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The Jewish Community of Erfurt

Erfurt

A city in Thuringia, Germany. Until World War II within Sachsen province.

21st Century

In 1998, the ancient synagogue was reconstructed and Jewish classes are held there. In 2003 the community numbered about 550 people, most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The head of the community is Reinhard Sharm and the rabbi of the community is Consentin Pal. There is a community cultural center where Jewish and social classes are held, such as concerts, radio programs and meetings on a cup of coffee. The old Jewish cemetery was closed and a new cemetery was opened. There is a room for ritual purity, and eulogies are said in a special style. Tours of the museum, the ancient synagogue and the ancient mikveh are available.

History

Jews are first mentioned there in the 12th century. At first under the protection of the king, by the second half of the 12th century they had passed to the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Mainz, who composed an oath formula for them in German. In 1209 the king also relinquished his right to collect taxes from the Jews, which in 1212 was explicitly granted to the archbishop. In 1221 anti-Jewish riots broke out. Jews were murdered while some, preferring martyrdom, threw themselves into the flames. Among the martyrs was the paytan and cantor Samuel B. Kalonymus. Nevertheless, the Jewish community of Erfurt continued to exist and even to expand. After some time a new synagogue was built and well-known rabbis chose Erfurt as their seat. Between 1286 and 1293 Asher B. Jehiel probably lived there, and at about the same time Kalonymus B. Eliezer ha-Nakdan composed his Masorah Ketannah, still preserved in manuscript in Erfurt. During the middle ages the Jews of Erfurt followed the Saxony prayer rite. The community's book of ritual is preserved at Jews' college, London (ms. 104, 4).

At the beginning of the 14th century protection over the Jews passed to the municipality; however, in early March 1349, over 100 Jews were murdered by the populace, and many set fire to their homes and perished in the flames. Those who survived were driven from the city. Among the martyrs was Alexander Suslin ha-Kohen, author of Sefer ha-Aguddah. Israel B. Joel Susslin mentions the Erfurt martyrs in an elegy (Sefer ha-Dema'ot, 2, 126-7). The city council again permitted the Jews to settle within the city walls and build a new synagogue in 1357. In 1391 the king canceled all the debts owed by Christians to the Erfurt Jews and handed them over to the municipality for 2,000 gulden; the municipality claimed this sum from the Jews, but promised them to return part of the debts. Subsequently the Jews had to pay a special tax to the king's treasury.

In 1418 they were compelled to declare the amount of their property on oath, in the synagogue, and the king collected new taxes from them on this basis. In 1458 they were again expelled from Erfurt.

During the following century the Erfurt community became one of the largest and most important in Germany, some of the most celebrated rabbis officiating there. Meir B. Baruch ha-Levi served there for some time; a disciple of his was Hillel of Erfurt. In the middle of the 15th century Jacob B. Judah Weil taught there. During this period, Erfurt Jews played an important role in banking in Thuringia.

Around 1820 the Prussian authorities used the tombstones in the Jewish cemetery for the fortification of the city. At that time Jews again began to settle in Erfurt, numbering some 144 in 1840 when a new synagogue was dedicated. The community numbered 546 in 1880 (1.03% of the total population); 795 in 1910 (0.72%); and 831 in 1933 (0.6%).

After the advent of the Nazis the majority of the Jews left Erfurt, 263 remaining in 1939. The synagogue was burned down on Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938). The community was compelled to pay for the petrol used for igniting the synagogue and for clearing the ruins. The men were detained in the local school, where they were mistreated, and subsequently deported to Buchenwald. The 173 Jews remaining in Erfurt were deported in February 1945 to Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp.

 

The Jewish community after the Holocaust 

The community was renewed after the Holocaust. In 1952 a new synagogue and mikveh were built. In 1961, 120 Jews lived in the city. A memorial book was issued for Holocaust victims. The communal archives from 1855 to 1936 have been transferred to the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem. One of the famous manuscripts of the Tosefta was found in Erfurt after which it is named. According to Saul Lieberman in his Introduction to his edition of the Tosefta Bi-Feshuto , the manuscript was created sometime during the 12th century in Germany. 

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
182400
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Talmudist

He taught in his native Efurt and also in Worms, Cologne and Frankfurt on Main. He was living in Frankfurt in 1345 but then resettled in Erfurt where he died the death of a martyr. He is the last of the early German halakhic authorities.His best known work is Agudda, which collects his legal decisions and arranges them according to the order of the tractates of the Talmud. Under the pressures of the expulsions and persecutions of his time, it is written very concisely.
Brand, Joel Jeno (1906-1964), member of Va'adat Ezrah va-Hazzalah, the Budapest Jewish relief committee set up during World War II, born in Naszod, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, today Nasaud, in Romania). Brand moved to Erfurt, Germany, with his family in 1910. Active in left-wing politics, he was arrested in 1933, but released in September 1934. He escaped to Transylvania, Romania, and from there went to Budapest, where he joined Po'alei Zion, and at a Zionist training farm met Hansi Hartmann, whom he married in 1935.

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Brand remained in Erez Israel, and after World War 2 devoted himself to tracking down Nazi war criminals. Both Brand and his wife, who was also active in the Va'adat Ezrah va'Hazzakah, testified at the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem.

Brand died in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where he was testifying against Hermann Krumey and Otto Hunsche, two of Eichmann's chief aides. The story of Brand's mission was dramatized by Heinar Kipphardt in his play "Die Geschichte eines Geschaefts" (1965).
TOURNAMENT BETWEEN ECCLESIA AND SYNAGOGA.
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WHO IS SEATED ON A SOW, HER EYES CLOSED
AND WEARING A JEWISH HAT.
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The new synagogue in Erfurt, Thuringen, Germany 1987.
The New synagogue was built in 1952 on the place where stood
the old synagogue' destroyed during the Cristalnight in 1938.
Interior of the New Synagogue un Erfurt,Thurningen,Germany.
The Synagogue was rebuilt in 1952 on the place where the old Synagogue stood, destroyed during Cristalnight, November 1938.
Talmudist

He taught in his native Efurt and also in Worms, Cologne and Frankfurt on Main. He was living in Frankfurt in 1345 but then resettled in Erfurt where he died the death of a martyr. He is the last of the early German halakhic authorities.His best known work is Agudda, which collects his legal decisions and arranges them according to the order of the tractates of the Talmud. Under the pressures of the expulsions and persecutions of his time, it is written very concisely.

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Brand, Joel Jeno (1906-1964), member of Va'adat Ezrah va-Hazzalah, the Budapest Jewish relief committee set up during World War II, born in Naszod, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary, today Nasaud, in Romania). Brand moved to Erfurt, Germany, with his family in 1910. Active in left-wing politics, he was arrested in 1933, but released in September 1934. He escaped to Transylvania, Romania, and from there went to Budapest, where he joined Po'alei Zion, and at a Zionist training farm met Hansi Hartmann, whom he married in 1935.

From 1938 Brand was active in a semi-clandestine organization for helping Jewish refugees, establishing contact with German Nazi agents who were then secretly working in Hungary. In January 1943 the Va'adat Ezrah va-Hazzalah was formally established in Budapest under the leadership of Otto Komoly, aided by Rezsoe (Rudolf) Kasztner. As a member of this committee, Brand met Adolf Eichmann, on whose orders he left for neutral Turkey on May 17, 1944, to present the Jewish Agency with a German proposition (the sincerity of which has never been established) to prevent the extermination of Hungarian Jewry in exchange for a supply of trucks and other equipment. He had hoped to meet Moshe Shertok (Sharett) in Turkey, but Shertok was prevented by the British authorities from traveling to Turkey, and Brand, having been persuaded by Jewish Agency officials in Istanbul, continued to Palestine to conclude negotiations there. He was arrested in Aleppo, Syria, by the British, who claimed that they suspected him of being a Nazi agent, and was taken to Cairo, Egypt. On October 7, 1944, he was released in Jerusalem, but in the meantime Hungarian Jews from the provinces had already been deported, mainly to Auschwitz where the majority were killed.

Brand remained in Erez Israel, and after World War 2 devoted himself to tracking down Nazi war criminals. Both Brand and his wife, who was also active in the Va'adat Ezrah va'Hazzakah, testified at the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem.

Brand died in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where he was testifying against Hermann Krumey and Otto Hunsche, two of Eichmann's chief aides. The story of Brand's mission was dramatized by Heinar Kipphardt in his play "Die Geschichte eines Geschaefts" (1965).

The fortress of Terezin (in German Theresienstadt) in north-west Czechoslovakia was founded during the reign of Kaiser Joseph II and named after his mother, Maria-Theresa. In 1941, the Nazis decided to concentrate in Terezin most of the Jews of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, including the elderly, prominent personalities and those with special privileges, and gradually to transport them from there to the death camps. They transformed the town into a ghetto, and between November 24, 1941 and April 20, 1945 some 140,000 Jews were brought there. In September 1942, the ghetto population reached a peak of 53,000. Of the Jews who passed through the ghetto, approximately 33,000 died there, while 80,000 were transported from there to the extermination camps. In the fall of 1944 only 11,000 Jews were left alive in Terezin.

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Apolda

A town and the capital of the Weimarer Land district in Thuringia, Germany.

It was not until 1850 that Jewish life was established in Apolda. Around 1900, a religious association "Israelite Religious Community of Apolda" was constituted. In 1880 there lived twelve Jews in Apolda, in 1885 there were 39, in 1895 47 and in 1905 their number increased to 62.

The Jewish community in Apolda held their services in a prayer hall on the upper floor of the "Civic Association".  However, by mid-1920s, there seemed that any  organized Jewish life in Apolda ceased to exist. The prayer hall was used for a different purpose and there was only one school-age child who was taught by the teacher of the Arnstadt Jewish community. In Apolda there was no cemetery, the dead were buried in the cemetery of the Jewish community in Erfurt.

Despite the fact that there was no organized Jewish community in Apolda, at the 1933 census, 80 people still claimed their affiliation with Judaism. They were persecuted by the Nazis. During the Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938),  the Jewish shops in Apolda were destroyed and later demolished. The Jewish inhabitants who remained in Apolda were deported from May 1942 to Nazi concentration camps. The building containing the community's prayer room was demolished in 1993. The residential and commercial building of the fur trader Bernhard Prager is reminiscent of the Apolda Jewish life. It serves as a place of commemoration and remembrance.

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.

Arnstadt

A town in the Ilm district in Thuringia, Germany. Until 1990 in East Germany. 

The Jews living in Arnstadt in the middle of the 13th century had close ties with the Jews of Erfurt, to which many of them later migrated. Four anti-Jewish outbreaks between 1264 and 1466 resulted in massacres, and following the latter the Jews were expelled from Arnstadt. A Jewish community was reestablished in the 19th century. It numbered 59 in 1880, 137 in 1910, 87 in 1933, and 56 in 1939. Most of the Jews living in Arnstadt were prosperous, their main occupations being cattle-dealing and banking.

The synagogue, built in 1913, was burned down by the Nazis on Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938).

The community was not reconstituted after World War II.

Bad Frankenhausen

A spa town in Thuringia, Germany.

Jewish life in Bad Frankenhausen can be traced back to the first half of the 14th century. The settlement area of the Jewish population was near the Oberkirche in the upper town (Oberstadt). In the course of the plague pogroms in 1349, the Bad Frankenhausen Jews were also expelled. In the following centuries individual Jews settled in Bad Frankenhausen, mostly as protective Jews of the Counts or Princes of Schwarzburg-Frankenhausen and Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, in whose service they were in Bad Frankenhausen.

A Jewish community did not emerge again until the 19th century. In 1813 Salomon Schönland from Posen settled in Bad Frankenhausen, he was granted citizenship because he worked as an interpreter for the city administration during the Napoleonic War. Until 1833 prayers were held in private rooms. One prayer room was in Schmiedegasse (today Erfurter Strasse), a second prayer room was in Borngasse (today Bornstrasse 63, the building still exists). In 1855 the Jewish community was founded. A cemetery was laid out as early as 1852, it was located on the mountain in the Napptal, until 1852 the Jewish residents buried their dead on the Schlachtenberg although the exact place can no longer be traced. From 1855 Dr. Philipp Heidenheim, as rabbi, was responsible for the Jews of Bad Frankenhausen. In 1864 the Bad Frankenhausen congregation had 32 members, in 1913 the Jewish congregation only comprised 22 people one of them in neighboring Esperstedt.

The destruction of the Bad Frankenhausen Jewish community began even before the National Socialists came to power. In 1931 Prof. Siegmund Huppert was dismissed from his post as director of the renowned Kyffhäuser Technikum by officials of the NSDAP. Huppert was able to leave Germany, the Jewish residents who remained in Bad frankenhausen were deported to the concentration camps in 1943. After 1945 there was no longer a Jewish community.

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz. 

Weimar

A city in Thuringia, Germany.

A few Jews lived in Weimar as early as the Middle Ages. They were affected by the plague pogroms as well as by the expulsion from the Wettin areas. It was not until the 18th century that a small private community could be constituted. In April 1770 Duchess Anna Amalia von Weimar appointed Jacob Elkan to a court Jew in the Principality of Weimar. In the following years two more families moved to Weimar, so that in 1789 three Jewish families lived in the town.

These joined together to form a "private community". In 1805 Jacob Elkan set up a prayer room and a mikveh in his house, this building still exists today and is located at 25 Windischenstrasse. The initials of the community founder's name can still be read on the capstone of the entrance portal. After Elkan's death the building was used exclusively for residential purposes. Presumably from 1805 religious services were held in other private rooms of the Löser or Ulmann families. Jacob Elkan was also the founder of a Jewish cemetery in Weimar, which was used from 1774 to 1898. In the 20th century the site fell into disrepair and was then used as an orchard after the property passed into non-Jewish ownership. In 1983 part of the Jewish cemetery was restored and is now a memorial.

A religious community in the sense of a corporation under public law, could never be founded in Weimar. In 1903 some of the Jewish residents of Weimar joined together in the "Israelite Religious Association" which in 1925 had 25 members. In addition 80 other Jews lived in Weimar who did not join the association. In 1933 there were 91 Jewish inhabitants and in 1939 there were still eleven Jewish families  living here. In the years between 1942 and 1945, the Jewish residents who remained in Weimar were deported to the Nazi concentration and death camps in Eastern Europe. With the last deportations Jewish life in Weimar was irretrievably destroyed.

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.

Bad Langensalza

A spa town in the Unstrut-Hainich district, Thuringia, Germany.

In the Middle Ages there was a small Jewish community in Bad Langensalza, whose existence was interrupted by the destruction of the town and the exile in 1436. The community operated a cemetery and a synagogue which was located at 4 Judengasse and no longer exists. The cemetery on the Jüdenhügel no longer exists either. In the 19th and 20th centuries some Jews moved to the town again, but they joined the community in Mühlhausen. An independent Langensalza community was not founded. Nevertheless the Langensalza Jews were also affected by the National Socialist persecutions. There is evidence that five Jewish residents of Langensalza - Fritz, Irma, and Guenther Schlesinger, Nettchen and Arthur Gossman, were murdered in the Nazi concentration camps. After the end of WW II, only one Jewish resident of Langensalza, Jacob Salomon, returned to the town. 

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.

Rudolstadt

A town and seat of the  of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt district in Thuringia, Germany.

In the Middle Ages there were occasional short time settlements of Jews in Rudolstadt. There was a more permanent Jewish settlement between 1784 and 1874. During these 90 years the community operated a prayer room in the private rooms of the merchant Schwabe and a cemetery that was destroyed during the Nazi era. Until 1816 there was also a mikveh in Ludwigsburg in Rudolstadt. In the first half of the 20th century there were still a few Jewish families living in Rudolstadt who attended religious services in Saalfeld on high holidays. Today only the buildings in which the prayer rooms were, are kept as residential houses. Any traces or references to Jewish life no longer exist in Rudolstadt.

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz. 

Jena

A city in Thuringia, Germany.

Around 1400 there was a small Jewish community in Jena. In 1431 a synagogue that was located on Jüdengasse and Leutragasse is mentioned. From the middle of the 16th century to 1850 Jews were forbidden to settle in Jena. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that a small Jewish community formed again, but it never received the status of a religious community. The newly founded "Israelite Religious Community" endeavored to provide regular religious instruction for school-age children and worship service. Both took place in the private rooms of community members. The buildings in Scheidlerstrasse 3 and in the former Schützenstrasse 52 are now privately owned and used as residential buildings. The number of members of the Jena community developed as follows: In 1880 there were 30 Jewish residents in Jena, in 1890 there were 64, in 1895 already 85, in 1900 the number fell to 61 and in 1905 there were 145 Jews in Jena. The deceased of the community were buried in the Jewish cemetery of the Erfurt community. Although the Jena congregation was given the opportunity to set up a burial place in a separate section of the Catholic cemetery, the predominantly conservative congregation refused.

In 1925 there were 277 Jewish residents in Jena. In 1933 it was less than half with 111. By the end of 1938 all Jewish businesses were "Aryanized" or closed, the Jews living in Jena at that time were crammed into so-called "Jewish houses". From 1942 the deportations to the to the Nazi concentration camps began. After the end of the war eleven survivors of Jena Jews returned from Theresienstadt, and they again founded a small community which only existed for a very short time.

It was only after 1990 when the USSR collapsed, that Jewish emigrants came to Jena and formed a new community.

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz. 

Plaue

A town in the Ilm-Kreis district in Thuringia, Germany.

First evidence of Jewish presence in Plaue was in the Middle Ages. Jews from Plaue are named who had to pay the imperial tax with the other Jews from the county of Schwarzburg. In the following centuries there was no evidence of the presence of Jews in Plaue.

Only in the 19th century is there evidence of Jewish life in Plaue again. After 1820 eight Jewish families from Franconia settled in Plaue as "protective relatives". From 1840 the small community used a prayer room in Eduard Bamberg's house, as well as a mikveh in the garden of the property "Am Mühlendamm". There was also a cemetery in Plaue that was laid out around 1826 which is still preserved today and is a listed building. The deceased community members from Arnstadt were also buried here since 1860.

Several Jewish residents of Plauen emigrated to America by 1866, and increased emigration to Arnstadt began. Due to this emigration the Jewish community was dissolved again in the 19th century.

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This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.