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Troubled by Va. rally, theologian seeks to unify church leaders

Union Leader Correspondent

September 25. 2017 9:07PM

DOVER — A Christian theologian who grew up in Leuna, Germany, during World War II says he has increased his commitment to unify major church leaders after seeing some of the marchers at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. carrying swastikas and anti-Semitic banners last month.

“For the first time, I saw anti-Semitic groups without their faces covered, marching with torches like the Nazis did in 1933 in Berlin. I have an image that I see. I wasn’t born in (1933), but I have seen pictures, I have that image when I see what I saw in Charlottesville,” Martin Rumscheidt said from his home in Dover Friday.

Rumscheidt, 82, was troubled by the signs and chants at the Virginia rally.

“The vitriol in the vocal expressions is the same vitriol that I experienced as a youngster. That I experienced during the war. For a time, that I didn’t experience, but it is back,” Rumscheidt said.

Rumscheidt will be sharing his life experiences and insights at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 at Temple Israel on Olive Meadow Lane in Dover.

Rumscheidt said leaders of major faith groups must come together to fight for religious freedom and inclusion of all human beings. For him, the mission is personal. Rumscheidt says his father, Carl, worked as a chemical engineer for German company I.G. Farben, which had a subsidiary that produced the poison gas used in concentration camps.

I.G. Farben set up a factory just outside the Auschwitz concentration camp in May of 1942, and took advantage of Jewish slave laborers from the concentration camps to manufacture rubber and fuels. Historians estimate more than 1 million prisoners at Auschwitz were executed.

Rumscheidt said that his father never wanted to share his knowledge of what happened during the Holocaust, so he began to ask questions on his own.

When Rumscheidt’s father died in 1991, he was able to obtain a journal which documented business trips his father took during the war, proving he had personal knowledge of what was happening. Rumscheidt said he has it in his study today.

Rumscheidt’s discussion at Temple Israel is a free event open to the public.

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