Leo Zeilberger (1894 – 1989)
Owner of a fashion house in Coburg
Leo Zeilberger is born in Ermershausen in 1894. In 1910, Ernst Zeilberger, his wife and their three sons Leo, Bernhard and Heinrich move to Coburg. The father opens a textile firm on Steinweg. Later, his sons Leo and Heinrich take over the business; Bernhard works for the business as a tailor.
Leo and Heinrich serve as soldiers in World War I. Heinrich is awarded the Iron Cross and the Wound Badge. Upon his return, Leo Zeilberger becomes the local chairman of the Reich Federation of Jewish Front-Line Soldiers.
A campaign is launched against the Zeilberger company in 1923. The Zeilbergers are attacked and maligned, mainly through newspaper articles, but the baseless accusations come to nothing. Nevertheless, the store is vandalized. In June 1924, Leo Zeilberger and his brother are attacked by National Socialists. On being threatened with a pistol, Leo Zeilberger also reaches for his weapon. A shootout ensues. Two troublemakers are injured.
The police investigations find that Leo Zeilberger acted in utmost self-defence. He is not charged with a crime.
The Nazis turn to different methods of attacking the Zeilbergers: The store is boycotted and is forced to close, temporarily in late 1932 and then permanently in 1933.
In the early hours of March 12, 1933, Leo and Heinrich Zeilberger are hauled out of bed, dragged to the town hall and mistreated.
In May 1933, the two brothers are taken to the Dachau concentration camp. Bernhard is also arrested, but he is allowed to go home after a few days.
In 1936, Leo and Heinrich are released from the concentration camp and allowed to return to Coburg. They leave Germany together with Heinrich’s wife Therese and their children. They flee to Palestine.
In 1939, Leo Zeilberger starts a new life as a gardener in the settlement of Kiryat Bialik in Palestine. In 1978, he is made an honorary citizen of the city of Kiryat Bialik for services rendered to this settlement. He dies there in 1989.