Letters from the Blaues Haus

Breisach, October 20, 2004

Dear Members,

I’d like to introduce myself to you. I am the new Aktion Sühnezeichen volunteer at the Blue House. I come from New York City, where I recently graduated from New York University, studying history with a focus on Jewish history. I have been in Germany nearly 2 months, and have spent a good part of this time studying the language, and also learning my way around the Blue House, Breisach, and both of their histories. Since I arrived in Breisach, there have been many interesting events at the Blue House. On my first weekends here, we participated in the European Day of Jewish Culture on September 5, and the Open House Day for memorial sites in Baden-Württemberg. The Blue House also held a Yiddish music/Klezmer concert, which was a great success.

More recently, the town of Breisach erected a memorial, designed by students from Freiburg, to commemorate the deportation of Jews in Baden-Württemberg on October 22, 1940. This memorial is one facet of a greater memorial project – the Mahnmal Projekt – in which 137 communities of this region to have had Jews deported to Gurs and ultimately to Auschwitz have been invited to create a two-part memorial stone. One part of this stone is to be erected in the individual communities, the other part to be erected in Neckarzimmern, a town just east of Heidelberg, creating a large memorial site for this deportation, one of the earliest deportations of Jews in all of Germany. On September 27, in a public event attended by the mayor, the Breisach stone was split in two. The young students who initiated the Breisach memorial and designed the stone read off the names of the 34 Breisach Jews to be deported on this date. Christiane Walesch-Schneller was an invaluable help to these students, as they researched what had occurred in Breisach on that fateful day. This year on October 22, the 64th anniversary of the deportation, Breisach will be holding a commemorative event at the site of the new memorial stone.

I hope to be able to continue updating you about the goings-on at the Blue House and the events in Breisach that concern the former Jewish community here. So far, taking part in such things has been fascinating, and I am looking forward to all that I will learn in the year ahead.


Sharyn Elise Jackson