F: "Dear Father and Degen,
If you receive this letter, then Rudi and I have shot ourselves. Despite the difficulties, we found each other. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done for me. You really couldn't have done more, and I am so grateful to you, because you let me live a life without care. It is all fate and destiny.”
M: Harrowing words of farewell, written by a 20-year-old Jewish woman from Siegburg called Ilse Fröhlich. On the 13th June 1939, she committed suicide along with her Catholic fiancé, Rudolf Marx. Under the racial laws of the 16th of September 1935, their love was classed as racial defilement. In this room, we’ve commemorated the fate of Ilse Fröhlich with letters and photographs.
F: Siegburg, like the rest of Germany, was deeply infected by the Nazi period. Local unemployment was high, especially after the two large armament factories had to close following the end of the First World War. In January 1933, the Nazis came to power in what turned out to be the last free elections.
M: The Nazi dictatorship affected Siegburg in much the same way as every other place in the Reich. We’d like to highlight three key features, using Siegburg as an example: firstly, enforced social conformity based on Nazi philosophy; secondly, the exercise of power through violence and propaganda, and thirdly, the racial fanaticism that culminated in the Holocaust.
F: Society was being systematically prepared for war. Children played a game about air defence, which you can see on the left-hand side of the display case. They coloured in pictures of military subjects, or collected cigarette cards with Nazi propaganda.
M: And the monument of the SS man called Franz Müller? We toppled it. He died in 1933 in a firefight in front of the local offices of the Social Democratic party. The Nazis glorified him as a martyr. He’s part of Siegburg's history, but we don't want to erect a monument to him.
F: It’s essential that we don’t forget this part of German history, which is also part of Siegburg history...
M: ... yet we must continue to remember the victims. At Kaiserstrasse number 20, here in Siegburg, there’s a tripping stone in front of the house where Ilse Fröhlich was born. The inscription translates as "Humiliated, stripped of rights, took refuge in death. 12th of June 1939."
Foto: © Dagmar Trüpschuch