The Synagogue as Store and Sales Room
Karl Leonhardt (1906 - 1970) owned the adjacent property where he had a business dealing with land products. So it was convenient for him to buy the synagogue in 1938. He intended to use it as additional storage and sales room. But first he had to play his rôle in WWII.
It seems debatable how much the synagogue was damaged during the war. There are traces of bullets to be seen. We have been told that the roof and the windows were damaged though the blast of the nearby bridge over the Elsenz in 1945. Certainly the synagogue has been reroofed at some time but our conservation expert tells us that most the window panes seem to be original.
This fits in with another story about the use of the synagogue we have been told:
When US-troops came into Steinsfurt on April 2, 1945, they cleared some houses in the neighbourhood for their use. About a dozen of the evicted persons camped for some time in the empty synagogue, sleeping on the floor ◊
Karl Leonhardt came back from his time as POW in May 1948◊. So he came under the Heimkehrer-amnesty and he started his business again. He stored food like potatoes and flour but also fertilizers, pestizides in the synagogue. He added a lean-to on the side as shelter for his cart and built a hen hatch where the mikveh had been.
Many of the Steinsfurt inhabitants remember having been in the synagoge building at that time to buy potatoes, fertilizers or poisons. But not very many took notice of the interior. Most of the tales we have heard are about Karl Leonhardt himself who seems to have been quite a character. In the village he was generally known as „Schwingmehl“◊ . So there was more than one little boy at that time who went into the sales room starting „Herr Schwingmehl ...“ This could have unpleasant consequences for the poor boy.
The use of the building as sales room had as a positive side effect that nothing was altered or removed unless it was detrimental for the business. So the murals were not touched. On the other hand the salts of the fertilizers still create problems today.
Tales by many Steinsfurt persons