Bad Soden, September 4th, 2021
Someday, when they are a few years older, their parents will tell them what happened to their great-great-grandmother in 1943. Now Benjamin Paul (5) and Hector Luis (3) squat curiously next to the “Stolperstein”, which is decorated with roses and shines in the light of the candles. The brass plate embedded in the pavement is intended to commemorate Mina (Wilhelmine) Kraft. Of the cruel fate that befell the Neuenhain woman.
It was overwhelming how many people gathered at Schwalbacher Straße 2 in Neuenhain on Saturday afternoon. Three generations of the widely scattered relatives as well as neighbors who remembered Mina Kraft. Exactly there, where today is a bus stop, stood the home of the family: Adam, Mina and of her son Gottfried Kraft. And from their home, Mina set out on her path to death. She probably suspected it. Wilhelmine, her 17-year-old granddaughter, accompanied her 65-year-old grandmother to Frankfurt, where Mina was to report for so-called resettlement in the house of the Jewish community at Hermesweg 5-7, by now a Gestapo forced labor camp. It is hard to imagine what might have been going on inside the granddaughter. A few days later, on October 28, 1943, Mina was deported to Auschwitz and murdered there in the concentration camp in December 1943.
Nicole and Rüdiger Brause from the AG Stolpersteine have researched the life of Mina Kraft. The AG was made aware by the Neuenhain resident Anneliese Strörs-Becker, who could not forget Mina’s fate. Unfortunately, the elderly godmother of the memorial stone could not participate in the ceremony for the laying of the Stolperstein due to health reasons.
Mit Klezmer-Melodien stimmten Dorothea Paul auf ihrer Gitarre und Michaela Bender mit ihrer Klarinette auf die Gedenkstunde ein. Lissy Hammerbeck, Sprecherin der AG Stolpersteine, hob hervor, wie wichtig es sei, den NS-Opfern, die in den KZs zu Nummern reduziert wurden, ihre Namen zurückzugeben. Denn ganz im Sinne des Stolperstein-Projekt-Künstlers Gunter Demnig betont Hammerbeck, “ohne Namen wäre es so, als hätte es diese Menschen nie gegeben”.
Dorothea Paul on her guitar and Michaela Bender on her clarinet set the mood for the memorial hour with Klezmer melodies. Lissy Hammerbeck, spokeswoman of the AG Stolpersteine, emphasized how important it was to give back the names of the Nazi victims who were reduced to numbers in the concentration camps. Because, in the spirit of the Stolpersteine project artist Gunter Demnig, Hammerbeck emphasized, “without names, it would be as if these people had never existed.”
The seventh child of the Jewish couple Adolf and Emma Keller, Wilhelmine, called Mina, was born in Neuenhain in 1878. She married the Catholic house painter Adam Kraft in 1901 in a “civil marriage”. Son Gottfried was born in 1901 and baptized Catholic with special episcopal permission in 1903. Gottfried married at the age of 25 to Kronberg, had two children, Karl Gottfried and Wilhelmine, and died at the age of 35. Wilhelmine grew up in Neuenhain with her grandmother Mina. Mina converted to Christianity, was active in the Catholic community and in the “Vaterländische Frauenverein vom Roten Kreuz”.
But when the Nazis seized the power, life became very difficult for the family. Mina was insulted as “Judde-Mina”. Her house was smeared with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans by Hitler Youth. The painter’s business was boycotted. Granddaughter Wilhelmine recalled that she and her grandparents stood trembling behind the shutters. She knew everyone who was there, but did not give any names out of fear. When the harassment of the teachers and classmates in the Neuenhain elementary school became worse, the granddaughter moved to her mother in Kronberg in 1941.
With sensitive words Nicole and Rüdiger Brause described the life and suffering of Mina Kraft. It was very difficult to find out who and where her descendants lived. Both the residents’ registration card and the official papers relating to her deportation could suddenly no longer be found after the end of the war. Who is surprised? After all, it was at the instigation of the local Nazis that Mina was delivered to the knife.
A large circle of Mina Kraft’s descendants had traveled from Rottweil, Freudenberg am Main and even further afield to attend the laying of the Stolperstein. “Now we bring this person, who was excluded at that time,” emphasized Rüdiger Brause, “at least for a short moment back where he belongs – in our midst.”