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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community in Würzburg

Würzburg During the Holocaust

The Last Days of the Jewish Teachers Seminary in Würzburg

Hilde Cohn, née Stern

At 2 a.m. during the night of November 9, 1938, the janitor came to wake us up. We were the seven or eight female students housed on the upper floor of the building adjacent to the seminary. The lower floor was occupied by the Family Massenbacher who took care of the Seminary kitchen and was generally in charge of the physical upkeep of the institution.

I was not quite 15 years old at the time and had never been up at such an unusual hour, a fact that made an enormous impression on me. The other girls were moving around the hallway and several entered my room to tell me to get dressed. The janitor, a non-Jew, was standing near the window, looking out toward the town of Würzburg: "They are burning the synagogues and I heard that a whole gang is headed this way. Take my advice and get out of the building. They are sure to ransack the seminary and, who knows, perhaps come right up to your rooms."

We knew who "they" were and needed no further encouragement. The road into town was, indeed, filled with marching S.A. and Hitlerjugend (Storm troopers and Hitler youth) moving towards the Seminary. Since this way was blocked to us, we just started to walk in the direction away from Würzburg into the autumnal peaceful countryside

I vaguely remember going back to Würzburg some weeks later to pick up some of my belongings. The place was quite empty, there was an air of finality, a distinct message that a chapter in the history of the German Jews had come to an end.

Source: Ottensoser M., Roberg A. (eds.), ILBA Israelitische Lehrerbildungsanstalt Würzburg - 1864-1938 by the Alumni of 1930-38, Huntington Woods 1982, pp. 179- 182.