I have just returned home from a very interesting and fruitful trip to Lübeck, Hamburg, Bremen and German where I found the graves of my ancestors dating back to 1675.
With my old college buddy of almost 50 years back our first port of call after meeting in Lübeck was the historical Jewish cemetery in Königstrasse in the Hanseatic city of Hamburg. Strangely enough Königstrasse is a continuation of the famous Rheeperbahn a more than famous Hamburg attraction. On our arrival we met the curator Ruth Schaeffer who has been working there for some 20 years and I introduced myself, telling her why I was there. She almost did a backward flip as I explained to her that I was a descendant of the famous 17th century diarist Gluckel of Hamelin’s parents – her sister had married my 6th great grandfather.
Ruth took us straight to Elia Wiener’s grave – he died in the year 1715, exactly 300 years ago. There was his tombstone in near perfect condition with the inscription perfectly legible.
We also viewed the graves of Gluckel’s parents, my 7th great grandparent, and her grandmother who of course is my 8th great grandparent. Unfortunately Elia’s wife Marta’s tombstone no longer stands as it was damaged the World War II bombing of Hamburg.
The next cemetery we visited was in Bremen, some 100 kilometers south west of Hamburg, where we found the graves of my great grandparents Wolf Joseph and Rahel Wolf (neé Meinungen). Wolf died in 1856 and Rahel in 1860.
The next day we arrived at our final destination, the vibrant city of Berlin. After visiting the old Synagogue in Oranjenburg we proceeded to what was the first Jewish cemetery in Berlin situated in the GrosseHamburgstrasse. This cemetery was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II and made into a bunker – now it is a park. However one ancient wall with 32 embedded headstones still exists. Two of those headstones is that of my 7th great grandfather Mordechai Model Wiener Riess-Oettingen and his wife Pessel Neumark are amongst these headstones. The inscription of Mordechai’s stone is still legible even though it is nearly 350 years old but Pessel’s is not. Mordechai was the father of Elia Wiener who was buried in Hamburg. They were amongst the Jews exiled from Vienna in 1670 and who were invited by the Great Elector of Prussia to relocate to Berlin. Above Mordechai’s stone is a plaque describing that he had purchased the ground to establish this cemetery for the Jews of Berlin. Modechai was a very well known Rabbi and Talmudist and wrote many commentaries.