Ninety-nine steps, years

It is his birthday soon celebrated
near his birthplace Rhauderfehn
in the small town of Leer East Friesia
Germany where Albrecht Weinberg
a butcher formerly living with his sister Friedel in
New York City and Florida last Tuesday heard
the shock news of three gravestones having
been toppled in the local Jewish cemetery.

Now toxic ideas turned toxic words
have triggered antisemitic actions
in Leer where the mayor had started
to worry after October 7 on seeing
the police car parked in front of the
former Jewish School now a site
to learn about the Shoah where Albrecht
and many others had been schooled

before they either emigrated or were
deported with the clock outside Volksbank
in Mühlenstraße reminding us of Hermann
Gans clockmaker whose masterpiece it was
and his son Rabbi Gans from New York City
the Youth Hostel at Leer bears his name now
which I tried to tell my son about this morning
before I even saw the headline in the Sunday paper

about the vigil to be held at the Jewish cemetery
to the left of Groninger Straße in the west of the town
a residential area of detached houses where the
lights come on when someone moves in the street
after dark and where the warm February weather
as well as the crowd and the humid conditions
made the gnats attack those who stayed behind
to talk things over and learn more about the toxic

words and ideas being spread both by
hirelings distributing flyers into letterboxes
and by elected MPs of the right-wing extremists
overheard recently in Schortens Friesia who
no longer camouflage their true intent of
undermining democracy and free discourse
once they are in power nor their willingness
to cleanse German society of all their enemies

clueless as I think they surely are that someone
like a person with no breaches in their life lines
has never existed that in short it is the diversity
of life that has always allowed mankind to survive
and that it is them who are about to wreck the country
by trying to turn its democratic values on their head
and by denying the truth of the Shoah as well as
the 99 years the one and only Jew of Leer has lived;

Albrecht Weinberg did raise his voice tonight
acknowledging the presence of so many people
as a sign of “of hope for the future” speaking English
that is his adopted language of decades spent
in New York City after a song of Hannes Wader’s
about peace as man’s dreamland had warmed
the crowd’s hearts before they warmed their hands
giving Albrecht Weinberg a standing ovation.

Jörg W. Rademacher, 10.02.2024, written to the moment of solidarity
shared at Jüdischer Friedhof, Groninger Straße, Leer, East Friesia,

Postscript in prose

It was a seventeen-year-old student along with the director of the former Jewish School at Leer visiting the cemetery on Tuesday, 6 February, two women, that is, who discovered the destruction and alerted both the president of the regional Union of Judeo-Christian Cooperation and the civil society of Leer. In the last two years, initiated by Albrecht Weinberg, stepping-stones had been laid in Leer, so that many more people had been made aware of the devastation deportations had caused in the town more than eighty-five years ago. With the rise of one extreme right-wing party in the past ten years, and in particular after the terrorist attack inflicted on Israel on 7 October 2023 it needs to be stated that the number and violence of antisemitic transgressions and attacks has risen in East Friesia as a whole and in Leer in particular. Thus the fact that the citizens of Leer have risen to the occasion to make sure many people did attend the vigil shows they are prepared now to defend democratic rights and free discourse by showing their solidarity in public.

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