Since 23. 4. 2015, there are also STOLPERSTEINE in the area of the former Synagogue community Zell for those who were displaced and murdered during National Socialism. On the sidewalk in front of their apartments and houses, the memory of the disappeared neighbours is kept alive.
The circle of friends of the Synagogue thanks all those who have made these places of remembrance possible through sponsorships and donations.
For many years now, the Zell Museum has been home to a permanent exhibition worth seeing, which documents the life of the Jews of Zell extensively in documents, photos, household effects and cult objects of Jewish life.
The art project STOLPERSTEINE by the Cologne artist Gunter Demnig was first discussed in the circle Friends of the Synagogue in 2002, but its realisation seemed to be a long way off. On the one hand, so many stones were laid in the big cities that there were bottlenecks and very long waiting times, and on the other hand, rural areas often found it rather difficult. The objections and concerns about this remembrance project were manifold.
In 2013 the district administration of Cochem – Zell and the “Wochenspiegel”
took up the topic and finally the STOLPERSTEINs were also found in the district of Cochem – Zell the broad approval of the administration and the public.
In February 2014, a working group in the Friends of the Synagogue began to project the STOLPERSTEIN for the Zell community once again.
Already a year later, on 23 April 2015, the first eight stones were laid for the families Bermann/Frank and Wolf in Zell, Geisel/Gamiel in Zell-Merl and for the politically persecuted Jakob Koch. Three more stones of the Wolf family from Merl have their temporary place in the synagogue.
Survivors or their descendants were informed and invited as far as they could be found. Some did not reply, others regretted not being able to make the journey because of their advanced age.
The Bermann/Frank family travelled to Zell with twenty people. Hilde Breitbart, granddaughter of Louise Frank, 85 years old, made the long journey from the USA, accompanied by her four children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Five descendants of Karl Bermann came from Israel.
Hilde Breitbart gave a moving speech in the synagogue:
My name is Hilde Breitbart. My parents, Max and Mathilde Levi, lived in Bausendorf. My parents had two children, myself and Edgar, my younger brother. We lived a simple life – my parents owned a small general store and we lived in the house above the store.
My grandmother Louise lived with her sister Jenny here in Zell.
At that time the immigration rules in the US were, that you had to have a relative to sponsor you, so you would not be a burden.
We were fortunate to have an uncle in the US. He was the reason, we were able to leave the country.
My grandmother did not want to leave – she was the widow of a decorated war veteran. She said to us, why would I want to leave –
I am the widow of war hero. Nothing will happen to us.
Unfortunately we know this not to be the case. In 1938 Louise and her sister were sent to Lodz, a Jewish Ghetto in Poland, shortly thereafter were sent to a concentration camp, where they were killed.
We are here today to honor their memories. And also to honor the wonderful project that Gunther has taken upon himself to do.
I still get goose bumps on my arms, and my eyes tear, whenever I think about what he is doing. I can’t say enough about it. I would like to thank Herr de Jong for making all this possible for me and my family. I am very grateful to Frauke and to Franz for all their efforts on our behalf, thank you so much, Ruth.
But we are also here to celebrate. Celebrate the fact that my parents were smart enough, insightful enough, to realize what was happening, and were lucky enough to get to the United States.
I am also here to celebrate my family – I have four children, that have produced seven beautiful grandchildren, and to date I have six great grandchildren, three who have traveled here with us.
I am also here to celebrate that out of the ashes of holocaust, one the worst tragedies ever known to mankind, has risen this wonderful country. A democracy, who like the US, stands for life liberty and pursuit of happiness. A country that recognizes the rights of individuals. That strives not to allow hate of one’s fellow man.
Today, unfortunately, that hate has risen it’s ugly face. There are those that use a twisted version of their religion to promote hate, death and destruction. Anti Semitism is rearing it’s ugly head here in Europe and around the world. I don’t know why, but what I do know is this:
WE MUST NOT ALLOW THIS HATE TO CONTINUE.
We must remember and keep alive the memories of the holocaust, as an example of what hate can do, and we must join together, all of us around the world, to fight to eliminate this from mankind. Thank you for allowing me this time to talk with you.