David – Jette

Location: Alte Frankenstraße 30 – Edelfingen

Much – all too much – about Jette David’s life remains in the dark.

Jette David was born on July 4, 1861 in Korb, which today belongs to Möckmühl. At that time, it had only been a good thirty years since Jews in Württemberg had to adopt surnames. Jette’s grandfather had opted for Ehrenberg.

Until the middle of the 19th century, the proportion of Jewish inhabitants in the village was very high (it reached its peak in 1833, when 102 people were Jewish), but shortly after Jette’s birth, in 1864, there were only 54 Jews living in the community – still just under 9 percent.

Who Jette’s husband was is just as unknown today as the reasons why she settled in Edelfingen, and no tax documents have come down to us either, which is surprising, as these of all Mergentheim and thus also Edelfingen Jewish tradespeople escaped the “cleansing”.

There are no pictures or documents of Jette David’s life, but there are stories about “Jettele” that have been passed down through the generations in the families of her former neighbors. These give us an image that conveys more vividness than the photos or documents of that era could.

Jette, who ran a small grocery and peddling business, was obviously very industrious and when a new barrel of herrings was delivered, she would pack the remaining herrings in her apron and offer them for sale to her neighbor.

We can only guess exactly what life was like for a Jewish woman in Edelfingen. However, she was part of a large minority – until 1933, 9% of all Edelfingen residents were Jewish. And the center of Jewish life was here in the Alte Frankenstraße or Judengasse. Here – just a few houses away – was the synagogue, the school and the mikvah.

Although we know nothing about Jette’s husband or any children, Jette David did not live alone. We do not know when her niece Rosa Lilienstrauß, who was born in Homburg am Main, moved in with her, but the two unmarried women lived in the same household.

Like most members of the Edelfingen Jewish community, Jette David adhered to the Shabbat rules, which forbade her to light a fire (or even turn on a light switch) on Shabbat. In order to still have a fire or light, she had to rely on the support of her neighbors. It was Mrs. Köber’s husband who, as a young boy, did such jobs for Jette David and Rosa Lilienstrauß – he was their Shabbes-Goi.

As I said, Jette David was part of a large minority until 1933, but the repression that then began drove more and more Edelfingen Jews into emigration.

For the owner of a grocer’s store, the first boycott of Jews on April 1, 1933 was probably already a beacon, and when the synagogue in Edelfingen was desecrated in 1938 and at the same time numerous Jewish men were abused and taken to Dachau, the air became increasingly thin to breathe. Presumably, more and more of Jette David’s neighbors and acquaintances turned away from her during this time, as such experiences resulted in the statement she made to her shabbes-goi, who had grown up in the meantime. When she saw him in uniform, she expressed the fear that he would probably no longer greet or visit her in future. It is a small consolation that this was not the case.

In early December 1941, Jette David’s niece Rosa Lilienstrauß was deported and presumably a short time later, in 1942, Jette David was forced to move to the Jewish home for the elderly in Oberstotzingen near Ulm.

“It is known from the Jewish old people’s homes in Württemberg that the living conditions were socially and hygienically inadequate. The residents had hardly any privacy as they were housed with several people in one room. Poor hygienic conditions, scarce food, no right to new clothes and inadequate heating were the order of the day. “1

She did not live there for long, because in August 1942 all Jewish old people’s homes in Württemberg were dissolved and the residents were taken to Stuttgart-Killesberg. Jette David was deported on the same transport as Jeanette Weißburger from Mergentheim or her former neighbors, the Bierig couple from Mittlere Straße 1, from Stuttgart to Theresienstadt on 22 August 1942, where she died on 20 January 1943.

1 Wikipediaeintrag: Jüdische Altenheime im Nationalsozialismus, Zugriff: 7.5.2024

Laying date: May 06, 2024
Sponsorship: present
Author: RH