Revisiting Leonberg

EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX C – DERELICT MASS GRAVES: A BITTER REVISITATION TO LEONBERG

“My second time in Stuttgart! After an absence of more than 18 years, I was driving through its streets on a one-day visit, my car filled with suitcases, my wallet filled with money – a well-fed citizen of this land of economic miracles. I was on my way to the International Convention of Dentists in Cologne. I couldn’t help thinking about the time when we were staggering through these streets, some of our number sitting down at the roadside in utter exhaustion, waiting for the shot to the head that would spare them the pain of further marches. No, it was not a proud feeling to be one of the few who survived the bloodbath, to have gone on to university and gained two doctorates. I felt sad and despondent…

First of all, I went to the Jewish Community in Stuttgart. Busy secretaries in fine offices were working away on modern typewriters. Notices concerning a variety of compensation problems hung on the walls. I went inside and asked for directions to the mass graves of Leonberg. “What, Leonberg?” came the reply. “Never heard of it. A concentration camp, or a grave of brothers for the victims of the concentration camp – here? Never heard of it.” One person arrives, saying that he has heard of a forced labour camp for foreigners in Leonberg, but “as the Jewish Community we have no interest in this.” The office manager of the Community begins to question me, as to whether I am fully Jewish or a half-Jew, and what was I doing in Leonberg anyway? I was appalled by their questions. “Yes, there were some non-Jews in Leonberg, but the majority of the inmates were Jewish.” All we need to do is go through the “Incomplete Lists” stored at the registry office in Leonberg, and soon we will know who the victims were. The Lists also include the names of Jews from Germany, Holland, Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and so on. After I had described, in a few brief words, the life and death of hundreds of Jews and non-Jews during the final weeks of the war, the head of the Community Office telephoned the mayor’s office in Leonberg. He was told that there were two mass graves containing former inmates of concentration camps in Leonberg, and that some of the bodies had been exhumed. The mayor’s office was staying open late today, and the registry officer in charge of the administration of mass graves would await me if I could arrive soon.”

Leonberg 1944-54 [Memorial Museum Leonberg]

Holocaust remembrancePsychology
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