Münsingen is a town in the district of Reutlingen, 23 km SE of Reutlingen, and 37 km W of Ulm. Buttenjausen at 48°22' N, 09°29' E is 31 miles SE of Stuttgart, 24 miles W of Ulm, in Landkreis Reutlingen with Neckar-Alb, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg. Part of Münsingen since 1975.. Jewish population: 442 (in 1870), 89 (in 1933).


72525 Baden-Württemberg. see MÜNSINGEN (MUENSINGEN) incorporating BUTTENHAUSEN.

Jewish history: Without the Jewish cemetery, Buttenhausen would be just another village in the Swabian Alb. In the middle of the town are three roughly hewn stone columns. On the middle one is written: "To the brothers and sisters of the Jewish community of Buttenhausen who lost their lives as victims of National Socialist oppression, 1933-1945." To the left and right on the two other columns are written the names of the Jewish families that lived in Buttenhausen for centuries until 1943. A few meters away at the Rathaus (town hall), between the second and ground floors, is the inscription, in large letters, "Bernheimer'sche Realschule" (Bernheimer Secondary School). Above the town in the Jewish cemetery and its 100+ gravestones with Hebrew and German inscriptions. In this village of Buttenhausen, Jews and Christians lived together, closely. In the previous century for decades as many Jews as Christians lived here. Less as a charitable deed, and much more for financial reasons, Baron Philipp Friedrich von Liebenstein settled Jewish families in the imperial knight's village of Buttenhausen in the year 1787. He hoped to gain an economic revival from the Jews. In a letter of safe conduct, a number of rights were granted to the Jews:

  • -- They were permitted to undertake "all businesses permitted in the empire;"
  • -- They received the lots for their houses free;
  • -- They were excused from compulsory service;
  • -- They got their own burial ground.

For this, each family paid an annual patronage fee of 12 guilders to the landlord . On the burial of a married person, e.g., 2 guilders must be paid to him, for an unmarried person, 1 guilder. In this way, Jews paid the highest taxes in Buttenhausen. In 1870,  the Jewish population was 442 out of 800. Jews lived in 46 out of 100 houses. There was a synagogue, a rabbinical building, a Jewish poorhouse and a bath. In 1902 the Bernheimer family, who had moved to Munich, had a four year secondary school built and oversaw it with a foundation. Thus, children from Buttenhausen, regardless of their religion, could attend a secondary school free of charge. During the inflation in the 1920s, the school had to be closed. Only the inscription is left. Jewish citizens of Buttenhausen erected a community library, built a "little children's school" for the entire village, donated contributions for village street lighting and financed the clock for the village church. The relationship between Christian and Jewish residents remained invariably good until 1933. Jews played an active role in the life of the community. There was always one or more Jewish resident on the community council. The Nazis sundered this peace. Some Jewish families emigrated to Switzerland or to the United States of America. During the first burning of the synagogue on Kirstallnacht, the Christian Mayor Hirrle confronted the arsonists with a pistol. The village fire department were able to nip the arson in the bud. Valuable holy objects were brought to safety. On the morning of 10 November, SA men again appeared suddenly in Buttenhausen, held the mayor in the town hall, set fire to the synagogue and prevented every effort to extinguish it. In 1939, the Jewish community was broken up. Jews who had come from other places, for example from an old age home in Heilbronn, had to leave Buttenhausen in 1941. With an admirable sense of civic duty, one resident of Buttenhausen, Walter Ott, who worked on the farm of the old age home, took on the duty of caring for the Jewish tradition in Buttenhausen. Evening after evening, for weeks, he had knelt before the gravestones in the cemetery and in black or gold paint retraced and repainted the Hebraic inscriptions. Walter Ott would never have had the idea to take care of the abandoned cemetery if one day he had not found in the attic of a house community files about the Jews: tax certificates, building permits, marriage and death reports. Today, Walter Ott organizes exhibitions in the village, has discussions with young people and visitors to the cemetery, and presents a "Dokumentation" about the deportation of Jews from Buttenhausen. On the question of why he took this effort upon himself, he replied to a reporter a few years ago: "They were citizens of Buttenhausen;, and they made Buttenhausen what it is today." Occasionally Jews from all over the world visit the restored cemetery in Buttenhausen to look for the gravestones of their ancestors. In 1983, an 85 year old Jewish woman from Florida came to Buttenhausen, to the town of her birth that she had left in 1937. Asked if she would ever want to live in Germany again, she replied without hesitation, "No, not as a Jew!" Jewish Museum. [February 2013]

To see information and photographs of individual gravestones in cemeteries in Baden-Wuerttemberg, click on this link and follow the directions on that page.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 02:20
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