Margaret Rosenbaum 2006 in front of the Blue House
PhOTO: Friedel Scheer
(Badische Zeitung, Tuesday, 23 Mai 2006)


“I felt as if I were following in my family’s footsteps”

Margaret Rosenbaum came to Breisach from the U.S.A. in order to look into the history of her relatives.

BREISACH (fsn). When she was 12 years old, Margaret Rosenbaum visited for the first and only time her grandfather Berthold Levy in Breisach, together with her mother. That was in 1953, four years before he died. Levy was one of the few Jewish residents of Breisach who returned after the Shoah. She can remember a face, smiling warmly, and a few more images. Speak with him she could not, she only spoke English and her grandfather only German.

Now, 53 years later, Margaret Rosenbaum came together with her husband Leonard and their three children Sharon (37), Kevin (35), and Scott (33). Her mother, Betty Hoffmann, so she tells us, never wanted to talk about her family. The memories of all the terrible things that had happened to her family were too painful.

Two sisters, a brother and her mother she lost through the Shoah. Only one and a half years ago, when she moved into a retirement home, she re-read old letters and got into contact with Hans Blum, born in Breisach, who lives in New York. Through him, she got to know about Christiane Walesch-Schneller. “This contact has changed my life with all that she found out about the history of our family”, Margaret Rosenbaum says, being touched, and tells us that Christiane Walesch-Schneller visited her and her mother in Delaware, USA, where she told them about Breisach and the Blue House, which made her mother feel very good, too.

“I knew I had to come here”, she explains her decision to come to Breisach, her husband supporting her in this. And now, at the end of her stay in Breisach, she does not regret her decision for even a moment. Everything that she experienced here was too moving and stirring. She had an opportunity to visit her grandfather’s house. Readily, the present owners of the house let her and her family in, a moving moment for her. “I could feel as if I were following in my family’s footsteps, hear the laughing, that at one time was present there, but also the sadness”, she summarises her feelings in retrospect. For her children, too, she says, it as a touching event, to get nearer to the family’s roots and to get to know the place where their great-grandparents were at home.

But Margaret Rosenbaum was particularly impressed by the meeting with students of Breisach Realschule. These presented to the visitors the results of the research they had done during a history-project, dedicated to the investigation of the Levy family. “It is simply fabulous that these young people investigate with so much dedication what happened to the Jewish families, Margaret Rosenbaum said enthusiastically, and that it caused very positive feelings with her when she learned how people in Germany are concerned with the past.

We are all part of history after all, and it can be seen once again that one does not have to be Jewish in order to develop sympathy with those who were driven out.” Anyway, she will report at home on her heart warming experiences that she and her family were granted, something than can only be to the advantage to the image of present day Germany in the USA.


Sharyn Elise Jackson writes from Breisach

Sam Harding, our first Action Reconciliation volunteer has left in August and Sharyn Jackson from Kearny, New Jersey, has been with us since September 2004. She picked up the idea to introduce herself to all of you and is ready to update you by the

Letters from the Blaues Haus:


"Class 9B from the Hauptschule Wyhl came to the Blue House on December 20, 2004 for a visit. They had a tour through the house, studied an exhibition on the development of racism in the schools in Germany, and did group projects based on the story of Suzanne Carola Hochherr and her family who perished in Auschwitz."

Klasse 9b aus Wyhl Klasse 9b aus Wyhl



The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition


Invited by the German National Tourist Board Israeli journalists visited - among other sites - the Blue House in Breisach. Orna Coussin from Haaretz, Tovah Lazaroff from the Jerusalem Post, Ronen Tal from Yedioth Ahronot, David Ben Chimol from Passport und Suzanne Neuman sought information about the work of the Förderverein.

Orna Coussin reports December, 1th 2004 in Haaretz,
Tovah Lazaroff Dezember, 15th 2004 Tovah in the Jerusalem Post.

On Dezember, 15th 2004 reached us a reaction of a reader out of Jerusalem.


8 youths together with their teacher Dagmar Casetou met this week in the Blue House for a final briefing. This saturday they will leave for New York visiting the Manhattan Stephen Wise Synagogue and living for two weeks in families. Of course a bit anxious, but full of hope and joy.

Badische Zeitung vom 22. Oktober 2004

Austausch mit New York 2004
Photo: Friedel Scheer-Nahor


"Dear Friends,
greetings from Breisach from the Association for the Promotion of the former Jewish Community House in Breisach. My name is Samuel Harding and I am working full time (since September 2003) as a volunteer in the Blue House in Breisach. I work with local school children and visitors to the Blue House and have also done some research into the family histories of Breisach’s Jewish Community. Many of you I have already had the pleasure to have met personally. Others I am still looking forward to meeting. I was lucky enough to be able to be present in Berlin at the Obermayer German Jewish History Award ceremony, where I met Elaine Wolff and Gary Bron, Phoebie and Werner Frank and Carl and Rhonda Steg. I also accompanied a number of the guests around the memorial site House of the Wannsee Conference, where I did a two week internship in September 2003 ..."

The whole letter

Samuel Harding


Elaine Wolff from New York is the daughter of expelled Jews from Breisach. Until ten years ago she quietly visited the Jewish graveyard in Breisach. She did not want any contact with the citizens of the town. Growing up in her family anything to do with Germany was frowned upon. She never booked a flight with Lufthansa, did not buy any German products and was not allowed to learn German at school. Contact with Christiane Walesch-Schneller, the chairwoman of the Society for the Promotion of the Former Jewish Community House in Breisach, and visits to the “Blue House” in Breisach have changed her views. Now she has no problem visiting Germany and could even envisage learning the language. A short story, which shows how worthwhile the work of the Society is.

Badische Zeitung (January 31st 2004)


Christiane Walesch-Schneller, the chairwoman of the association of the former Jewish Community House was honored on Tuesday (27th of January) in Berlin with the Obermayer German Jewish History Award 2004. She received the award for her honorary work over the last few years dedicated to ensuring that the history of the Jews of Breisach ist not forgotten.


Christiane Walesch-Schneller erhält den Obermayer-Award
Photo Landesarchiv Berlin

Once Again Jewish Religious Services in the Blue House

Beginning a little while ago, a group of local Jews have been meeting at irregular intervals in the former Jewish community house in Breisach (the Blue House), in order to hold Sabbath services. A family from the Ukraine, who live as so called “quota asylum seekers” since the beginning of 2003 in Breisach, first came up with the idea during the week of events for the dedication of the house in June 2003. Abraham Rajber from Breisach and Rivka Holländer from the Jewish Community in Freiburg help with the organising of the services, which are held according to orthodox traditions. The Föderverein (support association) is especially pleased that Jewish life is returning to Breisach and happily allows the rooms of the Blue House to be used.

(view report of the Badische Zeitung 01/14/2004))


Christiane Walesch-Schneller beim Neujahrsempfang von Bundespräsident Rau
Photo: Office of the Federal President of Germany, 2004


(view Letter of Dr. Christiane Walesch-Schneller about the reception in Berlin))

Breisach/Berlin: Mrs. Christiane Walesch-Schneller was also invited to the New Years Reception of the Federal President of Germany Johannes Rau in Berlin

Christiane Walesch-Schneller, the chairwoman of the Support Association of the Former Jewish Community House was present by the New Years Reception in Berlin. The invitation is meant first and foremost to honour the work involved in restoring the former community house, but also for her work in supporting the understanding between different cultures.

Regio-Ticker ("Badische Zeitung"), wednesday, 7th january 2004

The new house !!



This year, from 24th august 8th september, the 'Aktion Sühnezeichen' organizes a summer camp in Breisach. In co-operation with the 'Förderverein' the young people coming from all over Europe are going to support the work in the former jewish community center and tidy up the garden of the community center and the cemetery of Mackenheim in France, where in former times jews of Breisach were buried. A rich culture program shall introduce the participants of the camp to jewish history of the upper Rhine and the landscape of the region.

Zone 30 - Rückkehr aus dem Exil

Josef Arie Kornweitz
Christiane Walesch-Schneller
Günter Boll

Freiburg: modo Verl., 2003. - 123 p.
ISBN: 3-922675-93-X

Just before the "Jewish Week" the Förderverein Ehemaliges Jüdisches Gemeindehaus Breisach has published a new book. It contains pictures taken by Josef Kornweitz, texts by Günter Boll, Claude Vigée, Christiane Walesch-Schneller, Primo Levi and a foreword by Freddy Raphael.



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