The Family of Karl Weinmann

Translation by Lesley Loy

Karl Weinmann ,merchant and banker, was born on 21.07.1890 in Altenmuhr, son of Bernhard Weinmann, a trader, and his wife Marie, née Wimmelsbacher.

He moved from Altenmuhr to Gunzenhausen in 1914, where he lived with the Rosenfelders at Bahnhofstrasse 12. He had been working there for some years, at the Heimann bank located at Marktplatz 16, which David Heimann had founded together with Nathan Rosenfelder in 1909.

In 1920 he married Nathan’s sister Lina Rosenfelder, born 26.12.1984 in Nördlingen. She was the daughter of Moses Rosenfelder, a trader, and his wife Therese, née Obermeier.

The couple had two sons

Berthold Julius *09.02.1922

Max *11.02.1926

In 1927 the young family moved into their newly acquired house at Luitpoldstrasse 1. However Lina Weinmann died in two years later, on 16.07.1929, aged only 35 years old, and was buried in the Jewish community’s cemetery in Gunzenhausen, where the gravestone which her two sons had put up after the war still stands. Karl Weinmann married again on 17.02.1930, Gretl Eberhardt born on 12.08.1902 in Massbach.

© Gunzenhausen municipal archive

Already in 1934 the family decided to leave Gunzenhausen. They sold their house in November to Dr. Theodor Wißmüller, a dentist, and moved to Munich. As neighbours of Max Rosenau they had closely experienced the Palm Sunday pogrom of 25th March 1934 and hoped to find more safety in a large city.

Max Weinmann wrote the following :

“I can still remember well that antisemitism was unbearable in Gunzenhausen, we hardly dared go out into the street. Once, when I was swimming in the Altmühl with my brother Berthold, uniformed Nazis pushed us under water (8 and 12 year old children!)

After three years in Munich the Weinmann family emigrated to Argentina. It was lucky they left early, as at this point there were hardly any immigration restrictions for Jews at this point,which many countries only shortly afterwards introduced. But Max Weinmann, who was at that time eleven years old, told us that even then they were not allowed to take any money with them. His father bought an expensive Leica camera for each member of the family, so that they could sell them when they reached their journey's end and so have at least some starting capital.

Max Weinmann riding in his new home. © Weinmann family

The son Max wrote to us about their first difficult beginnings in Argentina : “Our family was almost penniless when we emigrated to Argentina in 1937. As my father had no prospects to get a position as a banker in Buenos Aires (he could hardly speak the language and already had a heart complaint) he resolved to move into the interior of the country, to the mountains near the border with Chile. As he had a nephew there, he wanted to open a small business there …. There was just one school there, which I went to. There was no electricity in the village, no running water, no bathrooms, the house floors were of clay and brick; everything indescribably primitive. "

Gretl and Karl Weinmann opened a shop in Argentina and had a son.

Peter Samuel *18.10.1938

Karl Weinmann died in ten years later, on 27.11.1948, just 58 years old. In 1958 Max Weinmann married Edith Strauss from Stuttgart. They moved to Mar del Plata, a big town on the Atlantic, carried on with the parents' business and developed it into a department store. They had two children, Lilian and Carlos. In the meantime they now have four grandchildren and live in retirement in Mar del Plata.

His brother Berthold lived in Buenos Aires and was married to Lore Schwarz from Stuttgart. They too had two children, Jorge Eduardo and Graciela. Peter Samuel Weinmann married Dina Furmann from Argentina.

The three Weinmann Brothers Berthold, Max and Peter © Weinmann family

Max and Edith Weinmann’s visit to Gunzenhausen

Max Weinmann with the mayor Gerhard Trautner
Max Weinmann and mayor Gerhard Trautner
Max Weinmann had visited his mother’s grave on the Jewish cemetery in Gunzenhausen several times and went to look at his parents’ house.

“We were in Gunzenhausen and saw that there was a sign on the house for a dentist, …” He never dared go into the house. Things changed when he was 75 years old.

Max and Edith Weinmann visited Germany in the summer of 2001 as the city of Stuttgart had invited their former citizen Edith Weinmann with her husband for a two week stay. We are very happy that they took the time to make a quick trip to Gunzenhausen to meet with us.

Mr Weinmann told us of his life and we were able to ask questions. They were accompanied by Mrs Weinmann’s sister and brother-in-law, Mr and Mrs Friedenbach.

There was a presentation, when the mayor Mr Trautner, the town archivist Mr Mühlhäusser and two contemporaries of Mr Weinmann, Mrs Netuschil and Mrs Raab, tried to explain to us how it was under the Third Reich in Gunzenhausen, and we learned a lot about the hardships and the motives of people in this time.

Mrs Weinmann gave a very moving speech:

“We don’t hate, but we can’t forget. I advise you not to hate. Whoever hates is the poorer for it. There is a lot of room between the two extremes of hate and love for interpersonal relationships, for instance respect for each other."

Mrs Raab, Mrs Netuschil, Mr & Mrs Weinmann, Mr Trautner, Mr Mühlhäusser, Mrs Friedenbach in our classroom © Franz Müller

We were all very impressed by the generous attitude of Mr Weinmann who refused to name the people he was afraid of as a child, the people who had terrified him and the other Jews. He was particularly moved when he entered his parent’s house again for the first time since they had had to flee.

The house at Luipoldstrasse 1 is today owned by the dentist Dr Wolfgang Wissmüller, son of Dr Theodor Wissmüller. He has his dental practice there.

Max Weinmann wrote to us on his return to Argentina :
"I must admit I was very impressed when I came into the classroom and saw the photos of my parents and our former house, as well as of other houses of former Jewish citizens.
Reading the material that I was given, I can only say how grateful I am that our family didn't suffer the same fate of unfortunately so many other Gunzenhausen Jews who perished in the extermination camps. The people responsible for these atrocities have mostly all died, today there is an exemplary democracy in Germany and it would be wrong to burden later generations with this guilt.
Of course one cannot forget what happened, but the steps to reconciliation that you mention are sincere and I think that is the case for almost all Germans.
I should like to thank you again for your heartfelt letters, I can't find the words to tell you how moved I am by them. The short visit to Gunzenhausen was a "great moment" as Mr Franz Müller mentioned …

We often think back to that memorable day in Gunzenhausen. After all those terrible events, I was particularly touched to experience so much human warmth and meet so many kind people.  I hope that we can keep up the contact and meet again one day."