Hermann Fechenbach© 2019 Patrick Mooney/Geoffrey Burne Contact Me

Wood Engravings, Lino Cuts and Prints

Birth of Marie Helene Margarethe Batzke (Greta)

Born on 20th February 1894, Marie Helene Margarethe Batzke, know as Greta, in Straiipitz. She was not Jewish but Evangelical (Protestant). She became Hermann’s second wife in 1930, she was a professional photographer, his first marriage was a rash and unhappy one to Luba Lowinski in January 1926, they divorced in April 1928, a Jew, and as far as I can work out was from a Zionist background, but I have no other real information. If anyone reading this has any information, photographs etc. to add it would be of great interest in building a more complete picture.


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Photo of Marie Helene Margarethe Batzke (Greta)

New infromation on Hermann Fechenbach’s twin sister Rosel Fechenbach (Blumenfeld) and Family

I have uncover new information on Hermann Fechenbach’s twin sister Rosel Fechenbach and Family.

Rosel was married to Rudolf Blumenfeld (born 17th November 1880 in Creglingen / Mergentheim / Württemberg), Rudolf was imprisoned from 10th November 1938 to 19th December 1938 in Dachau concentration camp, while he and his family waiting in vain for permission to enter the United States.

Their daughter Hanna (born on 19th February 1924 in Bad Mergentheim) was imprisoned on 6th August 1941 at the small town of Unterschleißheim Bavaria, Germany, located about 17 km north of the city limits of Munich, at a forced labor camp (Flachsröste Lohhof).

On the 20th November 1941, Rudolf, Rosel and their daughter Hanna where deported from München (Munich) to Fort IX near Kaunas (Kowno), west of Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania. Where on 25th November 1941 the entire family was murdered by Einsatzkommando 3 of Einsatzgruppe A (a mobile killing squad made up of SS and Gestapo, together with German police forces and Lithuanian auxiliaries).

See Notes for more information

Notes: Einsatzgruppen (German: special-ops units) were paramilitary groups originally formed in 1938 under the direction of Reinhard Heydrich – Chief of the SD, and Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police; SiPo). They were operated by the Schutzstaffel (SS). The first Einsatzgruppen of World War II were formed in the course of the 1939 invasion of Poland. Then following a Hitler-Himmler directive, the Einsatzgruppen were re-formed in anticipation of the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. The Einsatzgruppen were once again under the control of Reinhard Heydrich as Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA); and after his assassination, under the control of his successor, Ernst Kaltenbrunner.

The Einsatzkommando 3 of Einsatzgruppe A, was at that time commanded by Karl Jäger with a running total of their killings of 136,421 Jews (46,403 men 55,556 women, 34,464 children), 1,064 Communists, 653 mentally disabled, and 134 others, from 2 July-1 December 1941.

Two happy ladies Germany 1930s

Looking to see if anyone knows who these happy ladies are possible Hermann Fechenbach's sister Roseland a friend or his wife Greta Batze.
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February 1941

Hermann Fechenbach from May 1940 to February 1941 was one of many emigrant, known as "enemy alien", interned in various camps. His final interment was in the "Hutchinson Camp", Douglas on the Isle of Man, at least wife Greta was housed nearby during this period.


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Palestine 1938

Hermann Fechenbach wrote of his hopes to move to Palestine, "My wife and I also had certain plans to emigrate, and had already registered to go to Palestine in 1936. Since I was a 70% disabled war veteran and also could not raise the necessary capital funds, I continued to wait in hope for my certificate to arrive. Even a three month trip in February 1938 to Palestine could not accelerate the emigration process, although everyone appeared ready to help out and gave us the good advice simply to remain illegally in Palestine. Since we had too many responsibilities to leave behind, we returned home in the middle of May. On the ship we made the acquaintance of an English Quaker lady, who gave us her address so that we could call on her in any emergency for help when required."
This chance meeting on their return to Germany was to prove a lucky one as it paved the way for Greta, and later Hermann, to escape to England.

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One of the many photos taken by Greta (February to May 1938)

February 1983 Hermann Fechenbach marries Mary Burne

February 1983 Hermann Fechenbach, now at least 87 years old,marries his housekeeper and secretary, the Irishwoman Mary Burne.


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Haifa 1938

This is one of Greta's photographs taken between February and May 1938, it shows the city of Haifa in northern Israel (then Palestine). After the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, Haifa became the gateway for Jewish immigration into Israel.


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To see more of Greta photography visit: http://www.hermannfechenbach.com/greta_photos1.html

Bad Mergentheim Visit

Photo of what was the town hall now tourist information centre on the main square in Bad Mergentheim (taken in 2014). Hermann Fechenbach wood engraving print of the same square.

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Two sketchbooks by Hermann Fechenbach during his time as a soldier on the Western Front in 1916-1917

Two sketchbooks compiled by Hermann Fechenbach during his time as a soldier on the Western Front in 1916-1917 are in the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection in Brown University Library in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. One of them will be included in an exhibition of WW1 artworks to be held at the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C. in 2014.
My thanks to Peter Harrington, Curator, Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library.
http://library.brown.edu/cds/askb//index.html
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Bad Mergentheim photo of where Fechenbach's family home was

Photo taken during our recent visit to Bad Mergentheim of Kelliyon Square where the Fechenbach family had their home and business. The buildings where demolished in the 1970's as was a lot of old Bad Mergentheim before the heritage of the town was consider over development. Hermann's print of the same square.

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Bad Mergentheim Synagogue

During the events of November 9th and 10th, 1938 called the “Kristallnacht” or “Night of Broken Glass” the Nazis destroyed almost all Jewish synagogues in Germany. The only synagogue believed to have escaped the destroying rage of the Nazis is at Bad Mergentheim, in southern Germany, Hermann Fechenbach’s family home town.

Here is a copy of the text from the letter from the new Mayor of Bad Mergentheim, Dr. Karl Herz to Chaplain Aaron Kahan, dated 4th May 1945.

To the Honorable Rabbi, Bad Mergentheim:

Sir: As Mayor of the Municipality of Bad Mergentheim, I have the honor to present to you the keys of the Synagogue of the former Jewish Community. By a particular chance, this synagogue was "prevented" from being demolished like all others in Germany because a setting on fire of this building would have caused great danger to the whole town. But I still feel a much greater joy that I am able to present to you the Holy of the Holies of the Jewish Community which the last head handed over to a faithful Catholic, giving him the instruction to hide it until Jews would be again in Bad Mergentheim. Unfortunately the Jews who resided formerly here are scattered in all directions of the world or dead. I can assure you that the greater part of the population of Bad Mergentheim did not take part in this terrible misdeeds and that they saw with inward wrath this crime which dishonors our German people for all times. I hope that many of our Jewish residents might come back and that they, as far as they are still living, might collaborate with us in order to rebuild a free and better Germany, delivered from the nazi-plague and from racial and national hatred. I am greeting you in the name of the Municipality of Bad Mergentheim and I remain with the greatest respect, yours.

Signature Dr. Karl Herz

Amongst the Jewish American GI’s who helped put back the synagogue at the end of April and beginning of May 1945, and took part in the first services was Bernard Beckman of the 254th Infantry who's daughter Sharon Beckman contact us, she is putting together a history of her family and father Bernard Beckman. We are most thankful to her for this information. As are we also most grateful to Matt Selig, son of August Selig who was a merchant in groceries in Bad Mergentheimin the 1930’s and a friend of Hermann, for additional information that he sent us. All of which are helping us build a more complete history of the time.

The synagogue was demolished in 1970 and currently a school sits on the site.
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This photo was taken in 1946 and is part of our collection.

Hermann's parents 1930's

Photo taken some time in the 1930's of Hermann's parents Sophie (Flegenheimer) Fechenbach and M. Max Fechenbach.
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Inside of the synagogue Bad Mergentheim before 1933

During the events of November 9th and 10th, 1938 called the “Kristallnacht” or “Night of Broken Glass” the Nazis destroyed almost all Jewish synagogues in Germany. The only synagogue believed to have escaped the destroying rage of the Nazis is at Bad Mergentheim, in southern Germany, Hermann Fechenbach’s family home town.

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Photo of the inside of the synagogue.

Postcard 1915

Looking through the writings of Grete (Margarete Fechenbach) I found this postcard from 1915. If anyone can translate or shed any information on this I would be very grateful.

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And on the reverse side of the postcard

Eastman Kodak No. 2 Camera

This photograph is most likely taken by a Kadak No.2 Camera which wehre masked to a round image. It was advertised that this was to avoid the necessity of holding the camera level but a more important consideration must have been the fact that the lens used did not have an image that was sharp to the edges. The photographs were mounted on buff or dark brown cards.

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