Jeanette and Leopold Weissburger

Location: Obere Mauergasse 68 – Bad Mergentheim

“Ingratitude is the world’s reward”

Jeanette Weißburger’s life can be summarized under this heading.

Her life probably began rather unspectacularly:

Jeanette Weisburger was born in 1876 as the daughter of master butcher Isak and his wife Fanny in Mergentheim and grew up here in the old town together with her brother Leopold, who was four years younger. Presumably as a young woman, she moved to Frankfurt before returning to Mergentheim after her marriage to Adolf Weißburger in 1909.

This was followed by a brief period of “normality”: within three years, she gave birth to three daughters – Klara (23.11.1909), Fanny (19.12.1910) and Luise (*30.12.1912).

This normality did not last long. We do not know when Adolf Weißburger was drafted into the First World War as a private. However, he returned to Mergentheim in 1917 seriously wounded and died at the age of 32. Even though he died in Mergentheim, his death was the direct result of injuries sustained at the front – Jeanette was a war widow and was alone with three children aged 5-8.

In this situation, Jeanette became involved in her brother Leopold’s second-hand goods and rag shop, which he had run together with the fallen Adolf.

When on November 2, 1924, seven years after her husband’s death, the bronze plaque1 was unveiled in the synagogue, listing the names of the eight “fallen sons of the Jewish community”, Jeanette and her three daughters were certainly present.

According to the “Gemeinde-Zeitung für die israelitischen Gemeinden Württembergs”: “The ceremony was attended by the heads of the Württemberg Officers‘ Association, the police brigade, the warriors’ association, the ambulance column, the municipal college with the town sheriff, Protestant and Catholic clergy and many Christian citizens of Mergentheim. ”2

Just one year later, in 1925, the eldest daughter Klara emigrated to her aunt in New York at the age of 16 and was followed a year later by her second daughter Fanny3, who was only 15 years old.

Just in time, namely in 1939, the youngest daughter Luise emigrated to the USA, leaving Jeanette and her brother alone without any further close family ties.

In 1939, Jews were also banned from trading, which meant that both of them lost their earning opportunities. From the fall of 1939, the Jews who remained in Germany had to live in so-called “Jewish houses”, but there is no indication of a move within Mergentheim, at least in the brother’s registration card, so the siblings probably lived in Obere Mauergasse at least until December 1941. From September 1941, they had to wear a “Jewish star”.

Jeanette was probably hit even harder than these repressions by the deportation of her brother Leopold, who was one of the first to be deported from Mergentheim on November 28, 1941.

In 1942, Jeanette Weißburger was also forced to leave the town of her birth. She had to move to the Eschenau forced old people’s home4. This – like all other forced old people’s homes – had the purpose of ghettoization and from the outset was only intended as a stopover before the subsequent deportation. The provisional and quickly converted forced old people’s home was closed off from the street and the castle garden was sealed off from the outside world with fences and wire mesh. The elderly were only allowed to leave the grounds briefly during the day. The police monitored the ban on going out after 8 pm.

Other aspects of this inhumane accommodation were the cold in the poorly heated rooms, hunger due to the low food rations and illnesses due to inadequate washing facilities. There was also a lack of privacy, as the single people had to share the larger rooms with several others. And finally, “many suffered from loneliness because they had lost their familiar family ties due to the persecution and flight of their relatives. ”5

But although the living conditions there were inhumane, the residents paid a lot of money for the enforced home purchase contracts in the hope of having a secure right to live there for the rest of their lives. On average, 2000 Reichsmarks were due for a place in Eschenau.

Jeanette Weißburger lived in Eschenau for six months.

It is known that the deportation began on August 19, 1942, when Eschenau policeman Christian Koch drove the elderly people and insulted them savagely. In the presence of the mayor of Eschenau, he threw the contents of a rucksack on the floor and stepped on prayer books. The residents were only allowed to take a suitcase with clothes, bedding, dishes and food for a few days. On August 20, 1942, Jeanette was deported from Stuttgart to Theresienstadt. Just one month later, on September 26, she was deported on an extermination transport to Treblinka, where she was murdered.

Even less is known about the life of Leopold Weißburger, who was born on August 1, 1880, than about that of his sister.

He, who presumably spent his entire life in Bad Mergentheim, remained unmarried throughout his life.

Together with his brother-in-law, he founded – as mentioned above – the company A. & L Weißburger OHG, which traded in old goods, bones and rags6 and which Adolf’s widow Jeanette joined after his death.

Leopold was certainly not able to amass great wealth in this way, which is indicated not only by his residential address on the edge of the old town in a rather small house, but also by the fact that he earned extra money as a community servant in the Jewish community. The fact that two of his nieces emigrated to the USA at a very young age may also support this.

The exact function of the community servant varied from community to community, but they were the lower-ranking community employees. In the much larger community in Frankfurt, it is known that community servants “carried out the daily and simple tasks arising from the self-administration of the Jews […] on behalf of the Jewish community ”7.

As already mentioned in connection with his sister Jeanette, the air to breathe became thinner and thinner from 1933 onwards.

As early as April 1, 1933, there was a nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses and practices, from 1938 he had to use the compulsory first name “Israel” and when the Mergentheim synagogue was also desecrated during the Reichspogromnacht on November 9-10, 1938, Leopold was of course directly affected as a community servant.

The compulsory marking of German Jews with the Star of David on September 1, 1941 was the last humiliation that Leopold suffered in relative freedom, because when the first deportation train for Jews from Württemberg and Hohenzollern was put together, his name was also on the list.

Together with ten other Jews from Mergentheim, he was transferred on the first transport to Stuttgart-Killesberg on November 28, 1941 and deported from there to Riga-Jungfernhof on December 1, 1941 along with 1000 Württemberg Jews. His registration card bears the date November 28, 1941 and reads “emigrated unknown”.

1 The plaque can now be found in the Residenzschloss in the section on the city’s history in the section on Jewish history

2 The synagogue in Bad Mergentheim (Main-Tauber district) (

3 According to Bremen passenger lists, she sailed from Bremen to New York on September 17, 1926

4 The information about the living conditions in Eschenau was taken from the book “Das jüdische Zwangsaltenheim Eschenau und seine Bewohner”, published by Martin Ulmer and Martin Ritter, Horb 2013.

5 Ulmer, Ritter (ed.): Das jüdische Zwangsaltenheim Eschenau und seine Bewohner, Horb 2013, p. 52f.

6 Hadern are old textiles/clothing for paper production

7 (accessed:11.5.2024)

Translated with (free version)

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