2.) Irritierende Eindrücke eines ausländischen Touristen bezüglich der jüdischen Geschichte im Rheinland
Am 7. August 2015 veröffentlichte Barry Shaw im Blog des Canadian Institute for Jewish Research einen Artikel, der seine Eindrücke von einer Rhein-Mosel-Bootsfahrt wiedergibt: „In Search of the Missing Jews of the Rhine“.
Sein “Sailing the rivers of Moselle and the Rhine” empfand er insgesamt als ein “eye-opening experience“. Offenbar bezog sich dies weniger auf die romantische Landschaft, die mittelalterlichen Burgen und die unzähligen Weinberge an Rhein und Mosel, sondern auf seine privaten Ziele, die eigentlich vom Reiseprogramm her gar nicht vorgesehen waren.
Barry Shaw publiziert als namhafter Buchautor und seriöser Kolumnist auch bei den Israel's Voice Headquarters State of New Jersey, problematisiert bei „Israel: Reclaiming the Narrative“ und in seinem Blog The View from Israel spezielle Vorbehalte gegen Israel. Er gilt als anerkannter Publizist bei The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel.
....... Barry Shaw, Autor des Buches ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism’ und ausgewiesener Kämpfer gegen den Anti-Semitismus, besuchte u.a. die Städte Köln, Koblenz, Bernkastel, Trier, Cochem, Mainz und Breisach, nahm an den jeweiligen Besichtigungstouren teil und nutzte seine karge Freizeit auch dafür, Spuren des Judentums in der genannten Region zu suchen. Hier glaubte er, nicht erfolgreich gewesen zu sein und lobte als einzigen Ort die oberrheinische Stadt Breisach: “It was satisfying to end our tour in a town that knows how to respect their missing Jews.”
Sein Gesamteindruck enttäuschte mich, denn ich gehöre zu den vielen rheinischen Regionalhistorikern, die seit Jahrzehnten versuchen, einen derartigen Eindruck zu verhindern. Verallgemeinernd glaube ich sagen zu dürfen, dass überall in unserer Region der jüdischen Gemeinden gedacht wird. Die Bevölkerung respektiert ihr Schicksal und Ansehen!
Einleitend stellt sich Barry Shaw die Fragen:
While visiting peaceful and picturesque locations, and learning of their turbulent histories, I began to notice an emptiness that was referred to in places, and ignored in others. The emptiness was the missing Jews of the Rhine. Who were they? What happened to them? And how are they acknowledged by the towns that housed them, and destroyed them?
Barry Shaw gewahrte zwar in Köln die vielen Stolpersteine und Schulklassen in einer Gedenkstätte, fühlte sich aber in Koblenz vom lokalen Reiseleiter diesbezüglich überhaupt nicht informiert. Angeblich war seine Suche nach den Juden ein „traumatic experience“:
..... Something was missing in his detailed explanation of the history of Koblenz – the Jews. When I asked him how many Jews were in Koblenz prior to the war, he didn’t know. When I asked him if there had been a synagogue in the town he told me that it had been located in a building he had pointed out to us in a square more than half an hour before. His silence on these issues was troubling to me.
... As we continued walking I asked him if the building he had shown us had been the Gestapo headquarters. He hesitantly answered its use was something like that.
I began to be emotional and angry. Out of a pent-up rage I asked him if this was the square where the town’s Jews were assembled before they were marched to the train station. He hesitated and mumbled something oblique in a failed answer to my questioning. I pressed my point and asked him where the train station was located and, indeed, it was not far away from that square.
To Werner, there were no missing Jews. There was no admission they existed at all in his town...
Shaking with fury I told my wife I was leaving this tour group, explaining to her my anger at his failure to acknowledge this part of his town’s history. It was a sheer coincidence that no sooner had we left our group that we heard voices in Hebrew. It was an Israeli group being led by their Israeli guide...
Auch mit dem malerischen Weinort Cochem an der Mosel war Barry Shaw nicht ganz zufrieden:
There is a Jewish cemetery in the woods below Cochem Castle but I could find no memorial or sign indicating the fate of Cochem’s Jews, although there is another Jewish graveyard in Kelbergerstrasse with grave from 1940. Cochem’s history, it seems, revolves around other historic matters...
What is maddening is to visit peaceful, semi-isolated small towns far away from the major centers of Germany that were still so fevered with Nazi enthusiasm that synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in tiny places like Bernkastel, Cochem and Rudesheim had to be destroyed and their local Jews beaten and dragged away to concentration camps in a Jew hatred that infected every town and village along the Rhine and Moselle rivers.
Bezüglich Mainz vermerkt der kritische Tourist überrascht in seinem Online-Artikel: “Our Mainz guide told me that he had attended and enjoyed an Israeli Film Festival that had taken place in Mainz the evening before our tour.”
Ohne an dieser Stelle weitere Aspekte oder die Wiedergabe zitierter Lexika-Angaben zu erwähnen, möchte ich abschließend das Lob von Barry Shaw erwähnen, das er dem kleinen Städtchen Breisach zukommen lässt:
I found much of my attention turning to how towns acknowledged the fate of their Jews into their narrative of the long history of their towns.Most were respectful. Others were withdrawn to the point of being dismissive. I was, therefore, pleased to end my investigation in Breisach where my wife and I went on foot is search of traces of Jewish presence in this Rhine town. At one time, 14% of the town’s population was Jewish...
A marble tiled floor displays a menorah on which stands an impressive brown memorial in the shape of an Aron Kodesh – the holy ark. Engraved upon it is Psalm 25:6 “Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your loyal Covenant as of old.”
.... It was satisfying to end our tour in a town that knows how to respect their missing Jews.
Es ist nicht unbedingt meine Absicht, den erwähnten Autor zu kritisieren, aber es wäre doch zu empfehlen, sich vor einer idyllischen Bootsfahrt auf Rhein und Mosel über spezielle und private Ziel zu informieren. Grundsätzlich wäre ein Internet-Zugriff auf die von mir ungemein geschätzte Alemannia Judaica-Website sinnvoll, die wichtige Informationen zur besuchten Rhein-Mosel-Region gibt.
Dann hätte der letzte Satz im Reisebericht von Barry Shaw gelautet:
“It was satisfying to end our tour in Germany that knows how to respect their missing Jews.”
3.) Letter to the Editor of the ISRA-Blog of the Canadian Institute
for Jewish Research (English Version)
Regarding: Barry Shaw: IN SEARCH OF THE MISSING JEWS OF THE RHINE, in: ISRA-Blog, August 7th, 2015
Hereby I would like to comment on the article written by Barry Shaw mentioned above which deals with the “Sailing the rivers of Moselle and the Rhine”. It seems more fairly volatile and in my opinion it is not really informative.
I am a German, not-Jewish historian and author of several books and live near that region which Mr. Shaw describes. So I wonder if he was in Germany for the first time. What was the difference between his boat trip and other trips to Germany? Or was it even his first trip to the romantic Rhine-Mosel-landscape?
Just like Mr. Shaw I always try to find Jewish relics, too, and always – when I travel around with my wife –, I have looked at the former synagogues and cemeteries. In this respect please have a look at my online articles about Korfu (Greece) or Split (Croatia):
But I myself get by with the information of the mostly non-bias efforts of the guides as well as with the existence of little Jewish communities.
By the way: did Mr Shaw have any contact with the Jewish communities of the places that he visited during the few hours? Their members would probably be disappointed by his contribution on “Sailing the rivers of Moselle and the Rhine”.
Of course, I myself remind of their past and history in my articles as well. But everybody who reads Shaw's article must think that nobody in Germany will not remind foreign guests of the terrible crimes of the holocaust any more and that everyone is trying to conceal anything. Even Mr. Shaw draws attention to the thousands of "Stumbling Stones". What is his problem anyway?
I emphasize and summarize: NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN in Germany!
Especially in the areas near Rhine and Moselle there are numerous of books, steles and commemorative plaques as well as memorials. Nearly every German town, city or village has now trying to reconstruct their recent history. I point to my own homepage http://www.hans-dieter-arntz.de/ as well as to the great website of Alemannia Judaica http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/ . Especially the last one deals with the area of South Germany, Moselle and Rhine.
Actually a tour guide has to show and present what the travelling ones really expect to see – especially in the case when they are mostly elderly participants of a romantic boat trip. They had known the full programme before they booked it.
Of course, a Jewish visitor will have special interests during a “Sailing the rivers of Moselle and the Rhine”, but for Mr. Shaw all ended in “an eye-opening experience“ and his disappointing result is: " ... an emptiness that was referred to in places, and ignored in others. The emptiness was the missing Jews of the Rhine. Who were they? What happened to them? And how are they acknowledged by the towns that housed them, and destroyed them?
Did he really want to be informed only about this? In spite of well-known historical facts on the Jewish communities, which were only taken from WIKIPEDIA and typical travelogues and books, there were no real personal findings. Everybody can read and write something like this. And his really short "impressions"????
I would have recommended him another tour, of which there are many. But these ones weren't offered before his trip to the romantic “rivers of Moselle and the Rhine” or evenduring his sailing. Why not?
As I travel in Shaw's way, too, I do know that the short stops and stays during these sailings only last about three to five hours. In this case, it may be questionable whether the “young tour guide Werner in Koblenz” should speak about details of the Holocaust. Had Mr Shaw booked the right travel company? He quoted in his article: "It was a sheer coincidence that no sooner had we left our group that we heard voices in Hebrew. It was an Israeli group being led by their Israeli guide." Surely Mr. Shaw himself had booked in a travel agency without asking his special questions and so it results from ..... (?)
It's a pity if readers of this article get a false impression of the attitude of the population in the Rhine-Moselle region.
But as a German I must really confess that nothing ought to be forgotten. Especially the youth must always be reminded of the German-Jewish past.