The Owners Couldn’t be More Different
By Stephanie Kuntermann, Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung, originally published in German 11/23/10
translation provided by Frau Kuntermann
|These photos were contributed by Michael Ohmsen who is searching for Jewish traces in the region. You can find some of his other work at http://www.panoramio.com/user/2867083/tags/Judaica and http://www.youtube.com/user/OhmsenMichael|
When tourism reached Schriesheim at the end of the 19th century, some prosperous city-dwellers searched a place for holiday as well. One of them was Markus Hirschland, a Jewish businessman from Mannheim.
It remains to be seen if the history of his weekend home will give the right to install a “Stolperstein” at the place (“Stolperstein” means in German some kind of small monumentals. Those “trip stones” installed by the German artist Gunter Demnig look like little paving stones of brass lying in front of the houses once being inhabited by Jews).
As a matter of fact the “Hirschland-Villa” which the people of Schriesheim named by Markus Hirschland reflects in a special way the dissents and the tragidies of the last century.
The house was constructed in 1902. At this time the 1885 founded Mannheim shopping centre “Hirschland” was one of the most popular department stores of the city. Its last location was in O3, 6/7 near by Paradeplatz and Planken (in the city centre). Especially the sales area on the ground floor was of a special architectural quality because it was 800 metres in square and managed without any pillars. This building of six floors was planned by the architect Albert Speer of Mannheim, father of Albert Speer, the Nazi minister of Armaments.
It is unknown who once planned the “Hirschland” villa. Its windows, doors and entrance hall show nevertheless some pure Art Nouveau. Its kitchen, which was in former times in the basement, had a freight elevator. “There was even a special telephone for the servants”, tells the current owner of the house, Karl-Ruprecht Mayer. Apart from the fact that they where wealthy, today there still is not much known about the family. Hirschland and his wife Marie had at least one daughter. Her name was Johanna, married Neu. She was pediatrician in Frankfurt and mother of three children. In 1933, she emigrated to Paris where she was expatriated in 1941. She died in January 1942.
Markus Hirschland left Germany in 1933, too, and went to USA. Before that he sold his house in Schriesheim. After several changes of the owner the villa was sold by compulsory sale to a dentist Dr.Heinrich von Faulhaber. He was married to Emilie born Reichert, the names of his daughters were Helga and Karen. The new owner converted the house sometimes and gave it the name “Freyhof”. In 1936 the characteristic tower and the gate with the red and white painted door were built. Later he built a stable, a carriage house and a well house. Lead glazed windows in the stairwell show the names of the inhabitants. Some slogans give an account of the spirit of the times because the new owner was a dedicated supporter of the NSDAP. The fact that he was as well some kind of mayor of the city of Ilvesheim he had chiseled into stone. Another inscription had later been vanished. It said that the house was bought in “the year of the national socialist uprising”. Maybe Faulhaber removed it the moment the US Army came near Schriesheim. The house became command post of the Army. Afterwards, Faulhaber committed suicide. His family lived in the house until 1963.
Next owner became the father of the present inhabitant. The house became a hotel that was run by the renters. In the end, the residence was in such a miserable condition that the rain poured through the leaky roof. So twelve years ago Ruth and Karl-Ruprecht Mayer decided to renovate the building in a very lavish way. Doing this, they found more than one hidden treasury. “We wanted to give the house back its dignity”, explained Mayer. They were successful. Although the Star of David that Markus Hirschland once used as a decoration for one of the windows on the east side vanished but the entrance door bears some historic relics up to now. In richly ornamented letters, on top of it the year 1902, his initials are carved into the wood.