With great sadness I have to report the death of Josef Motschmann on 26 November 2016 aged 64.
After many years of struggling with his cancer, it finally got the upper hand.
Those of us who participated in the 2007 Stein family Reunion in upper Franconia - will remember our energetic and dedicated friend who had devoted much effort to restoring and preserving the Altenkunstadt Synagogue in which Leopold Stein had officiated. It houses a permanent exhibition and is used as a cultural center and lecture hall. Equally, he preserved the Jewish cemetery in Burgkunstadt and ensured its upkeep. It was not permitted to fulfil his last wish to have his ashes released at the cemetery grounds, but it was there that a farewell ceremony for Josef was held, a ceremony which he himself had planned before he died.
Josef was a Theologian who spent a great deal of time and effort in educating others about the horrors which befell the Jewish citizens under the Nazi Regime. The Altenkunstadt Synagogue became a cultural centre in which lectures are regularly held of Judeo-Christian interest and relationship. He was much concerned about the need to educate the population and the teaching of tolerance so that there may never be a repetition of those dark days.
The town of Altenkunstadt honoured Josef by awarding him a Freeman of the town.
Josef Motschmann was born in Altenkunstadt in 1952. He studied Theology and was for many years the Theology teacher at Maria-Ward-Gymnasium in Bamberg. He spearheaded marriage counselling there and created a phone line service akin to the Samaritan services.
Jews had been more than a third of the population of the town until 1939 and had contributed much to the life of the community. To his Theology Josef added a passion for History and ensured that the schools in his area were among the first to teach what really had happened in the Nazi era. His lectures were given in order to ensure that the past did not get glossed over or buried.
One of his first publications was in 1983, named "The Ordeal of the Obermain Jews". Further historical publications followed.
We wish Fritzi and their three sons well as they come to terms with their loss. May his soul be bound up in the bond of life.
Be well, I hope you are