You are here: Home Western & Southeastern Europe France FRAUENBERG: (Moselle département, Lorraine région): 57200.
FRAUENBERG: (Moselle département, Lorraine région): 57200. PDF Print E-mail


(German for mount of the women) is a village at 49° 08′ 15″ N 07° 07′ 41″ E with a 1999 population of 567. has a video of the cemetery, many photos, and history all in French. Translation: "Six kilometers from Sarreguemines on the side of steep hills that overlook the dale of Blies, an old castle raises its still imposing ruins. The high towers, walls pierced and half collapsed, dominate the snaking course of the river in the distance. At its feet and in the narrow space between the riverside and the mountain, the village of Frauenberg stretches at the edge of waters, half hidden by a curtain of poplars; then folding up on itself, as it climbs part of the hill like picturesque belt of rural buildings." That is how in 1865, Jules Thilloy represented the village of Frauenberg. What is it today? At first glance, very few things changed: the old circular dungeon -- to which hang on some tufts of small trees -- continues raising its strong silhouette in the sky; at its feet, Blies always does its snaky course which leads to the fountain of Bliesbrünn - in Germany - until Sarreguemines where it throws itself into Saar. As for the village, Secondary Road 974, which meanders along the valley, disturbs the calmness in no way. However, everything changed. The post of customhouse, located outside the village, today calls to all that disappeared, the last symbol of border in a région which, in the course of the centuries, did not cease changing. Roman, it was the object of battles between the "barbaric" tribes; then, it was Lotharingie, Holy Roman-Germanic Empire, Prussia, appended by Nazi Germany and, finally, to come back to France and today to belong in Europe. The population of Frauenberg also knew, in the course of time, remarkable changes. So, the past flourishing Jewish community of Frauenberg is not more than a memory, fragile memory maintained by the Jewish burying ground nested at the exit of the village, the last relic of an entire community forever missing. This burying ground is the object of our memory after a brief recall dedicated to the history of the village of Frauenberg and to its Jewish community. The known first mention of the castle of Frauenberg which dominates the village is in an act dating from 1371 by Frederick de Sierck also called "Lord of Frauenberg ". But, who is the founder, or the constructor of "Frauenburg"? No written text can provide us with answer. However, they know that in the 1370s the castle of Mengen is deserted by its owners who thought it is too dilapidated. Perhaps the new residence, more in touch with the new means of defense brought by military progress, is built in this time. This new castle is probably that of Frauenberg, protected by waters of Blies and located at the top of a hill close to an important road in relations between the Dukedom of Lorraine and the county of Bliescastel-Deux Ponts. But what is the meaning of this name of Frauenburg, "the castle of the ladies"? The opinions of the historians vary. One hypothesis is that of the professor Morhain: on the slopes of Blies, a steep path goes up of the mill of Linterdingen towards the castle. At the edge of this one is a chapel which, until 1950, sheltered a statue of the Virgin des Douleurs. Discovered by Professor Morhain, this most ancient Piéta from the bishopric of Metz is dated from the 14th century. Later, during the census of 1701, the village of Linterding, which stretches not far from the chapel, also takes this name: it became Frauenberg, the mount of Notre-Dame. Another hypothesis consists in saying that the castle and, later, the village, took the name of Frauenberg due to the fact that the heirs of different lords were always women: that would be naïve because there is not a dynasty of Frauenberg. In effect, Arnould de Sierck, Sire of Frauenberg, left the castle and seigniory to his daughter, married to the count of Linange-Dagsbourg, with two girls who each inherited half and the list continues so it would be silly to want to name all noblemen who succeeded one another by inheritance, marriage, or others at the head of the Seigniory of Frauenberg. A third hypothesis consists in saying that Frauenberg would be the "Castle of the Women Well-read". We are therefore going to content ourselves with some important events and with the tale of one or two legends. During 17th century, Frauenberg suffered from two disastrous wars. The first is the War of the Bumpkins or the Peasants (Bauerkrieg). This war is in fact an uprising of German peasants, which also touched the bordering régions; the peasants rebelled to protest against their poor living conditions. It lasts two years and ended in a blood bath in 1626. This remained famous due to Luther's intervention: supporting the peasants and calling for their destruction. The second war from which Frauenberg suffered was a Franco-Swedish war: the Thirty Years War (Schwedenkrieg). In August 1633, General de Horn brought his Swedish troops, which beat Lorraine in Pfaffenhofen, in front of the towers of Frauenberg: "The duke of Brickenfeld kidnapped the count of Eberstein from his home of Frauenberg between Deux-Ponts and Sarbruc, leaving to the Madame le Comptesse, only a shirt and leading the said imprisoned Count with his night dress". This is the first act of a series of military plagues. First the Swedish, then the Imperial Troops, and to finish, the French occupy the country for 40 years. But, whatever their nationality, soldiers ransack, burn down, destroy... During the Thirty Years War, Frauenberg, left by the lord, became a supporters' den to make war for their own account and rob everybody irrespective of parties or nationalities. To end this state of things, in 1637 Richelieu gives order in Field Marshal de Force to dismantle this castle as well as numerous others (Forbach, Sarreguemines). The village was subjected to the same fate as to the castle. It was very slowly rebuilt and 120 years after the passage of the Swedes, it still numbered 27 families. During this period the names of Linterding and Frauenburg disappear, leaving the place as Frauenberg. Until 1783, Frauenberg, once again, numerous times changed owners. A strange history is linked to one of them: Jean de Thomin, a lord with a tragic death: on February 3rd, 1715, he was slaughtered in the forests of Bile Ransbach by someone named Peter Moor who killed him to steal buttons of silver from his morning coat. The criminal is discovered by what they call "the test of the coffin". All inhabitants of the village had to march past the open coffin and touch of the hand the body. When Moor touched it, the wounds of Thomin opened again and blood ran. Having confessed his crime, he points out the place where the buttons are hidden and is condemned by the court of Deux Ponts where a file relates all these details. Another of the lords of Frauenberg was Jean Daniel Merlin who built a modern home, close to towers still standing, on the site of bulwarks dismantled on order of Richelieu. The Seigniory of Frauenberg passed therefore through numerous hands until April 1783 when it was bought by Charles Gravier, Count of Vergennes, the Secretary of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Louis XVI. He intended to create a big domain in the countryside of Lorraine, but he could not fulfill his plan since he died in 1787. Besides, two years later, the Revolution changed many things. With the approval of Vergennes, Jean Thibault between September and December 1785 built a pottery in the castle. Why does he choose Frauenberg? Perhaps because of the presence of a mill on Bile, a graveling mill (where they crushed flints used for the paste of faience) or perhaps because the old entrance tower of the castle can be transformed easily into oven for baking. Jean Thibault is linked to Nicolas Villeroy, often said to be the founder of faience pottery (the true origin of this pottery was revealed by Mr Hiegel, Directory of the Society of History and Archaeology of Lorraine in 1976). This one had chances to succeed because orders exist: it provides forty services for Paris until 1786, the biggest difficulty being barriers of the customhouse that hit Lorraine faience at their entrance in France and only fall in November 1790 with the abrogation of privileges by the Constituent Assembly. Revolution caused a lot of changes in the village. After the death of Louis XVI, the Prussian and Allied Armies invaded France. In September 1793, they crossed the Bile and, for three months, occupied the castle of Vergennes and making it wholly unfit for habitation by burning doors and windows. But in November, the Revolutionary Army of Moselle, ordered by General Shakes, attacked in force and gets ahead of Sarreguemines on Bliescastel by way of Frauenberg. The attack begun on November 27th at about 6 a.m. ended under the walls of Kaiserslautern. On 11 Brumaire of the year III [1794?], Mathias Calis bought the chateau, gardens, barns and sheep barn for 12100 pounds. The rest of property (mills and lands) was divided into 46 lots and acquired by various inhabitants of Frauenberg and vicinity. That's how the Seigniory of Frauenberg ended. In 1906, Emile Huber de Sarreguemines purchased the ruins of the castle to preserve the ancient manor from a complete dilapidation. At that time, it was the possession of the family Bausch de Frauenberg. Then, Huber donated it to the society of history and archaeology of Metz. The dungeon was damaged during WWII. During this conflict, Frauenberg was twice evacuated. The first evacuation took place 1.9.1939 in Pluyvineux (Charente-Maritime) and the second on the 11.12.1944 near Sarreguemines. Frauenberg was bombed on 10.12.1944 and liberated by the Americans. [January 2008]

THE JEWS OF FRAUENBERG: On January 26th, 1753, King Stanislas of Poland, anxious to regulate the situation of the Jews in Lorraine, authorized hundred and eighty families to live in his dukedom. His decision was confirmed on December 29th, 1733 by Duke Leopold. However, Stanislas determined the places where Jews were live and grouped them all in the single community managed by property managers. Jewish presence in Lorraine, even preceeding this time period, should not surprise. In effect, even before the beginning of the Christian epoch, numerous Jews left their land of birth, transported convicts by the successive masters of Judaea (Egyptians, Assyriens, Greeks). Later, the Romans, after the uprising of 132 after JC, emptied the country of almost all of its population. Since that time, the majority of the Jews were expelled from country to country, protected here, persecuted there. The first Jews in Lorraine are mentioned in Metz under Charlemagne. They were expelled from there during the First Crusade (1099). Later, exiled from France, the Jews came to take refuge in Lorraine which was under the control of the German Empire. The Duke of Lorraine, Leopold, favored their installation, against the will of the local populations, because he needed their silver to accomplish his political ambition. However, Leopold ended up finding these embarrassing creditors and, to get rid of then, he countered with limiting laws: no permission to change domiciles, arbitrary limitations on Jews authorized to live there (73 households divided in 24 localities), with the others having the choice between departure and conversion. In 1753, some Jewish families lived in Frauenberg. A Jew from Marmoutier, Abraham Lévy is at the origin of the community. The Jews, unaffected by Stanislas' decree, continued living on the ground where their fathers had lived. The Jewish community therefore proliferated in relative calmness. At this time, the building of a synagogue began. The first serious troubles appear after Lorraine became French (1776). In effect, Stanislas' decree continued being applied to the Jews meaning that they cannot domicile in Lorraine without prior permission from the king. Then, in 1779, the prosecutor of the bailliage of Sarreguemines decided to apply this decision to the Jews of Frauenberg, threatening those who are not authorized to domicile with expulsion and seizure of their property. But, the Jews reacted and contacted the Prince of Montbare, Minister and Secretary of State by pointing out to him that they resided in Frauenberg "since a time that exceeds the memory of living beings". Besides, they add never were the regulations of the Dukes of Lorraine applied to Frauenberg, since the Jews did not ask to settle since they already lived there. They also added that only the Parliament can pronounce expulsion and that this one is opposite the wish of the Lord of Frauenberg. Having considered the request of the Jews, the Prince of Montbare asked for more information from the treasurer of the province, M. de la Porte, who sides with Jews and defends them. According to him, the prosecutor of the king overstepped his powers and justified his step in no way. Besides, Lorraine, earth of Empire is only under the protection of the dukes of Lorraine. However, the illegal decision of the prosecutor, by being interested in the particular situation of the Jews of Frauenberg draws attention to the favorable privilege that the Lord of Frauenberg enjoyed. In effect, this one allowed or forbade Jews' existence in his seigniory and fixed their levies as representing an attack to the power of the king. The affair came in front of the king on December 10th, 1779 and in a session of advice, the king returned a decree favorable to the Jews - defended by the prince of Montbare and M. la Porte which canceled the expulsion stay and attached the Jewish community of Frauenberg to that of Lorraine, removing it from the arbitrary power of the Lord. The Jews accepted news with joy because the lord augmented their levies regularly (multiplied by eight between 1721 and 1767), regulated Jewish disputes. The lord of Frauenberg, Mr d' Aubéry, who refused to submit to the decree of the king's private order to provide, within a month, titles determining his rights. These arrived with six months delay; and the affair was closed. But, in 1782, Mr d' Aubéry having been previously allied with Mr de Campi, officer of the king, Marquis of Ségur and Mrs d' Orée, his stepmother, chairwoman in the Parliament of Nancy, procedures began again. After numerous debates, he got permission to receive an annual fee not to exceed 24 pounds. The Jews remained therefore subject to poll tax that does not last for a long time because revolution broke out. The Revolution caused radical changes in favor of the Jews. Before 1789, Jews could have only very modest synagogues. Napoleon, by signing a concordat with them (March 17th, 1808), enabled them to open synagogues on approval of the Interior Minister and on the opinion of the mayor. Thus, he allowed them to worship, but a certain right of inspection by civil authorities in religious business was supported. Restoration is even more generous as the State granted grants for the building of synagogues and for remuneration by the State for the ministers of worship, but only for communities with more than 200 individuals. Frauenberg is part of these favored. The first synagogue was held in the home of a "Mr Gensburger". After Napoleon and Restoration, the community knew such prosperity that it bought back the home of the synagogue and acquired a subvention of the French State for enlargement and remodeling. But, soon a movement to urbanization started. This movement accentuated by Annexation in 1871 was fatal to the small communities. The country synagogues were abandoned or even transformed into sheds, into workshops (Moselle which, at the beginning of the century counted 60 Jews found no more than 7 then). The following figures, concerning the Jewish population of Frauenberg show this movement towards cities: 1831 had 181 Jews of out 587 inhabitants, 1861 had 136 Jews of out 522 habitants, 1866: 137 Jews, 1880: 108 Jews, 1890: 67 Jews. On the eve of WWII, they numbered no more than four Jewish families in Frauenberg. According to memories, these four families lost two of their members, victims of concentration camps. In 1945, no more than five Jews remained in Frauenberg, then no more. The synagogue of Frauenberg was destroyed in 1940 by the Nazis. [January 2008]


Le Cimetière de Frauenberg: Until now, no document established with certainty the date of the founding of the Jewish burying ground of Frauenberg. They accept the date of 1740 in general, which seems to confirm research on places. This research also allows maintaining that the burying ground served not only Jews of the village, but also those of neighboring Bliesbruck and other villages of the valley of Blies, and even in those of Sarreguemines before the founding of their cemetery in November 1899. The burying ground of Frauenberg contained a wide variety of gravestones that are recognized immediately. But the most discreet, those that it is necessary to search, and sometimes to clear the vegetation that hides them from view, are also the most ancient. One could think that the earth completely covered a big number of these markers making finding them a challenge. Despite wear on the stone, we could decipher some dates on gravestones from the second half of the 18th century: 5552, corresponding to the year 1792, 5545 (1785), 5532 (1772), and 5516 (1756) (see photograph on web site). In Frauenberg, as in other Jewish burying grounds, a visitor will see small pebbles on graves, traces left by the persons coming there to visit. This tradition blends with the primitive gesture fulfilled by Jacob who raised a monument for Rachel's tomb (Origin 35:20). Burials are marked by a fragile, stony hummock, especially in an arid zone. Also, every passer-by has the religious obligation to maintain this precarious monument by depositing his stone it. One tombstone in the cemetery recalls the children of Israel in their exile, a tradition perpetuated even today. The common characteristic of all these gravestones are their sobriety: except for the text in Hebrew, they carry no decor and present strength through form: because of this they are distinguished by unity. It is quite another impression of the group formed by the tombs of the 19th century, more particularly those to 1850. In effect, here unit and sobriety were forgotten to take advantage of a big diversity of forms and inspired decorative, less Judaism than Romanticism. That's how one finds pyramids, for instance that of the tomb of Rabbi Bernheim, of obelisks as those of the family Grumbach, pyramids and obelisks -- fate symbols of passage from this world to another one, towards a supra-temporal life. Among these markers are different more or less worked tents; these contrast with another form used several times in the cemetery of Frauenberg: truncated columns. This truncation represents roughly interrupted life and is therefore used to mark persons buried young as, for instance, that of Henry Weill, son of Honel, a young soldier artilleryman of the Regiment n°51 of Strasbourg, who died in 1911 at the age of 21 years. It is also on these 19th century headstones that decorative motifs are most various and the richest. THE MOTIFS: One can classify decoration in two essential categories depending on whether they are typically Jewish or, conversely, universal. JEWISH MOTIFS: Magen David or David's star: It is a six-pointed star, composed of two equal intertwined triangles. This star became the symbol of Judaism from the 13th century. Hands of Kohanim: certain tombs carry raised hands, engraved in stone, in a gesture of blessing; this symbol recalls the blessing of Kohanim (the descendants of Aaron dedicated to the priesthood) that makes its hands united by thumbs, fingers moved aside in a particular way. This practice rests on verses 22 and 23 of Chapter 6 of the Book of Numbers (Hebrew, Bamidbar): "the Endless spoke to Bassinet and said: in Aron and in the sons and say to them; here is how you will bless the children of Israel... "The presence of these hands on a gravestone means therefore that the deceased belonged to this category of priests. These priests are the representatives of God. And, Shekhina (the divine presence) "is held behind our wall, to look by windows, to notice by the latticework " (Song of Songs 2:9). Also Kohanim form their hands into a latticework, by moving aside fingers; the public should not look at them because it would be wanting to look at Shekhina. Ewers of Lévites: a vase intended to contain liquids. This vase, form of which can vary, reminds of the Lévites responsiblity for pouring purifying water on the hands of Kohanim before the blessing. The presence of such a vase on a stele means that the deceased belonged to the tribe of Lévi for whom a certain number of functions had been reserved at the time of the Temple. OTHERS: Geometrics: as well as in other burying grounds, in Frauenberg one often finds of fancy motives such as rosettes or arches. The rosette recalls both the plant symbol of roses and the wheel or the circle. The rose represents regeneration, mystical revival explaining its presence on tombs. The wheel, or the circle, represents cycles, resumption, renewals. The rosette is therefore the symbol of the evolution of the world and the person around an immobile center that is a principle that is to say, in context, God. The rosette suggests the idea of resurrection. The arch is the symbol of destiny. Pictures of the rainbow, in religious esotericism, demonstrate divine will itself. The rainbow is a way and mediation between here - bottom and above. It is the bridge between the other world and ours. Plant motifs: They are frequent and various, but their nature always returns to the symbol of immortality or the cyclical regeneration suggesting the idea of the survival of the soul or resurrection. The laurel wreath: This circular form points out perfection and participation in the celestial nature the circle which is symbolized. The crown is a promise of undying life. The laurel wreath circular form points out perfection and participation in the celestial nature the circle of which it is symbolic. The crown is a promise of undying life. This symbolism of immortality meets in the very laurel that, as other plants, rest green in winter. The ivy: Green in all seasons, this represents the endless cycle of death and revivals, myth of endless return. As though to reinforce this symbolism, nature blended the plant with its picture engraved in stone. The branch of myrtle: This foliage always green also represents immortality; but to it is added its nice smell, symbol for a human being of good reputation. Cordons and draped: Cordons are in general linked to other decors, particularly to the crowns that point out, as we have already seen it, participation in celestial nature. The presence of cordons represents the link that joins the human being with divine, of the Earth in the celestial, dying to the living beings. The crown and cordon linked to a heart: The heart can be considered the symbol of love, cordiality, womanhood: it is, in effect, about the tomb of a woman, such as Sara Cahn, native of Bliesbruck who died in 1868. The drape returns in the symbol of the veil which separates two worlds, divine and human being. Death raises this veil and allows man to achieve the knowledge of what until then remained eclipsed. In the same perspective, and in a more Jewish perspective, a veil separated, as in the temple of Jerusalem, the saint of the Saint of the Saints, other one the hall of the Saint. Alone the High Priest achieved supreme mystery, and only once a year, to acquire the forgiveness of the people, the day of Yom Kippur. The urn: the presence of an urn, a priori therefore from a funeral urn intended to contain cinder of a deceased, should not be surprising. In effect, contrary to other traditional practices, Judaism condemns incineration. This urn that decorates the tomb of a woman is linked to the female principle, here, adding the dynamism of fecundity to the security of the home. The urn in effect recalls, by its round or square form, the home and the sludge where water passes to fertilize lands. The directional "cross": it divides the circle into four and is the intermediary between the circle and the square, between the sky and the earth. But the center, in which there is neither change of any kind time nor a place of passage or symbolic communication between this world and the Other World. It is a point of break of time and space marked here by date (5656 that is 1896). Many specific inscriptions and family histories are found on Despite the limits of this study in fact, of only a number of tombs, they illuminate Jewish and Lorraine heritage at the same time. In effect, this burying ground is marked profoundly by the events of local history, notably both languages, French and German, inseparable in distant or recent past. Apparently, all vagaries of history, unable to be erased, only link what is joined, in the past and in all these different lives and joins these dead today, merged: Judaism made obvious by the permanence of the Hebrew language. This language took a "local color itself" in the form of the Judéo-Alsatian to which we owe original names, particularly to indicate the burying ground: "Bäjsaulem" or "Maison de l'Eternité", "Bäjs' hajem", or "Home of Life". It affirms the primate of life, the triumph of continuity, as numerous symbols show that which we could study, in a Jewish burying ground, death appears as continued life; it is a place of calmness where nature quickly takes back its rights on human writings. It is nature that seems to link also those who rest here and those who truthfully come to collect themselves at the tombs of their forefathers, accomplishing the wish expressed by statement: "Tehi nafsho zerura bizror hectare-'hayim " ("As its soul is linked to the beam of the living beings") that they often engraved on tombstones. If we stop our job here, it does not mean from a distance that we consider it to be finished; there remain more things to be done and to be said about the Jewish burying ground of Frauenberg. We simply followed the advice of the Treaty Aboth: "You are not made to finish work, but you are not free to escape from it" at least 750 graves. [January 2008]

§ Jean CHEVALIER et Alain GHEERBRANT, Dictionnaire des symboles, Robert Laffont/Jupiter
§ Didier LAZARD, Simon Lazard, Félin
§ Freddy RAPHAEL et Robert WEYL, Juifs en Alsace. Privat
§ Joseph ROHR, L'arrondissement de Sarreguemines, Editions Pierron
§ Anne SABOURET, SS Lazard Frères et Cie, Olivier Orban
§ Robert WEYL, Le cimetière juif de Rosenwiller, SALDE

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 13:43
Web site created by Open Sky Web Design based on a template by Red Evolution