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Moving history, moving stories: Föhrenwald book is presented


The former St. Matthias student Alois Berger presents his new Föhrenwald book in the memorial bath house.

The former St. Matthias student Alois Berger presents his new Föhrenwald book in the memorial bathhouse.

Wolfratshausen – A special premiere is coming up next Sunday: four days before the official release, the Berlin journalist, musician and documentary filmmaker Alois Berger will be presenting his book “Föhrenwald – das forgottene Schtetl.

A Suppressed Chapter of German-Jewish Post-War History”.


Alois Berger journalist, musician and documentary filmmaker

© Piper Verlag

Moving history, moving stories: Föhrenwald book is presented

After graduating from high school and college in St. Matthias in 1981, Berger studied philosophy and politics.

It was only very late that he found out about the history of the place where he had gone to school.

"We were right in the middle of it and yet clueless," Berger addresses the long forgetting and repression, the late remembering.

In his book he illuminates "a small Upper Bavarian town in the middle of world history".

For Berger and his generation, "war and the post-war period are always closely linked to the immediate family history, to the behavior of our parents".

That's why he asked himself questions during his research: "What were you doing at that time?

Why didn't you help the Jews?" Berger held talks with people from Waldram and former people from Föhrenwald - and brought to light what had long been suppressed: what guilt the church and politics, for example, took upon themselves by taking responsibility for it after the sale of Föhrenwald to the Catholic Settlement Agency ensured that the last 768 Jewish residents were mostly resettled against their will.

Although most of them got nice new apartments, they felt that the procedure was another expulsion, twelve years after the end of Nazi Germany.

Contemporary witnesses talk about their childhood: the book shows the history of Föhrendwald

The memories of the eyewitnesses that Berger interviewed, for example those of Anton Jakob Weinberger, who now lives in Frankfurt am Main, are difficult to bear.

Weinberger's grandmother advised her grandson: "Be polite to old people, but don't shake hands with old men."

He could have murdered your grandparents.” And Majer Szanckower, who grew up in Föhrenwald and whose father ran the cinema, met Berger in the gatehouse of the Jewish cemetery in Frankfurt – and let him talk about everyday life in the displaced persons camp.

In his book, Berger does not omit the combat training for the Haganah – a Zionist paramilitary underground organization in Palestine during the British Mandate – and the difficult path to the promised land: “A total of 23,000 former displaced persons served in the Israeli army, around a third the overall strength.

A good 500 officers completed their extended basic training in the former Königsdorf highland camp.

Reading in the bathhouse: Föhrendwald book is presented

Some of the displaced people returned from Israel illegally - because they couldn't cope with the climate or the people there.

Manfred Friedländer dictated to Berger in the block: "My mother was a city girl.

With her high heels she already looked like a stranger in the kibbutz.” And Robbi Waks, a child of Föhrenwald who now lives in Tel Aviv, admitted that he “never completely left Germany and never really settled in Israel”.

"I'm the typical Yid, the Yid in between, carrying around 2000 years of diaspora."

Alois Berger also sheds light on the old silence and the new talking, which Josef Brustmann, a cabaret artist who grew up in Föhrenwald and Waldram, puts into words: "My father wasn't a fascist, but that was just too much guilt, it couldn't be processed there you couldn't stand by it."

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Finally the author went to Regensburg and visited Dr.

Karl Braun, who had been his headmaster and Greek teacher in St. Matthias.

Why had this well-read and learned man never told his students about his research on Föhrenwald?

Braun's answer: "I'm patting myself on the chest, I should have made that an issue and I don't know why I didn't."

You can read all the news from Wolfratshausen here.



Alois Berger's book "Föhrenwald, the forgotten Schtetl.

A Suppressed Chapter of German-Jewish Post-War History” is published by Piper-Verlag.

It has 240 pages and contains 15 black and white illustrations

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-03-23

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