

In 1919, a new Jewish doctor came to Gunzenhausen. It was Dr. Karl Rothschild, who took over the practice of Dr. Rück in Seckendorffstraße 3. Until then, the widow Flora Rück had still lived there with her three children. The family of Sigmund Wertheimer also lived there for rent. His wife Ernestine came as well as Flora Rück from the family Epstein in Eichstetten.

The Rück family moved to Bühringerstraße 20. There, Flora died at the age of 38 and left three orphaned children. Sigmund and Ernestine Wertheimer adopted all three Rück-children. They lived for several years in the Seckendorffstraße and then moved to the Bühringerstraße 20.

In the municipality of Eichstetten, Kaiserstuhl where the Rueck family comes from, stones have been laid in memory of the Jewish victims. The Rueck family was commemorated at the end of 2011. You can read more about this initiative on Ortsinfo/Geschichte/Stolpersteine

The name of Dr. David Rueck, casualty of war, appears on the Gunzenhausen Memorial for the Fallen of both World Wars at the Hindenburgplatz, next to our school.

Max Rothschild wrote in his memories:

Dr.Rueck was said to have been a very interesting man. He was an early Zionist and a Hebraist of note, with a fine library of classical and modern Hebrew works. He gave Hebrew names to all his three children: Assa, Ezra and Tirzah. Although they were several years older than I, we always were good friends. The R. children were quite at home in our house on the Bahnhofstrasse. In addition to the adoptive parents of the R.children, my own father and mother served as a kind of foster parents to them. The three spent as much time with us as they did with their uncle and aunt who had adopted them, and my good Mammiah always took excellent care of them.                                                                       Dr.Rueck had originally volunteered his services at the front. There was at that time no contradiction between being a Zionist dreamer and a fervent supporter of the German fatherland. The Kaiser himself had raised hopes of the establishment of an official Jewish presence in Palestine when he had ridden on his imperial horse through the gates of the holy city. Dr. Rueck was a strange combination, or so it would seem to us today, of German patriot and enthusiastic Hebraist and Zionist, a combination that certainly would have been considered absurd a few years later. It was said that he had distinguished himself by his bravery in combat at the front in Rumania and that he had won the highest distinctions for the aid he gave to his wounded comrades. I mention these circumstances because the story took a bizarre turn in later years. Tirzah, the oldest daughter, married a non-Jew. This was something so unusual at the time that I still remember its impact on my parents and family. Tirzah was ostracized(מוחרמת) . The German husband was said to have been a wealthy mill owner from Southwest Germany. When the Nazis cam to power, man promptly abandoned his wife as things became a bit sticky. His own Aryan soul was to him more important than his wife.

Tirzah was eventually deported to Auschwitz. She was a beautiful woman. When her turn came to stand in the nude in front of Mengele, the doctor who decided over life and death, he was stricken by her beauty and asked her name. When she told him Rueck, he asked whether her father had been his colleague and comrade at the Rumanian front in WWI. She told him that his was indeed the case, and he immediately had something good to say about her father as a German soldier, and the he snapped “….wirst nicht verbrannt…” (“you won’t be burned”), and he sent her away to a camp detail that was kept alive. Tirzah indeed survived. She wound up in New York years later and sought contact with my parents.