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The Jewish Community of Basel

Basel

Alternate spelling: Basle
French: Bale

A city in northwestern Switzerland

Basel is located on the Rhine River, near the French and German borders

Baleph, a smartphone and tablet application that was launched in 2014, provides travelers with a walking tour detailing Basel's Jewish history. The Jewish Museum of Switzerland, which is located in Basel, also provides visitors with information and exhibitions on the history of the Jewish community in Switzerland. Another museum of Jewish interest is the Kunstmuseum Basel, which includes several works by the artist Marc Chagall.

The Great Synagogue, which was originally built in 1868 and expanded in 1892, is one of five synagogues located in Basel. The Jewish Primary School Leo Adler (JPS), which was founded in 1961, provides Jewish children with a religious and secular education, and also offers extracurricular activities.

The Great Synagogue includes a kosher fine-dining restaurant in the basement. Tourists staying at the Hilton Basel can also request kosher food.

Israel Park, a grove of 40 trees planted by the sixth president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, is located in Basel.

As of 2015 there were approximately 2,000 Jews living in Basel.

HISTORY

Jews first settled in Basel during the 12th century. One hundred years later the Jewish community of Basel was chiefly responsible for funding the construction of the Bridge over the Rhine (1225-1226). During this period the Jews were also permitted to buy and sell land.

Eventually, however, the Jews of Basel became victims of anti-Jewish violence. During the Black Death epidemic they were accused of poisoning the wells. Though the members of the town council attempted to defend the Jewish community, in January 1349 tensions boiled over; 600 Jews, along with the community's rabbi, were burned at the stake and 140 children underwent forced baptisms. These events temporarily put an end to the Jewish community in Basel.

In 1362 a Jew from Colmar (in Alsace) was permitted to settle in Basel; he was soon followed by others. In spite of restrictions imposed on the Jews by the church, the second half of the 14th century was a period of prosperity for the Jewish community of Basel. However, in 1397 the Jews were once again accused of poisoning the local wells. Fearing for their lives, the Jews fled and the community once again ceased to exist. This time it would be a few hundred years until Jews returned to Basel.

From the mid-16th century on the authorities of Basel alternately issued individual residence permits and expulsion edicts. At the end of the 16th century Basel became a center for Hebrew printing. Though the printing houses were owned by Christians, residence permits were granted to Jewish proofreaders. Johannes Froben published the Book of Psalms in 1516. His son Jerome published a copy of the Bible in Hebrew in 1536. Between 1578 and 1580 Ambrosius Froben was permitted to print a censored edition of the Talmud, which had been banned under Pope Julius III in 1553. The works of Johannes Buxtorf, who taught Hebrew at Basel University (1591-1664) were also printed in Basel.

In 1789, when anti-Jewish propaganda was rife in Alsace, many Alsatian Jews fled to Basel and were permitted to stay there temporarily. Following a request from the French government in 1797, the local authorities exempted French Jews entering Basel from paying the special tax that was levied on Jews, and in 1798 the tax was abolished completely.

Under Napoleon several Jews, mainly French citizens from Alsace, settled in Basel. They numbered 128 in 1805 and organized their own community. They were expelled in 1845 when the French government broke off relations with the canton (administrative subdivision). Some returned shortly thereafter, only to be forced to leave again in 1854. The Jews of Switzerland were granted full civil rights in 1866. This also meant that Jews from Alsace could return to settle in Basel. The community grew, and a synagogue was consecrated in 1868.

ZIONISM

The First Zionist Congress was held in Basel in 1897; in total the World Zionist Congress would meet in Basel ten times. In the wake of the first Congress, Theodor Herzl wrote: "Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word…it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State."

WORLD WAR II

During World War II Swiss Jews were protected by Switzerland's neutrality. Basel served as a temporary refuge for a number of Jews fleeing the Nazis, most of whom left after the war. Nonetheless, during the war many Jews were unable to escape to Switzerland, as a result of government policies designed to keep them out. Evidence suggests that Swiss banks collaborated with the Nazis, and withheld, laundered, and looted, many victims' and survivors' assets.

POSTWAR

In 1960 Basel was home to 2,291 Jews, making it the second-largest Jewish community in Switzerland. 838 Jewish families lived in the city in 1969. In 1997 there were 2,600 Jews living in Basel, out of a total Swiss Jewish population of 18,000.

NOTABLE FIGURES

Among the notable figures from Basel were Z. Dreyfuss-Brodsky, the representative for Swiss Jewry at the Jewish Agency, and the lawyer Marcus Mordecai Cohn (1890-1953), an active Zionist and rabbinical scholar who later became adviser on Jewish law to the Ministry of Justice in Israel.The chemist Markus Guggenheim and Nobel laureate Tadeus Reichstein were also from Basel.
Place Type:
City
ID Number:
123720
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) during the First Zionist Congress in Basel.
Switzerland, 1897.
Photo: E. M. Lilien.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot)
Rabbi Yacoub Boccara with Zionist envoys
from North Africa at the 10th Zionist Congress
in Basel, Switzerland, August 1911
(Beit Hatfutsot photo Archive,
courtesy of Roland Fellous, Sarcelles)
Dr. Theodor Herzl with the delegates from Dagestan,
Matityahu Bogatirov (left) and Shlomo Mordechayev (right).
The 6th Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland,
August 23-28, 1903.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Nissim Elishayev, Israel)

Jewish refugees in the "Summer Casino", Basel, Switzerland, 1930's

(From the Beit Hatfutsot Photo Exhibition: "The History of the Jewish Community in Basel", 1982)

The Great Synagogue in Aulerstrasse.
Basel, Switzerland, 1930.
The location of the community's synagogue was changed several times during the 19th century.
The present Synagogue was designed by the Basel architect Hermann Rudolf Gauss and dedicated on August 9 1868.
A further wing was completed in 1892. Its new form, with two domes, is still preserved.
(From the Beit Hatfutsot Photo Exhibition: "The History of the Jewish Community in Basel", 1982)
Delegates from Salonika at the 10th Zionist Congress,
Basel, Switzerland, 1911
Among them Shem-Tov Revakh. Sitting, center, David Wolffsohn, 2nd President of the World Zionist Organization
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, Salonika Collection)

Three girls welcoming the delegates of the 19th Zionist Congress at the train station in Basel, Switzerland, 1935
Photo: Herbert Sonnenfeld
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, Sonnenfeld collection)

Kartagener, Manes (1897-1975), scholar and physician, born in Przemysl, Galicia, then part of the Austrian Empire (now Poland), the only son of Rabbi Lazar Kartagener of Przemysl.

Kartagener received a thorough education in both Torah and general subjects. He was taught Bible, Hebrew grammar and Talmud by private tutors under the supervision of his father and, after his home town was the centre of bitter fighting between the Austrian and Russian armies during the First World War, went to Lvov (now Lviv, in Ukraine) to study the natural sciences where he graduated in 1915. He had initially planned to become a rabbi but in 1916 he immigrated to Switzerland and studied medicine. He supported himself and financed his studies by giving private lessons. He qualified as a doctor in 1924, gained postgraduate experience in Basel and Zurich, before being appointed to a position at department of medicine at the University of Zurich. In 1928 he obtained his doctorate for a thesis on the thyroid gland. From 1929 to 1937 he served as chief physician of the polyclinic attached to the university. In 1935 he became a lecturer in the faculty of medicine and in 1950 he was appointed professor. He published a number of works on lung and heart diseases. He later became a professor in the Zurich University Medical School, and is best known for having identified a hereditary medical condition affecting the sinus and causing sinusitis and bronchitis. The condition has been named after him as the Kartagener Syndrome or the Kartagener disease.

Throughout his life Kartagener retained his interest in Judaism although he was not active in communal life. In 1962 he published a linguistic-philosophical essay in German on “The Foundations of the Hebrew Language” in which he discussed the origins of thought as expressed through the Greek and Hebrew languages.

One of Kartagener’s sisters, Minda, was married to Yeshahahu Sonne, a well-known researcher and writer on Jewish studies, who was a professor in the rabbinical seminary in Cincinatti. His other sister, Machla Chaya, a medical doctor, was married to writer Dr. Yitchak Mann.
Guttmann, Robert (1880-1942) naïve painter and traveler, born in Susice ( Schüttenhofen), Bohemia, Czec Republic (then part of Austria-Hungary). Guttmann moved to Prague in 1895, where he attended the Bergmann Business School. Having a fine baritone voice he wanted to become a cantor. He also excelled himself in sports. For several years he attended a private art school run by the painter Alois Kirnig. At home he spoke German and Hebrew. Eventually he became a Zionist and in 1897, he walked all the way (for fourteen and half weeks) to Basel to attend the First Zionist Congress. Later he would walk to attend several more of the following Zionist Congresses.

During World War II, while in Prague, Guttmann started to paint large paintings with an almost childlike naivete. He thus became the illustrator of the Jewish community of Prague during the Holocaust. In his works he expressed the anguish and humiliation, but also the human dignity tirelessly maintained during those hard times.

Guttmann was deported from Prague on the first transport to Lodz ghetto in October 1041. There he became completely apathetic and silent and he died there of starvation in 1942.

Some of Guttmann's works that were retrieved after the war are now in the collections of the Prague Jewish Museum.
Born in Poland in 1897 his family moved to Zurich in 1908. In 1934 he was Professor of organic chemistry in Zurich and in 1938 Head of the Institute of Pharmacy in Basel.
In 1933 he succeeded in the synthesis of Vitamin C, and in 1934 began the isolation of the hormones of the adrenal cortex.
In 1950, together with E.C. Kendall and P. Hench, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for the discoveries relation to the hormons of the adrenal cortex.
(Courtesy of Tadeus Reichstein, Basel)

Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl (1860-1904), journalist and founder of Political Zionism and of the World Zionist Organization, born on May 2, 1860, in Budapest, Hungary, Austrian Empire (now in Hungary), into a middle class Jewish family. Herzl attended a scientific oriented German language school, but because of local anti-Semitism, moved in 1875 to another school that was attended mostly by Jews. The family moved to Vienna, Austria, then the capital city of Austria-Hungary, where Herzl attended the university gaining a doctorate in law, in 1884. He worked for short periods in Vienna and Salzburg, but abandoned a career in law practice and dedicated himself to writing, especially plays; some of them enjoyed a fair amount of success. In 1889, Herzl married Julie Naschauer, daughter of a well-to-do Jewish businessman.

Having been appointed the Paris correspondent of the "Neue Freie Presse", a leading liberal Viennese newspaper, Herzl arrived in Paris, along with his wife in the fall of 1891, only to discover that France was haunted by the same anti-Semitism that he encountered in Austria. While in Paris, Herzl became preoccupied by politics. The Dreyfus affair convinced him that there should be only one solution to the Jewish question: mass emigration of Jews from Europe and the establishment of a Jewish homeland, preferably in the Land of Israel. His thoughts and ideas crystallized in an essay that initially he intended to send to the Rothschilds, but he published his proposals in 1896 as Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State"), a book that changed the course of the Jewish history. Herzl's ideas were received warmly especially in Eastern Europe countries where masses of persecuted Jews were eager to find a way out of the situation. The Hovevei Zion ("Lovers of Zion") movement called on Herzl to assume the leadership of the movement.

In 1897, the First Zionist Congress convened in Basel, Switzerland, and the Zionist movement was established. Herzl was chosen as life president of the World Zionist Organization. He also founded Die Welt, a Zionist weekly. Altneuland ("Old New Country"), Herzl's second book, a visionary novel describing the life in the future Jewish State to be established in the Land of Israel, was published in 1902. During the following years, Herzl traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East and conducted a long series of political meetings with prominent European leaders of the time trying to enlist them to the Zionist cause. He sought the support of the German Emperor, the King of Italy, and the Pope, tried to persuade the Sultan of Turkey to allow Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel, and met the Russian ministry with the aim of convincing him to stop the violence against the Jews of Russia. The most sympathetic offer of support came from Great Britain. However, the
Fourth Zionist Congress of 1903 rejected a British proposal calling for the establishment of a Jewish autonomy in East Africa that Herzl inclined to accept as a provisional refuge for the Jewish population of Eastern Europe. A year later, his heart condition aggravated and shortly afterwards, he died of pneumonia in a sanatorium in Edlach, Austria, on July 3, 1904 (20 Tammuz). Herzl was buried in Vienna and his funeral were attended by large crowds of bereaved Jews from all over Europe. In August 1949, in accordance to his will, the newly established State of Israel re-interred his remains in Jerusalem, on Mount Herzl, which was named in his honor, and 20 Tammuz has been declared a national memorial day in Israel.

Preciado (Yakir Yitzhak) Bakish (Bakich or Baquiche) (1828-1910), rabbi and Zionist, Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria, born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He served as av beit din and twice as Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria from 1885 to 1889, and again from 1895 to 1900. An enthusiast Zionist, he was one of the four delegates from Bulgaria who participated at the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. His Zionist activity was met with strong opposition in Bulgaria and eventually he was forced to resign his position of chief rabbi. He immigrated to the Land of Israel and died in Jerusalem.

Switzerland

Country situated in central Europe.

 

21st Century

Jewish life in Switzerland is represented by traditional, ultra-orthodox, sephardic and reform communities.

Their activities include synagogues, Jewish communities, kindergartens, schools, youth movements, kosher shops and cultural events. There are several Jewish cemeteries in various regions. The oldest is situated between Endingen and Lengnau, villages where Jews were allowed to live towards the end of the 18th century.

Jewish communities and organizations are united in the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities founded in 1904. The Swiss Federation founded the World Jewish Congress in 1936. Jews were represented in the clock, textile, they were also prominent in the establishement of department stores such as Nordmann and in the cattle trade. The country’s first woman president, Ruth Dreifuss (1999-2000) was Jewish.

The First Zionist Congress (1897) held in the Stadt Casino Basel is commemorated with a bronze plaque on the side of the concert hall stage. The long time yearning for a return to the ancestral home became increasingly concrete in the 19th century and the First Zionist Congress with Theodor Herzl at its helm was transformative in this quest of establishing a modern state and make the desert bloom. Besides being home to the 1897 Basel Congress, this city also houses a Jewish museum.

Switzerland had a Jewish population of around 18,000 in the late 2010s with the largest communities in Zurich, Geneva and Basel.

 

Prominent Figures

The most prominent figure to have lived in Switzerland is Albert Einstein. Raised in Switzerland he studied at the Federal Polytechnic Academy in Zurich. He served as examiner at the country’s patent office. Other notables were the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, composer Ernest Bloch, poet Elias Canetti and author Albert Cohen. Also the originally German economist and social revolutionary with Polish roots, Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) [ˈʁoːza ˈlʊksəmbʊʁk] lived in Switzerland. She gained her PhD at the University of Zurich.

 

History

First Jews probably arrived in the area nowadays called Switzerland along with the Romans. One location where Jews settled in the 3rd century AD was in the Roman town of Augusta Raurica close to Basel.

The Swiss state was formally established in 1291, the Confoederatio Helevetica. With Ashkenazi settlement on Swiss land in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Jewish population in the area increased though by the mid-14th century the communities were still quite small. Some communities had cemeteries at the time. Jews were subjected to discriminatory laws in the Middle Age.

In the second half of the 16th century there was Jewish settlement in the area of the canton of Basel respectively southern Alsace and possibly in the Bodensee area. Jewish rural communities started to flourish in the 17th century on the Swiss border in the areas of western Alsace, Rhine valley, canton Basel and Hohenems and were occupied in cattle trade and peddling. They were however expelled at the end of the century beginning of the 18th century.

Jews were allowed to live in the villages Lengnau and Endingen in the canton of Aargau in 1776. This rule lasted for nearly 100 years. In the mid-18th century synagogues were consecrated. In the 70s Jews also settled in Neuchatel and in the area of Geneva. France and other countries started to develop an interest in securing the rights of the Jewish population and emancipation of the Jewish population started. With ongoing pressure from outside of Switzerland, Jews were permitted to settle in other locations of the country by 1866. They were gradually given civil rights and duties as per the Swiss federal constitution, however, there remained restrictions on professions. At the time there were around 553 Jews living in Switzerland.

In the late 19th early 20th century, Jews immigrated from Alsace, Germany and East Europe and Jewish life in Switzerland was blooming. The First Zionist Congress was held in the canton of Basel in 1897.

 

The Holocaust Period

Following World War I, antisemitism started to rise in Switzerland. After 1933 Jewish refugees were no longer permitted entry in spite of protest actions by politicians, church and citizens. With the annexation of Austria by Germany in March 1938, there was a wave of Jewish refugees attempting to enter Switzerland. Austrian and German Jews’ passports were marked with a J which enabled barring their entry.

During World War II the country was spared from Nazi occupation. Overall local Jews were protected by the country’s neutrality and 25,000 Jews were given protection by Switzerland.

 

Postwar

The following decades tolerance began to spread and Jews became well integrated into Swiss society. In the early post-war decades, Jews of Sephardi origin from North Africa settled down in the Geneva and Lausanne areas.

Jewish communities took care of Hungarian and Egyptian Jewish refugees fleeing after the Hungarian Uprising and Suez War of 1956, and Czechoslovak Jews fleeing after August 1968.

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The Jewish Community of Basel
Basel

Alternate spelling: Basle
French: Bale

A city in northwestern Switzerland

Basel is located on the Rhine River, near the French and German borders

Baleph, a smartphone and tablet application that was launched in 2014, provides travelers with a walking tour detailing Basel's Jewish history. The Jewish Museum of Switzerland, which is located in Basel, also provides visitors with information and exhibitions on the history of the Jewish community in Switzerland. Another museum of Jewish interest is the Kunstmuseum Basel, which includes several works by the artist Marc Chagall.

The Great Synagogue, which was originally built in 1868 and expanded in 1892, is one of five synagogues located in Basel. The Jewish Primary School Leo Adler (JPS), which was founded in 1961, provides Jewish children with a religious and secular education, and also offers extracurricular activities.

The Great Synagogue includes a kosher fine-dining restaurant in the basement. Tourists staying at the Hilton Basel can also request kosher food.

Israel Park, a grove of 40 trees planted by the sixth president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, is located in Basel.

As of 2015 there were approximately 2,000 Jews living in Basel.

HISTORY

Jews first settled in Basel during the 12th century. One hundred years later the Jewish community of Basel was chiefly responsible for funding the construction of the Bridge over the Rhine (1225-1226). During this period the Jews were also permitted to buy and sell land.

Eventually, however, the Jews of Basel became victims of anti-Jewish violence. During the Black Death epidemic they were accused of poisoning the wells. Though the members of the town council attempted to defend the Jewish community, in January 1349 tensions boiled over; 600 Jews, along with the community's rabbi, were burned at the stake and 140 children underwent forced baptisms. These events temporarily put an end to the Jewish community in Basel.

In 1362 a Jew from Colmar (in Alsace) was permitted to settle in Basel; he was soon followed by others. In spite of restrictions imposed on the Jews by the church, the second half of the 14th century was a period of prosperity for the Jewish community of Basel. However, in 1397 the Jews were once again accused of poisoning the local wells. Fearing for their lives, the Jews fled and the community once again ceased to exist. This time it would be a few hundred years until Jews returned to Basel.

From the mid-16th century on the authorities of Basel alternately issued individual residence permits and expulsion edicts. At the end of the 16th century Basel became a center for Hebrew printing. Though the printing houses were owned by Christians, residence permits were granted to Jewish proofreaders. Johannes Froben published the Book of Psalms in 1516. His son Jerome published a copy of the Bible in Hebrew in 1536. Between 1578 and 1580 Ambrosius Froben was permitted to print a censored edition of the Talmud, which had been banned under Pope Julius III in 1553. The works of Johannes Buxtorf, who taught Hebrew at Basel University (1591-1664) were also printed in Basel.

In 1789, when anti-Jewish propaganda was rife in Alsace, many Alsatian Jews fled to Basel and were permitted to stay there temporarily. Following a request from the French government in 1797, the local authorities exempted French Jews entering Basel from paying the special tax that was levied on Jews, and in 1798 the tax was abolished completely.

Under Napoleon several Jews, mainly French citizens from Alsace, settled in Basel. They numbered 128 in 1805 and organized their own community. They were expelled in 1845 when the French government broke off relations with the canton (administrative subdivision). Some returned shortly thereafter, only to be forced to leave again in 1854. The Jews of Switzerland were granted full civil rights in 1866. This also meant that Jews from Alsace could return to settle in Basel. The community grew, and a synagogue was consecrated in 1868.

ZIONISM

The First Zionist Congress was held in Basel in 1897; in total the World Zionist Congress would meet in Basel ten times. In the wake of the first Congress, Theodor Herzl wrote: "Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word…it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State."

WORLD WAR II

During World War II Swiss Jews were protected by Switzerland's neutrality. Basel served as a temporary refuge for a number of Jews fleeing the Nazis, most of whom left after the war. Nonetheless, during the war many Jews were unable to escape to Switzerland, as a result of government policies designed to keep them out. Evidence suggests that Swiss banks collaborated with the Nazis, and withheld, laundered, and looted, many victims' and survivors' assets.

POSTWAR

In 1960 Basel was home to 2,291 Jews, making it the second-largest Jewish community in Switzerland. 838 Jewish families lived in the city in 1969. In 1997 there were 2,600 Jews living in Basel, out of a total Swiss Jewish population of 18,000.

NOTABLE FIGURES

Among the notable figures from Basel were Z. Dreyfuss-Brodsky, the representative for Swiss Jewry at the Jewish Agency, and the lawyer Marcus Mordecai Cohn (1890-1953), an active Zionist and rabbinical scholar who later became adviser on Jewish law to the Ministry of Justice in Israel.The chemist Markus Guggenheim and Nobel laureate Tadeus Reichstein were also from Basel.
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Switzerland

Switzerland

Country situated in central Europe.

 

21st Century

Jewish life in Switzerland is represented by traditional, ultra-orthodox, sephardic and reform communities.

Their activities include synagogues, Jewish communities, kindergartens, schools, youth movements, kosher shops and cultural events. There are several Jewish cemeteries in various regions. The oldest is situated between Endingen and Lengnau, villages where Jews were allowed to live towards the end of the 18th century.

Jewish communities and organizations are united in the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities founded in 1904. The Swiss Federation founded the World Jewish Congress in 1936. Jews were represented in the clock, textile, they were also prominent in the establishement of department stores such as Nordmann and in the cattle trade. The country’s first woman president, Ruth Dreifuss (1999-2000) was Jewish.

The First Zionist Congress (1897) held in the Stadt Casino Basel is commemorated with a bronze plaque on the side of the concert hall stage. The long time yearning for a return to the ancestral home became increasingly concrete in the 19th century and the First Zionist Congress with Theodor Herzl at its helm was transformative in this quest of establishing a modern state and make the desert bloom. Besides being home to the 1897 Basel Congress, this city also houses a Jewish museum.

Switzerland had a Jewish population of around 18,000 in the late 2010s with the largest communities in Zurich, Geneva and Basel.

 

Prominent Figures

The most prominent figure to have lived in Switzerland is Albert Einstein. Raised in Switzerland he studied at the Federal Polytechnic Academy in Zurich. He served as examiner at the country’s patent office. Other notables were the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, composer Ernest Bloch, poet Elias Canetti and author Albert Cohen. Also the originally German economist and social revolutionary with Polish roots, Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) [ˈʁoːza ˈlʊksəmbʊʁk] lived in Switzerland. She gained her PhD at the University of Zurich.

 

History

First Jews probably arrived in the area nowadays called Switzerland along with the Romans. One location where Jews settled in the 3rd century AD was in the Roman town of Augusta Raurica close to Basel.

The Swiss state was formally established in 1291, the Confoederatio Helevetica. With Ashkenazi settlement on Swiss land in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Jewish population in the area increased though by the mid-14th century the communities were still quite small. Some communities had cemeteries at the time. Jews were subjected to discriminatory laws in the Middle Age.

In the second half of the 16th century there was Jewish settlement in the area of the canton of Basel respectively southern Alsace and possibly in the Bodensee area. Jewish rural communities started to flourish in the 17th century on the Swiss border in the areas of western Alsace, Rhine valley, canton Basel and Hohenems and were occupied in cattle trade and peddling. They were however expelled at the end of the century beginning of the 18th century.

Jews were allowed to live in the villages Lengnau and Endingen in the canton of Aargau in 1776. This rule lasted for nearly 100 years. In the mid-18th century synagogues were consecrated. In the 70s Jews also settled in Neuchatel and in the area of Geneva. France and other countries started to develop an interest in securing the rights of the Jewish population and emancipation of the Jewish population started. With ongoing pressure from outside of Switzerland, Jews were permitted to settle in other locations of the country by 1866. They were gradually given civil rights and duties as per the Swiss federal constitution, however, there remained restrictions on professions. At the time there were around 553 Jews living in Switzerland.

In the late 19th early 20th century, Jews immigrated from Alsace, Germany and East Europe and Jewish life in Switzerland was blooming. The First Zionist Congress was held in the canton of Basel in 1897.

 

The Holocaust Period

Following World War I, antisemitism started to rise in Switzerland. After 1933 Jewish refugees were no longer permitted entry in spite of protest actions by politicians, church and citizens. With the annexation of Austria by Germany in March 1938, there was a wave of Jewish refugees attempting to enter Switzerland. Austrian and German Jews’ passports were marked with a J which enabled barring their entry.

During World War II the country was spared from Nazi occupation. Overall local Jews were protected by the country’s neutrality and 25,000 Jews were given protection by Switzerland.

 

Postwar

The following decades tolerance began to spread and Jews became well integrated into Swiss society. In the early post-war decades, Jews of Sephardi origin from North Africa settled down in the Geneva and Lausanne areas.

Jewish communities took care of Hungarian and Egyptian Jewish refugees fleeing after the Hungarian Uprising and Suez War of 1956, and Czechoslovak Jews fleeing after August 1968.

Preciado (Yakir Yitzhak) Bakish
Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl
Reichstein, Tadeus
Guttmann, Robert
Kartagener, Manes
Ettinger, Max
Levy, Ernst

Preciado (Yakir Yitzhak) Bakish (Bakich or Baquiche) (1828-1910), rabbi and Zionist, Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria, born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He served as av beit din and twice as Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria from 1885 to 1889, and again from 1895 to 1900. An enthusiast Zionist, he was one of the four delegates from Bulgaria who participated at the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. His Zionist activity was met with strong opposition in Bulgaria and eventually he was forced to resign his position of chief rabbi. He immigrated to the Land of Israel and died in Jerusalem.

Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl (1860-1904), journalist and founder of Political Zionism and of the World Zionist Organization, born on May 2, 1860, in Budapest, Hungary, Austrian Empire (now in Hungary), into a middle class Jewish family. Herzl attended a scientific oriented German language school, but because of local anti-Semitism, moved in 1875 to another school that was attended mostly by Jews. The family moved to Vienna, Austria, then the capital city of Austria-Hungary, where Herzl attended the university gaining a doctorate in law, in 1884. He worked for short periods in Vienna and Salzburg, but abandoned a career in law practice and dedicated himself to writing, especially plays; some of them enjoyed a fair amount of success. In 1889, Herzl married Julie Naschauer, daughter of a well-to-do Jewish businessman.

Having been appointed the Paris correspondent of the "Neue Freie Presse", a leading liberal Viennese newspaper, Herzl arrived in Paris, along with his wife in the fall of 1891, only to discover that France was haunted by the same anti-Semitism that he encountered in Austria. While in Paris, Herzl became preoccupied by politics. The Dreyfus affair convinced him that there should be only one solution to the Jewish question: mass emigration of Jews from Europe and the establishment of a Jewish homeland, preferably in the Land of Israel. His thoughts and ideas crystallized in an essay that initially he intended to send to the Rothschilds, but he published his proposals in 1896 as Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State"), a book that changed the course of the Jewish history. Herzl's ideas were received warmly especially in Eastern Europe countries where masses of persecuted Jews were eager to find a way out of the situation. The Hovevei Zion ("Lovers of Zion") movement called on Herzl to assume the leadership of the movement.

In 1897, the First Zionist Congress convened in Basel, Switzerland, and the Zionist movement was established. Herzl was chosen as life president of the World Zionist Organization. He also founded Die Welt, a Zionist weekly. Altneuland ("Old New Country"), Herzl's second book, a visionary novel describing the life in the future Jewish State to be established in the Land of Israel, was published in 1902. During the following years, Herzl traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East and conducted a long series of political meetings with prominent European leaders of the time trying to enlist them to the Zionist cause. He sought the support of the German Emperor, the King of Italy, and the Pope, tried to persuade the Sultan of Turkey to allow Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel, and met the Russian ministry with the aim of convincing him to stop the violence against the Jews of Russia. The most sympathetic offer of support came from Great Britain. However, the
Fourth Zionist Congress of 1903 rejected a British proposal calling for the establishment of a Jewish autonomy in East Africa that Herzl inclined to accept as a provisional refuge for the Jewish population of Eastern Europe. A year later, his heart condition aggravated and shortly afterwards, he died of pneumonia in a sanatorium in Edlach, Austria, on July 3, 1904 (20 Tammuz). Herzl was buried in Vienna and his funeral were attended by large crowds of bereaved Jews from all over Europe. In August 1949, in accordance to his will, the newly established State of Israel re-interred his remains in Jerusalem, on Mount Herzl, which was named in his honor, and 20 Tammuz has been declared a national memorial day in Israel.

Born in Poland in 1897 his family moved to Zurich in 1908. In 1934 he was Professor of organic chemistry in Zurich and in 1938 Head of the Institute of Pharmacy in Basel.
In 1933 he succeeded in the synthesis of Vitamin C, and in 1934 began the isolation of the hormones of the adrenal cortex.
In 1950, together with E.C. Kendall and P. Hench, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for the discoveries relation to the hormons of the adrenal cortex.
(Courtesy of Tadeus Reichstein, Basel)
Guttmann, Robert (1880-1942) naïve painter and traveler, born in Susice ( Schüttenhofen), Bohemia, Czec Republic (then part of Austria-Hungary). Guttmann moved to Prague in 1895, where he attended the Bergmann Business School. Having a fine baritone voice he wanted to become a cantor. He also excelled himself in sports. For several years he attended a private art school run by the painter Alois Kirnig. At home he spoke German and Hebrew. Eventually he became a Zionist and in 1897, he walked all the way (for fourteen and half weeks) to Basel to attend the First Zionist Congress. Later he would walk to attend several more of the following Zionist Congresses.

During World War II, while in Prague, Guttmann started to paint large paintings with an almost childlike naivete. He thus became the illustrator of the Jewish community of Prague during the Holocaust. In his works he expressed the anguish and humiliation, but also the human dignity tirelessly maintained during those hard times.

Guttmann was deported from Prague on the first transport to Lodz ghetto in October 1041. There he became completely apathetic and silent and he died there of starvation in 1942.

Some of Guttmann's works that were retrieved after the war are now in the collections of the Prague Jewish Museum.
Kartagener, Manes (1897-1975), scholar and physician, born in Przemysl, Galicia, then part of the Austrian Empire (now Poland), the only son of Rabbi Lazar Kartagener of Przemysl.

Kartagener received a thorough education in both Torah and general subjects. He was taught Bible, Hebrew grammar and Talmud by private tutors under the supervision of his father and, after his home town was the centre of bitter fighting between the Austrian and Russian armies during the First World War, went to Lvov (now Lviv, in Ukraine) to study the natural sciences where he graduated in 1915. He had initially planned to become a rabbi but in 1916 he immigrated to Switzerland and studied medicine. He supported himself and financed his studies by giving private lessons. He qualified as a doctor in 1924, gained postgraduate experience in Basel and Zurich, before being appointed to a position at department of medicine at the University of Zurich. In 1928 he obtained his doctorate for a thesis on the thyroid gland. From 1929 to 1937 he served as chief physician of the polyclinic attached to the university. In 1935 he became a lecturer in the faculty of medicine and in 1950 he was appointed professor. He published a number of works on lung and heart diseases. He later became a professor in the Zurich University Medical School, and is best known for having identified a hereditary medical condition affecting the sinus and causing sinusitis and bronchitis. The condition has been named after him as the Kartagener Syndrome or the Kartagener disease.

Throughout his life Kartagener retained his interest in Judaism although he was not active in communal life. In 1962 he published a linguistic-philosophical essay in German on “The Foundations of the Hebrew Language” in which he discussed the origins of thought as expressed through the Greek and Hebrew languages.

One of Kartagener’s sisters, Minda, was married to Yeshahahu Sonne, a well-known researcher and writer on Jewish studies, who was a professor in the rabbinical seminary in Cincinatti. His other sister, Machla Chaya, a medical doctor, was married to writer Dr. Yitchak Mann.
Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl

Theodor Binyamin Zeev Herzl (1860-1904), journalist and founder of Political Zionism and of the World Zionist Organization, born on May 2, 1860, in Budapest, Hungary, Austrian Empire (now in Hungary), into a middle class Jewish family. Herzl attended a scientific oriented German language school, but because of local anti-Semitism, moved in 1875 to another school that was attended mostly by Jews. The family moved to Vienna, Austria, then the capital city of Austria-Hungary, where Herzl attended the university gaining a doctorate in law, in 1884. He worked for short periods in Vienna and Salzburg, but abandoned a career in law practice and dedicated himself to writing, especially plays; some of them enjoyed a fair amount of success. In 1889, Herzl married Julie Naschauer, daughter of a well-to-do Jewish businessman.

Having been appointed the Paris correspondent of the "Neue Freie Presse", a leading liberal Viennese newspaper, Herzl arrived in Paris, along with his wife in the fall of 1891, only to discover that France was haunted by the same anti-Semitism that he encountered in Austria. While in Paris, Herzl became preoccupied by politics. The Dreyfus affair convinced him that there should be only one solution to the Jewish question: mass emigration of Jews from Europe and the establishment of a Jewish homeland, preferably in the Land of Israel. His thoughts and ideas crystallized in an essay that initially he intended to send to the Rothschilds, but he published his proposals in 1896 as Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State"), a book that changed the course of the Jewish history. Herzl's ideas were received warmly especially in Eastern Europe countries where masses of persecuted Jews were eager to find a way out of the situation. The Hovevei Zion ("Lovers of Zion") movement called on Herzl to assume the leadership of the movement.

In 1897, the First Zionist Congress convened in Basel, Switzerland, and the Zionist movement was established. Herzl was chosen as life president of the World Zionist Organization. He also founded Die Welt, a Zionist weekly. Altneuland ("Old New Country"), Herzl's second book, a visionary novel describing the life in the future Jewish State to be established in the Land of Israel, was published in 1902. During the following years, Herzl traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East and conducted a long series of political meetings with prominent European leaders of the time trying to enlist them to the Zionist cause. He sought the support of the German Emperor, the King of Italy, and the Pope, tried to persuade the Sultan of Turkey to allow Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel, and met the Russian ministry with the aim of convincing him to stop the violence against the Jews of Russia. The most sympathetic offer of support came from Great Britain. However, the
Fourth Zionist Congress of 1903 rejected a British proposal calling for the establishment of a Jewish autonomy in East Africa that Herzl inclined to accept as a provisional refuge for the Jewish population of Eastern Europe. A year later, his heart condition aggravated and shortly afterwards, he died of pneumonia in a sanatorium in Edlach, Austria, on July 3, 1904 (20 Tammuz). Herzl was buried in Vienna and his funeral were attended by large crowds of bereaved Jews from all over Europe. In August 1949, in accordance to his will, the newly established State of Israel re-interred his remains in Jerusalem, on Mount Herzl, which was named in his honor, and 20 Tammuz has been declared a national memorial day in Israel.

Reichstein, Tadeus
Born in Poland in 1897 his family moved to Zurich in 1908. In 1934 he was Professor of organic chemistry in Zurich and in 1938 Head of the Institute of Pharmacy in Basel.
In 1933 he succeeded in the synthesis of Vitamin C, and in 1934 began the isolation of the hormones of the adrenal cortex.
In 1950, together with E.C. Kendall and P. Hench, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for the discoveries relation to the hormons of the adrenal cortex.
(Courtesy of Tadeus Reichstein, Basel)
Girls welcoming the delegates of the 19th Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, 1935
Delegates from Salonika at the 10th Zionist Congress, Basel, Switzerland, 1911
The Great Synagogue in Aulerstrasse, Basel, Switzerland, 1930
Jewish refugees in the "Summer Casino", Basel, Switzerland, 1930's
Herzl with delegates from Dagestan, Basel, August 23-28, 1903
Rabbi Yacoub Boccara with Zionist Envoys from North Africa nthe 19th Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, 1911
Theodor Herzl in Basel during the First Zionist Convention, 1897

Three girls welcoming the delegates of the 19th Zionist Congress at the train station in Basel, Switzerland, 1935
Photo: Herbert Sonnenfeld
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, Sonnenfeld collection)

Delegates from Salonika at the 10th Zionist Congress,
Basel, Switzerland, 1911
Among them Shem-Tov Revakh. Sitting, center, David Wolffsohn, 2nd President of the World Zionist Organization
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, Salonika Collection)
The Great Synagogue in Aulerstrasse.
Basel, Switzerland, 1930.
The location of the community's synagogue was changed several times during the 19th century.
The present Synagogue was designed by the Basel architect Hermann Rudolf Gauss and dedicated on August 9 1868.
A further wing was completed in 1892. Its new form, with two domes, is still preserved.
(From the Beit Hatfutsot Photo Exhibition: "The History of the Jewish Community in Basel", 1982)

Jewish refugees in the "Summer Casino", Basel, Switzerland, 1930's

(From the Beit Hatfutsot Photo Exhibition: "The History of the Jewish Community in Basel", 1982)

Dr. Theodor Herzl with the delegates from Dagestan,
Matityahu Bogatirov (left) and Shlomo Mordechayev (right).
The 6th Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland,
August 23-28, 1903.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Nissim Elishayev, Israel)
Rabbi Yacoub Boccara with Zionist envoys
from North Africa at the 10th Zionist Congress
in Basel, Switzerland, August 1911
(Beit Hatfutsot photo Archive,
courtesy of Roland Fellous, Sarcelles)
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) during the First Zionist Congress in Basel.
Switzerland, 1897.
Photo: E. M. Lilien.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot)
Ettinger, Max
Levy, Ernst