My newly-discovered cousin Wolfgang Seligmann lives close to our shared ancestral towns of Gau-Algesheim and Erbes-Budesheim. Erbes-Budesheim is where Babetta Schoenfeld was born and raised; Babetta is my 3-x great-grandmother and Wolfgang’s great-great-grandmother. Babetta married Moritz Seligmann, and together they settled in Gau-Algesheim where they had a number of children, including Bernard Seligmann, my great-great-grandfather, and August Seligmann, Wolfgang’s great-grandfather.
Here is a recent photo of Wolfgang with his wife Barbela and daughter Milena—my beautiful German cousins.
Wolfgang went to both Gau-Algesheim and Erbes-Budesheim recently to take some photographs of the towns and to look for the houses where our ancestors lived. In Erbes-Budesheim, he looked for the houses at 77 and 80 Hauptstrasse where the Schoenfelds lived almost 200 years ago, but unfortunately those houses must have been torn down, and now a new street and a factory stand where those houses must have stood. But Wolfgang took some photographs of other houses, including one at 50 Hauptstrasse, to capture what the Schoenfeld house might have looked like and also to depict the type of homes they saw on their street.
Wolfgang also visited the Jewish cemetery in Erbes-Budesheim. He reported that there were only a few headstones left and none for the Schoenfelds. Here are some photographs he took of the cemetery. It looks like such a peaceful and scenic spot.
Although Wolfgang did not locate any Schoenfeld headstones there, this older video taken in 2010 does show some headstones with the Schoenfeld name, so I wonder whether these have been destroyed since that video was taken.
Wolfgang also visited Gau-Algesheim and took some photographs there. First is a photo of Flosserstrasse, one of the main streets in Gau-Algesheim. Our ancestors Moritz and Babetta and their children lived on Flossergasse, which no longer seems to exist, but must have either been a prior name or a smaller street off of the main street.
The other main street in Gau-Algesheim is Langgasse. The store owned by Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August and his grandfather Julius was on this street, and the house where Julius and his wife Magdalena lived until relocating to Bingen was also located on Langgasse. Because the original building is no longer there, Wolfgang also sent me this newspaper clipping which depicts on the left what Langgasse looked like in 1900 and when Julius lived and worked there.
This is the town center where Langgasse and Flosserstrasse meet.
Finally, Wolfgang also visited the Jewish cemetery in Gau-Algesheim.
There was only one headstone with the Seligmann name on it, and it was for Rosa Bergmann Seligmann, the wife of August Seligmann and Wolfgang’s great-grandmother. He must have been quite disturbed by what he saw there. Here are two photographs of Rosa’s headstone taken in the 1950s and posted on the alemannia-judaica website:
This is what the headstone looks like today as captured by Wolfgang, Rosa’s great-grandson:
According to Wolfgang, the cemetery was vandalized in 1998 by “some idiots,” as Wolfgang described them. He commented that even today there is some anti-Semitism in Germany. Although Wolfgang noted that there are not many who feel this way, it only takes a few to do damage like this.
I am so very grateful to my cousin Wolfgang for taking these photographs. There is something very touching and special about seeing these towns through the eyes of my cousin, a fellow descendant of Moritz Seligmann and Babetta Schoenfeld. I know he looks at these places with the same sense of connection that I would feel if I were standing in those places, and I look forward to standing there with him in the hopefully not too far off future.
All photographs on this post except the two from alemannia-judaica are courtesy of Wolfgang Seligmann.