As announced yesterday, our co-founder, long-time friend and supporter Gernot Römer has passed away at the age of 93. The journalist, former editor-in-chief of the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper and honorary chairman of the Foundation of the Jewish Culture Museum Augsburg-Swabia was a pioneer in researching the life stories of Swabian Jews. “The fact that the Jewish Museum was able to become what it is today is primarily due to the work of Gernot Römer,” said Hans-Eberhard Schurk, chairman of the Foundation of the Jewish Culture Museum Augsburg-Swabia, on the occasion of the news.
Already in the early 1970s, when hardly anyone was interested in the Shoah, the survivors and their stories, Römer began to collect and publish the accounts of contemporary witnesses. At that time, the majority of society was not yet ready to deal with the legacy of the eyewitnesses. Römer even had to work under police protection at times. And he worked a lot: Before his time-consuming job as editor-in-chief, he often took an “early shift” at the State Archives, which were located in Neuburg at the time.
He campaigned for the commemoration of the murdered and sought out conversations with the survivors. Until the end, he maintained contact with descendants of Swabian Jewish families in the USA and Israel. The existence of the memorial room in Augsburg’s city hall is largely due to him, and he also pushed for the creation of the Jewish Museum in Augsburg, one of the first Jewish museums in Germany. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation of the Jewish Culture Museum Augsburg-Swabia since its establishment in 1983, for many years as its chairman, and since 2017 as honorary chairman. In 2019, he bequeathed his extensive collection of documents and photos to the museum. The stories and memories of Jews from Augsburg and Swabia, which he collected and thus preserved, form an invaluable source for the museum’s work.
Gernot Römer passed away on June 12, 2022, and his scholarly and societal legacy will live on for a long time to come.