BIBRA: Clara Strauss (née Weißbacher), 1887

What we know:
Family surname:
: Weissbacher
Given name: Clara
Birth date & place: 19. December 1887, Bibra/Thuringia
Death date/place: exact date/place unknown
Age: 55 years at date of deportationClara (née Weißbacher) Strauss, was born the 19th of December 1887 in the village of Bibra in Thuringia. (Records such as the German National Archives, Memorial Book, that identify her place of birth as Bibra are incorrect.) Clara had two older brothers, Max and Adolf Weißbacher. Her parents were Isak Weißbacher and his first wife, whose name  is unknown. On 25 May 1893, Isaak married his second wife, Therese Meyer; Clara was six years old.

Bibra was a small village in Schmalkalden-Meiningen: at the time of Clara’s birth, about 134 Jews lived in Bibra; by 1900, the number peaked at 195 and then declined sharply. By 1924-25 there were 62 Jewish residents living in Bibra, making up around 10% of the total population.

Clara was the only child of Isak Weissbach to remain in Bibra. She married Bernhard Strauss who was born in 1889 in Frankfurt a/Main. The two of them settled in Bibra and had their son Manfred in 1915. Several months after Manfred’s birth, Bernhard Strauss was killed fighting for his homeland.

Clara’s brothers both left Bibra: Of Adolf’s story during this time, we know little. It is possible that he married a Paula Strobel but more evidence is required. Of Max, we know more: he fought in the German army in World War I. He returned from the war to Schwandorf in Bavaria. On 13 August 1918, he married Olga Bachenheimer (b. 06 July 1898) in Wetter, Hessen. The couple lived in Schwandorf until after the birth of their first son, Werner Siegfried, on 22 June 1920.  They then moved to Nördlingen where Herbert Ludwig was born on 10 August 1923. The family remained in Nördlingen through the 1920s.


When the Nazi Regime began in January 1933, Clara, and her father and stepmother, were living in Bibra. Max and his family were in Nördlingen and evidence suggests that Adolf was in Berlin-Mitte.

Major changes occurred in the mid-1930s: first, on 8 October 1936, Clara’s father Isaak died in Bibra at the age of 79. In early 1938, the family of Max Weissbacher decided to leave Germany and go to Holland, which they hoped would remain neutral in war as it had in World War I. On 20 April 1938, Max, Olga and their two sons emigrated to Utrecht in the Netherlands. Max’s stepmother, Therese, accompanied them and she died there in 1942. At some point, Manfred Strauss, probably still in his teens, left Germany and sought refuge in Uruguay.

Clara was alone in Bibra when the deportations began in fall 1941. She was the first Weissbacher deported; on 8 May 1942, she and four other Jews  left Bibra for Weimar and on to Ghetto Belzyce. (The Gestapo who drew up the list of Jews to be deported from Bibra on that date did not know Clara was a widow.)

In August 1942, Herbert Ludwig and Werner Siegfried, the sons of Max and Olga Weissbacher, were rounded up and taken to Westerbork transit camp; from there they were deported to Auschwitz. Both were murdered: Herbert Ludwig on 18 September 1942 and Werner Siegfried on 17 October 1942. The cause of death for Herbert was recorded in a death register as „Akuter Magen und Darmkatarrh.“

Clara’s brothers were deported and murdered in 1943: Adolf was deported from Berlin on 1 March 1943, as part of the major roundup of Jews to make Berlin ‚judenfrei.‘ The date of his death is not known. On 12 June 1943 Max and Olga  were rounded up and taken to the Westerbork transit camp. They remained there until 14 September 1943 when they were transported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; four months later, on 25 January 1944, they were sent further to Ghetto Theresienstadt. Finally, on 9 October 1944, Max and Olga were deported from the Theresienstadt Ghetto to Auschwitz; they were murdered on 11 October 1944.

Manfred Strauss was the only survivor of the Weissbacher family of Bibra. In 1999 he submitted a Page of Testimony to Yad Vashem to honour the memory of his mother.