He made the House of
Reconciliation and Remembrance well.
Yitzhak Heinrich Steiner, keeper of
Laupheim's Jewish history, has died at age 90
"The memory of the roots cannot be
erased," Yitzhak Heinrich Steiner said.
By Roland Ray Laupheim
Yitzhak Heinrich Steiner: the Laupheim-born lawyer, who was
outstandingly committed to preserving the Jewish history of his
hometown, died in Israel on Monday night at the age of 90. He was buried
yesterday in Haifa.
Steiner, born in 1931, spent his early
childhood in Laupheim, where his ancestors founded a hop store in 1845,
for which his father Helmut also worked. His mother was Swiss. In 1936,
under growing pressure from the National Socialists, the family
emigrated to Sankt Gallen.
After the end of the war, Helmut Steiner
rebuilt the hop trade from Switzerland. Business trips brought him back
to Laupheim. The once thriving Jewish community had been forcibly wiped
out, but Steiner campaigned for the preservation of the Jewish cemetery
and was an interlocutor for the city administration. He always took his
son with him and passed on to him the will to reconcile.
Heinrich Steiner studied law, earned his
doctorate and emigrated to Israel with his wife in the 1960s. He became
a lecturer in legal history. Until the end, he visited regularly,
cultivated friendships and worked to ensure that Laupheim's Jewish
heritage was not forgotten. He said that this was owed to the victims;
at the same time, it was important to draw lessons for the present and
the future from the knowledge of what happened.
Steiner was involved in the conception of the
Museum of the History of Christians and Jews, which opened in 1998. He
supported the institution in many ways, through donations and by opening
doors to archives, contemporary witnesses and estates, and served on the
museum's advisory board. To the city and the Society for History and
Remembrance (GGG), which he helped initiate, he was an important advisor
on Jewish matters. For him and many descendants of the Jewish community
of Laupheim, which was wiped out by the Nazis, the museum has become a
place "that realizes and actualizes our bond with the city," he wrote in
a greeting to mark its 20th anniversary.
A matter close to his heart was the
restoration of the former mortuary of the Jewish community. He
persistently campaigned and collected donations for this project. He
attached great symbolic importance to the preservation of the building
by the city. When the renovated "House at the Jewish Cemetery" was
opened as a documentation and memorial site in 2014, he, visibly moved,
placed a house blessing at the entrance with his son Daniel, spoke of
the attachment that many descendants of Jewish Laupheimers had for the
homeland of their parents and grandparents, and emphasized: "The memory
of the roots cannot be erased, by any regime or misdeed."
The local council honored his work in 2016
with the Citizen's Medal. "Without you, many treasures of memory would
be lost forever," said OB Rainer Kapellen. The year before, the Laupheim
Civic Foundation awarded him the "Golden Laubü." Steiner lives the
values of understanding and tolerance from deep personal experience,
said laudator Christa Jerg. He accepts the award "in the awareness of
being a Laupheimer again," the honoree confessed.
First Mayor Eva-Britta Wind paid tribute to
the deceased on Monday as a bridge builder, advocate for coexistence and
preserver of the Jewish heritage and memory in Laupheim. That this
heritage and the memory of it are so strongly anchored in the city, "we
also have Mr. Steiner to thank."
"For us, he was the spokesman and face of the
former Jewish community," says GGG chairwoman Elisabeth Lincke. She
points to the plaques at the entrance portal to the Jewish cemetery.
"Order your house," they admonish in German and in Hebrew. This is what
Yitzhak Heinrich Steiner did, she says, by sharing his knowledge of
Jewish Laupheim, upholding this heritage and passing it on to future
generations, as well as the baton of mediator in his family. When he
retired from the Museum Advisory Board in 2019 due to age, his younger
son Michael took over for his father.
May his soul be bound up in the bundle of