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Settchen Oppenheimer

Reichenbach im Odenwald, Germany

Settchen was one of three children born to a religious Jewish family in a small town in the German state of Hessen. Her father was a cantor and kosher butcher. Settchen completed grade school during the 1880s. Because of a digestive disease, Settchen was largely homebound. She never married, and lived with her younger sister and brother-in-law.

1933-39: Reichenbach was a quiet town. Its largely Protestant inhabitants were generally not antisemitic. After Hitler came to power in 1933, the Nazis staged marches in the town on weekends. Settchen was not bothered by politics until November 1938 when Nazis vandalized the local synagogue and burned the main synagogue in nearby Bensheim [Kristallnacht: Night of Broken Glass]. By the time war broke out in 1939, many of Reichenbach's Jews had emigrated.

1940-44: The Jews who remained in Reichenbach were arrested one by one. Settchen's nephew, Max, was the first member of her family to be sent to a concentration camp. Next, her brother-in-law, Bernhard, disappeared. Then Settchen's younger sister, with whom she lived, emigrated to Argentina. Left alone, Settchen was placed in a home for the aged in the nearby city of Darmstadt. She was later transferred to another facility in Leipzig in eastern Germany.

After 1941, Settchen disappeared without a trace. She may have been killed due to her age, illness or Jewish heritage at one of three "Euthanasia" centers near Leipzig.

 

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