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Author ········· Edgar Allan Poe
Medium ········· Print
Published ······ July 1845
Language ······· English

– Wolfgang Kress

Rexingen, today part of Horb, is located about 40 kilometers from Stuttgart. Its 425 Jewish inhabitants made up almost half of the Rexingen population in 1885. One of them was David Wälder, who was born here on June 29, 1883, the son of Jakob Wälder and his wife Hannchen, born Löwenstein. He had two older and two younger brothers and a younger sister. The family of eight lived in Brühlstraße 104, today Freudenstädter Straße 17, practically opposite the synagogue. Nothing is known about the education of David Wälder. His two older brothers took over his father’s cattle trade, which is why he chose a profession in textiles. The Rexinger company M.W. Zürndorfer, a manufacture, trousseau and general store with a mail-order business, might have offered itself for training.

Immediately after the end of the First World War, David Wälder married Bertha Sander from Andernach, born on October 30, 1888, on March 11, 1918 in Worms. Already on December 9, 1918, the young family and their son Friedrich received the eagerly awaited offspring. Presumably in the same year, the family had moved to the house at Klugestraße 2, then Bismarckstraße 96, in Stuttgart.

David Wälder was a textile merchant with agencies and a textile goods store. He had a bourgeois clientele and supplied linen mainly to large hotels, among others in Freudenstadt and Oberstdorf. Business trips took him to Switzerland and Austria. Maria Nägele, a relative of the property manager Lina Emmert, remembered after the war the business/storage room of Wälder in the house Klugestraße 2. As late as the mid-1930’s, he had stocked 15-20 bales of suit and coat fabrics, woollen and quilted blankets, as well as masses of trousseau linen, with exceptional quality goods from well-known companies. It was only with the ever-increasing discrimination of Jews by the Nazi regime that Wälder increasingly lost customers and finally had to give up his company.

“Good bourgeois” is how Lina Emmert describes the Wälder family’s apartment, which consisted of five well-furnished rooms with numerous pictures and Persian carpets, including a piano of the traditional Schiedmayer company. It was probably on this piano that the son Friedrich learned to play the piano. After the Rosenberg (elementary) school and the Schloss-Realschule he attended the Zepfsche Handelsschule. Afterwards he turned to music and went to a private conservatory. Since Jews were increasingly excluded from cultural life, he retrained as a car mechanic at the Bäumler company in Vaihingen from 1936 to 1938.

Like his father, Friedrich Wälder was arrested after the Night of Pogroms and was in the Welzheim concentration camp from November 12, 1938, to March 3, 1939. Because Jews were now no longer allowed to own cars, he had to sell at any price the Opel Olympia financed by his father. The value was 2500 Reichsmark, but he only got 500. All objects made of precious metal had had to be sold to the Städtische Pfandleihanstalt in 1939 - at a fraction of their value. And the family had to deliver their radios without replacement. When the Gestapo directly threatened Friedrich Wälder to be gone in three months, he and his wife Victoria left Stuttgart on October 15, 1939, to emigrate from Genova to Chile two days later - or better: to escape.

He had borrowed the necessary foreign currency from a Chilean friend who studied at the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart and from an uncle in Strasbourg. Although his moving of goods had been approved by the authorities, they got stuck at the Brenner Pass, on the border with Italy, and did not reach Genova until the ship had already sailed. The shipping company stored the crates and then carried out a forced auction to recover their costs. He could have prevented this by paying US dollars for further storage or shipping, but he did not have them in Chile. Friedrich Wälder thus lost his entire music library and all his music sheets. The auction was successful, but he did not see any lira from the surplus.

For David Wälder and his wife Bertha life brought hard changes. Because the city wanted to purchase their house from the Jewish owner in 1939 to convert it into an old people’s home, he hurriedly looked for another apartment in Marienstraße. Then his wife Bertha died on May 3, 1940, and was buried in Prague Cemetery in Stuttgart. In February 1941, the Gestapo forced him to give up his new apartment as well. He was assigned a furnished room on the first floor of Hohenstaufenstrasse 17A. He stored his apartment furnishings with a forwarding agency in Stuttgart. Whether he was later able to sell them in an emergency sale or whether the Nazi regime confiscated them is no longer ascertainable. And three more boxes of household effects were lost in the war at Lina Emmert’s home.

David Wälder found comfort, however, because Anna Mak, at that time the owner of a small grocery store at Klugestraße 12, supplied him with food even after closing time when it became dangerous for her. And the house manager Lina Emmert remained loyal to him with several visits. Finally, David Wälder married Pauline Cahn, born on May 18, 1887 in Neuwied, on March 12, 1941 in Andernach. She and her brothers had continued the retail business in Neuwied, Mittelstr.41, for manufacturers, menswear, soaps, lights and relevant articles of the deceased parents, the Joseph Cahn company. In November 1938 they had to close the store after it was damaged during the Kristallnacht. Glass panes were smashed, goods and household effects were destroyed and looted.

Together with Pauline, David Wälder had to leave Stuttgart on October 31, 1941, and was forced to move to Rexingen. But they had already returned to Stuttgart on November 28, 1941, and were deported from Killesberg to Riga on December 1, 1941, where they were also murdered. David Wälder’s two older brothers and their families were murdered, as were Pauline Wälder’s brothers.

Only Friedrich Wälder survived. Under the name of Federico Waelder Sander he made a name for himself in Chile as a pianist for dance  and entertainment music. Later he became a renowned photographer.

Photo documentation on this website by:
John Forest, Natasha Lebedeva, Lúa Oliver, Ivan Murzin, Iain Emaline, Juan David Cortés, Paul Levack, Jiyoon Chung, Augustine Paredes, Juande Jarillo, Eva Carasol, Sebastiano Luciano.
© Ian Waelder, 2024