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House Where Buber Lived Has Been Temporarily Saved from Demolition

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A house in Heppenheim West Germany, where Jewish philosopher Martin Buber lived for 22 years, has been temporarily saved from demolition, thanks to protests by a citizens’ action group.

The Cultural Ministry of the Federal State of Hessen has declared the house a national monument but the Town Council of Heppenheim, a town of 24,000 residents situated 30 miles south of Frankfurt, is appealing the decision. The Council has owned the house since 1949 and used it as a youth center. It plans to erect a new district administration building on the site as part of an urban renewal program in the area.

In an effort to appease the protesters, the Council has offered to dedicate a room in the planned building as a “Martin Buber” reading or memorial room with a commemorative plaque outside.

ADDS TO TOWN’S REPUTATION

Buber lived in the house while a professor at Frankfurt University. During that period he and Franz Rosenzweig, the German Jewish philosopher, completed an Old Testament translation from Hebrew to German which won wide acclaim as well as several other books and pamphlets.

Werner Wirt, 58, leader of the citizens’ group, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the house was a fine example of late 19th-century architecture with a beautiful garden, including three elm trees, each over 150 years old. Apart from aesthetic reasons for saving the house, Wirt said that Buber’s name “adds to our town’s reputation.

“As a history teacher,” he added, “I am often asked by my pupils how the Nazis came to power and whether there were any Jews in Heppenheim. It would be very painful to me if the home of such a prominent Jewish person should disappear.”

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