Dienstag, 5 Juni 2007
Offenbacher Rundschau
Seite 15

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They came to Offenbach from across the world

55 Merzbachs visited the town of their Forefathers.

By Lothar R. Braun

 

Offenbach. The name Merzbach was of good standing in the old Offenbach. It stood for the first, and  long established influential Banking Establishment of the town.  In these days 55 bearers of the name met at the roots of their family in Offenbach. They came from across the world, and many of them met each other here for the very first time.

 

At the Kaiserstrasse they visited the Jewish Community Centre, at the Jewish cemetery the graves of their forefathers. On the Frankfurter strasse they saw where the bank once stood, which in 1938 took on the name of Friedrich Hengst & Co.  At the City Archive the former town archivist Hans-Georg Ruppel acquainted them with their family history. In the City Hall on Monday the Mayor Horst Schneider held a Reception for them.  “He looks completely different to the way I imagined a Town Mayor to be, more like a teacher” said the 93 year old Henry Rothschild from London in surprise.  From America  William Merzbach also came, who as spokesman for the group thanked the Mayor for the Reception.

 

Only little was said about the persecution which took place in the 1930’s and which drove the family members into exile.  “Never forgotten, but look ahead” said a participant from Luxembourg.  A woman who had come from Israel gave her feelings about this point: We live. We are here. We are together – that is what counts”

 

In the History of Offenbach the name of Merzbach is closely linked to the Development into an industrial town in the 19th and early 20th Century.  It was originally a Haulage business. In 1828 his opportunity came, when the Prussian-Hessian Customs Agreement enabled the creation of a sphere of Commerce stretching from East Prussia to the Rhine, from which the Free-town of Frankfurt was initially excluded.

Offenbach wanted to use the opportunity to create a competition to the traditionally exclusive Frankfurt Exhibition Centre. The first was established with success already in 1828. In the following year the Exhibition building was completed, which today houses the Leather Museum.  It boded well for the small town of less than 8000 inhabitants. Little pubs grew into Inns, Haulage Contractors became Money Exchangers.  Siegmund Merzbach (1805 – 1869) determinedly trod this path.  In 1832 he established a Banking firm, the first to be governed by Capital and Shareholding as required by the State with an expanding Economy.  The Merzbach Establishment also contributed in large measure to the economical development of the city of Offenbach.

The Firm had existed for more than 100 years when the Nazis drove the shareholding family from the country. By then it was already more than a small clan.  The Founding father himself had 10 sons and 4 daughters.  Their descendants were scattered across the globe. There are said to be several hundred.  Only two of the Merzbach Family were able to survive the terror and war in Magdeburg and Fuerth. They had “Arian mothers”.  That gave them a little protection.

 

Picture:

From across the world members of the Merzbach family came to Offenbach. Yesterday they participated in the official inauguration of a square next to the former slaughter house which was named after their Forefather Siegmund Merzbach.