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Making a Connection  
Two websites connect: and The Lost Jews of Unsleben

Portions of this almost "blog-like" page will be posted on the newly created public Facebook group Jewish History Hub.
Arnie Berger 12/18/17

I continue to be amazed by Facebook's ability to connect two persons with one click, when there are about 240 million active users in North America alone. Let me tell a story of a web connection that took years to establish.

On Saturday evening I received an email from a professional genealogist who is researching the unknown dead among Jewish soldiers in the WWI German army. He invited me to contact him. His email included a link to a German website that I've never seen before. I replied "Sorry, but I don't study European Jewish history and I can't be of any help to you. Nor can I remember doing anything that would warrant this German website putting my name and a link to this website on its Credits page".

The next morning I remembered and shared my recollection with the genealogist. Here's the story.

In 2007 I added pages documenting one line of descendants of Simson Thorman who came here from Unsleben Bavaria in 1837 through William Joseph who died in 2012.

Then I "Googled" Unsleben Jewish. I found a small website with a history of more than 300 years of Jewish life in Unsleben. Though the site had no "Contact" email, the professor who authored the history had a page at his university that showed his email address. I sent him an email saying that many of our early Jewish settlers had come from Unsleben. Of course my email included the link to these pages. The professor replied with a cordial "Thanks for sharing this information" email. That was ten years ago.

When I followed the link I received Saturday evening I found that the thin website I had seen in 2007 had grown dramatically, been transformed and renamed. Now rich with information, it had become an example of what can happen when there is a substantial research effort and a team of technologists apply their skills.

Its history pages now had a picture of Simpson Thormann (as he was known in Unsleben), and mentioned the role of Unsleben Jews in the founding of Jewish Cleveland. There was also an image of the Alsbacher Document. Further the Credits page linked to this website.


The lost Jews of Unsleben

The site was developed after 2015 by a joint team of German and Israeli researchers, students from a high school in Germany and one in Israel, and technologists at Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem. Yad Vashem provided a list of Holocaust victims from Unsleben

Specially recommended: the history of Jewish life in Unsleben. It's a story of a town which after emigration, movement to German cities, and the Shoah is now a town with no Jews.

The site includes a display of tombstones in the Jewish cemetery, organized by surname, with images (but no years of birth and death). There is an Alsbacher (Moses Alsbacher led the group that came here in 1839) and a Klein (Rachel, later Regina, Klein, the bride-to-be of Simpson Thorman, who also came in the Alsbacher group).

Documentation of the graves began in September 2015, as a joint exchange program of German and Israeli high school students who worked on site in Unsleben to restore, renovate and document the abandoned Jewish cemetery.

A virtual tour lets you walk through the old cemetery, viewing it from many angles.

A map of the town highlights the homes once owned by Jewish families.

Near the bottom of the Credits page you'll find a link to these pages. That's because of my email in 2007 reporting the role Unslebeners, Simson Thorman in particular, had in our city's early Jewish history.

It is a pleasure to reciprocate:
Visit the Lost Jews of Unsleben website.

Below: A view of the Jewish Cemetery in Unsleben (Bavaria) Germany
Here lie many who signed the Alsbacher Document and stayed behind.
Source: Captured from the Virtual Tour on The Lost Jews of Unsleben website


Learn more on these pages:

  Our page of photos of the Jewish cemetery in Unsleben.
  Simpson Thorman and his descendants
  The Alsbacher Document - an ethical directive

As of 12/19/17