Search
Print
Share
Your Selected Item:
Personality
Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions

Rothschild, Mayer Amschel

Fiancier

Born in Frankfurt, he attended a rabbinical school in Fuerth and after his father's death was sent to Hanover to train in banking. Returning to Frankfurt, he acted as money-changer and set up business as a general trader. He produced an annual art catalogue of rare objets d'art and in 1769 was appointed supplier to the principality of Hesse-Hanau. Rothschild prospered and helped to restore the fortunes of the ruler, the Landgrave William, after the French occupation. He served as intermediary for several members of royalty and in 1800 was appointed imperial crown agent. At the same time he provided loans to Napoleon. Rothschild was instrumental in obtaining equal citizenship rights for the Jews of Frankfurt. He always remained in his home in the ghetto marked by a red shield (hence his name). He had 19 children; five sons and five girls survived. He took his sons into the business and eventually they spread through Europe and developed the famous banking syndicate.
Date of birth:
1744
Date of death:
1812
Place of birth:
Frankfurt am Main
Personality type:
Financiers
ID Number:
241090
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:
Related items:
ROTSCHILD, ROTHSCHILD

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name may be a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The family name Rotchild/Rothschild belongs to a group of Jewish family names that are derived from a medieval house-sign, as for example in the Jewish quarter (Judengasse) of medieval Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where each house had a sign (an animal, a flower, or an abstract shape). With time, the terms designating many of those signs became fixed hereditary family names. Rotschild means "red shield" in German. It was the sign of house number 148 in the Judengasse of Frankfurt am Main. It is known that one ancestor of the famous Rothschild family of Frankfurt lived in a house marked Zum Rothen Hahn ("at the sign of the red rooster"), and then moved to the house at the sign of the red shield, which was formerly called Zum Gruenen Schild ("at the sign of the green shield"). It was a second coat of paint that caused the change of name. Rothchild is recorded as a Jewish family name in 20th century America with the author and communal worker Sylvia Rothchild and among the numerous Jewish families called Rothschild, the most famous were the descendants of Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) of Frankfurt, among them Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934).
The five sons of Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812),
Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1850's
Portrait
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot
Dr. Paul Arnsberg Collection)

German: Hannover

 

A city in Germany. Hanover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony.

 

21ST CENTURY

Hanover is home to three synagogues, two Reform, Synagogue Etz Chaim and Liberale Judische Gemeinde; and one traditional, Hanover Synagogue. The European Center for Jewish Music is also located in Hanover.

The Jewish community has approximately 3,000 members and has continued to grow through the 21st century.

 

HISTORY

Sources dating from 1292 note the presence of Jews in Hanover's old city (Altstadt). Because this period was one in which the city expanded significantly, Jewish moneylenders were welcomed and promised protection by the city council; indeed, a municipal law from 1303 prohibited anyone from mistreating the city’s Jews "by word or deed.” By 1340 the Jewish community was also granted permission to practice kosher butchery.

Nonetheless, during the period of anti-Jewish violence that broke out against Jews throughout Europe in the wake of the Black Death (1348-1349), the Jews were expelled from the city. Between 1369 and 1371 only one Jew lived in Hanover until he, too, was expelled by the council. It was only in 1375 that the dukes who were in charge of the city granted the city the ability to readmit Jews and levy taxes on them. By 1540 there were three Jewish families living in the old city, and five in the new. The growing community also maintained a synagogue and a rabbi.

Although the Jews were permitted to resettle in Hanover, they were still, however, subject to a number of discriminatory rules. Since 1451 they were required to wear a badge that signified that they were Jewish. Additionally, beginning in 1553 the Jews were forced to listed to the court minister Urbanus Rhegius preach in their synagogue.  In fact, between 1553 and 1601 the city’s dukes issued six orders of expulsion against the Jews, but they were either revoked or not carried out; for a long time the Jews were also not allowed to live in the old city. In addition, in 1588 the council forbade all business connections with Jews. The process of community growth alongside persecution continued during the 17th century. In 1608 the six Jewish families living in the new city opened a synagogue. That synagogue was destroyed, however, in 1613 by the city’s residents.

There was progress however, and community growth, particularly during the 18th century. The dukes allowed several wealthy Jews to live in the new city. The court Jew, Leffmann Behrens, established a synagogue in his home in 1704, and advocated for a rabbinate to be founded in the Duchy of Hanover. In 1710 there were seven Jewish families living in the city, but as the century went on, through the 19th century, the Jewish population increased considerably, reaching 537 in 1833.

Hanover became an important center of Jewish learning, as well as the home of several important Jewish figures from the world of finance. The community built a larger synagogue in 1870, which was subsequently expanded in 1900. Hanover became a center for Hebrew printing; among the significant works published in Hanover’s Hebrew press was Jacob B. Asher’s (also known as the Ba’al HaTurim) commentary on the Torha. The Hebraist Solomon Frensdorff led a teacher’s seminary between 1848 and 1880. Another school that functioned in the city between 1893 and 1942 focused on teaching gardening, in particular growing fruits and vegetables.

Prominent rabbis who were active in Hanover included Nathan Adler (1831-1845) and Selig Gronemann (1844-1918).

The Jewish population grew significantly between the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1861 Hanover’s Jews numbered 1,120 (1.9% of the total population). By 1880 that number had grown to 3,450 (2.8% of the total). In 1910 the number of Jews living in Hanover was 5,130 (1.7%). During the interwar period, however, the population began to decline, mostly due to immigration; the rate of immigration increased significantly, however, after the Nazi rise to power in 1933. In 1933 Hanover’s Jewish population was 4,839 (1.1%). By 1939 it had dropped to 2,271 (0.5%). Nonetheless, on the eve of World War II (1939-1945) Hanover was home to one of the ten largest Jewish communities in Germany, with over 20 active cultural and welfare institutions.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

Hanover’s Jewish community, like Jewish communities throughout Germany, were targeted for persecution after the Nazi’s took power. In response, the community intensified its Jewish educational programming, with a particular focus on the youth organizations, and prepared residents for immigration.

The destruction of the community began in earnest in 1938 when the synagogues were destroyed and Jews terrorized. Later, between 1941 and 1945 approximately 2,900 Jews were deported from Hanover to concentration camps.

 

POSTWAR

After the war 66 survivors from the prewar community returned to the city. Together with survivors from other areas who decided to settle in Hanover, they helped reestablish Hanover’s Jewish community. By 1966 there were 450 Jews living in the city (0.03% of the total population). A new synagogue opened in 1963.

 

Hanau

A town in Main-Kinzig district, Hesse, Germany. Part of West Germany until the unification of Germany in October 1990.

 

21ST CENTURY

In 2005, Hanau was home to a Jewish community of approximately 130 members, most of whom were immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

 

HISTORY

The earliest documented evidence for the presence of Jews in Hanau dates from 1313. The community was destroyed, however, in the wake of the Black Death (1348-1349) when anti-Jewish violence broke out throughout Europe. The synagogue was confiscated, and Jewish communal life came to an end.

In 1429 two Jewish families were living in Hanau, the first Jews to live in the city since the previous century. Later, in 1603, ten Jewish families were granted permission (Judenstaettigkeit) to settle in the city by Count Philip Ludwig II. These families were also given permission to build a special quarter (Judengasse), and to construct a synagogue, which was dedicated in 1608. The community also consecrated a cemetery in 1603.

By 1607 the community had grown to 159; 100 years later there were 111 families (600-700 individuals) living in the city.

Hanau’s Jewish community grew in prominence during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1659 a prestigious conference took place in Hanau representing five Jewish communities. A number of Jewish scholars were also active in Hanau during this period, including Rabbi Tuviah Sontheim (1755-1830), who served as the Landrabbiner beginning in 1798, and as the chief rabbi for the province of Hanau from 1824 to 1830. He was succeeded by Samson Felsenstein (1835-1882).

During the 17th and 18th centuries Hanau also developed into an important center for Hebrew printing. Hans Jacob Hena's press, which was established in 1610, published important works, including responsa by Jacob Weil, Solomon b. Adret, Judah Minz, and Jacob B. Asher's Arba'ah Turim. Within 20 years the press produced a large number of rabbinic, kabbalistic, and liturgical works. H. J. Bashuysen became the town’s main printer about 100 years later; works published by his printing press included Isaac Abrabanel's Torah commentary (1709). In 1714 Bashuysen's press was taken over by J. J. Beausang and was active until 1797. Several court Jews lived in Hanau during the last quarter of the 18th century, most of whom were occupied in supplying the army.

Beginning in 1806 the Jews were allowed to live in any part of the town they chose, although they were not fully emancipated until 1866.

The community numbered 540 in 1805, and 80 families in 1830. In 1871 the Jewish population was 447. By the turn of the 20th century there were 657 Jews living in Hanau. In 1925 the Jewish population was 568. By the time that the Nazi Party rose to power in March of 1933 there were 447 Jews living in Hanau.

In 1933 community institutions included a synagogue, a cemetery, three charitable societies, and a religious school attended by 75 children. Jews were active in the town’s commercial and industrial life, but the economic boycotts initiated by the Nazis took their toll. By May 1939 Hanau’s Jewish population had dropped to 107, due mainly to immigration.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

The synagogue was burned down during the Pogrom Night (November 9-10, 1938). Once the site was cleared, ownership over the property was transferred to the town. The teachers' residences, which were owned by the community, were demolished and the cemetery was desecrated.

The last 26 Jews remaining in Hanau were deported in 1942 to Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. Another five Jews, partners of mixed marriages, remained in the town throughout the course of the war.

 

POSTWAR

In 1968 there were a few Jews living in Hanau.

Frankfurt am Main


Also known שד Frankfurt on the Main, Frankfurt, Frankfort

A city in Hesse, Germany.

There has been a continuous Jewish presence in Frankfurt for nearly 900 years, the longest of any city in Germany. After the destruction brought on by the Holocaust, the Jewish community of Frankfurt began to be reestablished after the war. As of the 21st century, Frankfurt contains the fourth-largest Jewish community in Germany with about 7,200 Jews, nearly half of whom are immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

The Frankfurt Jewish community of the 21st century is home to two kindergartens, and the I.E Lichtigfeld School in the Philanthropin. It offers a number of social services and programs for seniors, in addition to the Senior Citizens' Home. There are regular Liberal (Reform) and Orthodox services, as well as a mikvah. The Jewish Adult Education Center (Judische Volkshochschule) offers classes, lectures, and excursions, as well as Hebrew and Yiddish language classes, for those interested in learning about Jewish history and culture. The community hosts a number of events, including the Jewish Cultural Festival. The Jewish Museum of the city of Frankfurt traces the history and development of the Jewish community of Frankfurt, and their interactions with the wider German world. There is also a kosher meat restaurant serving community members and tourists.

HISTORY

During the 12th century, Frankfurt had a flourishing, albeit small, Jewish community who were active merchants. In 1241 a riot broke out; Jewish houses were destroyed, and over three-quarters of the Jewish population (200 people at that time) were killed (West German liturgy has a special prayer recited on the Ninth of Av that commemorates the martyrs). This pogrom apparently originated in a dispute over the forced conversion of a Jew. The emperor, Frederick II, launched an official inquiry into the riot, as an infringement on his interests. At the end of the inquiry the city was granted a royal pardon—at the same time, the pardon also guaranteed the safety of the Jews of Frankfurt, and heavy penalties were imposed on those who would incite violence against the Jews.

By 1270 the city had again become a busy center of Jewish life. The community had a central synagogue (Altschul), a cemetery, a bathhouse, hospitals for locals Jews and migrants, a dance house for weddings and other social events, and educational and welfare institutions. For a long time, the prosperity of the Jewish community, and the profit that the local officials and emperor were able to gain from it, protected the Jews against persecution and anti-Semitism. This changed, however, in the wake of the Black Death; the Jews of Frankfurt fell victim to vicious attacks, similar to those experienced by Jewish communities across Europe. In 1349, shortly after Emperor Charles IV had transferred his rights over Jewish property to members of the city council in anticipation of the violence that was to come, the community was massacred; many set fire to their own homes rather than face death at the hands of an angry mob.

Jews were again allowed to live in Frankfurt beginning in 1360, though this time they had to apply individually for the privilege of living in the city; additionally, residence permits had to be renewed every year, and they came at a high monetary cost. Because of the emigration of the Jews to other areas after the pogrom of 1349, combined with the high price of returning to the city, there were only 12 tax-paying Jewish families living in Frankfurt during the first half of the 15th century. There were still issues with the surrounding non-Jewish community; the city council occasionally considered expelling the Jewish community, and beginning in the 1450s the Jews were forced to wear a distinctive badge, identifying them as Jewish.

In 1462 the Jews of Frankfurt were transferred to a specially constructed street, the Judengasse, which was delineated by walls and gates. In spite of the difficulties imposed by ghetto life, the community, in fact, became stronger and more diversified. Religious and lay leaders were elected by the Jewish taxpayers, and the continuous takkanot laid the basis for powerful, enduring, and jealously guarded, local traditions in all spheres of religious, social, and economic life. Conditions were economically favorable, and through heavy financial contributions and skillful diplomacy the Jews of Frankfurt managed to safeguard their privileges.By the end of the 16th century the Jewish community of Frankfurt had reached a peak period of prosperity.

In addition to its economic prosperity, Frankfurt also became a center of Jewish learning. Students from a number of other areas came to study at the yeshivahs of Eliezer Treves and Akiva ben Jacob Frankfurter. The Frankfurt rabbinate and rabbinical court were among the most prominent and authoritative of the religious authorities in Germany.

Economic and social tensions continued to simmer between the wealthy Jewish families of the city and the guild craftsmen and petty traders, many of whom were in debt to the Jews. These tensions eventually turned into outright violence when, in 1614, a mob led by the guild leader Vincent Fettmilch stormed the ghetto and went on a looting rampage. The Jews were expelled from the city. After the intervention of the emperor, however, Fettmilch, along with six others, were arrested and executed in Frankfurt's town square. Subsequently, the Jews were ceremoniously returned to the ghetto, and a stone eagle was mounted above the gates to the Jewish ghetto with the inscription "Protected by the Roman Imperial Majesty and the Holy Empire." These events were commemorated annually on the 20th of the Jewish month of Adar by the Frankfurt community in a holiday known as the "Purim Winz" ("Purim of Vincent").

During the 17th century the ghetto was overpopulated, leading to unhealthy conditions and resulting in a lack of significant population growth. The Jewish community was also taxed heavily, particularly during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). Additionally, their terms of residence were designed to keep their numbers from growing; the Judengasse could not be expanded, and allowed for a maximum of 500 families and 12 marriage licenses annually.

In 1711 a fire broke out in the house of the chief rabbi, Naphtali b. Isaac Katz, which destroyed nearly the entire Jewish Quarter. The inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter found temporary refuge in the homes of non-Jews, but had to return to the ghetto after it had been rebuilt.

The Jewish community of Frankfurt had long been dominated by a few wealthy families, some of whom were known by signs hanging outside of their houses; one of the more famous examples is the Rothschild ("red shield") family, which had its banking center in Frankfurt until the 20th century. The impoverished majority now challenged the traditional privileges of the wealthy, and the city council was repeatedly called to act as an arbitrator between them. The community was further weakened by religious and personal disputes, such as the Eybescheutz-Emden controversy regarding Sabbateanism.

Many in Frankfurt, particularly among the wealthy, were proponents of the enlightenment, as well as of the reforms to Jewish education sought by followers of Moses Mendelssohn in Berlin. This also led to tensions within the Jewish community. Forty-nine of the community's prominent members subscribed to Mendelssoh's German translation of the Bible in 1782; the chief rabbi of Frankfurt, Phinehas Horowitz, denounced it from the pulpit. Later, in 1797, there was a proposal to create a school with an extensive secular studies curriculum, the chief rabbi, Rabbi Horowitz was once again opposed, this time imposing a ban on the project. He was supported by most of the community's leaders, in spite of the fact that many of them had private tutors to teach their children secular subjects.

Meanwhile, the French Revolution was beginning to impact the Jews of Frankfurt, both physically and when it came to the question of their emancipation. In 1796 a bombardment destroyed most of the northern part ghetto. Around that time, the community began to experience greater openness, and more rights; in 1798 the prohibition on leaving the ghetto on Sundays and holidays was ended.

With the incorporation of Frankfurt into Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine in 1806, the status of the Jews began to change. Ultimately, in 1811 the ghetto was abolished and a declaration of equal rights for all citizens expressly included the Jews. This victory, however, was short-lived; with Napoleon's downfall, the senate of the new Free City attempted to abolish Jewish emancipation, and opposed efforts made by the community's delegation to the Congress of Vienna. Amidst these negotiations surrounding Jewish emancipation were the anti-Jewish Hep! Hep! Riots of 1819. In the end, the senate grated Jews civil equality, while at the same time it reinstated many former discriminatory laws against the Jews.

At the same time that Jews and non-Jews were negotiated the Jews' emancipation, religious rifts within the community widened considerably. In 1804 members of the Jewish community of Frankfurt founded the Philanthropin, a school with a markedly secular and assimilationist curriculum that was also open to non-Jewish students. This school became a major center for Reform Judaism; the school also organized Reform Jewish services for students and their parents. That same year a Jewish Freemason lodge was established in Frankfurt; most, if not all, of the community's board were also members of the lodge. Meanwhile, in 1819 the Orthodox cheders were closed by the police, and the board blocked the establishment of a school for both religious and secular studies. The yeshiva, which had about 60 students in 1793, saw a decrease in the number of students coming to learn there.

In 1843 the number of Orthodox families was estimated at less than 10% of the community. Power was clearly in the hands of Reform Jews, who demanded that "Talmudic" laws, including circumcision and messianism, be abolished. A large conference of the Reform Movement was held in Frankfurt in 1844. A leading member of this group was Abraham Geiger, a native of Frankfurt and a communal rabbi from 1863 until 1870.

The Jews of Frankfurt finally achieved emancipation in 1864. Consequently, the power of the community board weakened considerably. This left an opening for the Orthodox community, who took advantage of the opportunity and formed a religious communal organization, the Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft, and elected Samson Raphael Hirsch as their rabbi in 1851. The Rothschild family made a large donation for the founding of a new Orthodox synagogue. Ultimately in 1876, after years of feeling ignored and slighted by the community board, the Orthodox organization seceded from the community and set up a separate congregation. At that point the community board was willing to make concessions, allowing those Orthodox Jews who did not want to secede to remain within the community.

The Jewish population of Frankfurt numbered 3,298 in 1817 (7.9% of the total population), 10,009 in 1871 (11%), 21,972 in 1900 (7.5%), and 29,385 in 1925 (6.3%). The comparative wealth of the Frankfurt Jewish community is evidenced by the fact that 5,946 Jewish citizens paid 2,540,812 marks in taxes in 1900, while 34,900 non-Jews paid 3,611,815 marks.

The Jews of Frankfurt were intellectually and culturally active. Leopold Sonnenmann founded the liberal daily newspaper, "Frankfurter Zeitung," and theOrthodox Weekly "Der Israelit," which was founded in 1860, was published in Frankfurt from 1906. The establishment of the Frankfurt University in 1912 was also largely financed by the Jews of Frankfurt. Jewish communal institutions and organizations included two hospitals, three schools, a yeshiva, religious classes for students who attended city schools, an orphanage, a home for the aged, many welfare institutions, and two cemeteries. The Jews of Frankfurt were also active in Jewish causes, providing aid and financial support for Jews in Palestine. In 1920 the philosopher Franz Rosenzweig set up an institution for Jewish studies where Martin Buber, then a professor at Frankfurt University, gave popular lectures.

THE HOLOCAUST

Official Nazi actions against the Jews began on April 1, 1933 with a boycott of Jewish businesses and professionals. Shortly thereafter, on April 7th, Jewish university teachers, white-collar workers, actors, and musicians were dismissed from their jobs. Between March and October 1933 over500 Jewish stores and businesses in Frankfurt were closed. As a result of the economic war being waged against the Jews, both the general and "secessionist" Orthodox communities were faced with financial collapse. They were saved by donors within the community, and the Jewish community worked to expand existing welfareservices, establishing new agencies for economic aid, reemployment, occupational training, schooling, adult education, and emigration.

In addition to expanding their aid and welfare efforts, the Jewish community of Frankfurt responded to their increasing isolation from German society by organizing their own cultural activities. In 1933 Martin Buber revived the Judisches Lehrhaus (Jewish Academy), which had originally been established by Franz Rosensweig during the 1920s, which sponsored a number of lectures and other intellectual programs. A Jewish symphony orchestra was established, as well as theater troupes and sports programs.

On October 26, 1938 Polish Jews were expelled from Germany. Among them were 2,000 Jews from Frankfurt. Though they were allowed to return to Frankfurt a few days later, they arrived to find that their homes had been sealed by the police, and they were unable to access them. The Jewish community hosted them in school buildings and private homes.

During the Kristallnacht pogroms of Nobember 1938, the synagogues of the two Jewish communities were burned down, along with other Jewish community buildings. Jewish homes and stores were looted. The Frankfurt Yeshiva, where Herschel Grynszpan had studied before going on to assassinate the German diplomat Ernst von Rath (which became the pretext for Kristallnacht), was also destroyed. Hundreds of Jewish men were arrested and sent to the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps.

Members of the Orthodox Religionsgesellschaft had to once again join the general community to form a single communal organization which the Nazis called Juedische Gemeinde. In 1939 this autonomous community was forcibly merged into the state-supervised Reichvereinigung. Jewish leaders were forced to transfer communal property to municipal ownership.

Because of emigration due to the rise of Nazism and Nazi policies, the population of the Frankfurt community decreased from 26,158 in 1933 to 10,803 in June 1941. Among the Frankfurt natives who emigrated in the wake of the Nazis' rise to power was Anne Frank, who was born in Frankfurt on June 12, 1929 and who left for Amsterdam with her parents, Otto and Edith, and her sister Margot, in 1933.

Deportations of the remaining population to Lodz began on October 19, 1941 and were followed by deportations to Minsk, Riga, Theresienstadt, and other camps. In September 1943, after the large-scale deportations ceased, the Jewish population in Frankfurt totaled 602.

our Open Databases
Jewish Genealogy
Family Names
Jewish Communities
Visual Documentation
Jewish Music Center
Personality
אA
אA
אA
Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions
Rothschild, Mayer Amschel
Fiancier

Born in Frankfurt, he attended a rabbinical school in Fuerth and after his father's death was sent to Hanover to train in banking. Returning to Frankfurt, he acted as money-changer and set up business as a general trader. He produced an annual art catalogue of rare objets d'art and in 1769 was appointed supplier to the principality of Hesse-Hanau. Rothschild prospered and helped to restore the fortunes of the ruler, the Landgrave William, after the French occupation. He served as intermediary for several members of royalty and in 1800 was appointed imperial crown agent. At the same time he provided loans to Napoleon. Rothschild was instrumental in obtaining equal citizenship rights for the Jews of Frankfurt. He always remained in his home in the ghetto marked by a red shield (hence his name). He had 19 children; five sons and five girls survived. He took his sons into the business and eventually they spread through Europe and developed the famous banking syndicate.
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Frankfurt am Main
Hanau
Hanover

Frankfurt am Main


Also known שד Frankfurt on the Main, Frankfurt, Frankfort

A city in Hesse, Germany.

There has been a continuous Jewish presence in Frankfurt for nearly 900 years, the longest of any city in Germany. After the destruction brought on by the Holocaust, the Jewish community of Frankfurt began to be reestablished after the war. As of the 21st century, Frankfurt contains the fourth-largest Jewish community in Germany with about 7,200 Jews, nearly half of whom are immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

The Frankfurt Jewish community of the 21st century is home to two kindergartens, and the I.E Lichtigfeld School in the Philanthropin. It offers a number of social services and programs for seniors, in addition to the Senior Citizens' Home. There are regular Liberal (Reform) and Orthodox services, as well as a mikvah. The Jewish Adult Education Center (Judische Volkshochschule) offers classes, lectures, and excursions, as well as Hebrew and Yiddish language classes, for those interested in learning about Jewish history and culture. The community hosts a number of events, including the Jewish Cultural Festival. The Jewish Museum of the city of Frankfurt traces the history and development of the Jewish community of Frankfurt, and their interactions with the wider German world. There is also a kosher meat restaurant serving community members and tourists.

HISTORY

During the 12th century, Frankfurt had a flourishing, albeit small, Jewish community who were active merchants. In 1241 a riot broke out; Jewish houses were destroyed, and over three-quarters of the Jewish population (200 people at that time) were killed (West German liturgy has a special prayer recited on the Ninth of Av that commemorates the martyrs). This pogrom apparently originated in a dispute over the forced conversion of a Jew. The emperor, Frederick II, launched an official inquiry into the riot, as an infringement on his interests. At the end of the inquiry the city was granted a royal pardon—at the same time, the pardon also guaranteed the safety of the Jews of Frankfurt, and heavy penalties were imposed on those who would incite violence against the Jews.

By 1270 the city had again become a busy center of Jewish life. The community had a central synagogue (Altschul), a cemetery, a bathhouse, hospitals for locals Jews and migrants, a dance house for weddings and other social events, and educational and welfare institutions. For a long time, the prosperity of the Jewish community, and the profit that the local officials and emperor were able to gain from it, protected the Jews against persecution and anti-Semitism. This changed, however, in the wake of the Black Death; the Jews of Frankfurt fell victim to vicious attacks, similar to those experienced by Jewish communities across Europe. In 1349, shortly after Emperor Charles IV had transferred his rights over Jewish property to members of the city council in anticipation of the violence that was to come, the community was massacred; many set fire to their own homes rather than face death at the hands of an angry mob.

Jews were again allowed to live in Frankfurt beginning in 1360, though this time they had to apply individually for the privilege of living in the city; additionally, residence permits had to be renewed every year, and they came at a high monetary cost. Because of the emigration of the Jews to other areas after the pogrom of 1349, combined with the high price of returning to the city, there were only 12 tax-paying Jewish families living in Frankfurt during the first half of the 15th century. There were still issues with the surrounding non-Jewish community; the city council occasionally considered expelling the Jewish community, and beginning in the 1450s the Jews were forced to wear a distinctive badge, identifying them as Jewish.

In 1462 the Jews of Frankfurt were transferred to a specially constructed street, the Judengasse, which was delineated by walls and gates. In spite of the difficulties imposed by ghetto life, the community, in fact, became stronger and more diversified. Religious and lay leaders were elected by the Jewish taxpayers, and the continuous takkanot laid the basis for powerful, enduring, and jealously guarded, local traditions in all spheres of religious, social, and economic life. Conditions were economically favorable, and through heavy financial contributions and skillful diplomacy the Jews of Frankfurt managed to safeguard their privileges.By the end of the 16th century the Jewish community of Frankfurt had reached a peak period of prosperity.

In addition to its economic prosperity, Frankfurt also became a center of Jewish learning. Students from a number of other areas came to study at the yeshivahs of Eliezer Treves and Akiva ben Jacob Frankfurter. The Frankfurt rabbinate and rabbinical court were among the most prominent and authoritative of the religious authorities in Germany.

Economic and social tensions continued to simmer between the wealthy Jewish families of the city and the guild craftsmen and petty traders, many of whom were in debt to the Jews. These tensions eventually turned into outright violence when, in 1614, a mob led by the guild leader Vincent Fettmilch stormed the ghetto and went on a looting rampage. The Jews were expelled from the city. After the intervention of the emperor, however, Fettmilch, along with six others, were arrested and executed in Frankfurt's town square. Subsequently, the Jews were ceremoniously returned to the ghetto, and a stone eagle was mounted above the gates to the Jewish ghetto with the inscription "Protected by the Roman Imperial Majesty and the Holy Empire." These events were commemorated annually on the 20th of the Jewish month of Adar by the Frankfurt community in a holiday known as the "Purim Winz" ("Purim of Vincent").

During the 17th century the ghetto was overpopulated, leading to unhealthy conditions and resulting in a lack of significant population growth. The Jewish community was also taxed heavily, particularly during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). Additionally, their terms of residence were designed to keep their numbers from growing; the Judengasse could not be expanded, and allowed for a maximum of 500 families and 12 marriage licenses annually.

In 1711 a fire broke out in the house of the chief rabbi, Naphtali b. Isaac Katz, which destroyed nearly the entire Jewish Quarter. The inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter found temporary refuge in the homes of non-Jews, but had to return to the ghetto after it had been rebuilt.

The Jewish community of Frankfurt had long been dominated by a few wealthy families, some of whom were known by signs hanging outside of their houses; one of the more famous examples is the Rothschild ("red shield") family, which had its banking center in Frankfurt until the 20th century. The impoverished majority now challenged the traditional privileges of the wealthy, and the city council was repeatedly called to act as an arbitrator between them. The community was further weakened by religious and personal disputes, such as the Eybescheutz-Emden controversy regarding Sabbateanism.

Many in Frankfurt, particularly among the wealthy, were proponents of the enlightenment, as well as of the reforms to Jewish education sought by followers of Moses Mendelssohn in Berlin. This also led to tensions within the Jewish community. Forty-nine of the community's prominent members subscribed to Mendelssoh's German translation of the Bible in 1782; the chief rabbi of Frankfurt, Phinehas Horowitz, denounced it from the pulpit. Later, in 1797, there was a proposal to create a school with an extensive secular studies curriculum, the chief rabbi, Rabbi Horowitz was once again opposed, this time imposing a ban on the project. He was supported by most of the community's leaders, in spite of the fact that many of them had private tutors to teach their children secular subjects.

Meanwhile, the French Revolution was beginning to impact the Jews of Frankfurt, both physically and when it came to the question of their emancipation. In 1796 a bombardment destroyed most of the northern part ghetto. Around that time, the community began to experience greater openness, and more rights; in 1798 the prohibition on leaving the ghetto on Sundays and holidays was ended.

With the incorporation of Frankfurt into Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine in 1806, the status of the Jews began to change. Ultimately, in 1811 the ghetto was abolished and a declaration of equal rights for all citizens expressly included the Jews. This victory, however, was short-lived; with Napoleon's downfall, the senate of the new Free City attempted to abolish Jewish emancipation, and opposed efforts made by the community's delegation to the Congress of Vienna. Amidst these negotiations surrounding Jewish emancipation were the anti-Jewish Hep! Hep! Riots of 1819. In the end, the senate grated Jews civil equality, while at the same time it reinstated many former discriminatory laws against the Jews.

At the same time that Jews and non-Jews were negotiated the Jews' emancipation, religious rifts within the community widened considerably. In 1804 members of the Jewish community of Frankfurt founded the Philanthropin, a school with a markedly secular and assimilationist curriculum that was also open to non-Jewish students. This school became a major center for Reform Judaism; the school also organized Reform Jewish services for students and their parents. That same year a Jewish Freemason lodge was established in Frankfurt; most, if not all, of the community's board were also members of the lodge. Meanwhile, in 1819 the Orthodox cheders were closed by the police, and the board blocked the establishment of a school for both religious and secular studies. The yeshiva, which had about 60 students in 1793, saw a decrease in the number of students coming to learn there.

In 1843 the number of Orthodox families was estimated at less than 10% of the community. Power was clearly in the hands of Reform Jews, who demanded that "Talmudic" laws, including circumcision and messianism, be abolished. A large conference of the Reform Movement was held in Frankfurt in 1844. A leading member of this group was Abraham Geiger, a native of Frankfurt and a communal rabbi from 1863 until 1870.

The Jews of Frankfurt finally achieved emancipation in 1864. Consequently, the power of the community board weakened considerably. This left an opening for the Orthodox community, who took advantage of the opportunity and formed a religious communal organization, the Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft, and elected Samson Raphael Hirsch as their rabbi in 1851. The Rothschild family made a large donation for the founding of a new Orthodox synagogue. Ultimately in 1876, after years of feeling ignored and slighted by the community board, the Orthodox organization seceded from the community and set up a separate congregation. At that point the community board was willing to make concessions, allowing those Orthodox Jews who did not want to secede to remain within the community.

The Jewish population of Frankfurt numbered 3,298 in 1817 (7.9% of the total population), 10,009 in 1871 (11%), 21,972 in 1900 (7.5%), and 29,385 in 1925 (6.3%). The comparative wealth of the Frankfurt Jewish community is evidenced by the fact that 5,946 Jewish citizens paid 2,540,812 marks in taxes in 1900, while 34,900 non-Jews paid 3,611,815 marks.

The Jews of Frankfurt were intellectually and culturally active. Leopold Sonnenmann founded the liberal daily newspaper, "Frankfurter Zeitung," and theOrthodox Weekly "Der Israelit," which was founded in 1860, was published in Frankfurt from 1906. The establishment of the Frankfurt University in 1912 was also largely financed by the Jews of Frankfurt. Jewish communal institutions and organizations included two hospitals, three schools, a yeshiva, religious classes for students who attended city schools, an orphanage, a home for the aged, many welfare institutions, and two cemeteries. The Jews of Frankfurt were also active in Jewish causes, providing aid and financial support for Jews in Palestine. In 1920 the philosopher Franz Rosenzweig set up an institution for Jewish studies where Martin Buber, then a professor at Frankfurt University, gave popular lectures.

THE HOLOCAUST

Official Nazi actions against the Jews began on April 1, 1933 with a boycott of Jewish businesses and professionals. Shortly thereafter, on April 7th, Jewish university teachers, white-collar workers, actors, and musicians were dismissed from their jobs. Between March and October 1933 over500 Jewish stores and businesses in Frankfurt were closed. As a result of the economic war being waged against the Jews, both the general and "secessionist" Orthodox communities were faced with financial collapse. They were saved by donors within the community, and the Jewish community worked to expand existing welfareservices, establishing new agencies for economic aid, reemployment, occupational training, schooling, adult education, and emigration.

In addition to expanding their aid and welfare efforts, the Jewish community of Frankfurt responded to their increasing isolation from German society by organizing their own cultural activities. In 1933 Martin Buber revived the Judisches Lehrhaus (Jewish Academy), which had originally been established by Franz Rosensweig during the 1920s, which sponsored a number of lectures and other intellectual programs. A Jewish symphony orchestra was established, as well as theater troupes and sports programs.

On October 26, 1938 Polish Jews were expelled from Germany. Among them were 2,000 Jews from Frankfurt. Though they were allowed to return to Frankfurt a few days later, they arrived to find that their homes had been sealed by the police, and they were unable to access them. The Jewish community hosted them in school buildings and private homes.

During the Kristallnacht pogroms of Nobember 1938, the synagogues of the two Jewish communities were burned down, along with other Jewish community buildings. Jewish homes and stores were looted. The Frankfurt Yeshiva, where Herschel Grynszpan had studied before going on to assassinate the German diplomat Ernst von Rath (which became the pretext for Kristallnacht), was also destroyed. Hundreds of Jewish men were arrested and sent to the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps.

Members of the Orthodox Religionsgesellschaft had to once again join the general community to form a single communal organization which the Nazis called Juedische Gemeinde. In 1939 this autonomous community was forcibly merged into the state-supervised Reichvereinigung. Jewish leaders were forced to transfer communal property to municipal ownership.

Because of emigration due to the rise of Nazism and Nazi policies, the population of the Frankfurt community decreased from 26,158 in 1933 to 10,803 in June 1941. Among the Frankfurt natives who emigrated in the wake of the Nazis' rise to power was Anne Frank, who was born in Frankfurt on June 12, 1929 and who left for Amsterdam with her parents, Otto and Edith, and her sister Margot, in 1933.

Deportations of the remaining population to Lodz began on October 19, 1941 and were followed by deportations to Minsk, Riga, Theresienstadt, and other camps. In September 1943, after the large-scale deportations ceased, the Jewish population in Frankfurt totaled 602.

Hanau

A town in Main-Kinzig district, Hesse, Germany. Part of West Germany until the unification of Germany in October 1990.

 

21ST CENTURY

In 2005, Hanau was home to a Jewish community of approximately 130 members, most of whom were immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

 

HISTORY

The earliest documented evidence for the presence of Jews in Hanau dates from 1313. The community was destroyed, however, in the wake of the Black Death (1348-1349) when anti-Jewish violence broke out throughout Europe. The synagogue was confiscated, and Jewish communal life came to an end.

In 1429 two Jewish families were living in Hanau, the first Jews to live in the city since the previous century. Later, in 1603, ten Jewish families were granted permission (Judenstaettigkeit) to settle in the city by Count Philip Ludwig II. These families were also given permission to build a special quarter (Judengasse), and to construct a synagogue, which was dedicated in 1608. The community also consecrated a cemetery in 1603.

By 1607 the community had grown to 159; 100 years later there were 111 families (600-700 individuals) living in the city.

Hanau’s Jewish community grew in prominence during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1659 a prestigious conference took place in Hanau representing five Jewish communities. A number of Jewish scholars were also active in Hanau during this period, including Rabbi Tuviah Sontheim (1755-1830), who served as the Landrabbiner beginning in 1798, and as the chief rabbi for the province of Hanau from 1824 to 1830. He was succeeded by Samson Felsenstein (1835-1882).

During the 17th and 18th centuries Hanau also developed into an important center for Hebrew printing. Hans Jacob Hena's press, which was established in 1610, published important works, including responsa by Jacob Weil, Solomon b. Adret, Judah Minz, and Jacob B. Asher's Arba'ah Turim. Within 20 years the press produced a large number of rabbinic, kabbalistic, and liturgical works. H. J. Bashuysen became the town’s main printer about 100 years later; works published by his printing press included Isaac Abrabanel's Torah commentary (1709). In 1714 Bashuysen's press was taken over by J. J. Beausang and was active until 1797. Several court Jews lived in Hanau during the last quarter of the 18th century, most of whom were occupied in supplying the army.

Beginning in 1806 the Jews were allowed to live in any part of the town they chose, although they were not fully emancipated until 1866.

The community numbered 540 in 1805, and 80 families in 1830. In 1871 the Jewish population was 447. By the turn of the 20th century there were 657 Jews living in Hanau. In 1925 the Jewish population was 568. By the time that the Nazi Party rose to power in March of 1933 there were 447 Jews living in Hanau.

In 1933 community institutions included a synagogue, a cemetery, three charitable societies, and a religious school attended by 75 children. Jews were active in the town’s commercial and industrial life, but the economic boycotts initiated by the Nazis took their toll. By May 1939 Hanau’s Jewish population had dropped to 107, due mainly to immigration.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

The synagogue was burned down during the Pogrom Night (November 9-10, 1938). Once the site was cleared, ownership over the property was transferred to the town. The teachers' residences, which were owned by the community, were demolished and the cemetery was desecrated.

The last 26 Jews remaining in Hanau were deported in 1942 to Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. Another five Jews, partners of mixed marriages, remained in the town throughout the course of the war.

 

POSTWAR

In 1968 there were a few Jews living in Hanau.

German: Hannover

 

A city in Germany. Hanover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony.

 

21ST CENTURY

Hanover is home to three synagogues, two Reform, Synagogue Etz Chaim and Liberale Judische Gemeinde; and one traditional, Hanover Synagogue. The European Center for Jewish Music is also located in Hanover.

The Jewish community has approximately 3,000 members and has continued to grow through the 21st century.

 

HISTORY

Sources dating from 1292 note the presence of Jews in Hanover's old city (Altstadt). Because this period was one in which the city expanded significantly, Jewish moneylenders were welcomed and promised protection by the city council; indeed, a municipal law from 1303 prohibited anyone from mistreating the city’s Jews "by word or deed.” By 1340 the Jewish community was also granted permission to practice kosher butchery.

Nonetheless, during the period of anti-Jewish violence that broke out against Jews throughout Europe in the wake of the Black Death (1348-1349), the Jews were expelled from the city. Between 1369 and 1371 only one Jew lived in Hanover until he, too, was expelled by the council. It was only in 1375 that the dukes who were in charge of the city granted the city the ability to readmit Jews and levy taxes on them. By 1540 there were three Jewish families living in the old city, and five in the new. The growing community also maintained a synagogue and a rabbi.

Although the Jews were permitted to resettle in Hanover, they were still, however, subject to a number of discriminatory rules. Since 1451 they were required to wear a badge that signified that they were Jewish. Additionally, beginning in 1553 the Jews were forced to listed to the court minister Urbanus Rhegius preach in their synagogue.  In fact, between 1553 and 1601 the city’s dukes issued six orders of expulsion against the Jews, but they were either revoked or not carried out; for a long time the Jews were also not allowed to live in the old city. In addition, in 1588 the council forbade all business connections with Jews. The process of community growth alongside persecution continued during the 17th century. In 1608 the six Jewish families living in the new city opened a synagogue. That synagogue was destroyed, however, in 1613 by the city’s residents.

There was progress however, and community growth, particularly during the 18th century. The dukes allowed several wealthy Jews to live in the new city. The court Jew, Leffmann Behrens, established a synagogue in his home in 1704, and advocated for a rabbinate to be founded in the Duchy of Hanover. In 1710 there were seven Jewish families living in the city, but as the century went on, through the 19th century, the Jewish population increased considerably, reaching 537 in 1833.

Hanover became an important center of Jewish learning, as well as the home of several important Jewish figures from the world of finance. The community built a larger synagogue in 1870, which was subsequently expanded in 1900. Hanover became a center for Hebrew printing; among the significant works published in Hanover’s Hebrew press was Jacob B. Asher’s (also known as the Ba’al HaTurim) commentary on the Torha. The Hebraist Solomon Frensdorff led a teacher’s seminary between 1848 and 1880. Another school that functioned in the city between 1893 and 1942 focused on teaching gardening, in particular growing fruits and vegetables.

Prominent rabbis who were active in Hanover included Nathan Adler (1831-1845) and Selig Gronemann (1844-1918).

The Jewish population grew significantly between the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1861 Hanover’s Jews numbered 1,120 (1.9% of the total population). By 1880 that number had grown to 3,450 (2.8% of the total). In 1910 the number of Jews living in Hanover was 5,130 (1.7%). During the interwar period, however, the population began to decline, mostly due to immigration; the rate of immigration increased significantly, however, after the Nazi rise to power in 1933. In 1933 Hanover’s Jewish population was 4,839 (1.1%). By 1939 it had dropped to 2,271 (0.5%). Nonetheless, on the eve of World War II (1939-1945) Hanover was home to one of the ten largest Jewish communities in Germany, with over 20 active cultural and welfare institutions.

 

THE HOLOCAUST

Hanover’s Jewish community, like Jewish communities throughout Germany, were targeted for persecution after the Nazi’s took power. In response, the community intensified its Jewish educational programming, with a particular focus on the youth organizations, and prepared residents for immigration.

The destruction of the community began in earnest in 1938 when the synagogues were destroyed and Jews terrorized. Later, between 1941 and 1945 approximately 2,900 Jews were deported from Hanover to concentration camps.

 

POSTWAR

After the war 66 survivors from the prewar community returned to the city. Together with survivors from other areas who decided to settle in Hanover, they helped reestablish Hanover’s Jewish community. By 1966 there were 450 Jews living in the city (0.03% of the total population). A new synagogue opened in 1963.

 

The five sons of Mayar Amschel Rothschild, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1850's
The five sons of Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812),
Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1850's
Portrait
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot
Dr. Paul Arnsberg Collection)
ROTHSCHILD
ROTSCHILD, ROTHSCHILD

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name may be a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives.

The family name Rotchild/Rothschild belongs to a group of Jewish family names that are derived from a medieval house-sign, as for example in the Jewish quarter (Judengasse) of medieval Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where each house had a sign (an animal, a flower, or an abstract shape). With time, the terms designating many of those signs became fixed hereditary family names. Rotschild means "red shield" in German. It was the sign of house number 148 in the Judengasse of Frankfurt am Main. It is known that one ancestor of the famous Rothschild family of Frankfurt lived in a house marked Zum Rothen Hahn ("at the sign of the red rooster"), and then moved to the house at the sign of the red shield, which was formerly called Zum Gruenen Schild ("at the sign of the green shield"). It was a second coat of paint that caused the change of name. Rothchild is recorded as a Jewish family name in 20th century America with the author and communal worker Sylvia Rothchild and among the numerous Jewish families called Rothschild, the most famous were the descendants of Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) of Frankfurt, among them Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934).