So often on this trip I am amazed at how things come together. This was my last day in Germany, and as I mentioned before - the archives that I was planning on going to were closed. I went into this day with minimal expectations, and ended up knowing Rheda to be a gem in Wallach history. I booked an Airbnb in the town one train station away fro Rheda, and my host Simone happened to be a newspaper reporter. I told her a bit about my story, and what I was looking for in Rheda, and she called her friend Nimo, who works at the newspaper in Wiedenbrück (the neighboring town to Rheda). Nimo was interested in helping me, and in the morning I went to see him. Because of the records I had from Julius Wallach, we figured out that the family home and history was in Rheda and not Wiedenbrück, which I had initially thought. Nimo called his 'hobby - historian' friend Dr. Wolfgang A. Lewe and within minutes we were at his house.
Now, I should mention that because I cut my trip to this location short to visit Kassel, by the time we made it to Wolfgang's house I only had about an hour and a half before I needed to be on my train to Amsterdam. Nimo and Wolfgang were running around at high speed to try and get everything sorted out for me. I am honestly still so amazed that everything came together so quickly.
So there we were, leaving Wolfgang's house and heading straight to the Jewish Cemetery. Wolfgang apparently is one of the only people who has the key to the cemetery, so we walked right in and he immediately started telling stories of the Wallach family and Jewish history in the town. Because this was at the tail end of my research, I figured I knew a good amount of the Wallach history, but many of the things he told me I'd never heard before. In the cemetery he lead me to half a dozen Wallach headstones - the very first in the Wallach family were buried there. The cemetery also included a memorial to the jewish people of Rheda who died in concentration camps, there were a few Wallach names there as well. He told me a few stories about the history of the town, made another lap around the cemetery - and we were off to the next location.
We went to see a place called the 'long house' which was in fact a home (or apartments) that stretched the span of an entire block. From what I understand the long house was where all jewish people lived, because they were not allowed to live in the other parts of town. It is worth mentioning that for the most part Rheda-Wiedenbrück was not damaged by the war, so many of the super old buildings still stand (including the long house). People are still living there now, so we only drove by and looked from the outside.
The next stop was the plot of the old Synagogue, which no longer stands. There is a beautiful memorial as well as a plaque with more people from the town who did not survive the war. We looked at a few old buildings that would have been there when the Wallach family lived in town, and then we were off to the train station so I could make my way to Amsterdam.
Another loop to this wonderful experience is that Nimo (the newspaper reporter) wanted to do a story for the paper on my research. He didn't have time to do a proper interview, and also didn't speak much English - so my Airbnb host Simone wrote an article! Here it is!