Ludwig Seligmann was a popular football player in Ichenhausen – and a Jew. The Nazis changed everything. His son turned the story of the father into a novel.of
Mr. Seligmann, you were born in 1947 in Tel Aviv, son of Jewish emigrants. You moved to Germany with your parents at the age of ten. Why did your parents want to return to a country where such horrible things happened to them?
Rafael Seligmann: The initiative came mainly from my father. With his German virtues, he had difficulties in Israeli society. I mean by that he read and followed very specific and very precise rules. Israel was and is a rough society. He could not cope with this direct, dynamic, sometimes ruthless mentality. In the "Far East", daily courtesy did not exist. He was called a "Jecke", a Jew born in Germany. This refers to a person who is difficult to understand. My father aspired to the German landscape, to the German forests. He also had links with his school friend Siegfried Herrligkoffer in Ichenhausen.
Was it not discriminatory in relation to what had happened in Palestine and later in Israel?
Rafael Seligmann: This is a term too difficult. My father could not impose himself in an explosive population. During the transition from the British occupation de facto to the war of independence, the country experienced an incredible immigration. In Israel, the population has doubled in a year and a half. And we complain about the million refugees coming to us.
And did the parents regret their return to Germany?
Rafael Seligmann: My father no – not at all. He went to Munich. After Ichenhausen, that would not have happened. Because there were no Jews there. The city was, as the Nazis said, since 1943 Jewish. And the synagogue had been turned into a prison used by firefighters. For example, the altar wall had been pushed. I do not understand how the pastor of a Catholic community could allow such a thing. Christian, Jewish or Muslim: It was a place of worship. How can such things actually be destroyed in a democratically constituted state, such as the Federal Republic of Germany, which values human dignity?
Do you remember how you felt when you were a child when you said goodbye to Tel Aviv?
Rafael Seligmann: I was sad, I lost my friends. I knew it's colder in Germany. I did not want to go there. I've already loved the sea when I was a kid. I did not think of the Nazis because I thought that they had all fled. I grew up bilingual. But I could not read or write in German. My mother tried to prepare me for German writing six weeks before emigration. Arrived in Germany, we first lived in a room of a guest house. Later we were sublet elsewhere; also three people in a room. My father bought a VW Beetle, got some goods and started selling clothes again. And that at the age of 50. This was not easy for the skilled textile merchant.
How many times have you been to Ichenhausen until now?
Rafael Seligmann: I do not want to be able to add that up. The first time, it was in September 1957, a few weeks after his arrival in Germany. The first big tour in my own car was done by my father with his wife and myself in Ichenhausen, 106 km from Munich. I slept in the White Ross, the church bell rang every 15 minutes. It was unusual for me. My father showed us the old Seligmann house, located on Marktstraße 302. He met his teammates, who were happy to see him again. In the workshop of White Ross, we met. The footballers outdid my father by telling how they wanted to help local Jews. An old man was also sitting in the waiting room.
He had closed his eyes for a long time. At one point, he opened it and said the sentence: "Do not have to believe everything that tells you, Ludwig." There, the silence was deadly. Soon, former teammates paid off and disappeared. Ludwig Seligmann was in the right wing of the municipal team. He has always been proud of that. A photo in the shirt of FC Ichenhausen, which he carried away until his death. It was part of his identity. He also had to learn that he had been removed from the list of members of the association.
What do you know about the city and its inhabitants?
Rafael Seligmann: I know the usual data – for example, the largest Jewish rural community in Bavaria lived in Ichenhausen in the 19th and 20th centuries. Jews and Christians heard each other very well. In my father's notes, which mainly concerned childhood and infancy, the Nazis did not exist. From 1931, he told me that the climate had changed. In 1985, I visited Ichenhausen. I wanted for the Sunday World write a report on the restoration of the synagogue as a place. It was at this point that Moritz Schmid, at the time the second mayor, intercepted me. "I know eana," he said. He probably confused me with my father, whom I saw very similar. That's how we had a conversation. He showed me everything, pictures, correspondence. Then we went to the Golden Hart.
There was some in the restaurant – and right away it started with phrases like, "Here he is, the Jew, never works, always steals." Schmid wanted to move me away: "Guys are drunk, come on with me. "But I stayed, I listened. Then they started well. The waitress went out screaming, it was a Waldstetten woman, Christa Truckenbrot. I am behind and asked why she is crying. "Because I grew up with people, they behave like crazy, and you did not hurt them," she said. I felt Ichenhausen as a place with anti-Semites. That's what I told the mayor of the time, Walfred Kuhn. He talked about freedom of expression.
In 2009, I read in Ichenhausen in memories of my father "Germany will please you". Since I have experienced people differently – namely, very, very attentive. They were suddenly aware of their story. It was an attitude very different from the one I had seen 25 years ago. It was very nice. Claudia Madel-Böhringer, archivist of the city, was then perceived as a contemporary sensitive and aware of the past. The past is well and truly over. But she should never be forgotten, so that lessons can be learned from her.
You wrote a biographical novel. Why a novel and not a biography?
Rafael Seligmann: I am a historian, but biographies often go from one document to another. It's happening, how do people talk, how do they feel. By expressing these emotions, I can do infinitely better in the novel. I think I can write well and plastically, it suits me. I used this ability for the Father's memory. I also want to describe the sensuality of a life. I do not feel anything in the biographies. I do not taste anything.
Could we not accuse the choice of form, that there is perhaps more fiction than reality?
Rafael Seligmann: Everyone likes to do that as they want. Everyone who knows me knows that truth is a crucial value for me. I'm almost 72 years old now, because you do not start lying, not even about his father. I also describe an affair of my father with the wife of his choirmaster, his teacher. Does it hurt his memory? No, it shows him as people who have blood, senses. I wrote what I knew. The historical conditions are good, this can be verified. The peculiarity of this book is that it deals with Jewish countries. There is nothing in the novel about it.
They read in a place that Adolf Hitler was not officially stripped of his honorary citizenship. Do you think this is necessary or not?
Rafael Seligmann: Of course, I consider this step necessary. This can not be true, the world's greatest criminal history will continue to be honored here. Hitler was not a citizen of honor in all German cities. Then I expect the Democrats to correct that. My father deserves to be a citizen of honor, not Hitler.
With death, the honorary citizenship expires automatically. This would therefore have only a symbolic value.
Rafael Seligmann: We live with symbols. If you get the Federal Merit Cross, it's a little bit of tin and paper. And yet, it means something to humans. No one is killed by an honorary citizenship of Hitler. But it's an injury. That hurts me.
Today it is reading in Ichenhausen
Rafael Seligmann, 71, of his biographical novel "Lauf, Ludwig, lauf!" Already read this text to his rotarian friends in Berlin on Tuesday. The first public reading takes place in Ichenhausen. "It was important to me," says the author.
The event begins this Thursday, September 5 at 19:30 in the former synagogue Ichenhausen. The entrance is free. Welcome speech Felix Klein, Federal Commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism.
Rafael Seligmann lives in Berlin today as a journalist, journalist and freelance writer. He was among others for the mirrorit worldit time and the FAZ works. Seligmann founded the genre of the German-contemporary Jewish novel.
Why Ichenhausen now talks about his honorary citizen Adolf Hitler
The themes follow