The Rothschild Family
Karl Rothschild was born on 11. June 1892 in Schluechtern, son of Isaak Rothschild and Karoline née Kellermann.
Karl und Thekla Rothschild, provided by Shulamit Reinharz
Around 1919 Dr. Karl Rothschild and his wife came to Gunzenhausen and at initially lived at Seckendorffstrasse 3. There he continued the doctor's practice from Dr. David Rueck, who was died in WWI.
Karl Rothschild’s first wife was Thekla, born Katzenstein, born 23. December 1896 in Pfungstadt. In 1920 they bought the house Bahnhofstrasse 35 for 32,500 RM from the Siegfried Wertheimer family, who had moved to Munich. Dr. Rothschild opened his medical practice there, and the couple’s four children were born there.
The Rothschild Children
|Max Michael||* 20.02.1921||+ 2013 USA|
"Gone on vacation from April 19. - 26. Dr. Rothschild"
On 26 March 1933 the family suffered a great loss: Mrs. Thekla Rothschild died.
Dr. Karl Rothschild remained in Gunzenhausen for the time being, where he was a well liked and generous physician. According to reports by his contemporaries he treated all his patients without regard to their ability to pay.
It is therefore difficult to understand the treatment the family had to endure during that time in Gunzenhausen.
Their daughter Hannah Cherlow, who has lived in Israel since her marriage, told us:
'My mother died in March 1933 and in the summer of 1934 my father was summoned to the local Jewish inn, because two Jewish men had been murdered there by the Nazis.
She recorded her memories for her family. Pastor Martin Majer was kind enough to translate them from Hebrew into German.
In February 1934 my brother Max had his Bar Mitzvah and our relatives from Munich came to attend. I remember, that on this day all our windows were broken by stones thrown from the street.
In 1934 my father married his second wife, my mother’s cousin Henriette Tuch, born 14th September 1904 in Erlangen.
I remember that all our relatives had been invited to the Bar Mitzwa celebration of my oldest brother in 1934, and everyone was talking about the political situation. Some of the windows of the house had been smeared on purpose – a clear sign of the pressure and the fears under which we were living at the time. No Jewish house in the whole town was spared.
Once when my brother was on the way home from school with another Jewish boy, some German louts were waiting for him and beat him up, so he didn’t want to go to school anymore. Mother and father decided to send him to our grandmother Betty in Munich. Max was 14 years old then. So he moved to our grandmother’s in Munich and went to the local grammar school there.
One day my father received a phone call from one of Max’ teachers : I’ve taken your son out of his class. I wanted to tell you that I had to do this, despite the fact that his results are very good, better than those of his classmates. I was obliged to take this step because of the prevailing anti-Semitic climate. I’m afraid for him, because of his German classmates. A Jew can’t be shown to have better marks, it’s forbidden.” These were the very sad remarks of the German teacher to my father….
The situation for us Jews got worse day by day. More and more recruits joined the NSDAP and the party increasingly restricted our freedom of movement. Our father Karl and mother Henriette came to the conclusion that it was no longer possible for us to remain in Gunzenhausen. So in 1935 we all moved to Munich. Our grandmother Karoline came with us. Life for Jews in the familiar surroundings of Gunzenhausen had become unbearable for us, perhaps it would be better in a large city. In a small town everyone knows each other, and it was quite possible for a German neighbor to change from one day to the next from a nice, friendly person who had perhaps been one of our father’s patients into a stone thrower who broke the windows of our house. The familiarity of Jewish and German neighbors was suddenly destroyed. Personal acquaintance became a massive drawback when the habits of years were destroyed. By moving to Munich, we would then become strangers. Like that we’d be the same as many other people. We would be much less known.
The move to Munich wasn’t easy for any of us but it was absolutely imperative. We were fortunate that another Jewish doctor, Dr. Feuchtwanger, was leaving Munich and moving to Israel, to Jerusalem. He left his house together with the practice and our father was luckily able to take both over, so we now had a new home.
But why didn’t our father understand that it was actually now time for us to leave everything and to do the same as Dr. Feuchtwanger, move to Israel? For years he’d been strongly supporting such an initiative, why did he then not take this step? I can’t find any real answer to this question. Possibly our grandmothers played a role, he couldn’t imagine leaving them behind. He was their closest relative. And without our mother, how could he have assumed responsibility for them? Although several Jewish families from Gunzenhausen who were in the same situation took the decision to leave everything behind and emigrate to Israel.
Dr Karl Rothschild opened his new medical office at Tierschstrasse 19.
A year later on November 7th the family already registered their intention to move to Munich. Dr. Rothschild opened his new medical office at Tierschstrasse 19.
The house Bahnhofstrasse 35 stood empty for about a year, although there may have been offers on it.
In June 1936 a correspondence between Dr. Rothschild and the county veterinarian Dr. Georg Wagner of Gunzenhausen began regarding the house. They had known each other since 1929, when Dr. Wagner was transferred to Gunzenhausen from Forchheim and had rented living quarters from the Rothschilds.
Dr. Wagner was interested in purchasing the house and an offer was made to him for 22,500 RM.
The complete correspondence still exists. It documents the negotiations between the two gentlemen, who on 4. August 1936 finalized the sale of the house to the County Veterenarian Dr. Georg and Rosa Wagner when the notary drew up the document. For 17,000 RM plus 2,344 RM in increased value tax the house changed ownership and the Wagners with their son Hermann moved in and opened their veterinary practice.
Until now we only knew that the Rothschild family had left Munich after only a few years to emigrate to America. Hannah Cherlow told us more about her family:
'In 1935 we all moved to Munich after my father had sold the house to the veterinarians for a low price.
On 9. November 1938 my father was deported to the Concentration camp Dachau. My brother, who at that time was about to finish his agricultural studies, which he had hoped to use to get work in Palestine, was also deported, but to Buchenwald concentration camp.
In December 1938 my father was released, and so was my brother, who immediately emigrated to Holland.
In March 1939 I was sent to a family in London with a ‘Kindertransport’, and my sister was taken to children’s home in Glasgow in England by the same means. Two weeks before the beginning of WWII my parents came to London too. They had to leave both our grandmothers behind in Munich, who were both killed of the Nazis.
In March 1940 my parents, my sister and I were able to emigrate to the USA. We settled in Malden MA, a suburb of Boston.
My father took courses that would enable him to pass the pass the state exams to be a physician in the USA. My mother worked in a factory and my sister and I went to school.
Later I got a college degree in engineering and started a job in New York. My father passed his exam and started to practice medicin in Massachussetts.
My brother and another young man hid on a farm in Holland for two years. When Holland was liberated by the Allied Forces he also came to the USA.'
After the war in 1946 son Max Rothschild visited Gunzenhausen and the previous home of the family. Mr. Mike Rohrbach of the USA who had found Max for us, told us about this visit.
'Max did indeed visit Gunzenhausen again after the war, but when he saw the ruins of the synagogue and the devastated Jewish cemetery, he decided never to return again.'
This was the last known visit of a family member to Germany.
Shortly thereafter the Wagner family received a notice from the American Military Government in Germany that they had made the following decision:
'All properties that had been acquired by Jews would be put under lock-up and surveillance until it was proven that the property had not been sold under threat or duress, or other illegal means by the previous Jewish owners during the Nazi period. This proof had to be supplied by the previous Jewish owners or their legal heirs.'
The Wagner family would pay rent for the right to live in the house.
But in the meantime the contact between the two families had been disconnected. Finding himself in this predicament Dr. Wagner contacted the city of Amsterdam and asked them if they could find the address of Max Rothschild, who supposedly was studying there.
Apparently he did receive the address, because he started a new round of correspondences with the Rothschilds. He asked Dr. Rothschild for a written affidavid, stating that he (Dr. Wagner) had not put him under pressure to sell the house to him, and that Dr. Rothchild was not putting in a claim for restitution.
He did not receive the needed papers till October 1948. Enclosed was the requested letter with a personal note attached.
Honored Herr Reg. Vet. Rat,
Enclosed please find the requested declaration.
I omitted the words “duress” and “threat”, because, after all, I was under moral pressure (please don’t take it personally) to sell the house and leave Gunzenhausen.
Sending you best wishes in return,
I remain your devoted
That was the final contact between the two families.
Unfortunately Max Rothschild has not been able to become reconciled with the fate of the Jewish community in Gunzenhausen and especially that of his family. Mr. Rohrbach wrote to us:
'I found Max Michael Rothschild in New Jersey and spoke to him today (18. December 2002). He was very friendly, and mentioned frequently that he does not desire any contact to Gunzenhausen.'
We are very sorry to hear that. But we are delighted to be exchanging letters with his sister Hannah, who tells us about the families’s lives in the USA and Israel. She wrote:
"My sister was the vice president of a junior college in Seattle WA, and my brother ws one of the directors of the Jewish Theology Seminary in New York. I became a mechanical engineer and in 1948 I got married and moved to Israel with my husband. He worked for the ELAL airline for 30 years as business administrator, and I worked first as a patent researcher and later as a patent agent.
In the meantime we are both retired ... My husband and I are convinced, the only country where Jews are truly free ...
My father died in 1978 and my mother in 1991. Both are buried in Jerusalem.
The Bsamim canister from the Synagogue was in my parent’s house. It was given to me to take to Israel."
More about it in 'Ritual Gegenstaende aus der Synagoge'
Mrs. Hannah Cherlow and her husband Robert lived in Jerusalem where they actively support an organization that helps children in need:
'Since 1974 I support AMIT. It is an organization of women which encompasses a large network of educational and cultural entities. We support 53 institutions, among them two children’s villages, where children of broken or … families live and are cared for.
In Israel the first 8 school years are tuition free, but grades 9 – 12 require tuition.'
AMIT helps with Tuition and additional tutoring to help the children with their academic performance. We also provide for vision care and glasses, with dental care, psychological treatment, and transportation expenses for needy students.
All sorts of financial support are considered by the organization.
You get information via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hannah Cherlow died in 2012 and her brother Max Rothschild in 2013.
We got this information from Prof. Shulamit Reinharz, the daughter of Max Rothschild. It gave pleasure to us to met her in person. Two years after her father's dead she visited Gunzenhausen for researching the history of her ancestors. And for telling the students about the fate of her family. She's writing a book which is based on the memoirs of her father.
Some of his background stories she read to the students and they were very impressed by her.
This is a photo of Dr. Rothschild’s office door, which remained unchanged.
Max Rothschild wrote about his father's office:
Father’s office, or rather offices, were located in our house, downstairs as it was customary then. There was a general waiting room with plenty of chairs, tables, journals and magazines, and on one of the walls there hung a beautifully illuminated copy of Maimonides’ “Morning prayer of a physician”.תפילת הרופא של הרמב"ם
There was also a small collection of folk sayings framed and behind glass, one of which still sticks in my mind:
“Sprich von deinem Leiden nicht
Hier im Wartezimer,
Duld’ es auch von andren nicht,
Sonst wirds nur noch schlimmer”
(Don’t talk about your complaints here in this waiting room, and don’t allow others to do so either, because it will only get worse…)
In July 2016 Netanel Yechieli visited Gunzenhausen with his cousin Tirza Routtenberg, nee Cherlow. They are both grandchildren of Hannah Cherlow, the daughter of Dr. Karl Rothschild. They brought with them from Israel pictures of their family, which they presented to Mayor Fitz and the town archivist Mühlhäußer , as a remembrance for the town of the Rothschild family and their descendants .
They too visited the family house in the Bahnhofstrasse , where they were welcomed by the Wagner family, the present owners of the home. Fred Loos, who had lived in the neighborhood and had been a patient of Dr Karl Rothschild as a small child, shared with the young visitors his memories of this time.
Netanel held a brief ceremony at the Jewish cemetery, also in memory of his great grandmother Thekla Rothschild who is buried here. Regrettably her grave cannot be located, as her gravestone was destroyed together with many others during the time of the Third Reich.
A detailed report of the visit was published in the local daily newspaper the AltmühlBote: http://www.nordbayern.de/region/gunzenhausen/nachfahren-der-rothschilds-besuchen-gunzenhausen-1.5321078
Lesley Loy has translated the article.
Tirza Routtenberg and Netanel Yechieli from Israel tracking the past. 06.07.2016
GUNZENHAUSEN: Gunzenhausen, says Netanel Yechieli, was always an empty word for him, somehow a magical name but that had nothing inside it. And now the great grandson of Karl Rothschild is sitting in the Arnold restaurant, the place where Bloody Palm Sunday 1934 started, and he is moved to tears. His visit to this town has set a “healing process” in motion.
For many years Netanel Yechieli and his cousin Tirza Routtenberg knew almost nothing about this small town in Middle Franconia, a town that is inseparably linked with the fate of their family. In 1919 Dr Karl Rothschild settled here with his young wife Thekla. A plate marked “Surgery” still hangs on a door in Bahnhofstrasse 35. This detail, as well as the possibility to visit their former family home, deeply touched the two visitors from Israel.
Tirza Routtenberg and Netanel Yechieli also visited the Jewish cemetery. Accompanying them were Pastor Matthias Knoch, Emmi Hetzner and retired pastor Hartmut Kühnel with his wife Gertraud.
Obviously Netanel Yechieli and Tirza Routtenberg knew about the German roots of their family, but their grandmother Hannah Cherlow (Karl Rothschild’s daughter) had always refused to talk about the past. So until a few months ago the two cousins had never thought about visiting this town on the Altmühl. And then they came across the memoirs of their great uncle Max Rothschild. The eldest son of Karl Rothschild, he died in 2013 and in his 300 page biography Gunzenhausen is of course mentioned. This awoke the curiosity of his relatives living in Israel.
As is often the case, coincidence then played a role. Tirza Routtenberg, a professor of electro-technic at Beersheva University, was invited to a congress in Heidelberg. And Netanel Yechieli needed to be in Poland shortly before the congress. The plan to travel to Gunzenhausen was suddenly born. They were fortunate to find an able contact in the form of Emmi Hetzner, who over the last years has devoted much time and effort in the research of the history of the Gunzenhausen Jews and who welcomed them with open arms.
Walking through town, not only was the visit to the former family home an important moment but also meeting Fred Loos was an emotional experience – one of many in these two days. As a small boy Fred Loos lived with his mother in the “Fränkischen Hof”, directly opposite the doctor’s surgery. He was of course a patient of Dr. Rothschild and Fred Loos was even able to remember some of his house calls.
History was the central theme for the first afternoon, whereas the discussions during the evening get-together at Gasthaus Arnold revolved around Jewish and Christian dialogue, around religious and philosophical questions. Netanel Yechieli had specifically requested this. 42 year old Netanel accompanies Holocaust survivors and their families to the places they originated from, he arrived in Gunzenhausen straight from Treblinka. Netanel Yechieli was specifically looking for an exchange of thoughts with local men of the church, hence the presence of Pastor Matthias Knoch and retired Pastor Hartmut Kühnel. Pastor Knoch has himself led several groups to Israel and some very intensive discussions on religious matters ensued, while Tirza Routtenberg showed pictures of her children to her neighbor Lesley Loy.
During the kosher meal the group, which also included Christa and Jochen Loos, Fred and Lotte Loos as well as Franz Müller, actively debated topics such as the true nature of love, about hate and how to overcome indifference. But it was Pastors Kühnel and Knoch who initiated the most moving moment of the evening.
Some years ago Kühnel and his wife Gertraud had provided the decisive impetus for the installation of a memorial plaque on the former kosher slaughter house. Their intention was not only the remembrance of the Gunzenhausen Jews who had been driven out and murdered, they wanted to go one step further. The couple had seen a plaque at the Church of the Holy Cross in Dresden which spoke of shame and sadness and a request for forgiveness. This had been discussed at length in Gunzenhausen, however in the final memorial plaque here there was no such mention. Kühnel and Knoch seized this opportunity to beg forgiveness of the two Israelis.
Netanel Yechieli is having difficulty controlling his emotions. His lengthy response began with the explanation that although he wasn’t born until 1974, he always considered himself a Holocaust survivor and this feeling is reinforced through his work. He regularly dreams of his whole family being murdered within a few minutes. His relationship to his parents, to his children, is marked by the Holocaust.
He doesn’t know why he actually wanted to come to Gunzenhausen, in the long run he just followed his own intuition. Many members of his family hadn’t understood this wish, he had thought it would be terrible for him to listen to the German language, to read it and to travel in German trains. He had never expected this kind of reception, that topics would be discussed so openly.
The Holocaust, Netanel Yechieli explained, is the worst possible trauma of his people and himself. This visit to Gunzenhausen is now proving to be, for him personally, the beginning of a healing process. In view of the fact that neither Hannah Cherlow nor her children wanted to have anything to do with Gunzenhausen, it is the third generation that is now unexpectedly building bridges. “We feel at home” said Tirza Routtenberg at the end of this very emotional evening.
Tirza Routtenberg and Netanel Yechieli yesterday visited the Jewish cemetery. The programme also included a visit to the museum in Cronheim and to the memorial plaque in Muhr am See. The day before the visitors had also been received at the Town Hall by Mayor Karl-Heinz Fitz.