Escaping The Nazis, Rexingen’s Jews Built New Lives Near The Beach At Shavei Zion
They’d lived in peace with their neighbors for 400 years, but then a swastika appeared on the local tower, and the community fled for Palestine.
In 1937, just over 200 Jews resided in the German town of Rexingen. Some of them relocated as a group to Moshav Shavei Zion in the late 1930s — every other Jew there who couldn’t bring himself to leave his home, or had been too old or too ill to do so, perished in the Holocaust.
Jews had lived in Rexingen for over 400 years, first arriving in 1516 when the Knights of St. John – a Christian Order dating back to the 11th century – offered them protection. Most of the Jewish inhabitants were farmers or owned small businesses and the town boasted a variety of Jewish institutions.
For centuries, Rexingen’s Jews and Christians lived in peace and harmony. But in the 1930s, a swastika appeared on the four-meter tower that overlooked the village; Nazis paraded through the village, and the Nuremburg laws reared their ugly head.
We learned all this and more on a fascinating tour of Shavei Zion with moshav member and Archives Director, Judith Temime. She explained that almost half the Jews of Rexingen read the writing on the wall, and understood that they would have to leave their native country. But when they contacted organizations in England and Germany for assistance, it was suggested that they head for Uganda, or Costa Rica.