Family Bachenheimer; Bernhard and Mathilde, née Gruenebaum

Family Origin

Bernhard Bachenheimer was born 14.10.1884 in Hallenberg.

He was married July 28, 1909 to his first wife Bertha Gruenebaum, born July 6, 1884 in Hellstein, district Gelnhausen. Bertha died December 15, 1916 in Frankfurt.

June 27, 1919 he married his second wife Mathilde Gruenebaum, born  September 3, 1891 in Hellstein, district Gelnhausen.

Bernhard and his first wife Bertha Bachenheimer had three children. All lived on Petersberger Strasse 4.

Hedwig was born February 9, 1913 in Fulda. On March 6, 1936 she married in Fulda Max Goldmeier, born December 6, 1903 in Uttrichshausen. Their daughter Bertha was born January 5, 1937 in Fulda. The family was able to flee to Arica/Bolivia on July 4, 1939.

Zilla was born October 19, 1914 in Fulda and able to flee to England on June 22, 1939.

Meinold was born March 10, 1916 in Fulda and left Fulda to Haifa/Palestine on September 5, 1935.

Bernhard and his second wife Mathilde had four children, all boys.

Lothar, born March 27, 1921 in Fulda. He was arrested at the age of 17 and sent to Buchenwald after Kristallnacht November 10, 1938. On February 6, 1939 he was able to flee to England.

Julius was born February 1, 1923 in Fulda and able to flee to London/England on February 28, 1939.

Erich was born September 9, 1924 in Fulda and fled to Haifa/Palestine on March 13, 1939.

Berthold was born May 29, 1927 in Fulda and was able to flee to Tel Aviv/Palestine on January 4, 1940.

Bernhard Bachenheimer fought during World War I for Germany. Among other places he fought in Galizien and Verdun and was awarded the Iron Class 2nd Class on June 2, 1918.

Bernhard was a master baker and with Mathilde he owned a bakery on Petersberger Strasse 4. But with the seizure of power by the National Socialists, the business was slowly detriorating.

But unlike his children, the couple could not save themselves by emigrating to foreign countries.

On December 8, 19141 Bernhard and Mathilde were deported from Fulda to Kassel and from there on December 9, 1941 to Riga.

Bernhard was murdered in 1943 in the Kaiserwald concentration camp, near Riga.

His wife Mathilde was transferred by boat to the Stutthof concentration camp, where she died on December 21, 1944.

In memory of the Bachenheimer family, summer 1937

By Erich Gruenebaum, nephew from Bernhard and Mathilde Bachenheimer.

One fine day Mama and Hanni left for Frankfurt, there for Hanni to be put on a train for Holland for a visit with the relatives.

When Hanni returned at the end of her several weeks’ visit, she told stories of the enlightened living conditions in Holland. What a great time she had with Aunt Ruth and Uncle Selmar who couldn’t do enough for her. On the Sabbath, after services, people would linger in front of the Synagogue loudly greeting one another with hearty “Gut Schabbos” calls. This would be frowned upon in Germany where any display of Jewishness was strictly forbidden. They visited places and did things that would be unheard of by Jews in our society. Once again how I envied my sister her good fortune.

I was however not completely deprived that summer of 1937. While my sister was away in Holland I too had the opportunity to do a little visiting. An acquaintance of my parents’ was traveling through Hellstein one day with some female relatives, on their way to the main highway south of us at Wächtersbach. They were on their way to Fulda and stopped off on the way to say hello to Mama and Papa.

Mama’s ears perked up when she heard Fulda. We had relatives in Fulda, my Aunt Tillie and her husband Uncle Bernard Bachenheimer, they owned a bakery in Fulda. Quickly my mother picked up the phone and called the Bachenheimers: “Can poor little Erich spent a few weeks with you? He is all alone and you have four boys and it would do him so much good!”

How could they refuse? I always liked my Bachenheimer cousins, all boys and all older than I.

Mama crammed some of my clothes into a cardboard carton while the visitors waited. Soon I was sitting on my cardboard box on the floor in the back of the automobile, facing backward out the rear window. I will never forget that automobile trip. I even remember the brand of soap that came in that carton. It was PERSIL, a major brand of washday soap. The entire trip I sat with my body facing backward but my head turned to the front so I could see where we were going. It is no fun to see where you’ve been, you want to see where you’re going. For some time after I arrived at my relatives’ house in Fulda I had one world-class stiff neck.

I had a good time during my two weeks’ stay with The Bachenheimers. There were my four boy cousins, Lothar, Julius, Erich and Berthold. Berthold was the youngest, only one year older than I was, and therefore closest to me in age. The bakery was still a going business, although they only had Jewish customers. Actually it was really more of a cafe in that they not only produced their own baked goods but also served light meals. Maybe it was the only kosher restaurant in Fulda. To a little boy from Hellstein it was like entering paradise. My cousin Lothar, the oldest, delighted in showing me around the actual bakeshop, where he served as an apprentice to his father.

Every morning, except on the Sabbath, there was a delivery route to deliver fresh bread to various households. This was Berthold’s job and while I was there I helped him with his route. We had a little wooden wagon loaded with the bread for the route. The wagon had a handle by which to pull it and the two of us pulled our little wagon, side by side. My Uncle Bernard was of course the master baker. The man must have been of a very patient disposition and gentle nature. I asked him all kinds of stupid questions about how is this done or why is that. I remember him standing by the stove and good humoredly explaining to this ignorant eight or nine year old how one makes the dough for croissants or what are the ingredients of cooked custard or some such technicality.

The Bachenheimers were super orthodox people, much more so than my own parents were. I was in awe of their piety. There was no way that any work could possibly be performed on the Sabbath. They had a charcoal stove made just for the purpose of keeping food warm for the weekend. The charcoal was banked and stayed hot without having to be touched. My aunt cooked all the meals and set them on the stove on Fridays. There is no experience like drinking coffee that has been sitting on a hot stove for over fifteen hours.

I enjoyed my vacation in Fulda. The Bachenheimers seemed to have been a very happy family.

Many thanks to the family Bachenheimer for providing pictures and documents.

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