Rede von Marianne Weil-Sekulow am 24.04.2009 in der Realschule Waibstadt

Good Evening and Thank you for your kind introduction

I would like to thank the delegate of the Mayor of Waibstadt, Mr. Henrich, the Principal of the Realschule of Waibstadt, Klaus Sauer, with special thanks to the Project Team of Imke Koster, Katja Haffner, the Students, and our dear friend Siegfried Bastl, all of whom have worked so diligently to make this historic event become a reality.    

  This work of restoring the history of the Jewish Community that once thrived here has been a major step in reconciling the wrong that was done during the twelve year reign of the Third Reich.  No other country has done as much as Germany to bring the stark truth of injustice into the forefront of world history.  No other country has been daring enough to face it own past; no other country has been able to speak truth to shame. It is this truth that has brought respect and reconciliation to the people of Germany.  It is this philosophy of Truth and Reconciliation that has brought me here to proclaim myself a proud German.  I know that we must never forget the past, and I have not come here to forgive the past, but I can honestly say that I have come to move beyond it. You have chosen to restore the Jewish history of Germany by confronting the dark history; it is this truth that has set future generations free from guilt that would otherwise haunt them.

 

It has been almost 70 years since my family and I escaped from the threats of the Third Reich. I was six years old and my father was still recovering from the affects of being imprisoned in Dachau for 6 months.  We spent over one year living as prisoners in our home awaiting visas so that we could escape from the unspeakable crimes that would soon be perpetrated upon the Jewish community.  We had no idea of the nightmares to come in Europe.  Leaving Steinsfurt was not what my father had in mind before 1938.   Steinsfurt was his home and the homeland of our ancestors for over 200 years.  It was the place where my family lived and enjoyed all that was good in Germany.  It was a life that was filled with pride in being a German and being part of a country that produced beautiful music, creative theater, writers, poets, and civility. It was the country for which my ancestors fought for the Kaiser in the First World War.    It was the country that would remain in our soul as the homeland. 

 

My mother was the daughter of Hannah and Adolph Eichtersheimer who came to Steinsfurt from Ittlingen to open a business in construction materials.  My grandfather Eichtersheimer built   a beautiful home for his family on   Bahnhof Strausse.  That house stands today as one of Steinsfurt’s most gracious homes.  My father, the son of Mathilda and Joseph Weil, took great pride in his family home on 21 Hauptstrausse. In this house my father continued the family business of raising   a few cattle and farming the land.    It was here that he and my mother started a family and where he hoped to live out his life, surrounded by other members of the Weil family.    It was in this house that I was born in 1933 but that was also the year that brought the Third Reich into power, which ultimately   brought an end to the life of the Weil family in Germany.

 

As the family set-up a new household in the United States, the struggle to regain financial security and a sense of personal freedom did not come easily to my father.  He fought   to overcome fears and anxiety that overwhelmed him while imprisoned in Dachau. His fears prevented him from ever returning to Germany to visit his homeland   He died neither forgiving nor forgetting.  But time has been on my side.

 

During the last 10 years, Germany has initiated the process of Teshuva, (the Hebrew word for return & repentance) I am a Nurse, and I can tell you the only way to fully heal a wound is to open and clean it. Germany has cleaned the deep wounds perpetrated   by the Third Reich: it has bared its soul for all to see.  And Germany has set a high standard to make history right.    Germany has placed a memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe at its heart, in Berlin. It has confessed to the world the wrong that was done   and it has done so of its own free will.  It has done what   is commanded of every Jew on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; it has asked for forgiveness with a profound memorial and direct confession of the heart - a confession heard around the world.  We can ask for no more.   

For all you have done and on this 10th Anniversary of your extraordinary work   Judentum in the Kraichgau   We offer our heart - felt gratitude.  Thank you.

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