MONICA KINGREEN
WINDECKEN, GERMANY
Nominated by Peter and Carole-Ann Wyant, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

2002

The books and articles written by Monica Kingreen are without equal. They serve as an inspiration to scholars from all over the world. Her original research covering thirty Jewish communities and seven hundred years of history recreates, in exquisite detail, Jewish life in an entire region.

She has initiated many new projects, which have served as a model for others and encouraged them to do further work. For example, her biography of Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, the most famous 19th-century painter of Jewish subjects, set the stage for the Frankfurt Museum to prepare a major exhibit of the painter’s work, which is now touring the United States.

From early childhood Monica Kingreen had been educated by her parents about the persecution of the Jews and their horrendous fate during the Nazi era. In 1983, Mrs. Kingreen and her family moved to the small village of Windecken near Frankfurt am Main. It was this family move that inspired a life of research, coupled with her career as a school teacher.

Monica Kingreen soon learned that the very house she now lived in had been the home of Jewish families for more than 200 years. It was located next door to the former Jewish synagogue, which was burnt down on Kristallnacht. Their very street, Braugasse, had once been the Judengasse, or the main street of the Jewish community. Frau Kingreen began to research the fate of the Jewish families who had lived and prospered in Windecken. She searched the world for those who had emigrated and for the descendants of those who had been deported. Her research eventually led to the publication of a comprehensive 650-year history of Jewish life in Windecken until its destruction under the National Socialists.

Mrs. Kingreen’s interest in Jewish history quickly expanded to include the two neighboring villages of Heldenbergen and Ostheim. In 1985, Frau Kingreen was instrumental in having plaques erected commemorating the locations of the former synagogues of Windecken and Heldenbergen. In 1986, she organized an exhibition focusing on the lives of former Jewish citizens from all three villages. In 1988, she initiated the establishment of a memorial week in Windecken, Heldenbergen and Ostheim. Jewish descendants, now living throughout the world, were encouraged to return to their ancestral home. Several dozen returned and were warmly welcomed.

She became intensely involved in writing a detailed description of specific Jewish deportations from Hessen and Hanau and the fates of those deported. She published significant research on those German citizens who helped Jews to survive during the war. Her research was inspired by a heartfelt need to preserve a rich culture that had disappeared, and to pay homage to a period in history when Christians and Jews lived together in harmony..

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