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Szenkar, Eugen

Szenkar, Eugen )Jeno) (1891-1977), conductor, born in Budapest, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary). He was the son of an organist and composer. After studying at the Budapest Conservatory he was engaged by the Budapest Opera. In 1912 he became a conductor at the National Theatre in Prague, Czech Republic. 1915 he was conductor of the Volksoper in the same city. In 1923, after conducting opera and symphony at Altenburg and Frankfurt he was appointed general music director of the Volksoper in Berlin, Germany, in succession to Otto Klemperer. He held this post for only one year, after which he was called to the Koln Opera to become first conductor. There, he was the first conductor to perform "The Wonderful Mandarin" by Bela Bartok and "The Love of three Oranges by Prokofjev". He also conducted there Hary Janos, by Zoltan Kodaly.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany, in 1933, Szenkar was compelled to leave. He became conductor of symphony concerts in Budapest, and was invited to conduct a few guest performances with the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. He also conducted in Moscow, Russia, and Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. After WW II he returned to Germany.

Szenkar composed several large works for orchestral and chamber groups.
Date of birth:
1891
Date of death:
1977
Place of birth:
Budapest
Place of death:
Duesseldorf
Personality type:
conductor
ID Number:
254324
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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KOLN

Cologne, Köln, Koeln

A city in North Rhine-Westphalia, the fourth largest city in Germany and the most populous city on Rhine river.


First Jewish presence: Roman Era under Emperor Constantine (reigned 306-337); peak Jewish population: 16,093 in 1925

The Destruction of the Second Temple and the Diaspora

When the Romans destroyed the Second Temple during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Jews were forced out of their holy city. Many traveled to other parts of the Roman Empire, some because they were sold into slavery, others in search of a place to settle and make a living in safety. The first to arrive in Germany, the country known as Ashkenaz in the Hebrew of the time, were merchants, who established themselves in towns founded by the Romans along the Rhine River. Cologne is one such town, and is mentioned in the earliest source documenting organized Jewish community life in the territories of today's Germany. The source is a decree issued by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 321 CE, stipulating that Jews were no longer exempt from sitting on the city council. A second decree by Constantine, issued ten years later, exempted officials within the Jewish community from some obligations of citizens of the lower social strata. From the 4th century until the Middle Ages, there is no evidence suggesting that Jews maintained a continuous presence in Cologne or indeed in anywhere in the German territories. 

The Middle Ages

Evidence of Jewish life in Germany re-emerges in the High Middle Ages (1000 to 1300 CE). As the Kingdom of the Franks expanded eastwards, Jewish traders from southern Europe established themselves on Germany’s trade routes and major rivers, particularly on the west bank of the Rhine, in cities such as Mainz, Speyer, Worms, and the trading hub of Cologne. A synagogue was built in Cologne in or around the year 1000 CE; by 1075, the town had a designated Jewish quarter. In 1090 Cologne’s Jewish community had approximately 1,000 members. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Jews of Cologne played a significant role in the development of Jewish-German culture. The city’s medieval Jewish community was the largest and one of the most influential in Ashkenaz. Nonetheless, the social and legal status of Jews was lower than that of Christians, and they were regarded as aliens. Because Jews brought economic value to the towns in which they settled, bishops and emperors were willing to grant them certain rights, and issued orders guaranteeing their protection. These early years of relative peace and prosperity did not last long. As was the case in Cologne, the history of Germany’s Jewish communities—from medieval times until Pogrom Night in 1938—was a cycle of rebuilding and growth, punctuated by expulsion, pogroms and destruction. The First Crusaders, full of religious zeal, carried out the earliest of the anti- Jewish pogroms in 1096. First they attacked the Jews of the Rhine Valley, where, in Cologne, Jews were massacred and the community’s synagogue was destroyed. Some Jewish communities resisted the attacks, while certain bishops and ordinary Christians, and the indeed the emperor himself, attempted to protect them, but the Crusaders’ onslaught was overpowering. Many Jews chose a martyr’s death, some through suicide, over forced conversion to Christianity. Cologne’s Jewish community was destroyed, although some of its members survived in hiding. Similar pogroms occurred repeatedly during the Middle Ages, prompting Jews to spread out from southern Germany to the north and east, reaching cities such as Berlin and Hamburg, among others, in search of safety. The First Crusade was a turning point in the history of the German Jews because it made physical attacks on them more or less acceptable, even justified, in the minds of the general public, particularly during periods of social, religious, or economic instability. Jews were expendable; the property of whichever German ruler offered them protection and, as such, their lives often depended on the whim of a single nobleman. Despite the fear and uncertainty this caused them, Jews returned to the cities after the massacres; life in the re-established Jewish community in Cologne continued uninterrupted for approximately 250 years. The economic and social situation of Germany’s Jews fluctuated in the 12th and 13th centuries. Having been forced out of trade and commerce by city guilds, many Jews made a living as money lenders and pawn brokers, because the Church forbade Christians to work in these occupations. Money lending was essential for economic development and funding warfare and, given their lack of professional options, a lifeline for many Jews. Ironically, the very thing that enabled Jews to survive this social discrimination also made them hated by Christian nobility and townspeople who struggled to pay their debts. Their discontent fueled the fires of Jew-haters who publicly accused Jews of accepting stolen goods and “sucking the lifeblood” of Christian debtors. Nevertheless, where Jews could be useful, they were granted certain rights and privileges. In Cologne they were given permission to bear arms, and in 1106 were entrusted with the defense of one of the city’s gates, the Porta Judaeorum (“The Gate of the Jews”). They were also allowed to own houses in the Jewish quarter (there were 30 Jewish property owners in 1135; 70 in 1340), and used a synagogue and cemetery established before the First Crusade. There was a separate synagogue for women, called the Frauenschule. Cologne’s Jewish community flourished from the mid-13th century until the beginning of the 14th, running a Talmud Torah school, a mikveh, a bakery and a hospital. The Jews were granted increasing legal autonomy over their internal affairs. The title of the leader of the Cologne community was the episcopus Judaeorum (the “Bishop of the Jews”) who served as head of a ruling council of up to 12 members. The rabbinical court had jurisdiction over the community’s internal legal matters; only the most serious cases went before the Christian archbishop. In 1331, Cologne’s rabbinical court was granted authority to rule on financial claims against Jews, meaning that Christian plaintiffs were sometimes obliged to appear before a Jewish court. One of the main functions of Jewish leaders was to regulate the spiritual life of their communities. Jewish scholars and ruling councils would draft and issue takkanot: regulations governing Jews’ behavior, not only regarding issues of religion but many different spheres of life, including business. Cologne’s Jews and Jews all over the country were decisively influenced by the takkanot of the religious leaders of the so-called “Shum” communities: Speyer, Worms, and Mainz. The Shum communities were respected for their high standards of scholarship and strict adherence to Orthodox Jewish doctrine. Through their takkanot, they encouraged Jews to study the Torah, keep the Sabbath, and observe the laws of sexual purity. Their regulations also obliged Jews to pay tax and keep the law of the land. Cologne too was home to a number of noteworthy rabbis who promoted scholarship and Torah study in the 12th to the 14th centuries, such as Eliezer ben Yoel ha-Levi (1160- 1235), Asher ben Yehiel ha-Rosh (1250-1327), and Asher’s son, Yaakov ben Asher (1269-1343). The social and religious persecution of Jews never ceased. There was a Second Crusade in 1146; that campaign did not claim as many Jewish lives as did the first, for Jews acted on previous experience and sought shelter in the castles of the nobility. Despite the protection Jews received from local rulers, the Church enacted discriminatory measures against them in the early 13th century by ordering clergymen to restrict business transactions between Christians and Jews. Jews were also forced to wear a distinctive yellow badge (a discriminatory tactic the Nazis reintroduced in 1939 in occupied Poland, and in 1941 in Germany itself); to pay heavy taxes; and were forbidden to hold public office. In 1235 the first incident of blood libel (the accusation that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood in a religious ceremony) occurred in the town of Fulda. Such accusations, alongside those of well-poisoning and desecration of the host, were recycled during the 13th and 14th centuries, fueling pogroms and violence that claimed many Jewish lives: the Judenschlacht (“slaughter of the Jews”) in Frankfurt am Main in 1241 was in reaction to the Jewish community’s attempts to prevent one of its members converting to Christianity; in 1298, amid civil war in southwest Germany, 140 Jewish communities in the region were annihilated in the Rindfleisch massacres (named after the nobleman who led the mob); and in 1336/1337, the Armleder massacres destroyed a further 110 Jewish communities. Some Jews offered unsuccessful resistance during these pogroms; many chose death over conversion. The situation of Cologne’s Jews began to deteriorate in the first half of the 14th century. First the city’s goldsmiths began refusing to work with Jews, then walls were put up around the Jewish quarter. In the 1320s, large gates, kept locked at night, were installed in the gaps in the walls, increasing the separation of Jews and Christians. The pogroms reached Cologne in the mid-14th century: the town was one of 300 in which Jews were slaughtered during the Black Death persecutions of 1348/1349 – they had been accused of deliberately spreading the disease by poisoning wells. After the killings Jews were allowed back into towns and cities to perform the vital function of money lending. Jews returned to Cologne in 1372, but immediately faced more discriminatory laws, including restrictions on their clothing. From 1393 onwards, the city council was increasingly reluctant to renew the Jews’ protection orders. In 1424, as a pretext for not doing so, the authorities accused local Jews of fomenting poverty and crime, and ordered them to leave “for all eternity.” Jewish properties were confiscated and the synagogue was turned into a church. Some Jews expelled from Cologne formed a community in neighboring Deutz; others joined the community at Muelheim. For the next 400 years, even Jewish traders, doctors and court bankers coming to Cologne on business were often refused permission to stay overnight. The 15th-century experience of Cologne’s Jews was typical of that of Jews all over the country. They faced further oppression, an extremely heavy tax burden, expulsions, and anti-Jewish violence. Jews in smaller towns in the east (which was a route to Poland, where many Jews ended up) and in the south, where there were fewer towns and the economy was less developed, found it easier to make a living. Jews in the south branched out of money lending into different professions; they traded in wine, wool and flax, and became active in agriculture and commerce. Nevertheless, many Jews were extremely poor. From the time of the Reformation (16th century) until the late 18th century, the blood libels, threats, attacks, heavy taxes (sometimes imposed by two or even three authorities at once), and exclusion from the large cities continued. 


Enlightenment to Emancipation (18th to the early 20th centuries)

The liberal values of the French Revolution, which brought more freedoms and rights for Jews, were introduced in Germany in 1794 when the German states on the west bank of the Rhine, including Westphalia where Cologne is located, became part of the French Republic. The Jews in that area were now French citizens. The restriction on Jewish settlement in Cologne was lifted officially in 1797; the first Jewish family to return arrived in 1798. As Napoleon conquered more German states, the situation of Jews all over the country improved. When he was defeated in 1814/1815, many of his liberal reforms were revoked; once again anti-Jewish feeling increased in Germany. Nevertheless, the reversal of official decrees guaranteeing Jewish rights were not enough to stop the growth of Cologne’s Jewish community (officially re-established in 1801): in the year of Napoleon’s defeat there were 211 Jews in the city, by 1840 there were 615, and by 1861 the Jewish population had reached 2,322, making Cologne’s the fifth largest Jewish community in Germany at that time. Under Napoleon, Jews had been allowed to engage freely in commerce. This, alongside Cologne’s trading hub status, attracted many Jews to the city and created a foundation for their increasing wealth and social success. Despite continuing anti- Semitism and even anti-Jewish violence (notably the murderous Hep Hep Riots of 1819, motivated by general discontent at the Jews’ social and economic accomplishments) Cologne’s Jews succeeded in business and became more prosperous. The Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) movement emerged at the end of the 18th century, inspired by the ideas of Moses Mendelssohn, a German Jewish philosopher who stressed the importance of secular education for Jews alongside their religious studies. Jews were becoming more educated, more politically involved and more capable of arguing for their full emancipation in German society. The Enlightenment, however, also played a divisive role in the Jewish community, as Jews who favored assimilation and viewed themselves primarily as Germans of Jewish faith clashed with those who thought Germany Jewry should continue to adhere to the separatist, Orthodox practices of its ancestors. This conflict led to the opening of new synagogues in Cologne as break away groups of Orthodox Jews, many of whom arrived from Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, rejected proposals to reform the liturgy or install musical instruments in the synagogue. As Jewish emancipation progressed, large numbers of Jews completed their assimilation by converting to Christianity, particularly during the first decades of the 19th century when attitudes to Jews hardened following Napoleon’s defeat. As industrialization gathered pace, many Jews left their small towns and moved to the cities in search of work. By the end of the 19th century, most, but not all, the country’s Jews had become city dwellers (living in Breslau, Leipzig, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, and Cologne). Jewish communities in the cities were more likely to accept reforms; Jews who stayed in the villages tended to adhere to Orthodox tradition. Cologne’s 19th-century Jewish community produced some of the region’s most prominent Jews, who played an influential role in German society. Generations of the Oppenheim family were active in trade, transport, banking, politics, and the press. In 1810, Solomon Oppenheim’s bank was Cologne’s second largest; in 1822, he was elected to the Chamber of Commerce (the first Jew to hold public office in the city). His son, Abraham Oppenheim, sat on the city council in 1846. Under Abraham’s leadership, the bank played a prominent role in promoting the construction of the Rhineland’s railways. The Oppenheims were among those Jews who increasingly campaigned for their rights. In 1841, Abraham and his brother Simon petitioned King Frederick William IV to improve the Jews’ legal status. They and others like them celebrated when, following the 1848-1849 revolution in which many Jews took part, the “Basic Laws of the German People” were issued by the Frankfurt Parliament, stating that religious affiliation should not affect the civil and political rights of the individual. The Oppenheims’ story indicates the extent to which, in that new era of liberalism, Germany’s Jews became fully-contributing members, even leaders, of German society: they ran law firms, factories, banks, department stores, and all manner of small businesses; they worked as doctors, teachers, and university professors; they made advances in science, literature and the arts, and their standard of living increased accordingly. These Jews were loyal to their country; more than 100,000 served in the German army in World War I, 12,000 of whom were killed. Memorials to Jews who fell in the war were erected in synagogues all over Germany, and Jewish war veterans formed clubs and associations which held commemorative events every year. 


Synagogues and Jewish Institutions

The synagogue or prayer room was the center of the Jewish community, and every community with ten adult male members (the required number for public prayers) and the necessary financial means made it a priority to build or establish a suitable place of worship. In rural areas this was often a simple, renovated room. In larger towns and cities, particularly after the Emancipation, Jewish communities had the funds and the self-confidence to build large, magnificent synagogues that stood out against the skyline. Despite the wealth of Cologne’s Jewish community it was subordinate to the communities in Krefeld and Bonn, and therefore developed its own institutions relatively late. The city’s first modern-day Jewish prayer room (with 74 seats for men and 48 for women) opened in 1804 in the former Klarissenkloster monastery. The building had become dilapidated by 1853 and was closed permanently; the prayer room had been too small for the growing Jewish community for some time. In 1856, a Jewish banker, Abraham Oppenheimer, donated money to facilitate the construction of a synagogue. The foundation stone was laid (on Glockengasse) in 1857; the same year in which the community’s first rabbi, Dr. Israel Schwarz, was appointed. In 1861, Rabbi Schwarz inaugurated the new, large synagogue building. Seating was provided for 226 men in the main hall and for 140 women on the balcony; the ritual baths were located in the cellar. In 1867, a fire destroyed the synagogue’s interior, along with valuable items and the community’s memorial book; however, the structure of the synagogue remained intact and the community rebuilt it in its original form, adding a small room for weekday prayers. At the end of the 19th century, as Cologne’s Jewish population continued to grow, the community found itself once again with a synagogue that was too small. For this reason, and because Jews were moving to the newer parts of the city, the community decided to build a second synagogue on Roonstrasse. This very grand and impressive structure took several years to complete—in the interim period, a temporary synagogue for 700 worshipers was used—and eventually opened in 1899; by then approximately 10,000 Jews lived in Cologne. The Roonstrasse synagogue became the center of Cologne’s mainstream, Liberal Jewish community. The building provided 800 seats for men and 600 for women; a school for religious studies with eight teaching rooms and living quarters for the rabbi was located in its back yard. There was also a wedding hall used for weekday prayers. Even after the Roonstrasse synagogue opened, many of Cologne’s Jews continued to pray in the Glockenglasse synagogue. The clash of traditional Jewish practice with modernity created division between the Orthodox members of Cologne’s Jewish community and its liberal Jews, who were in favor of reform. In 1863, a dispute about the liturgy in the Glockengasse synagogue prompted some Orthodox members, mostly of Eastern European origin, to break away from the main community and hold their own prayer services in private homes. They founded a strictly Orthodox prayer association, the Adass Jeschurun (operating within the framework of the greater community) in 1867, and established their own synagogue in 1884. In 1904, when a decision was made to put a musical instrument, an organ, in the synagogue on Roonstrasse, more Orthodox Jews withdrew from the mainstream community and formed another prayer association called the Kehillass Jisroel. In 1906, when the organ was finally installed, the Adass Jeschurun association formally withdrew from the community, incorporated the members of Kehillass Jisroel and, in 1908, became an independent synagogue association and a center of Orthodoxy for the entire Rhineland region. Its synagogue was located on St. Apernstrasse and had seating for 160 men and 80 women, with a mikveh in the cellar. Plans were made in 1914 to build another Orthodox synagogue in the new part of the city, and a foundation stone was even laid, but the outbreak of World War I prevented any progress. Jewish schools and Jewish education for children and young people were of paramount importance in Jewish communities in Germany. Many synagogues started out as schools and became synagogues only later on. This is where the Yiddish word for synagogue, “Schul,” meaning “school,” comes from. In Cologne, the Adass Jeschurun association operated a private elementary school called “Moriah,” next to the St. Apernstrasse synagogue, as well as the “Jawne” secondary school – the only Jewish secondary school in the Rhineland. Cologne’s seminary for Jewish schoolteachers was also supervised by Adass Jeschurun. Another Jewish elementary school on Luetzowstrasse gained municipal status in 1870, and became the largest Jewish school of its kind in the whole country. Cemeteries were another essential requirement of Jewish communities. Typically, a community that was too small or too short of funds to establish its own would use the cemetery of a larger community in its vicinity. Although the Cologne community fell into neither of these categories, its members, from all the synagogues, used the Jewish cemetery in nearby Deutz until a burial ground was laid in Cologne in at the end of World War I. That new cemetery was opened on Venloer Strasse; it has been preserved and is the largest in the wider Cologne area, with approximately 5,000 graves, some of which contain reburied remains from a medieval cemetery discovered by chance in 1927. In big cities such as Cologne there were always a number of smaller prayer rooms, often established inside privately-owned buildings. These rooms were also used as meeting places for various Jewish associations and clubs. In most cases, relatively little information is available about them. The ones we know about in Cologne are: 
18-22 Caecilienstrasse – this prayer room was inaugurated in 1902 and belonged to the Jewish Rhineland Lodge association. It was renovated in 1935 and thereafter served as a community center open to all the Jews of Cologne. 
• 35-37 Luetzowstrasse – Cologne’s Israelite Children’s Home, founded in 1890, bought this property on Luetzowstrasse in 1900 and, after receiving a donation of money in 1919, was able to install a small synagogue there. The synagogue opened in 1920. 
• 26 Bayardsgasse – more than one prayer room was located in this building; all of them belonged to Orthodox, Eastern European groups. The Cologne branch of the Misrachi, the Orthodox wing of the Zionist movement, had their offices here too. There was a mikveh in the cellar. 
There were several other prayer rooms in Cologne, most of them used by Orthodox Eastern European Jews; only their addresses are known: 41 Agrippastrasse; 9 Arndstrasse (belonged to the Tiferes Jisroel association); 3 Bachemstrasse (belonged to the Machsike Hada s s a s soc i a t ion) ; 1 Am Kl e ine n Griechenmarkt (belonged to the Gedulas Mordechai association); 15 Poststrasse (belonged to the Kol Jaakow association); 9 Quirinstrasse (belonged to the Talmud Thora association, which also established a yeshiva in the building); 44 Rothgerberbach (belonged to the Adass Jisroel association). Lastly, there was a prayer room on Thieboldsgasse and one in the Abraham Frank orphanage on Aachener Strasse. 


Community Life

Germany’s Jews put great emphasis on active participation in community life. Jewish communities, particularly in the large towns and cities, operated numerous clubs and associations. Some of these societies focused on youth activities, religious education, culture and the arts; others offered charity and took care of the sick. Almost every community had a chevra kadisha – a burial society that organized funerals and supported the bereaved. In Cologne, the late 1800s marked the beginning of the vibrant Jewish community life that flourished from the 1920s to the early 1930s. In 1888, the Rhineland Lodge (Rheinland Loge), which financed and managed numerous charitable and cultural organizations (including a mobile library), was founded; its purpose was to fight anti-Semitism, to strengthen Jewish identity and spiritual awareness, and to encourage good deeds and charity. The Lodge established Cologne’s first Jewish youth association in 1903. The following national Jewish organizations were also present in Cologne: the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith (Centralverein deutscher Staatsbuerger juedischen Glaubens), whose ideology was similar to that of the Rhineland Lodge; the B’nei B’rith (a community service organization); and, after World War I, the Reich Federation of Jewish Front Soldiers (Reichsbund juedischer Frontsoldaten). In 1925, Cologne recorded its highest Jewish population figure: 16,093. Membership of the Jewish community, however, which included Jews in affiliated communities outside the city’s boundaries, exceeded 20,000. Jews in nearby Ehrenfeld were affiliated with Cologne in 1913; those in Deutz and Muehlheim joined Cologne in 1927 and 1929, respectively. Jews of Eastern European origin (Ostjuden) were influential in Cologne and constituted approximately 25 percent of the city’s Jewish population in the 1920s. In 1921, they gained voting rights within the community, and their support for Zionism increased the influence of that movement in Cologne. Earlier, the World Zionist Organization had moved its headquarters to the city (in 1904), remaining there until 1911; furthermore, two Zionist leaders, David Wolffsohn (1865- 1914) and Max Isidor Bodenheimer (1865-1940) were residents of Cologne. Resurging anti-Semitism during the Weimar period, fueled by the libelous accusation that Jews on the home front and in government had betrayed the German army in World War I, further strengthened the popularity of Zionism. During these years, Jewish institutions in Cologne were attacked: the Roonstrasse synagogue in 1927 and the Adass Jeschurun synagogue in 1932, as were Jewish cemeteries in Cologne and its affiliated communities. Jews on their way to and from synagogue occasionally suffered taunts and abuse. Nevertheless, by 1933, the year of the Nazi takeover, Jewish community life in Cologne was thriving: 800 students were enrolled at Cologne’s Jewish elementary school and numerous organizations conducted all manner of charitable and cultural work. The Eastern European Jews ran associations of their own, including a women’s group. 


The Pre-War Nazi Period (1933-1938)
 
Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933; he and his Nazi Party immediately implemented their policy of excluding Germany’s Jewish population from economic, social, cultural and political life. Jewish businesses were boycotted, Jews were excluded from the civil service, and were fired from their jobs as teachers, lawyers, university lecturers, doctors and artists. The Nazis’ nation-wide, anti-Jewish boycott took place on April 1, 1933. SA thugs and members of the Hitler Youth stood outside Jewish shops to intimidate potential customers and prevent them entering. Some were equipped with cameras, ready to photograph and publicly shame (and probably threaten) anyone who defied the boycott. Anti-Semitic graffiti was smeared on the windows and doors of Jewish businesses; posters were put up instructing shoppers not to buy there. Jews were treated badly; some physically abused. In Cologne, Jewish store-owners were marched through the streets; Jewish lawyers were forced onto garbage trucks and paraded around the city. Some Jews were badly beaten up. Shortly afterwards, the mass firings of Jews began. The Cologne city council broke off all its contracts with Jewish suppliers and businessmen; Jewish sports clubs and athletes were banned from sports fields and facilities. Life soon became unbearable for Cologne’s Jewish residents, who began leaving the city. By June 1933, Cologne’s Jewish population had decreased to 14,816. By August, several Jews had committed suicide. In response, the community leaders issued a statement calling on Jews not to give up hope. Nevertheless, Cologne’s Jewish children’s hospital had to be closed down that year. In the two years that followed, more Jewish businessmen were forced to sell or give up their livelihoods as a result of the intensifying persecution. The Nuremberg laws, which outlined the definition of a Jew, were officially passed into German law on September 15, 1935. Blood was now officially the defining feature of Jewishness; even those who had converted to Christianity were considered Jews, albeit in different degrees, as were people of mixed Christian and Jewish heritage. Under the new legislation, Jews’ citizenship of the German Reich was revoked. Intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews was banned; sexual relationships between Jews and non-Jews were labeled Rassenschande, “racial defilement.” As non-Aryans with limited rights, Jews had little or no protection from anti-Semitic actions by the Nazi authorities or their non-Jewish neighbors. In Cologne that year, Jews were forbidden to use public swimming pools. By the fall, many Jewish families were in financial distress and depended on the community’s Jewish Winter Assistance Association during the cold months. The “aryanization” of Jewish property continued; a process whereby Jews were forced to sell their homes and businesses, often for significantly less than their true value, to non-Jews. In Cologne, the Oppenheim bank was aryanized in 1936. Jewish children were excluded from German schools, therefore attendance at Jewish schools increased. The Jewish elementary school and the high school in Cologne recorded their highest enrollment figures in 1935 (940 students) and in 1937 (423 students), respectively. By the winter of 1937, 2,500 Cologne Jews were dependent on aid in the form of clothing, food and heating fuel. In smaller towns and villages, the pressure of persecution shut down Jewish life completely. Many rural Jews moved to the cities hoping to escape into the anonymity of urban life; as a result, some rural synagogues and prayer rooms were closed and sold even before Pogrom Night. In cities such as Cologne, despite these privations, Jewish community life continued and Jews even planned for the future; albeit one outside Germany. Cologne’s Jewish schools intensified instruction in Hebrew and English, and initiated training programs in carpentry, needlework, child care, home economics, and agriculture, to prepare young Jews for emigration. Unsurprisingly, interest in Zionism and membership of Zionist youth movements increased significantly, and the Zionists gained a majority on Cologne’s Jewish community council for the first time in 1936. Cologne’s branch of the Jewish Cultural Association (Juedischer Kulturbund) helped keep spirits up by staging theater productions; the association had a membership of 5,000 in 1935 and was the second-largest branch after Berlin’s. Nevertheless, Jews in Cologne and throughout Germany were increasingly desperate for a way out. Jewish populations dwindled in the towns and cities too, as those who could escape the Nazi persecution did so, many of them leaving Germany altogether. International Jewish bodies cooperated with Jewish organizations in Germany to help Jews obtain visas and finance their emigration. Of the 503,000 Jews (by religion) in Germany in 1933, around 214,000 were still in the country in May 1939. 


Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938) and its Aftermath (November 1938 onwards)
 
The Nazis tried to present the nation-wide pogrom that took place on the night of November 9-10, 1938, as a spontaneous outburst of public rage against the Jewish population, caused by the assassination of Ernst vom Rath, a Paris-based German diplomat who was shot by a young Jew. The truth, however, is that that Pogrom Night consisted of a series of coordinated and possibly pre-planned attacks against Jewish communities all over Germany, Austria and in some parts of the Sudetenland, carried out by SA, SS and Hitler Youth members and, in some cases, ordinary civilians, while the authorities did nothing to intervene. On November 7, vom Rath was shot in Paris by 17-year-old Herschel Grynszpan. The attack was presumably an act of revenge for the treatment Grynszpan’s family members had experienced at the hands of the Gestapo, which had attempted to forcibly deport them from Germany, along with around 12,000 other Polish Jews, to Poland. The Polish authorities had no intention of allowing these Jews back into their country, and closed their borders. As a result, Grynszpan’s family and their fellow Jews spent weeks stranded in no-man’s-land in dire conditions. Grynszpan, who was living in Paris, is known to have received letters from his family detailing their suffering. Vom Rath died two days after the shooting, on November 9. Finally, the Nazis had a pretext for their pogrom, and the attacks began. Armed with axes and clubs, rioters wrecked synagogues, Jewish homes and Jewish-owned businesses; many of the synagogues were burned. Rheinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) gave orders that the police were to intervene only to protect non-Jews and their property, hence the absurd scenes witnessed in many towns as fire engines arrived at the site of a synagogue on fire only for their crews to sit back and watch it burn. Heydrich’s orders also stated that Jewish men, preferably the younger ones, were to be rounded up and arrested, and that archives containing information about members of Jewish communities were to be confiscated from synagogues. Presumably this last measure was intended to facilitate the deportation of Jews at a later stage. In Cologne, the city’s major synagogues were ransacked and burned; Jews were assaulted and Jewish homes and businesses looted and vandalized. An eyewitness described how, after the Glockengasse synagogue had been vandalized, plundered and burned in the early hours of November 10, a member of the Jewish community salvaged some torn parchment from a Torah scroll. With tears in his eyes, the man read the text to a frightened group of Cologne’s Jewish men and women, it said: “The Lord is coming to redeem us; and tomorrow you will witness something glorious.” The Roonstrasse and St. Apernstrasse synagogues suffered similar fates. On Roonstrasse, the mob jeered as the Star of David was torn from the synagogue’s dome. The building was then set on fire. On St. Apernstrasse, Gestapo men confiscated the Adass Jeschurun synagogue’s Torah scrolls and moveable furniture; they also took the archives and cash box, destroyed the building’s interior using axes and clubs, tore down the Star of David, and threw benches out the windows. That synagogue was not set on fire because a school and a fuel depot were located nearby. Synagogues in Cologne’s affiliated Jewish communities of Deutz and Muehlheim were also attacked and destroyed. As in all the cities, some of Cologne’s Jewish prayer rooms survived Pogrom Night unscathed, perhaps because they were inside multi-purpose buildings and therefore did not attract the attention of the rioters. The prayer rooms on Caelienstrasse and Bayardstrasse were not damaged. The Luetzwostrasse prayer room, inside the Jewish children’s home, was pelted with stones. All over the city, Jewish homes and businesses were attacked and Jewish men arrested. In total, around 30,000 Jewish men were taken into custody and sent to concentration camps, only to be released several weeks later. Four hundred Jewish men from Cologne ended up in Dachau. All over Germany, Jewish communities were forced to pay the cost of clearing the rubble from their ruined synagogues. Sometimes materials were taken from the sites and used for construction purposes elsewhere. By the end of 1939, approximately 8,000 Jews were still living in Cologne. Pogrom Night had effectively brought Jewish life in the city to a standstill, although for a short time afterwards, prayers were still held in the Caelienstrasse prayer house. Old conflicts were put aside and the congregation of the Adass Jeschurun synagogue reunited with the mainstream community. The St. Apernstrasse teacher’s seminary was closed down, and all Jewish schoolchildren were now taught under one roof in the Moriah school building. In September 1941, the Jewish Cultural Association was banned. Thanks to the efforts of the head teacher of the Jawne high school, more than 100 Jewish children from Cologne immigrated to Britain. Pogrom Night and its aftermath confirmed to those Jews hoping to wait out the Nazis that escape was in fact their only option, but for many it was too late. Visas became increasingly difficult to come by, even though the international community was aware of the dangerous predicament of Germany’s Jews. An international conference aimed at helping them was held in Evian, France, in July 1940; although the attendees included Britain, France and the United States, the only participant willing to take in large numbers of Jewish refugees was the Dominican Republic. Nevertheless, wherever visas could be obtained, Germany’s Jews took them. Families and friends were scattered all over the world; they went to Britain, Australia, South Africa, the United States, Palestine, South America, and even Shanghai. Many Jews who fled to other European countries later occupied by Germany were eventually deported to the camps and killed along with those who had stayed behind. 


The Deportations from Germany (1941-1944) 

The “Final Solution”—the euphemism by which Hitler and his colleagues referred to their program for the annihilation of Germany’s Jews—was implemented in 1941. That September, a decree was passed ordering all Jews to wear the yellow star badge (the Judenstern) visibly on their clothing. Jews who went out in public without the badge risked being arrested, abused, sent to a concentration camp, or put on the next transport to the East. The mass deportations—called “evacuations” or “emigrations” by the Nazis—of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps, began in mid-October. By that time Germany was at war; therefore, in large cities, many Jews who worked in armaments factories were exempted from deportation for as long as their work was useful to the state; this could be for a matter of months or even years. So-called “mixed-race” or “mischling” Jews and Jews who were married to Christians also received exemptions; at least for a while. Jews were ordered out of their homes and forced to move in together in so-called “Judenhaeuser” or “Jews’ houses.” Their own properties were confiscated by the state or taken over by members of the SA or Gestapo, or even by their “Aryan” civilian neighbors. In Cologne, during May and June of 1941, the Gestapo moved the remaining Jews into communal dwellings from which they were rounded up easily when the deportations began (just before the first transport left on October 21, 1941, headed for the Lodz ghetto in occupied Poland, there were 6,277 Jews living in the city). These deportees, the first to be taken from Cologne’s Deutz-Tief railway station, had to assemble at the city’s fairgrounds before their departure. All over Germany, the authorities used public areas and (in large cities) even synagogues as assembly points for Jews awaiting deportation. They would be ordered to arrive a few days or even weeks before the departure date with a suitcase of clothes and personal items for the journey. They would then sleep and live in the assembly area until the train left. Some were permitted to leave the assembly area to go to work during the day, but had to return immediately upon day’s end. They were often instructed to bring certain items of property, such as furs, typewriters and mattresses, to the assembly point, which the authorities would then confiscate. Jews who still had the means to pay were charged an “emigration tax” before departure. Items they were forced to leave on the railway platforms were sometimes sold at public auction, with the state claiming the proceeds; however, to avoid raising suspicions, the Nazi authorities allowed deportees take their clothes and personal belongings even on transports bound directly for extermination camps. As one transport left after another, the rate of suicide among Jews increased sharply. In Cologne, at the end of 1941, all the Jews still in the city were interned in a camp in the suburb of Muengersdorf, apart from those working in the armaments industry and the patients of the Jewish hospital. In July 1942, the children and most teachers from the Jewish school were deported to the Minsk ghetto. Administration workers from the Jewish community were the last to be deported, because the Nazi authorities used them to help organize the rounding up of Jews before departure. These administration workers and, sometimes, their direct family members, were exempted from deportation for as long as there was work they could usefully do. Eventually, when there were barely any Jews left to round up, the administration workers were also sent to the East. On May 19, 1943, Germany was officially declared “Judenrein” (“cleansed of Jews”). Some Jews were, however, left behind (as was the case in Cologne): those married to Christians, their children, and the very few who managed to remain in hiding. In Cologne, many of the Jews in mixed marriages were eventually deported in September and October 1944. Up to 50 Jews survived in hiding in the city. The last transport of Jews from Cologne left on October 1, 1944, headed for the Theresienstadt ghetto in today’s Czech Republic. Between October 1941 and October 1944, approximately 11,000 Jewish people were sent to the ghettos or extermination camps from Cologne; transports from the city reached Lodz, Riga, Theresienstadt, Minsk, the Lublin district of Poland, and Auschwitz. Needless to say, most of those Jews did not return; they were worked and starved to death in the camps, or murdered in the gas chambers. Up to 180,000 Jews are thought to have been killed by the Nazis while still in Germany, or to have died as a consequence of the persecution they suffered. 


Fate of the Synagogues During and After World War II
 
The destruction of Germany’s Jewish communities left behind empty, partly destroyed, or completely burned out synagogue buildings. Municipal councils often confiscated and sold these buildings, pocketing the money from the sale. During the war, some former synagogues were used to accommodate troops or prisoners, or even as bases for the Nazi Party and its affiliated organizations. After the war, they were converted into all manner of public and private facilities, including car parks, cinemas, private residences and gas stations. In Cologne, for example, the municipality took possession of the Glockenglasse synagogue building in 1943 and converted it into an opera house. Many former synagogue sites were left for decades without any form of recognition or commemoration, but as Germany slowly began to deal with its Nazi past, a readiness to remember and acknowledge the Pogrom Night of 1938 grew. Remembrance ceremonies are now held annually on the anniversary of the pogrom, and commemorative plaques and monuments have been erected in honor of Germany’s former Jewish communities and their synagogues. In Cologne, several memorial plaques have been unveiled: one on the building at the corner where Glockengasse meets Offenbachplatz, one near the site of the former St. Apernstrasse synagogue, and another at the old Jewish school building on Luetzowstrasse, now a vocational training college. A monument has been built in Cologne’s Jewish cemetery, where remnants of the Torah scrolls and ritual items that survived Pogrom Night are buried. In 2006, the municipality decided to build a museum of Jewish culture on the Rathausplatz. The museum contains a glass window through which visitors can view a medieval mikveh, 15 meters underground, rediscovered in the 1950s. The Roonstrasse synagogue was reopened in 1959, having been restored with the financial support of the German government. It contains a memorial hall, with a plaque paying tribute to all the Shoah’s victims, and specifically to the 11,000 Jews deported, most to their deaths, from Cologne. 


The Renewal of Germany’s Jewish Communities 

An estimated total of 8,000 Jews left the camps alive after the war. Many of these displaced persons re-established small, temporary communities and synagogues in Germany, which dissolved after a few years as their members moved on to rebuild their lives in Israel, the United States and elsewhere. In Cologne, a community, consisting mainly of Orthodox, Eastern European Jews, was founded in 1945. In 1949, this community inaugurated a small synagogue on Ottostrassel. Some, although not many, of these Jews remained in Germany. After the reopening of the Roonstrasse synagogue in 1959, the community established a youth center, a kindergarten, a retirement home and a library. From 600 persons in 1946, Cologne’s Jewish community had grown to 1,500 persons by 1981. Germany’s Jewish population received a boost in the 1990s as Soviet Jews arrived following the collapse of the Soviet Union; as a result, the Jewish community of Cologne is now, once again, one of Germany’s largest; numbering 6,000 in 2006.

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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.

Prague

Capital of the Czech Republic. Formerly the capital of Czechoslovakia.

It has the oldest Jewish community in Bohemia and one of the oldest communities in Europe, for some time the largest and most revered. Jews may have arrived in Prague in late roman times, but the first document mentioning them is a report by Ibrahim Ibn Ya'qub from about 970. The first definite evidence for the existence of a Jewish community in Prague dates to 1091. Jews arrived in Prague from both the east and west around the same time. It is probably for this reason that two Jewish districts came into being there right at the beginning.

The relatively favorable conditions in which the Jews at first lived in Prague were disrupted at the time of the first crusade in 1096. The crusaders murdered many of the Jews in Prague, looted Jewish property, and forced many to accept baptism. During the siege of Prague castle in 1142, the oldest synagogue in Prague and the Jewish quarter below the castle were burned down and the Jews moved to the right bank of the river Moldau (vltava), which was to become the future Jewish quarter, and founded the "Altschul" ("old synagogue") there.

The importance of Jewish culture in Prague is evidenced by the works of the halakhists there in the 11th to 13th centuries. The most celebrated was Isaac B. Moses of Vienna (d. C. 1250) author of "Or Zaru'a". Since the Czech language was spoken by the Jews of Prague in the early middle ages, the halakhic writings of that period also contain annotations in Czech. From the 13th to 16th centuries the Jews of Prague increasingly spoke German. At the time of persecutions which began at the end of the 11th century, the Jews of Prague, together with all the other Jews of Europe, lost their status as free people. From the 13th century on, the Jews of Bohemia were considered servants of the royal chamber (servi camerae regis). Their residence in Prague was subject to the most humiliating conditions (the wearing of special dress, segregation in the ghetto, etc.). The only occupation that Jews were allowed to adopt was moneylending, since this was forbidden to Christians and considered dishonest. Socially the Jews were in an inferior position.

The community suffered from persecutions accompanied by bloodshed in the 13th and 14th centuries, particularly in 1298 and 1338. Charles IV (1346- 1378) protected the Jews, but after his death the worst attack occurred in 1389, when nearly all the Jews of Prague fell victims. The rabbi of Prague and noted kabbalist Avigdor Kara, who witnessed and survived the outbreak, described it in a selichah. Under Wenceslaus IV the Jews of Prague suffered heavy material losses following an order by the king in 1411 canceling all debts owed to Jews.

At the beginning of the 15th century the Jews of Prague found themselves at the center of the Hussite wars (1419- 1436). The Jews of Prague also suffered from mob violence (1422) in this period. The unstable conditions in Prague compelled many Jews to emigrate.

Following the legalization, at the end of the 15th century, of moneylending by non-Jews in Prague, the Jews of Prague lost the economic significance which they had held in the medieval city, and had to look for other occupations in commerce and crafts. The position of the Jews began to improve at the beginning of the 16th century, mainly owing to the assistance of the king and the nobility. The Jews found greater opportunities in trading commodities and monetary transactions with the nobility. As a consequence, their economic position improved. In 1522 there were about 600 Jews in Prague, but by 1541 they numbered about 1,200. At the same time the Jewish quarters were extended. At the end of the 15th century the Jews of Prague founded new communities.

Under pressure of the citizens, king Ferdinand I was compelled in 1541 to approve the expulsion of the Jews. The Jews had to leave Prague by 1543, but were allowed to return in 1545. In 1557 Ferdinand I once again, this time upon his own initiative, ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Prague. They had to leave the city by 1559. Only after the retirement of Ferdinand I from the government of Bohemia were the Jews allowed to return to Prague in 1562.

The favorable position of the Jewish community of Prague during the reign of Rudolf II is reflected also in the flourishing Jewish culture. Among illustrious rabbis who taught in Prague at that time were Judah Loew B. Bezalel (the "maharal"); Ephraim Solomon B. Aaron of Luntschitz; Isaiah B. Abraham ha-levi Horowitz, who taught in Prague from 1614 to 1621; and Yom Tov Lipmann Heller, who became chief rabbi in 1627 but was forced to leave in 1631. The chronicler and astronomer David Gans also lived there in this period. At the beginning of the 17th century about 6,000 Jews were living in Prague.

In 1648 the Jews of Prague distinguished themselves in the defense of the city against the invading swedes. In recognition of their acts of heroism the Emperor presented them with a special flag which is still preserved in the Altneuschul. Its design with a Swedish cap in the center of the Shield of David became the official emblem of the Prague Jewish community.

After the thirty years' war, government policy was influenced by the church counter-reformation, and measures were taken to limit the Jews' means of earning a livelihood. A number of anti-Semitic resolutions and decrees were promulgated. Only the eldest son of every family was allowed to marry and found a family, the others having to remain single or leave Bohemia.

In 1680, more than 3,000 Jews in Prague died of the plague. Shortly afterward, in 1689, the Jewish quarter burned down, and over 300 Jewish houses and 11 synagogues were destroyed. The authorities initiated and partially implemented a project to transfer all the surviving Jews to the village of Lieben (Liben) north of Prague. Great excitement was aroused in 1694 by the murder trial of the father of Simon Abeles, a 12-year-old boy, who, it was alleged, had desired to be baptized and had been killed by his father. Simon was buried in the Tyn (Thein) church, the greatest and most celebrated cathedral of the old town of Prague. Concurrently with the religious incitement against the Jews an economic struggle was waged against them.

The anti-Jewish official policy reached its climax after the accession to the throne of Maria Theresa (1740-1780), who in 1744 issued an order expelling the Jews from Bohemia and Moravia. Jews were banished but were subsequently allowed to return after they promised to pay high taxes. In the baroque period noted rabbis were Simon Spira; Elias Spira; David Oppenheim; and Ezekiel Landau, chief rabbi and rosh yeshivah (1755-93(.

The position of the Jews greatly improved under Joseph II (1780-1790), who issued the Toleranzpatent of 1782. The new policy in regard to the Jews aimed at gradual abolition of the limitations imposed upon them, so that they could become more useful to the state in a modernized economic system. At the same time, the new regulations were part of the systematic policy of germanization pursued by Joseph II. Jews were compelled to adopt family names and to establish schools for secular studies; they became subject to military service, and were required to cease using Hebrew and Yiddish in business transactions. Wealthy and enterprising Jews made good use of the advantages of Joseph's reforms. Jews who founded manufacturing enterprises were allowed to settle outside the Jewish quarter of Prague.

Subsequently the limitations imposed upon Jews were gradually removed. In 1841 the prohibition on Jews owning land was rescinded. In 1846 the Jewish tax was abolished. In 1848 Jews were granted equal rights, and by 1867 the process of legal emancipation had been completed. In 1852 the ghetto of Prague was abolished. Because of the unhygienic conditions in the former Jewish quarter the Prague municipality decided in 1896 to pull down the old quarter, with the exception of important historical sites. Thus the Altneuschul, the Pinkas and Klaus, Meisel and Hoch synagogues, and some other places of historical and artistic interest remained intact.

In 1848 the community of Prague, numbering over 10,000, was still one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe (Vienna then numbered only 4,000 Jews). In the following period of the emancipation and the post- emancipation era the Prague community increased considerably in numbers, but did not keep pace with the rapidly expanding new Jewish metropolitan centers in western, central, and Eastern Europe.

After emancipation had been achieved in 1867, emigration from Prague abroad ceased as a mass phenomenon; movement to Vienna, Germany, and Western Europe continued. Jews were now represented in industry, especially the textile, clothing, leather, shoe, and food industries, in wholesale and retail trade, and in increasing numbers in the professions and as white-collar employees. Some Jewish bankers, industrialists and merchants achieved considerable wealth. The majority of Jews in Prague belonged to the middle class, but there also remained a substantial number of poor Jews.

Emancipation brought in its wake a quiet process of secularization and assimilation. In the first decades of the 19th century Prague Jewry, which then still led its traditionalist orthodox way of life, had been disturbed by the activities of the followers of Jacob Frank. The situation changed in the second half of the century. The chief rabbinate was still occupied by outstanding scholars, like Solomon Judah Rapoport, the leader of the Haskalah movement; Markus Hirsch (1880-1889) helped to weaken the religious influence in the community. Many synagogues introduced modernized services, a shortened liturgy, the organ and mixed choir, but did not necessarily embrace the principles of the reform movement.

Jews availed themselves eagerly of the opportunities to give their children a higher secular education. Jews formed a considerable part of the German minority in Prague, and the majority adhered to liberal movements. David Kuh founded the "German liberal party of Bohemia and represented it in the Bohemian diet (1862-1873). Despite strong Germanizing factors, many Jews adhered to the Czech language, and in the last two decades of the 19th century a Czech assimilationist movement developed which gained support from the continuing influx of Jews from the rural areas. Through the influence of German nationalists from the Sudeten districts anti-Semitism developed within the German population and opposed Jewish assimilation. At the end of the 19th century Zionism struck roots among the Jews of Bohemia, especially in Prague.

Growing secularization and assimilation led to an increase of mixed marriages and abandonment of Judaism. At the time of the Czechoslovak republic, established in 1918, many more people registered their dissociation of affiliation to the Jewish faith without adopting another. The proportion of mixed marriages in Bohemia was one of the highest in Europe. The seven communities of Prague were federated in the union of Jewish religious communities of greater Prague and cooperated on many issues. They established joint institutions; among these the most important was the institute for social welfare, established in 1935. The "Afike Jehuda society for the Advancement of Jewish Studies" was founded in 1869. There were also the Jewish museum and "The Jewish historical society of Czechoslovakia". A five-grade elementary school was established with Czech as the language of instruction. The many philanthropic institutions and associations included the Jewish care for the sick, the center for social welfare, the aid committee for refugees, the aid committee for Jews from Carpatho- Russia, orphanages, hostels for apprentices, old-age homes, a home for abandoned children, free-meal associations, associations for children's vacation centers, and funds to aid students. Zionist organizations were also well represented. There were three B'nai B'rith lodges, women's organizations, youth movements, student clubs, sports organizations, and a community center. Four Jewish weeklies were published in Prague (three Zionist; one Czech- assimilationist), and several monthlies and quarterlies. Most Jewish organizations in Czechoslovakia had their headquarters in Prague.

Jews first became politically active, and some of them prominent, within the German orbit. David Kuh and the president of the Jewish community, Arnold Rosenbacher, were among the leaders of the German Liberal party in the 19th century. Bruno Kafka and Ludwig Spiegel represented its successor in the Czechoslovak republic, the German Democratic Party, in the chamber of deputies and the senate respectively. Emil Strauss represented that party in the 1930s on the Prague Municipal Council and in the Bohemian diet. From the end of the 19th century an increasing number of Jews joined Czech parties, especially T. G. Masaryk's realists and the social democratic party. Among the latter Alfred Meissner, Lev Winter, and Robert Klein rose to prominence, the first two as ministers of justice and social welfare respectively.

Zionists, though a minority, soon became the most active element among the Jews of Prague. "Barissia" - Jewish Academic Corporation, was founded in Prague in 1903, it was one of the leading academic organizations for the advancement of Zionism in Bohemia. Before World War I the students' organization "Bar Kochba", under the leadership of Samuel Hugo Bergman, became one of the centers of cultural Zionism. The Prague Zionist Arthur Mahler was elected to the Austrian parliament in 1907, though as representative of an electoral district in Galicia. Under the leadership of Ludvik Singer the "Jewish National Council" was formed in 1918. Singer was elected in 1929 to the Czechoslovak parliament, and was succeeded after his death in 1931 by Angelo Goldstein. Singer, Goldstein, Frantisek Friedmann, and Jacob Reiss represented the Zionists on the Prague municipal council also. Some important Zionist conferences took place in Prague, among them the founding conference of hitachadut in 1920, and the
18th Zionist congress in 1933.

The group of Prague German-Jewish authors which emerged in the 1880s, known as the "Prague Circle" ('der Prager Kreis'), achieved international recognition and included Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Oskar Baum, Ludwig Winder, Leo Perutz, Egon Erwin Kisch, Otto Klepetar, and Willy Haas.

During the Holocaust period, the measures e.g., deprivation of property rights, prohibition against religious, cultural, or any other form of public activity, expulsion from the professions and from schools, a ban on the use of public transportation and the telephone, affected Prague Jews much more than those still living in the provinces. Jewish organizations provided social welfare and clandestinely continued the education of the youth and the training in languages and new vocations in preparation for emigration. The Palestine office in Prague, directed by Jacob Edelstein, enabled about 19,000 Jews to emigrate legally or otherwise until the end of 1939.

In March 1940, the Prague zentralstelle extended the area of its jurisdiction to include all of Bohemia and Moravia. In an attempt to obviate the deportation of the Jews to "the east", Jewish leaders, headed by Jacob Edelstein, proposed to the zentralstelle the establishment of a self- administered concentrated Jewish communal body; the Nazis eventually exploited this proposal in the establishment of a ghetto at Theresienstadt (Terezin). The Prague Jewish community was forced to provide the Nazis with lists of candidates for deportation and to ensure that they showed up at the assembly point and boarded deportation trains. In the period from October 6, 1941, to March 16, 1945, 46,067 Jews were deported from Prague to "the east" or to Theresienstadt. Two leading officials of the Jewish community, H. Bonn and Emil Kafka were dispatched to Mauthausen concentration camp and put to death after trying to slow down the pace of the deportations. The Nazis set up a treuhandstelle ("trustee Office") over evacuated Jewish apartments, furnishings, and possessions. This office sold these goods and forwarded the proceeds to the German winterhilfe ("winter aid"). The treuhandstelle ran as many as 54 warehouses, including 11 synagogues (as a result, none of the synagogues was destroyed). The zentralstelle brought Jewish religious articles from 153 Jewish communities to Prague on a proposal by Jewish scholars. This collection, including 5,400 religious objects, 24,500 prayer books, and 6,070 items of historical value the Nazis intended to utilize for a "central museum of the defunct Jewish race". Jewish historians engaged in the creation of the museum were deported to extermination camps just before the end of the war. Thus the Jewish museum had acquired at the end of the war one of the richest collections of Judaica in the world.


Prague had a Jewish population of 10,338 in 1946, of whom 1,396 Jews had not been deported (mostly of mixed Jewish and Christian parentage); 227 Jews had gone underground; 4,986 returned from prisons, concentration camps, or Theresienstadt; 883 returned from Czechoslovak army units abroad; 613 were Czechoslovak Jewish emigres who returned; and 2,233 were Jews from Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine), which had been ceded to the U.S.S.R. who decided to move to Czechoslovakia. The communist takeover of 1948 put an end to any attempt to revive the Jewish community and marked the beginning of a period of stagnation. By 1950 about half of the Jewish population had gone to Israel or immigrated to other countries. The Slansky trials and the officially promoted anti-Semitism had a destructive effect upon Jewish life. Nazi racism of the previous era was replaced by political and social discrimination. Most of the Jews of Prague were branded as "class enemies of the working people". During this
Period (1951-1964) there was no possibility of Jewish emigration from the country. The assets belonging to the Jewish community had to be relinquished to the state. The charitable organizations were disbanded, and the budget of the community, provided by the state, was drastically reduced. The general anti-religious policy of the regime resulted in the cessation, for all practical purposes, of such Jewish religious activities as bar-mitzvah religious instruction and wedding ceremonies. In 1964 only two cantors and two ritual slaughterers were left. The liberalization of the regime during 1965-1968 held out new hope for a renewal of Jewish life in Prague.

At the end of March 1967 the president of "The World Jewish Congress", Nahum Goldmann, was able to visit Prague and give a lecture in the Jewish town hall. Among the Jewish youth many tended to identify with Judaism. Following the soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 there was an attempt to put an end to this trend, however the Jewish youth, organized since 1965, carried on with their Jewish cultural activities until 1972. In the late 6os the Jewish population of Prague numbered about 2,000.

On the walls of the Pinkas synagogue, which is part of the central Jewish museum in Prague, are engraved the names of 77,297 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered by the Nazis in 1939-1945.

In 1997 some 6,000 Jews were living in the Czech Republic, most of them in Prague. The majority of the Jews of Prague were indeed elderly, but the Jewish community's strengthened in 1990's by many Jews, mainly American, who had come to work in the republic, settled in Prague, and joined the community.

In April 2000 the central square of Prague was named Franz Kafka square. This was done thanks to the unflinching efforts and after years of straggle with the authorities, of Professor Eduard Goldstucker, a Jew born in Prague, the initiator of the idea.

Budapest

The capital of Hungary, became a city in 1872, following the union of the historic towns of Buda, Obuda, and Pest.

CONTEMPORARY BUDAPEST

Approximately 80,000 to 100,000 Jews live in Hungary, making it central Europe's largest Jewish community. More than 80% of Hungarian Jews live in the capital city of Budapest. Smaller Jewish communities can be found in the neighboring areas of Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged and Nyiregyhaza. Of the ten thousand Holocaust survivors living in Hungary, the vast majority live in Budapest. Since 2013, hundreds of Jews have left Hungary due to a rise in anti-Semitism, many of whom then settled in Vienna. The traditional Jewish Quarter of Budapest is located in District VII. Within it are several Jewish historical sites, stores and kosher restaurants.

Following the collapse of communism in 1989, several Jewish organizations were reopened. The largest organization serving the Jewish community of Budapest is MAZSIHISZ, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary. A variety of social services are provided by the Joint Distribution Committee, as well as the Lauder Foundation. Healthcare and medical services are provided by the Charity Jewish Hospital and Nursing Facility and two centers for elderly care. The city's many religious institutions include a historic mikvah (ritual bath) and a variety of kosher restaurants. Budapest also has over ten kosher butcher shops, bakeries, and even a matza factory.

Each year Budapest hosts several Jewish social and cultural events. The Jewish Summer Festival puts on a variety of shows including concerts, dance performances, and films. The Jewish community has also established many social and educational programs for children and young adults. The most popular organizations are B'nei Brith, WIZO, UJS, Bnei Akiva, and the Maccabi athletic club. Each summer, an estimated 1,500 campers from more than twenty countries attend Camp Szarvas.

Since the fall of communism, there has been a revival of Jewish religious life in Budapest. As of the beginning of the 21st century, there are as many as twenty synagogues throughout the city, representing a variety of movements including Orthodox, Chabad Lubavitch, Neolog (similar to the Conservative Movement) and Liberal. There are also synagogues located in the provincial cities of Miskolc and Debrecen. In 2003, Slomo Koves became the first Orthodox rabbi to be ordained in Hungary since the Holocaust.

Budapest boasts many Jewish kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools. The three Jewish high schools are Lauder Javne, Wesselenyi, and Anna Frank. Lauder Javne is located on a five-acre campus and was opened in 1990. It is non-denominational and is sponsored by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. The Budapest University of Jewish Studies was established in 1877 as a Neolog Rabbinical seminary. Jewish studies programs are offered at several universities including Eotvos Lorand University, the largest school of higher education in Hungary, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the Central European University which was established by Hungarian-born George Soros. Jewish educational programming is also offered at the Beth Peretz Jewish Education Centre Foundation, the American Foundation School, and the Hillel Jewish Educational and Youth Center.

The capital city of Budapest is rich with culture and history, and is home to several buildings, monuments, and cultural centers, including several points of Jewish interest. One such place is the Holocaust Memorial Center, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust during World War II. The Center is situated outside the traditional Jewish quarter and is housed by the Pava Synagogue where it has been since 2004. In 2005, the institution was awarded the Nivo Prize of Architecture for the restoration and rehabilitation of a historic monument.

The city's Jewish Museum is the second-largest in all of Europe. It operates under the auspices of the Alliance of Jewish Communities in Hungary. In 1942, two employees hid valuable museum artifacts in the cellar of Budapest's National Museum. During the German occupation, the building served as an escape passage as its gate was situated outside the borders of the ghetto. Additionally, Theodor Herzl was born in the building which once stood at the present site of the museum.

One of the most significant Jewish cultural sites in Budapest is the Emanuel Holocaust 'Tree of Life' Memorial sculpture in Raoul Wallenberg Park. Engraved on the thirty thousand leaves are the names of Jews who were killed or had disappeared during the Holocaust.

Two other important sites which memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and the events of World War II are the statue of Raoul Wallenberg and the Shoes on the Danube Embankment. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved many Jewish lives by helping them escape deportation. The Shoes on the Danube Embankment is a memorial comprised of sixty pairs of metal shoes set in concrete. Created in 2005, it commemorates the Hungarian Jewish victims killed by militiamen of Arrow Cross, the pro-German national socialist party which was active in Hungary between 1944 and 1945.

In addition to cultural centers and memorials, Budapest contains a number of Jewish landmarks. Located in the heart of Budapest is the King's Hotel –one of the first private Jewish three-star hotels in Budapest. While the hotel has been renovated and modernized, the building itself is more than one hundred years old.

Northern Budapest contains the Medieval Jewish Chapel, a small Sephardic house of prayer which had been rebuilt from ruins in the 18th century. During the 1686 siege of Budapest many of the city's Jewish buildings were completely destroyed. The chapel's original function was not revealed until an excavation in the 1960s when the synagogue's keystone and tombstones engraved in Hebrew were unearthed. Another historic religious site is the Dohany Street Synagogue. Inaugurated in 1659, the synagogue is designed in a Moorish style and is the second-largest synagogue in the world.

Still serving the Jewish community of Budapest is the Kozma Street Cemetery. It is the largest Jewish cemetery in Budapest, and among the largest in Europe. Its unique monuments and mausoleums have drawn many visitors since it opened in 1891.

There are three major publications which serve the Jewish community of Budapest and Hungary. The biweekly Uj Elet (New Life) is the official journal of MAZSIHISZ; the Szombat (Saturday) provides news and information about Jewish life in Hungary as well international issues, and the Mult es Jovo (Past and Future) is a cultural and intellectual journal.


HISTORY

BUDA (also known as Ofen, Oven, Boden, Bodro)
The first Jewish settlers came to Buda from Germany and various Slavic countries during the second half of the 12th century. In 1279 they were isolated in a ghetto, and forced to wear a red badge. Over the course of the 14th century, the Jewish community was expelled twice: first in 1349 following anti-Semitic allegations that arose after the Black Death had swept through the region, and again in 1360 as a result of hostility from the church. In 1364 Jews were permitted to return, though with some restrictions imposed on them. After the establishment of Buda as the royal residence in the late 14th century, its Jewish community became prominent within the larger Hungarian Jewish community. During the 15th century, the Jewish community was recognized as an autonomous government, and the community leader of Buda became the leader of Hungarian Jewry at large. At this time, the Jews of Buda were mainly engaged in commerce and in exports to the German lands and Bohemia.

In 1526 the Turks captured Buda. The majority of the Jews, about 2,000 people, were expelled to the Ottoman Empire, while a minority escaped to communities in western Hungary which had not fallen to the Turks. Jews were able to resettle Buda in 1541 and despite the heavy taxes, the community grew and became the wealthiest and most important in Hungary. Jews occupied influential positions in the management of the treasury and were generally employed in commerce and finance. By 1660 the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities numbered about 1,000 Jews.

In 1686, the Austrians and their allies conducted a siege of Buda and subsequently defeated the Turks and conquered the town. The Jewish population had sided with the Turks and nearly half of them perished over the course of the fighting and its aftermath. The Jewish Quarter was ransacked, and the Torah scrolls were set on fire. Half of the remaining Jews, approximately 250 people, were taken as prisoners and exiled. These events are mentioned in Megilat Ofen, by Yitzhak ben Zalman Schulhof.

The new Austrian administration, in response to church demands, placed restrictions upon the Jews and the Jewish community was consequently subject to more restrictions and expulsions. The Jews of Buda were exiled in 1746 by Empress Maria Theresa, and were permitted to return in 1783, when Emperor Josef II allowed the Jews to reenter and settle in Hungarian towns. The community did not regain its former stature and prominence until the second half of the 19th century, at which time there were 7,000 Jewish families living in Buda.

During these turbulent times, Buda saw the formation of a number of Jewish institutions and the rise of several prominent figures. The latter half of the 18th century saw the establishment of a Hevra Kadisha. By 1869 four synagogues had been built, and were joined by two more at the end of the 19th century. The first known rabbi of the community was Akiva Ben Menahem Hacohen, also called "Nasi," who led the community during the 15th century. In the second half of the 17th century, during the lifetime of Rabbi Ephraim Ben Yaakov Hacohen, Buda was a focal point of the messianic movement of Shabbetai Zvi in Hungary. Moshe Kunitzer, a pioneer of the Haskalah movement in Hungary, was the chief rabbi from1828 until 1837.

OBUDA (also known as Alt-Ofen in German, and Oven Yashan, Old Buda, in Hebrew)
The Jewish community in Obuda vanished after the Turkish conquest in 1526 and was not resettled until 1712, under the leadership of Yaakov Lob. After the return of the Jewish community, by 1727 there were 24 Jewish families living in Obuda under the protection of the counts of Zichy. In a document recognized by the royal court in 1766, the Jews were granted freedom of religion, trading rights relating to the payment of special taxes, and permission to live anywhere in the town. This was a privilege granted in Obuda only.

The Jews of Obuda practiced agriculture, commerce and various trades. Textile factories established by the Jews of Obuda, among them the Goldberger Company, enjoyed favorable reputations throughout Hungary.

The first synagogue was built in 1738, a Hevra Kadisha was founded in 1770, and a Jewish hospital was established in 1772. In 1820 The old synagogue of Obuda underwent significant renovations. That same year, The Great Synagogue on Lajos Street was consecrated, and became one of the most well-known synagogues in the Habsburg Empire. Additionally,during the year 1820 an ultimately short-lived school was built at the demand of Emperor Josef II; since, however, Jewish parents did not want Christian teachers educating their children, the school was consequently closed. However, in spite of these impressive community projects, by the middle of the 19th century many Jewish families were moving to Pest.

PEST
Jews are first mentioned as living in Pest in 1406, and in 1504 there is mention of several Jewish home and landowners. Yet after the Austrian conquest in 1686 Jewish settlement in Pest ended. Although some sources mention a sporadic Jewish presence in Pest, it was not until 1746, when Jews expelled from Buda were looking for alternate places to live, that Jews once again began living in Pest in significant numbers. This community, however, was officially recognized only in 1783, when Emperor Josef II began allowing Jews into Hungarian towns, though they had to pay a special "tolerance tax" to the town. The first synagogue was opened in 1787 in Kiraly Street and later several more synagogues were built, including a Sephardi synagogue. The Great Synagogue on Dohany Street, which remains one of the largest in Europe, was built later, in 1859.

After the emperor’s death in 1790, limitations on Jewish settlement were re-imposed, and only a few Jews chosen by the town’s authorities were permitted to remain in Pest. The rest moved into the Erzsebetvaros Quarter, which maintained a large Jewish population until the Holocaust. During this period, the Jews set up factories and were engaged in commerce and trade.

In spite of the reimposition of restrictions on the Jewish community, they nonetheless were able to open the first Jewish school in Pest, in 1814. This school taught both religious and secular subjects in German. Additionally, there were several private Jewish schools. In later years, a girls’ school was opened in 1814 and a Jewish Teachers' training college was opened in 1859. The Orthodox community opened its first school in 1873.

The restrictions imposed after the death of Emperor Josef II were repealed in 1840. During the Hungarian National Revolution of 1848-1849, also known as the Revolution of Liberty against the Habsburg rule, many of the Jews from Pest volunteered to fight, and the community contributed considerable sums of money to the revolution. When the revolution failed, however, heavy taxes were imposed upon the Jews of Pest because of their participation. In 1867, following the formation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, the new Hungarian government granted equal rights to the Jews of Hungary. This prompted a fruitful period of community-building; that same year the Jewish community of Pest opened an orphanage for girls, the first of its kind in Hungary, followed by a second orphanage for boys in 1869. In later years, several hospitals and welfare institutions for the elderly and sick were opened, as well as a home for the deaf and dumb, which was inaugurated in 1876.
Judaism was officially recognized as one of the accepted religions of Hungary in 1895.

The year 1867 also saw a new initiative from the Pest community: The Hungarian Jewish Congress. Its aim was to prompt a discussion of the schisms in the Jewish community, particularly between the Orthodox and the Neolog congregations. Following the first meeting of the congress in December 1868, the Orthodox appealed to the Hungarian government and in 1871 they were legally recognized as a distinct community. In 1889 Rabbi Koppel Reich was elected to be the head of the Hungarian Orthodox community; he later became a member of the upper house of the Hungarian parliament in 1927, when he was nearly 90 years old.

In 1877, the Rabbinical Seminary was opened in Budapest. Its aim was to integrate rabbinical studies with general education, and it became one of the world’s leading institutions for rabbinical training. Its founders and faculty members were well-known researchers and instructors. The seminar’s publications included journals such as the Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review). In spite of opposition and boycotts from the Orthodox community, the seminary played a central role in shaping modern Hungarian Jewry.

BUDAPEST
In 1873, Buda and Pest were officially merged with Obuda, creating the city of Budapest. Concurrently, the second half of the 19th century was a period of economic and cultural prosperity for the Jewish community of Budapest. The beginning of the 20th entury saw Budapest become an important center for Jewish journalism. The weekly Magyar Israelita became the first Jewish newspaper in Hungarian. In the broader community, Jews also assumed an important role in the founding and editing of leading newspapers in Hungary, such as Nyugat (West). During the interwar period, non-Orthodox Jewish educational institutions included 15 schools with 3,600 students. Meanwhile, the Orthodox community had a population of approximately 10,000 and was establishing its own welfare and educational institutions.

1919-1921 was the period of The White Terror in Hungary. After the fall of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, the new regime of Admiral Miklos Horthy organized army gangs to suppress and destroy any lingering communist elements in the country. Because a number of the communist leaders were Jewish, Hungarian Jews became the main victims of this “purification." From the time Admiral Horthy entered Budapest on November 14, 1919, Jewish officials in the army and government service were dismissed, Jews were forbidden to trade in tobacco and wine, and scientific institutions were closed to them. In 1920, the Numerus Clausus law was imposed, which determined admission to universities on a national basis and effectively established a quota for the number of Jews permitted to enter Hungarian universities.

In spite of government-endorsed anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence, by 1935 there were 201,069 Jews living in Budapest making it one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.

BUDAPEST JEWS OF NOTE
• Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921), the founder of the Academy for the Study of Modern Islam. He was the secretary of the Budapest Neolog community from 1874 to 1904. Goldziher helped found the Jewish-Hungarian Literary Society which worked to spread Jewish culture by means of lectures and publications. Among the Society's publications was the first Jewish translation of the Bible into Hungarian. Goldziher also founded the Jewish-Hungarian museum. He was a teacher in the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest.

• Arminius Vambery (1832-1913), a famous traveler and researcher. He was instrumental in introducing Theodor Herzl to the Sultan of Turkey.

• Ferenc Molnar (1878-1931), an outstanding dramatist and novelist. Molnar is best known today as the author of the famous children’s book The Paul Street Boys, published in 1927.

• Lengyel Menyhert (1880-1974 ), a dramatist and scriptwriter. His credits include Ninotchka (1940) and To Be or Not to Be (1942), celebrated films for which he wrote the screenplays.

• Professor Alexander (Sandor) Scheiber ( 1913-1985) was the director of the Rabbinical Seminary during the 1950s. He published research on the history of Hungarian Jewry, and in his last years was actively involved in the consolidation of communal life in Budapest.

ZIONISM
Budapest was the birthplace of Theodor (Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl (1860-1904), the father of modern Zionism. The writer and physicist Max Nordau (1849-1932), a founding member of the World Zionist Congress and author of the Basel Platform at the First Zionist Congress (1897), was also born in Budapest. It is not surprising, therefore, that Budapest was a hotbed of Zionist activity at the turn of the 20th century. In 1903 the student Zionist association Makkabea was established; its first group of pioneers immigrated to Palestine before the end of World War I.The Zionist press in Budapest began in 1905 with the publication of Zsido Neplap (Jewish Popular Paper), which closed down two years later. Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review), another Zionist publication, began operating in 1911, the same year as the quarterly Mult es Jovo.

The Zionist activity in Budapest was strengthened by the arrival in the city in 1940 of Zionist leaders from Transylvania, among them Rudolf Kasztner (who would later play a controversial role during the Holocaust) and Erno Marton. The worsening situation of the Hungarian Jewry during the late 1930’s and during the Holocaust period led to a rise in the popularity of Zionism.

Another Budapest Zionist of note is Hanna Szenes (1921-1944), a native of Budapest who emigrated to Palestine. Szenes was a poetess and paratrooper in the Haganah an underground Jewish military organization in Palestine. During World War II, Szenes was sent on a mission to Hungary to help organize Jewish anti-Nazi resistance. Tragically, she was captured and executed by the Nazis.

Although Zionist organizations reemerged and were active after World War II, the Communist regime banned their activities after 1949, and a number of Zionist leaders were put on trial having been accused of “conspiracy”.

THE HOLOCAUST
Following the Discriminatory Laws of 1938-41, which limited Jewish participation in the economy and society, certain large institutions and factories were required to dismiss their Jewish employees. In 1940, Jews began to be drafted to be forced laborers, which meant that many families were left without any means of support. On November 20, 1940, Hungary signed a treaty with Italy and Japan, thereby officially joining the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany. During the period that followed Hungary's entry into the war against the Soviet Union in 1941, until the occupation of Hungary by the German army on March 19th, 1944, more than 15,000 Jews from Budapest were killed during deportations and in forced labor camps.

In March 1944, Adolph Eichmann ordered that the Jewish communal organizations be dissolved, and replaced by a Jewish council, Zsido Tanacs. Jews were forced to wear the yellow badge. Freedom of movement was restricted and many buildings were seized. The licenses of Jewish lawyers and newspapers were suspended. On June 30, 1944, the Germans started to concentrate the Jews in certain parts of the city and plans were made to begin their deportation.

The anti-Semitic Arrow Cross Party, led by Ferenc Szalasi, came to power in October 1944. The new government immediately began carrying out attacks against the Jews, killing 600 people during the first days. Papers and certificates that could allow Jews to stay and work in the city were no longer valid. On October 20th 1944 Eichmann ordered that all men aged 16-60 were to be sent to dig fortifications against the approaching Soviet army. 50,000 men marched on that Death March. Three days later the women and children were forced to join the men. These Jews were later transferred by the Germans at the border station at Hegyeshalom. The remaining Jews were concentrated into two ghettos.

At the end of December 1944 there were about 70,000 people in the central ghetto in Budapest; tens of thousands of others found shelter in the international ghetto, where diplomats of neutral nations, such as Carl Lutz of Switzerland and Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden, were issuing protective papers for Jews. Zionist organizations also forged documents in order to save Jews. The number of protective certificates, legal and forged, issued in Budapest was around 100,000; meanwhile, approximately 2,748 Jews were hidden in monasteries and in church cellars. By the time the Soviet army entered and occupied the city on January 17th, 1945, 76,000 Jews were handed over to the Germans, a number which includes victims of deportation and death marches. At the end of World War II there were approximately 90,000 Jews in Budapest. Meanwhile, over 100,000 Jews from Budapest, a majority of the population, perished.

THE COMMUNIST REGIME
After the Holocaust, many survivors emigrated to Palestine. Others remained in Hungary, where a large number abandoned the Jewish tradition and identity, either due to their traumatic experiences during the war, or due to the influence of the atheist government in Hungary. In 1956, after the Hungarian anti-Soviet uprising, about 25,000 Jews left the city.

During the communist period, the Jewish community of Budapest was controlled by the Department of Religious Affairs within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Starting in1968, each of the 18 administrative districts of Budapest contained at least one synagogue, a rabbi, a Talmud Torah, and a lecture hall. Additionally, there was a Jewish high school in the capital, with a student population of about 140 and the Orthodox community founded a yeshiva with 40 students. The Rabbinical Seminary, which was reconstructed after the war and was the only institution of its kind in any communist country, continued to be active thanks to the support of the Neolog movement.

Uj Elet (New Life), was a biweekly newspaper published by the Budapest Jewish community which reflected the changing ways in which the Jews of Hungary understood their identity. Other Jewish communal services included a Jewish hospital, an old age home, a kosher restaurant, the availability of kosher meat, and a matza bakery.

Düsseldorf

City in Germany, capital of North Rhine-Westphalia.

21st Century

According to Jewish organizations, in 2012, the Jewish population in Düsseldorf numbered 7,500 people. Most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The largest part of the immigrants from the Soviet Union is a large organized community that operates a wide range of services including: synagogue, community center, daycare centers, kindergartens, school, old age home; various social clubs for adults and the elderly, Holocaust survivors. A Bnai Brith Club, a Volunteer Center, a Social Welfare Department, a monthly newsletter, and cooperation with various non-Jewish organizations. There is also extensive socio-cultural activity in various fields such as music, plays, films, lectures, events, the Maccabi sports center and activities in Yiddish and Russian.

Various international organizations are active in the city: WIZO, Maccabi, Keren Hayesod, etc.; as well as various Jewish centers, such as the Union of Northern Northern Congregations. The community takes care of kosher food, a matzah shop for Passover, kosher wine. There is a rabbi for the community, which takes care of various religious needs. There is a Jewish cemetery.

In 2009 the statue of the Jewish musician Mendelsohn, which was removed during the Nazi period, was returned to the city. The city maintains a twin city alliance with the city of Haifa since 1992. The municipality distributes a prize for Joseph Neuberger, who was a well-known lawyer and active in the Jewish community in the past. The prize is awarded to non-Jews who donated and helped the community and the Jews.

Chabad operates a Chabad center, a synagogue, a mikvah, a kosher food store, humanitarian aid, a library, adult and youth education, a children's and women's club, a Judaica shop and a center for children with special needs.

 

History


Jews are first mentioned there in 1418; the cemetery of the community then served the whole region of Berg. They were expelled from Düsseldorf  in 1438. In 1582 permission was granted to one court Jew to settle there.

The community numbered 14 families in 1750 and 24 in 1775. Of these the most distinguished was the wealthy von Geldern family, one of whose members, the court Jew Joseph (d. 1727) in the service of the duke of Juelich-Berg was head (parnas and manhig) of the Jewish community of the Duchy. He donated a synagogue to the community in 1712, where services were held until 1772. Joseph von Geldern's son and grandson followed him in these communal offices.

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), a converted Jew, one of the greatest German language poets and writers, was born in Düsseldorf.

Under Napoleonic rule the status of the Jews in the Duchy was defined in the spirit of Napoleon's "infamous decree" of 1808, which remained in force during the period of Prussian rule until 1847. During the 19th century Düsseldorf Jews achieved importance in trade and banking. The community increased from 315 in 1823 to 5,130 in 1925. A seminary for Jewish teachers functioned from 1867 to 1874. Leo Baeck served as district rabbi from 1907 to 1912. Later, the head of the Jewish representation in Germany after the rise of Hitler.

The events of November 10, 1938, were particularly calamitous for the Düsseldorf community since the Nazi diplomat vom Rath, who had been assassinated by Herschel Grynszpan a few days earlier, was a native of Düsseldorf. The main synagogue, built in 1905, and two orthodox synagogues were burned down, three Jews killed, and about 70 injured. Of the 1,831 Jews remaining in Düsseldorf  on May 17, 1939, 985 were deported; 489 on November 10, 1941, to Minsk, and 260 on July 22, 1942, to Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp. Only 25 Jews remained in Düsseldorf in 1946.

The community was reconstituted after the war, and in 1951 the central council of Jews in Germany was established in Düsseldorf. The main German Jewish newspaper the Allgemeine Wochenzeitung der Juden in Deutschland was published there (1969). The community numbered 1,585 in 1969.

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Szenkar, Eugen
Szenkar, Eugen )Jeno) (1891-1977), conductor, born in Budapest, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary). He was the son of an organist and composer. After studying at the Budapest Conservatory he was engaged by the Budapest Opera. In 1912 he became a conductor at the National Theatre in Prague, Czech Republic. 1915 he was conductor of the Volksoper in the same city. In 1923, after conducting opera and symphony at Altenburg and Frankfurt he was appointed general music director of the Volksoper in Berlin, Germany, in succession to Otto Klemperer. He held this post for only one year, after which he was called to the Koln Opera to become first conductor. There, he was the first conductor to perform "The Wonderful Mandarin" by Bela Bartok and "The Love of three Oranges by Prokofjev". He also conducted there Hary Janos, by Zoltan Kodaly.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany, in 1933, Szenkar was compelled to leave. He became conductor of symphony concerts in Budapest, and was invited to conduct a few guest performances with the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. He also conducted in Moscow, Russia, and Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. After WW II he returned to Germany.

Szenkar composed several large works for orchestral and chamber groups.
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Duesseldorf
Budapest
Prague
KOLN

Düsseldorf

City in Germany, capital of North Rhine-Westphalia.

21st Century

According to Jewish organizations, in 2012, the Jewish population in Düsseldorf numbered 7,500 people. Most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The largest part of the immigrants from the Soviet Union is a large organized community that operates a wide range of services including: synagogue, community center, daycare centers, kindergartens, school, old age home; various social clubs for adults and the elderly, Holocaust survivors. A Bnai Brith Club, a Volunteer Center, a Social Welfare Department, a monthly newsletter, and cooperation with various non-Jewish organizations. There is also extensive socio-cultural activity in various fields such as music, plays, films, lectures, events, the Maccabi sports center and activities in Yiddish and Russian.

Various international organizations are active in the city: WIZO, Maccabi, Keren Hayesod, etc.; as well as various Jewish centers, such as the Union of Northern Northern Congregations. The community takes care of kosher food, a matzah shop for Passover, kosher wine. There is a rabbi for the community, which takes care of various religious needs. There is a Jewish cemetery.

In 2009 the statue of the Jewish musician Mendelsohn, which was removed during the Nazi period, was returned to the city. The city maintains a twin city alliance with the city of Haifa since 1992. The municipality distributes a prize for Joseph Neuberger, who was a well-known lawyer and active in the Jewish community in the past. The prize is awarded to non-Jews who donated and helped the community and the Jews.

Chabad operates a Chabad center, a synagogue, a mikvah, a kosher food store, humanitarian aid, a library, adult and youth education, a children's and women's club, a Judaica shop and a center for children with special needs.

 

History


Jews are first mentioned there in 1418; the cemetery of the community then served the whole region of Berg. They were expelled from Düsseldorf  in 1438. In 1582 permission was granted to one court Jew to settle there.

The community numbered 14 families in 1750 and 24 in 1775. Of these the most distinguished was the wealthy von Geldern family, one of whose members, the court Jew Joseph (d. 1727) in the service of the duke of Juelich-Berg was head (parnas and manhig) of the Jewish community of the Duchy. He donated a synagogue to the community in 1712, where services were held until 1772. Joseph von Geldern's son and grandson followed him in these communal offices.

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), a converted Jew, one of the greatest German language poets and writers, was born in Düsseldorf.

Under Napoleonic rule the status of the Jews in the Duchy was defined in the spirit of Napoleon's "infamous decree" of 1808, which remained in force during the period of Prussian rule until 1847. During the 19th century Düsseldorf Jews achieved importance in trade and banking. The community increased from 315 in 1823 to 5,130 in 1925. A seminary for Jewish teachers functioned from 1867 to 1874. Leo Baeck served as district rabbi from 1907 to 1912. Later, the head of the Jewish representation in Germany after the rise of Hitler.

The events of November 10, 1938, were particularly calamitous for the Düsseldorf community since the Nazi diplomat vom Rath, who had been assassinated by Herschel Grynszpan a few days earlier, was a native of Düsseldorf. The main synagogue, built in 1905, and two orthodox synagogues were burned down, three Jews killed, and about 70 injured. Of the 1,831 Jews remaining in Düsseldorf  on May 17, 1939, 985 were deported; 489 on November 10, 1941, to Minsk, and 260 on July 22, 1942, to Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp. Only 25 Jews remained in Düsseldorf in 1946.

The community was reconstituted after the war, and in 1951 the central council of Jews in Germany was established in Düsseldorf. The main German Jewish newspaper the Allgemeine Wochenzeitung der Juden in Deutschland was published there (1969). The community numbered 1,585 in 1969.

Budapest

The capital of Hungary, became a city in 1872, following the union of the historic towns of Buda, Obuda, and Pest.

CONTEMPORARY BUDAPEST

Approximately 80,000 to 100,000 Jews live in Hungary, making it central Europe's largest Jewish community. More than 80% of Hungarian Jews live in the capital city of Budapest. Smaller Jewish communities can be found in the neighboring areas of Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged and Nyiregyhaza. Of the ten thousand Holocaust survivors living in Hungary, the vast majority live in Budapest. Since 2013, hundreds of Jews have left Hungary due to a rise in anti-Semitism, many of whom then settled in Vienna. The traditional Jewish Quarter of Budapest is located in District VII. Within it are several Jewish historical sites, stores and kosher restaurants.

Following the collapse of communism in 1989, several Jewish organizations were reopened. The largest organization serving the Jewish community of Budapest is MAZSIHISZ, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary. A variety of social services are provided by the Joint Distribution Committee, as well as the Lauder Foundation. Healthcare and medical services are provided by the Charity Jewish Hospital and Nursing Facility and two centers for elderly care. The city's many religious institutions include a historic mikvah (ritual bath) and a variety of kosher restaurants. Budapest also has over ten kosher butcher shops, bakeries, and even a matza factory.

Each year Budapest hosts several Jewish social and cultural events. The Jewish Summer Festival puts on a variety of shows including concerts, dance performances, and films. The Jewish community has also established many social and educational programs for children and young adults. The most popular organizations are B'nei Brith, WIZO, UJS, Bnei Akiva, and the Maccabi athletic club. Each summer, an estimated 1,500 campers from more than twenty countries attend Camp Szarvas.

Since the fall of communism, there has been a revival of Jewish religious life in Budapest. As of the beginning of the 21st century, there are as many as twenty synagogues throughout the city, representing a variety of movements including Orthodox, Chabad Lubavitch, Neolog (similar to the Conservative Movement) and Liberal. There are also synagogues located in the provincial cities of Miskolc and Debrecen. In 2003, Slomo Koves became the first Orthodox rabbi to be ordained in Hungary since the Holocaust.

Budapest boasts many Jewish kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools. The three Jewish high schools are Lauder Javne, Wesselenyi, and Anna Frank. Lauder Javne is located on a five-acre campus and was opened in 1990. It is non-denominational and is sponsored by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. The Budapest University of Jewish Studies was established in 1877 as a Neolog Rabbinical seminary. Jewish studies programs are offered at several universities including Eotvos Lorand University, the largest school of higher education in Hungary, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the Central European University which was established by Hungarian-born George Soros. Jewish educational programming is also offered at the Beth Peretz Jewish Education Centre Foundation, the American Foundation School, and the Hillel Jewish Educational and Youth Center.

The capital city of Budapest is rich with culture and history, and is home to several buildings, monuments, and cultural centers, including several points of Jewish interest. One such place is the Holocaust Memorial Center, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust during World War II. The Center is situated outside the traditional Jewish quarter and is housed by the Pava Synagogue where it has been since 2004. In 2005, the institution was awarded the Nivo Prize of Architecture for the restoration and rehabilitation of a historic monument.

The city's Jewish Museum is the second-largest in all of Europe. It operates under the auspices of the Alliance of Jewish Communities in Hungary. In 1942, two employees hid valuable museum artifacts in the cellar of Budapest's National Museum. During the German occupation, the building served as an escape passage as its gate was situated outside the borders of the ghetto. Additionally, Theodor Herzl was born in the building which once stood at the present site of the museum.

One of the most significant Jewish cultural sites in Budapest is the Emanuel Holocaust 'Tree of Life' Memorial sculpture in Raoul Wallenberg Park. Engraved on the thirty thousand leaves are the names of Jews who were killed or had disappeared during the Holocaust.

Two other important sites which memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and the events of World War II are the statue of Raoul Wallenberg and the Shoes on the Danube Embankment. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved many Jewish lives by helping them escape deportation. The Shoes on the Danube Embankment is a memorial comprised of sixty pairs of metal shoes set in concrete. Created in 2005, it commemorates the Hungarian Jewish victims killed by militiamen of Arrow Cross, the pro-German national socialist party which was active in Hungary between 1944 and 1945.

In addition to cultural centers and memorials, Budapest contains a number of Jewish landmarks. Located in the heart of Budapest is the King's Hotel –one of the first private Jewish three-star hotels in Budapest. While the hotel has been renovated and modernized, the building itself is more than one hundred years old.

Northern Budapest contains the Medieval Jewish Chapel, a small Sephardic house of prayer which had been rebuilt from ruins in the 18th century. During the 1686 siege of Budapest many of the city's Jewish buildings were completely destroyed. The chapel's original function was not revealed until an excavation in the 1960s when the synagogue's keystone and tombstones engraved in Hebrew were unearthed. Another historic religious site is the Dohany Street Synagogue. Inaugurated in 1659, the synagogue is designed in a Moorish style and is the second-largest synagogue in the world.

Still serving the Jewish community of Budapest is the Kozma Street Cemetery. It is the largest Jewish cemetery in Budapest, and among the largest in Europe. Its unique monuments and mausoleums have drawn many visitors since it opened in 1891.

There are three major publications which serve the Jewish community of Budapest and Hungary. The biweekly Uj Elet (New Life) is the official journal of MAZSIHISZ; the Szombat (Saturday) provides news and information about Jewish life in Hungary as well international issues, and the Mult es Jovo (Past and Future) is a cultural and intellectual journal.


HISTORY

BUDA (also known as Ofen, Oven, Boden, Bodro)
The first Jewish settlers came to Buda from Germany and various Slavic countries during the second half of the 12th century. In 1279 they were isolated in a ghetto, and forced to wear a red badge. Over the course of the 14th century, the Jewish community was expelled twice: first in 1349 following anti-Semitic allegations that arose after the Black Death had swept through the region, and again in 1360 as a result of hostility from the church. In 1364 Jews were permitted to return, though with some restrictions imposed on them. After the establishment of Buda as the royal residence in the late 14th century, its Jewish community became prominent within the larger Hungarian Jewish community. During the 15th century, the Jewish community was recognized as an autonomous government, and the community leader of Buda became the leader of Hungarian Jewry at large. At this time, the Jews of Buda were mainly engaged in commerce and in exports to the German lands and Bohemia.

In 1526 the Turks captured Buda. The majority of the Jews, about 2,000 people, were expelled to the Ottoman Empire, while a minority escaped to communities in western Hungary which had not fallen to the Turks. Jews were able to resettle Buda in 1541 and despite the heavy taxes, the community grew and became the wealthiest and most important in Hungary. Jews occupied influential positions in the management of the treasury and were generally employed in commerce and finance. By 1660 the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities numbered about 1,000 Jews.

In 1686, the Austrians and their allies conducted a siege of Buda and subsequently defeated the Turks and conquered the town. The Jewish population had sided with the Turks and nearly half of them perished over the course of the fighting and its aftermath. The Jewish Quarter was ransacked, and the Torah scrolls were set on fire. Half of the remaining Jews, approximately 250 people, were taken as prisoners and exiled. These events are mentioned in Megilat Ofen, by Yitzhak ben Zalman Schulhof.

The new Austrian administration, in response to church demands, placed restrictions upon the Jews and the Jewish community was consequently subject to more restrictions and expulsions. The Jews of Buda were exiled in 1746 by Empress Maria Theresa, and were permitted to return in 1783, when Emperor Josef II allowed the Jews to reenter and settle in Hungarian towns. The community did not regain its former stature and prominence until the second half of the 19th century, at which time there were 7,000 Jewish families living in Buda.

During these turbulent times, Buda saw the formation of a number of Jewish institutions and the rise of several prominent figures. The latter half of the 18th century saw the establishment of a Hevra Kadisha. By 1869 four synagogues had been built, and were joined by two more at the end of the 19th century. The first known rabbi of the community was Akiva Ben Menahem Hacohen, also called "Nasi," who led the community during the 15th century. In the second half of the 17th century, during the lifetime of Rabbi Ephraim Ben Yaakov Hacohen, Buda was a focal point of the messianic movement of Shabbetai Zvi in Hungary. Moshe Kunitzer, a pioneer of the Haskalah movement in Hungary, was the chief rabbi from1828 until 1837.

OBUDA (also known as Alt-Ofen in German, and Oven Yashan, Old Buda, in Hebrew)
The Jewish community in Obuda vanished after the Turkish conquest in 1526 and was not resettled until 1712, under the leadership of Yaakov Lob. After the return of the Jewish community, by 1727 there were 24 Jewish families living in Obuda under the protection of the counts of Zichy. In a document recognized by the royal court in 1766, the Jews were granted freedom of religion, trading rights relating to the payment of special taxes, and permission to live anywhere in the town. This was a privilege granted in Obuda only.

The Jews of Obuda practiced agriculture, commerce and various trades. Textile factories established by the Jews of Obuda, among them the Goldberger Company, enjoyed favorable reputations throughout Hungary.

The first synagogue was built in 1738, a Hevra Kadisha was founded in 1770, and a Jewish hospital was established in 1772. In 1820 The old synagogue of Obuda underwent significant renovations. That same year, The Great Synagogue on Lajos Street was consecrated, and became one of the most well-known synagogues in the Habsburg Empire. Additionally,during the year 1820 an ultimately short-lived school was built at the demand of Emperor Josef II; since, however, Jewish parents did not want Christian teachers educating their children, the school was consequently closed. However, in spite of these impressive community projects, by the middle of the 19th century many Jewish families were moving to Pest.

PEST
Jews are first mentioned as living in Pest in 1406, and in 1504 there is mention of several Jewish home and landowners. Yet after the Austrian conquest in 1686 Jewish settlement in Pest ended. Although some sources mention a sporadic Jewish presence in Pest, it was not until 1746, when Jews expelled from Buda were looking for alternate places to live, that Jews once again began living in Pest in significant numbers. This community, however, was officially recognized only in 1783, when Emperor Josef II began allowing Jews into Hungarian towns, though they had to pay a special "tolerance tax" to the town. The first synagogue was opened in 1787 in Kiraly Street and later several more synagogues were built, including a Sephardi synagogue. The Great Synagogue on Dohany Street, which remains one of the largest in Europe, was built later, in 1859.

After the emperor’s death in 1790, limitations on Jewish settlement were re-imposed, and only a few Jews chosen by the town’s authorities were permitted to remain in Pest. The rest moved into the Erzsebetvaros Quarter, which maintained a large Jewish population until the Holocaust. During this period, the Jews set up factories and were engaged in commerce and trade.

In spite of the reimposition of restrictions on the Jewish community, they nonetheless were able to open the first Jewish school in Pest, in 1814. This school taught both religious and secular subjects in German. Additionally, there were several private Jewish schools. In later years, a girls’ school was opened in 1814 and a Jewish Teachers' training college was opened in 1859. The Orthodox community opened its first school in 1873.

The restrictions imposed after the death of Emperor Josef II were repealed in 1840. During the Hungarian National Revolution of 1848-1849, also known as the Revolution of Liberty against the Habsburg rule, many of the Jews from Pest volunteered to fight, and the community contributed considerable sums of money to the revolution. When the revolution failed, however, heavy taxes were imposed upon the Jews of Pest because of their participation. In 1867, following the formation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, the new Hungarian government granted equal rights to the Jews of Hungary. This prompted a fruitful period of community-building; that same year the Jewish community of Pest opened an orphanage for girls, the first of its kind in Hungary, followed by a second orphanage for boys in 1869. In later years, several hospitals and welfare institutions for the elderly and sick were opened, as well as a home for the deaf and dumb, which was inaugurated in 1876.
Judaism was officially recognized as one of the accepted religions of Hungary in 1895.

The year 1867 also saw a new initiative from the Pest community: The Hungarian Jewish Congress. Its aim was to prompt a discussion of the schisms in the Jewish community, particularly between the Orthodox and the Neolog congregations. Following the first meeting of the congress in December 1868, the Orthodox appealed to the Hungarian government and in 1871 they were legally recognized as a distinct community. In 1889 Rabbi Koppel Reich was elected to be the head of the Hungarian Orthodox community; he later became a member of the upper house of the Hungarian parliament in 1927, when he was nearly 90 years old.

In 1877, the Rabbinical Seminary was opened in Budapest. Its aim was to integrate rabbinical studies with general education, and it became one of the world’s leading institutions for rabbinical training. Its founders and faculty members were well-known researchers and instructors. The seminar’s publications included journals such as the Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review). In spite of opposition and boycotts from the Orthodox community, the seminary played a central role in shaping modern Hungarian Jewry.

BUDAPEST
In 1873, Buda and Pest were officially merged with Obuda, creating the city of Budapest. Concurrently, the second half of the 19th century was a period of economic and cultural prosperity for the Jewish community of Budapest. The beginning of the 20th entury saw Budapest become an important center for Jewish journalism. The weekly Magyar Israelita became the first Jewish newspaper in Hungarian. In the broader community, Jews also assumed an important role in the founding and editing of leading newspapers in Hungary, such as Nyugat (West). During the interwar period, non-Orthodox Jewish educational institutions included 15 schools with 3,600 students. Meanwhile, the Orthodox community had a population of approximately 10,000 and was establishing its own welfare and educational institutions.

1919-1921 was the period of The White Terror in Hungary. After the fall of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, the new regime of Admiral Miklos Horthy organized army gangs to suppress and destroy any lingering communist elements in the country. Because a number of the communist leaders were Jewish, Hungarian Jews became the main victims of this “purification." From the time Admiral Horthy entered Budapest on November 14, 1919, Jewish officials in the army and government service were dismissed, Jews were forbidden to trade in tobacco and wine, and scientific institutions were closed to them. In 1920, the Numerus Clausus law was imposed, which determined admission to universities on a national basis and effectively established a quota for the number of Jews permitted to enter Hungarian universities.

In spite of government-endorsed anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence, by 1935 there were 201,069 Jews living in Budapest making it one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.

BUDAPEST JEWS OF NOTE
• Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921), the founder of the Academy for the Study of Modern Islam. He was the secretary of the Budapest Neolog community from 1874 to 1904. Goldziher helped found the Jewish-Hungarian Literary Society which worked to spread Jewish culture by means of lectures and publications. Among the Society's publications was the first Jewish translation of the Bible into Hungarian. Goldziher also founded the Jewish-Hungarian museum. He was a teacher in the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest.

• Arminius Vambery (1832-1913), a famous traveler and researcher. He was instrumental in introducing Theodor Herzl to the Sultan of Turkey.

• Ferenc Molnar (1878-1931), an outstanding dramatist and novelist. Molnar is best known today as the author of the famous children’s book The Paul Street Boys, published in 1927.

• Lengyel Menyhert (1880-1974 ), a dramatist and scriptwriter. His credits include Ninotchka (1940) and To Be or Not to Be (1942), celebrated films for which he wrote the screenplays.

• Professor Alexander (Sandor) Scheiber ( 1913-1985) was the director of the Rabbinical Seminary during the 1950s. He published research on the history of Hungarian Jewry, and in his last years was actively involved in the consolidation of communal life in Budapest.

ZIONISM
Budapest was the birthplace of Theodor (Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl (1860-1904), the father of modern Zionism. The writer and physicist Max Nordau (1849-1932), a founding member of the World Zionist Congress and author of the Basel Platform at the First Zionist Congress (1897), was also born in Budapest. It is not surprising, therefore, that Budapest was a hotbed of Zionist activity at the turn of the 20th century. In 1903 the student Zionist association Makkabea was established; its first group of pioneers immigrated to Palestine before the end of World War I.The Zionist press in Budapest began in 1905 with the publication of Zsido Neplap (Jewish Popular Paper), which closed down two years later. Magyar Zsido Szemle (Hungarian Jewish Review), another Zionist publication, began operating in 1911, the same year as the quarterly Mult es Jovo.

The Zionist activity in Budapest was strengthened by the arrival in the city in 1940 of Zionist leaders from Transylvania, among them Rudolf Kasztner (who would later play a controversial role during the Holocaust) and Erno Marton. The worsening situation of the Hungarian Jewry during the late 1930’s and during the Holocaust period led to a rise in the popularity of Zionism.

Another Budapest Zionist of note is Hanna Szenes (1921-1944), a native of Budapest who emigrated to Palestine. Szenes was a poetess and paratrooper in the Haganah an underground Jewish military organization in Palestine. During World War II, Szenes was sent on a mission to Hungary to help organize Jewish anti-Nazi resistance. Tragically, she was captured and executed by the Nazis.

Although Zionist organizations reemerged and were active after World War II, the Communist regime banned their activities after 1949, and a number of Zionist leaders were put on trial having been accused of “conspiracy”.

THE HOLOCAUST
Following the Discriminatory Laws of 1938-41, which limited Jewish participation in the economy and society, certain large institutions and factories were required to dismiss their Jewish employees. In 1940, Jews began to be drafted to be forced laborers, which meant that many families were left without any means of support. On November 20, 1940, Hungary signed a treaty with Italy and Japan, thereby officially joining the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany. During the period that followed Hungary's entry into the war against the Soviet Union in 1941, until the occupation of Hungary by the German army on March 19th, 1944, more than 15,000 Jews from Budapest were killed during deportations and in forced labor camps.

In March 1944, Adolph Eichmann ordered that the Jewish communal organizations be dissolved, and replaced by a Jewish council, Zsido Tanacs. Jews were forced to wear the yellow badge. Freedom of movement was restricted and many buildings were seized. The licenses of Jewish lawyers and newspapers were suspended. On June 30, 1944, the Germans started to concentrate the Jews in certain parts of the city and plans were made to begin their deportation.

The anti-Semitic Arrow Cross Party, led by Ferenc Szalasi, came to power in October 1944. The new government immediately began carrying out attacks against the Jews, killing 600 people during the first days. Papers and certificates that could allow Jews to stay and work in the city were no longer valid. On October 20th 1944 Eichmann ordered that all men aged 16-60 were to be sent to dig fortifications against the approaching Soviet army. 50,000 men marched on that Death March. Three days later the women and children were forced to join the men. These Jews were later transferred by the Germans at the border station at Hegyeshalom. The remaining Jews were concentrated into two ghettos.

At the end of December 1944 there were about 70,000 people in the central ghetto in Budapest; tens of thousands of others found shelter in the international ghetto, where diplomats of neutral nations, such as Carl Lutz of Switzerland and Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden, were issuing protective papers for Jews. Zionist organizations also forged documents in order to save Jews. The number of protective certificates, legal and forged, issued in Budapest was around 100,000; meanwhile, approximately 2,748 Jews were hidden in monasteries and in church cellars. By the time the Soviet army entered and occupied the city on January 17th, 1945, 76,000 Jews were handed over to the Germans, a number which includes victims of deportation and death marches. At the end of World War II there were approximately 90,000 Jews in Budapest. Meanwhile, over 100,000 Jews from Budapest, a majority of the population, perished.

THE COMMUNIST REGIME
After the Holocaust, many survivors emigrated to Palestine. Others remained in Hungary, where a large number abandoned the Jewish tradition and identity, either due to their traumatic experiences during the war, or due to the influence of the atheist government in Hungary. In 1956, after the Hungarian anti-Soviet uprising, about 25,000 Jews left the city.

During the communist period, the Jewish community of Budapest was controlled by the Department of Religious Affairs within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Starting in1968, each of the 18 administrative districts of Budapest contained at least one synagogue, a rabbi, a Talmud Torah, and a lecture hall. Additionally, there was a Jewish high school in the capital, with a student population of about 140 and the Orthodox community founded a yeshiva with 40 students. The Rabbinical Seminary, which was reconstructed after the war and was the only institution of its kind in any communist country, continued to be active thanks to the support of the Neolog movement.

Uj Elet (New Life), was a biweekly newspaper published by the Budapest Jewish community which reflected the changing ways in which the Jews of Hungary understood their identity. Other Jewish communal services included a Jewish hospital, an old age home, a kosher restaurant, the availability of kosher meat, and a matza bakery.

Prague

Capital of the Czech Republic. Formerly the capital of Czechoslovakia.

It has the oldest Jewish community in Bohemia and one of the oldest communities in Europe, for some time the largest and most revered. Jews may have arrived in Prague in late roman times, but the first document mentioning them is a report by Ibrahim Ibn Ya'qub from about 970. The first definite evidence for the existence of a Jewish community in Prague dates to 1091. Jews arrived in Prague from both the east and west around the same time. It is probably for this reason that two Jewish districts came into being there right at the beginning.

The relatively favorable conditions in which the Jews at first lived in Prague were disrupted at the time of the first crusade in 1096. The crusaders murdered many of the Jews in Prague, looted Jewish property, and forced many to accept baptism. During the siege of Prague castle in 1142, the oldest synagogue in Prague and the Jewish quarter below the castle were burned down and the Jews moved to the right bank of the river Moldau (vltava), which was to become the future Jewish quarter, and founded the "Altschul" ("old synagogue") there.

The importance of Jewish culture in Prague is evidenced by the works of the halakhists there in the 11th to 13th centuries. The most celebrated was Isaac B. Moses of Vienna (d. C. 1250) author of "Or Zaru'a". Since the Czech language was spoken by the Jews of Prague in the early middle ages, the halakhic writings of that period also contain annotations in Czech. From the 13th to 16th centuries the Jews of Prague increasingly spoke German. At the time of persecutions which began at the end of the 11th century, the Jews of Prague, together with all the other Jews of Europe, lost their status as free people. From the 13th century on, the Jews of Bohemia were considered servants of the royal chamber (servi camerae regis). Their residence in Prague was subject to the most humiliating conditions (the wearing of special dress, segregation in the ghetto, etc.). The only occupation that Jews were allowed to adopt was moneylending, since this was forbidden to Christians and considered dishonest. Socially the Jews were in an inferior position.

The community suffered from persecutions accompanied by bloodshed in the 13th and 14th centuries, particularly in 1298 and 1338. Charles IV (1346- 1378) protected the Jews, but after his death the worst attack occurred in 1389, when nearly all the Jews of Prague fell victims. The rabbi of Prague and noted kabbalist Avigdor Kara, who witnessed and survived the outbreak, described it in a selichah. Under Wenceslaus IV the Jews of Prague suffered heavy material losses following an order by the king in 1411 canceling all debts owed to Jews.

At the beginning of the 15th century the Jews of Prague found themselves at the center of the Hussite wars (1419- 1436). The Jews of Prague also suffered from mob violence (1422) in this period. The unstable conditions in Prague compelled many Jews to emigrate.

Following the legalization, at the end of the 15th century, of moneylending by non-Jews in Prague, the Jews of Prague lost the economic significance which they had held in the medieval city, and had to look for other occupations in commerce and crafts. The position of the Jews began to improve at the beginning of the 16th century, mainly owing to the assistance of the king and the nobility. The Jews found greater opportunities in trading commodities and monetary transactions with the nobility. As a consequence, their economic position improved. In 1522 there were about 600 Jews in Prague, but by 1541 they numbered about 1,200. At the same time the Jewish quarters were extended. At the end of the 15th century the Jews of Prague founded new communities.

Under pressure of the citizens, king Ferdinand I was compelled in 1541 to approve the expulsion of the Jews. The Jews had to leave Prague by 1543, but were allowed to return in 1545. In 1557 Ferdinand I once again, this time upon his own initiative, ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Prague. They had to leave the city by 1559. Only after the retirement of Ferdinand I from the government of Bohemia were the Jews allowed to return to Prague in 1562.

The favorable position of the Jewish community of Prague during the reign of Rudolf II is reflected also in the flourishing Jewish culture. Among illustrious rabbis who taught in Prague at that time were Judah Loew B. Bezalel (the "maharal"); Ephraim Solomon B. Aaron of Luntschitz; Isaiah B. Abraham ha-levi Horowitz, who taught in Prague from 1614 to 1621; and Yom Tov Lipmann Heller, who became chief rabbi in 1627 but was forced to leave in 1631. The chronicler and astronomer David Gans also lived there in this period. At the beginning of the 17th century about 6,000 Jews were living in Prague.

In 1648 the Jews of Prague distinguished themselves in the defense of the city against the invading swedes. In recognition of their acts of heroism the Emperor presented them with a special flag which is still preserved in the Altneuschul. Its design with a Swedish cap in the center of the Shield of David became the official emblem of the Prague Jewish community.

After the thirty years' war, government policy was influenced by the church counter-reformation, and measures were taken to limit the Jews' means of earning a livelihood. A number of anti-Semitic resolutions and decrees were promulgated. Only the eldest son of every family was allowed to marry and found a family, the others having to remain single or leave Bohemia.

In 1680, more than 3,000 Jews in Prague died of the plague. Shortly afterward, in 1689, the Jewish quarter burned down, and over 300 Jewish houses and 11 synagogues were destroyed. The authorities initiated and partially implemented a project to transfer all the surviving Jews to the village of Lieben (Liben) north of Prague. Great excitement was aroused in 1694 by the murder trial of the father of Simon Abeles, a 12-year-old boy, who, it was alleged, had desired to be baptized and had been killed by his father. Simon was buried in the Tyn (Thein) church, the greatest and most celebrated cathedral of the old town of Prague. Concurrently with the religious incitement against the Jews an economic struggle was waged against them.

The anti-Jewish official policy reached its climax after the accession to the throne of Maria Theresa (1740-1780), who in 1744 issued an order expelling the Jews from Bohemia and Moravia. Jews were banished but were subsequently allowed to return after they promised to pay high taxes. In the baroque period noted rabbis were Simon Spira; Elias Spira; David Oppenheim; and Ezekiel Landau, chief rabbi and rosh yeshivah (1755-93(.

The position of the Jews greatly improved under Joseph II (1780-1790), who issued the Toleranzpatent of 1782. The new policy in regard to the Jews aimed at gradual abolition of the limitations imposed upon them, so that they could become more useful to the state in a modernized economic system. At the same time, the new regulations were part of the systematic policy of germanization pursued by Joseph II. Jews were compelled to adopt family names and to establish schools for secular studies; they became subject to military service, and were required to cease using Hebrew and Yiddish in business transactions. Wealthy and enterprising Jews made good use of the advantages of Joseph's reforms. Jews who founded manufacturing enterprises were allowed to settle outside the Jewish quarter of Prague.

Subsequently the limitations imposed upon Jews were gradually removed. In 1841 the prohibition on Jews owning land was rescinded. In 1846 the Jewish tax was abolished. In 1848 Jews were granted equal rights, and by 1867 the process of legal emancipation had been completed. In 1852 the ghetto of Prague was abolished. Because of the unhygienic conditions in the former Jewish quarter the Prague municipality decided in 1896 to pull down the old quarter, with the exception of important historical sites. Thus the Altneuschul, the Pinkas and Klaus, Meisel and Hoch synagogues, and some other places of historical and artistic interest remained intact.

In 1848 the community of Prague, numbering over 10,000, was still one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe (Vienna then numbered only 4,000 Jews). In the following period of the emancipation and the post- emancipation era the Prague community increased considerably in numbers, but did not keep pace with the rapidly expanding new Jewish metropolitan centers in western, central, and Eastern Europe.

After emancipation had been achieved in 1867, emigration from Prague abroad ceased as a mass phenomenon; movement to Vienna, Germany, and Western Europe continued. Jews were now represented in industry, especially the textile, clothing, leather, shoe, and food industries, in wholesale and retail trade, and in increasing numbers in the professions and as white-collar employees. Some Jewish bankers, industrialists and merchants achieved considerable wealth. The majority of Jews in Prague belonged to the middle class, but there also remained a substantial number of poor Jews.

Emancipation brought in its wake a quiet process of secularization and assimilation. In the first decades of the 19th century Prague Jewry, which then still led its traditionalist orthodox way of life, had been disturbed by the activities of the followers of Jacob Frank. The situation changed in the second half of the century. The chief rabbinate was still occupied by outstanding scholars, like Solomon Judah Rapoport, the leader of the Haskalah movement; Markus Hirsch (1880-1889) helped to weaken the religious influence in the community. Many synagogues introduced modernized services, a shortened liturgy, the organ and mixed choir, but did not necessarily embrace the principles of the reform movement.

Jews availed themselves eagerly of the opportunities to give their children a higher secular education. Jews formed a considerable part of the German minority in Prague, and the majority adhered to liberal movements. David Kuh founded the "German liberal party of Bohemia and represented it in the Bohemian diet (1862-1873). Despite strong Germanizing factors, many Jews adhered to the Czech language, and in the last two decades of the 19th century a Czech assimilationist movement developed which gained support from the continuing influx of Jews from the rural areas. Through the influence of German nationalists from the Sudeten districts anti-Semitism developed within the German population and opposed Jewish assimilation. At the end of the 19th century Zionism struck roots among the Jews of Bohemia, especially in Prague.

Growing secularization and assimilation led to an increase of mixed marriages and abandonment of Judaism. At the time of the Czechoslovak republic, established in 1918, many more people registered their dissociation of affiliation to the Jewish faith without adopting another. The proportion of mixed marriages in Bohemia was one of the highest in Europe. The seven communities of Prague were federated in the union of Jewish religious communities of greater Prague and cooperated on many issues. They established joint institutions; among these the most important was the institute for social welfare, established in 1935. The "Afike Jehuda society for the Advancement of Jewish Studies" was founded in 1869. There were also the Jewish museum and "The Jewish historical society of Czechoslovakia". A five-grade elementary school was established with Czech as the language of instruction. The many philanthropic institutions and associations included the Jewish care for the sick, the center for social welfare, the aid committee for refugees, the aid committee for Jews from Carpatho- Russia, orphanages, hostels for apprentices, old-age homes, a home for abandoned children, free-meal associations, associations for children's vacation centers, and funds to aid students. Zionist organizations were also well represented. There were three B'nai B'rith lodges, women's organizations, youth movements, student clubs, sports organizations, and a community center. Four Jewish weeklies were published in Prague (three Zionist; one Czech- assimilationist), and several monthlies and quarterlies. Most Jewish organizations in Czechoslovakia had their headquarters in Prague.

Jews first became politically active, and some of them prominent, within the German orbit. David Kuh and the president of the Jewish community, Arnold Rosenbacher, were among the leaders of the German Liberal party in the 19th century. Bruno Kafka and Ludwig Spiegel represented its successor in the Czechoslovak republic, the German Democratic Party, in the chamber of deputies and the senate respectively. Emil Strauss represented that party in the 1930s on the Prague Municipal Council and in the Bohemian diet. From the end of the 19th century an increasing number of Jews joined Czech parties, especially T. G. Masaryk's realists and the social democratic party. Among the latter Alfred Meissner, Lev Winter, and Robert Klein rose to prominence, the first two as ministers of justice and social welfare respectively.

Zionists, though a minority, soon became the most active element among the Jews of Prague. "Barissia" - Jewish Academic Corporation, was founded in Prague in 1903, it was one of the leading academic organizations for the advancement of Zionism in Bohemia. Before World War I the students' organization "Bar Kochba", under the leadership of Samuel Hugo Bergman, became one of the centers of cultural Zionism. The Prague Zionist Arthur Mahler was elected to the Austrian parliament in 1907, though as representative of an electoral district in Galicia. Under the leadership of Ludvik Singer the "Jewish National Council" was formed in 1918. Singer was elected in 1929 to the Czechoslovak parliament, and was succeeded after his death in 1931 by Angelo Goldstein. Singer, Goldstein, Frantisek Friedmann, and Jacob Reiss represented the Zionists on the Prague municipal council also. Some important Zionist conferences took place in Prague, among them the founding conference of hitachadut in 1920, and the
18th Zionist congress in 1933.

The group of Prague German-Jewish authors which emerged in the 1880s, known as the "Prague Circle" ('der Prager Kreis'), achieved international recognition and included Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Oskar Baum, Ludwig Winder, Leo Perutz, Egon Erwin Kisch, Otto Klepetar, and Willy Haas.

During the Holocaust period, the measures e.g., deprivation of property rights, prohibition against religious, cultural, or any other form of public activity, expulsion from the professions and from schools, a ban on the use of public transportation and the telephone, affected Prague Jews much more than those still living in the provinces. Jewish organizations provided social welfare and clandestinely continued the education of the youth and the training in languages and new vocations in preparation for emigration. The Palestine office in Prague, directed by Jacob Edelstein, enabled about 19,000 Jews to emigrate legally or otherwise until the end of 1939.

In March 1940, the Prague zentralstelle extended the area of its jurisdiction to include all of Bohemia and Moravia. In an attempt to obviate the deportation of the Jews to "the east", Jewish leaders, headed by Jacob Edelstein, proposed to the zentralstelle the establishment of a self- administered concentrated Jewish communal body; the Nazis eventually exploited this proposal in the establishment of a ghetto at Theresienstadt (Terezin). The Prague Jewish community was forced to provide the Nazis with lists of candidates for deportation and to ensure that they showed up at the assembly point and boarded deportation trains. In the period from October 6, 1941, to March 16, 1945, 46,067 Jews were deported from Prague to "the east" or to Theresienstadt. Two leading officials of the Jewish community, H. Bonn and Emil Kafka were dispatched to Mauthausen concentration camp and put to death after trying to slow down the pace of the deportations. The Nazis set up a treuhandstelle ("trustee Office") over evacuated Jewish apartments, furnishings, and possessions. This office sold these goods and forwarded the proceeds to the German winterhilfe ("winter aid"). The treuhandstelle ran as many as 54 warehouses, including 11 synagogues (as a result, none of the synagogues was destroyed). The zentralstelle brought Jewish religious articles from 153 Jewish communities to Prague on a proposal by Jewish scholars. This collection, including 5,400 religious objects, 24,500 prayer books, and 6,070 items of historical value the Nazis intended to utilize for a "central museum of the defunct Jewish race". Jewish historians engaged in the creation of the museum were deported to extermination camps just before the end of the war. Thus the Jewish museum had acquired at the end of the war one of the richest collections of Judaica in the world.


Prague had a Jewish population of 10,338 in 1946, of whom 1,396 Jews had not been deported (mostly of mixed Jewish and Christian parentage); 227 Jews had gone underground; 4,986 returned from prisons, concentration camps, or Theresienstadt; 883 returned from Czechoslovak army units abroad; 613 were Czechoslovak Jewish emigres who returned; and 2,233 were Jews from Ruthenia (Carpatho-Ukraine), which had been ceded to the U.S.S.R. who decided to move to Czechoslovakia. The communist takeover of 1948 put an end to any attempt to revive the Jewish community and marked the beginning of a period of stagnation. By 1950 about half of the Jewish population had gone to Israel or immigrated to other countries. The Slansky trials and the officially promoted anti-Semitism had a destructive effect upon Jewish life. Nazi racism of the previous era was replaced by political and social discrimination. Most of the Jews of Prague were branded as "class enemies of the working people". During this
Period (1951-1964) there was no possibility of Jewish emigration from the country. The assets belonging to the Jewish community had to be relinquished to the state. The charitable organizations were disbanded, and the budget of the community, provided by the state, was drastically reduced. The general anti-religious policy of the regime resulted in the cessation, for all practical purposes, of such Jewish religious activities as bar-mitzvah religious instruction and wedding ceremonies. In 1964 only two cantors and two ritual slaughterers were left. The liberalization of the regime during 1965-1968 held out new hope for a renewal of Jewish life in Prague.

At the end of March 1967 the president of "The World Jewish Congress", Nahum Goldmann, was able to visit Prague and give a lecture in the Jewish town hall. Among the Jewish youth many tended to identify with Judaism. Following the soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 there was an attempt to put an end to this trend, however the Jewish youth, organized since 1965, carried on with their Jewish cultural activities until 1972. In the late 6os the Jewish population of Prague numbered about 2,000.

On the walls of the Pinkas synagogue, which is part of the central Jewish museum in Prague, are engraved the names of 77,297 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered by the Nazis in 1939-1945.

In 1997 some 6,000 Jews were living in the Czech Republic, most of them in Prague. The majority of the Jews of Prague were indeed elderly, but the Jewish community's strengthened in 1990's by many Jews, mainly American, who had come to work in the republic, settled in Prague, and joined the community.

In April 2000 the central square of Prague was named Franz Kafka square. This was done thanks to the unflinching efforts and after years of straggle with the authorities, of Professor Eduard Goldstucker, a Jew born in Prague, the initiator of the idea.

KOLN

Cologne, Köln, Koeln

A city in North Rhine-Westphalia, the fourth largest city in Germany and the most populous city on Rhine river.


First Jewish presence: Roman Era under Emperor Constantine (reigned 306-337); peak Jewish population: 16,093 in 1925

The Destruction of the Second Temple and the Diaspora

When the Romans destroyed the Second Temple during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Jews were forced out of their holy city. Many traveled to other parts of the Roman Empire, some because they were sold into slavery, others in search of a place to settle and make a living in safety. The first to arrive in Germany, the country known as Ashkenaz in the Hebrew of the time, were merchants, who established themselves in towns founded by the Romans along the Rhine River. Cologne is one such town, and is mentioned in the earliest source documenting organized Jewish community life in the territories of today's Germany. The source is a decree issued by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 321 CE, stipulating that Jews were no longer exempt from sitting on the city council. A second decree by Constantine, issued ten years later, exempted officials within the Jewish community from some obligations of citizens of the lower social strata. From the 4th century until the Middle Ages, there is no evidence suggesting that Jews maintained a continuous presence in Cologne or indeed in anywhere in the German territories. 

The Middle Ages

Evidence of Jewish life in Germany re-emerges in the High Middle Ages (1000 to 1300 CE). As the Kingdom of the Franks expanded eastwards, Jewish traders from southern Europe established themselves on Germany’s trade routes and major rivers, particularly on the west bank of the Rhine, in cities such as Mainz, Speyer, Worms, and the trading hub of Cologne. A synagogue was built in Cologne in or around the year 1000 CE; by 1075, the town had a designated Jewish quarter. In 1090 Cologne’s Jewish community had approximately 1,000 members. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Jews of Cologne played a significant role in the development of Jewish-German culture. The city’s medieval Jewish community was the largest and one of the most influential in Ashkenaz. Nonetheless, the social and legal status of Jews was lower than that of Christians, and they were regarded as aliens. Because Jews brought economic value to the towns in which they settled, bishops and emperors were willing to grant them certain rights, and issued orders guaranteeing their protection. These early years of relative peace and prosperity did not last long. As was the case in Cologne, the history of Germany’s Jewish communities—from medieval times until Pogrom Night in 1938—was a cycle of rebuilding and growth, punctuated by expulsion, pogroms and destruction. The First Crusaders, full of religious zeal, carried out the earliest of the anti- Jewish pogroms in 1096. First they attacked the Jews of the Rhine Valley, where, in Cologne, Jews were massacred and the community’s synagogue was destroyed. Some Jewish communities resisted the attacks, while certain bishops and ordinary Christians, and the indeed the emperor himself, attempted to protect them, but the Crusaders’ onslaught was overpowering. Many Jews chose a martyr’s death, some through suicide, over forced conversion to Christianity. Cologne’s Jewish community was destroyed, although some of its members survived in hiding. Similar pogroms occurred repeatedly during the Middle Ages, prompting Jews to spread out from southern Germany to the north and east, reaching cities such as Berlin and Hamburg, among others, in search of safety. The First Crusade was a turning point in the history of the German Jews because it made physical attacks on them more or less acceptable, even justified, in the minds of the general public, particularly during periods of social, religious, or economic instability. Jews were expendable; the property of whichever German ruler offered them protection and, as such, their lives often depended on the whim of a single nobleman. Despite the fear and uncertainty this caused them, Jews returned to the cities after the massacres; life in the re-established Jewish community in Cologne continued uninterrupted for approximately 250 years. The economic and social situation of Germany’s Jews fluctuated in the 12th and 13th centuries. Having been forced out of trade and commerce by city guilds, many Jews made a living as money lenders and pawn brokers, because the Church forbade Christians to work in these occupations. Money lending was essential for economic development and funding warfare and, given their lack of professional options, a lifeline for many Jews. Ironically, the very thing that enabled Jews to survive this social discrimination also made them hated by Christian nobility and townspeople who struggled to pay their debts. Their discontent fueled the fires of Jew-haters who publicly accused Jews of accepting stolen goods and “sucking the lifeblood” of Christian debtors. Nevertheless, where Jews could be useful, they were granted certain rights and privileges. In Cologne they were given permission to bear arms, and in 1106 were entrusted with the defense of one of the city’s gates, the Porta Judaeorum (“The Gate of the Jews”). They were also allowed to own houses in the Jewish quarter (there were 30 Jewish property owners in 1135; 70 in 1340), and used a synagogue and cemetery established before the First Crusade. There was a separate synagogue for women, called the Frauenschule. Cologne’s Jewish community flourished from the mid-13th century until the beginning of the 14th, running a Talmud Torah school, a mikveh, a bakery and a hospital. The Jews were granted increasing legal autonomy over their internal affairs. The title of the leader of the Cologne community was the episcopus Judaeorum (the “Bishop of the Jews”) who served as head of a ruling council of up to 12 members. The rabbinical court had jurisdiction over the community’s internal legal matters; only the most serious cases went before the Christian archbishop. In 1331, Cologne’s rabbinical court was granted authority to rule on financial claims against Jews, meaning that Christian plaintiffs were sometimes obliged to appear before a Jewish court. One of the main functions of Jewish leaders was to regulate the spiritual life of their communities. Jewish scholars and ruling councils would draft and issue takkanot: regulations governing Jews’ behavior, not only regarding issues of religion but many different spheres of life, including business. Cologne’s Jews and Jews all over the country were decisively influenced by the takkanot of the religious leaders of the so-called “Shum” communities: Speyer, Worms, and Mainz. The Shum communities were respected for their high standards of scholarship and strict adherence to Orthodox Jewish doctrine. Through their takkanot, they encouraged Jews to study the Torah, keep the Sabbath, and observe the laws of sexual purity. Their regulations also obliged Jews to pay tax and keep the law of the land. Cologne too was home to a number of noteworthy rabbis who promoted scholarship and Torah study in the 12th to the 14th centuries, such as Eliezer ben Yoel ha-Levi (1160- 1235), Asher ben Yehiel ha-Rosh (1250-1327), and Asher’s son, Yaakov ben Asher (1269-1343). The social and religious persecution of Jews never ceased. There was a Second Crusade in 1146; that campaign did not claim as many Jewish lives as did the first, for Jews acted on previous experience and sought shelter in the castles of the nobility. Despite the protection Jews received from local rulers, the Church enacted discriminatory measures against them in the early 13th century by ordering clergymen to restrict business transactions between Christians and Jews. Jews were also forced to wear a distinctive yellow badge (a discriminatory tactic the Nazis reintroduced in 1939 in occupied Poland, and in 1941 in Germany itself); to pay heavy taxes; and were forbidden to hold public office. In 1235 the first incident of blood libel (the accusation that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood in a religious ceremony) occurred in the town of Fulda. Such accusations, alongside those of well-poisoning and desecration of the host, were recycled during the 13th and 14th centuries, fueling pogroms and violence that claimed many Jewish lives: the Judenschlacht (“slaughter of the Jews”) in Frankfurt am Main in 1241 was in reaction to the Jewish community’s attempts to prevent one of its members converting to Christianity; in 1298, amid civil war in southwest Germany, 140 Jewish communities in the region were annihilated in the Rindfleisch massacres (named after the nobleman who led the mob); and in 1336/1337, the Armleder massacres destroyed a further 110 Jewish communities. Some Jews offered unsuccessful resistance during these pogroms; many chose death over conversion. The situation of Cologne’s Jews began to deteriorate in the first half of the 14th century. First the city’s goldsmiths began refusing to work with Jews, then walls were put up around the Jewish quarter. In the 1320s, large gates, kept locked at night, were installed in the gaps in the walls, increasing the separation of Jews and Christians. The pogroms reached Cologne in the mid-14th century: the town was one of 300 in which Jews were slaughtered during the Black Death persecutions of 1348/1349 – they had been accused of deliberately spreading the disease by poisoning wells. After the killings Jews were allowed back into towns and cities to perform the vital function of money lending. Jews returned to Cologne in 1372, but immediately faced more discriminatory laws, including restrictions on their clothing. From 1393 onwards, the city council was increasingly reluctant to renew the Jews’ protection orders. In 1424, as a pretext for not doing so, the authorities accused local Jews of fomenting poverty and crime, and ordered them to leave “for all eternity.” Jewish properties were confiscated and the synagogue was turned into a church. Some Jews expelled from Cologne formed a community in neighboring Deutz; others joined the community at Muelheim. For the next 400 years, even Jewish traders, doctors and court bankers coming to Cologne on business were often refused permission to stay overnight. The 15th-century experience of Cologne’s Jews was typical of that of Jews all over the country. They faced further oppression, an extremely heavy tax burden, expulsions, and anti-Jewish violence. Jews in smaller towns in the east (which was a route to Poland, where many Jews ended up) and in the south, where there were fewer towns and the economy was less developed, found it easier to make a living. Jews in the south branched out of money lending into different professions; they traded in wine, wool and flax, and became active in agriculture and commerce. Nevertheless, many Jews were extremely poor. From the time of the Reformation (16th century) until the late 18th century, the blood libels, threats, attacks, heavy taxes (sometimes imposed by two or even three authorities at once), and exclusion from the large cities continued. 


Enlightenment to Emancipation (18th to the early 20th centuries)

The liberal values of the French Revolution, which brought more freedoms and rights for Jews, were introduced in Germany in 1794 when the German states on the west bank of the Rhine, including Westphalia where Cologne is located, became part of the French Republic. The Jews in that area were now French citizens. The restriction on Jewish settlement in Cologne was lifted officially in 1797; the first Jewish family to return arrived in 1798. As Napoleon conquered more German states, the situation of Jews all over the country improved. When he was defeated in 1814/1815, many of his liberal reforms were revoked; once again anti-Jewish feeling increased in Germany. Nevertheless, the reversal of official decrees guaranteeing Jewish rights were not enough to stop the growth of Cologne’s Jewish community (officially re-established in 1801): in the year of Napoleon’s defeat there were 211 Jews in the city, by 1840 there were 615, and by 1861 the Jewish population had reached 2,322, making Cologne’s the fifth largest Jewish community in Germany at that time. Under Napoleon, Jews had been allowed to engage freely in commerce. This, alongside Cologne’s trading hub status, attracted many Jews to the city and created a foundation for their increasing wealth and social success. Despite continuing anti- Semitism and even anti-Jewish violence (notably the murderous Hep Hep Riots of 1819, motivated by general discontent at the Jews’ social and economic accomplishments) Cologne’s Jews succeeded in business and became more prosperous. The Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) movement emerged at the end of the 18th century, inspired by the ideas of Moses Mendelssohn, a German Jewish philosopher who stressed the importance of secular education for Jews alongside their religious studies. Jews were becoming more educated, more politically involved and more capable of arguing for their full emancipation in German society. The Enlightenment, however, also played a divisive role in the Jewish community, as Jews who favored assimilation and viewed themselves primarily as Germans of Jewish faith clashed with those who thought Germany Jewry should continue to adhere to the separatist, Orthodox practices of its ancestors. This conflict led to the opening of new synagogues in Cologne as break away groups of Orthodox Jews, many of whom arrived from Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, rejected proposals to reform the liturgy or install musical instruments in the synagogue. As Jewish emancipation progressed, large numbers of Jews completed their assimilation by converting to Christianity, particularly during the first decades of the 19th century when attitudes to Jews hardened following Napoleon’s defeat. As industrialization gathered pace, many Jews left their small towns and moved to the cities in search of work. By the end of the 19th century, most, but not all, the country’s Jews had become city dwellers (living in Breslau, Leipzig, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, and Cologne). Jewish communities in the cities were more likely to accept reforms; Jews who stayed in the villages tended to adhere to Orthodox tradition. Cologne’s 19th-century Jewish community produced some of the region’s most prominent Jews, who played an influential role in German society. Generations of the Oppenheim family were active in trade, transport, banking, politics, and the press. In 1810, Solomon Oppenheim’s bank was Cologne’s second largest; in 1822, he was elected to the Chamber of Commerce (the first Jew to hold public office in the city). His son, Abraham Oppenheim, sat on the city council in 1846. Under Abraham’s leadership, the bank played a prominent role in promoting the construction of the Rhineland’s railways. The Oppenheims were among those Jews who increasingly campaigned for their rights. In 1841, Abraham and his brother Simon petitioned King Frederick William IV to improve the Jews’ legal status. They and others like them celebrated when, following the 1848-1849 revolution in which many Jews took part, the “Basic Laws of the German People” were issued by the Frankfurt Parliament, stating that religious affiliation should not affect the civil and political rights of the individual. The Oppenheims’ story indicates the extent to which, in that new era of liberalism, Germany’s Jews became fully-contributing members, even leaders, of German society: they ran law firms, factories, banks, department stores, and all manner of small businesses; they worked as doctors, teachers, and university professors; they made advances in science, literature and the arts, and their standard of living increased accordingly. These Jews were loyal to their country; more than 100,000 served in the German army in World War I, 12,000 of whom were killed. Memorials to Jews who fell in the war were erected in synagogues all over Germany, and Jewish war veterans formed clubs and associations which held commemorative events every year. 


Synagogues and Jewish Institutions

The synagogue or prayer room was the center of the Jewish community, and every community with ten adult male members (the required number for public prayers) and the necessary financial means made it a priority to build or establish a suitable place of worship. In rural areas this was often a simple, renovated room. In larger towns and cities, particularly after the Emancipation, Jewish communities had the funds and the self-confidence to build large, magnificent synagogues that stood out against the skyline. Despite the wealth of Cologne’s Jewish community it was subordinate to the communities in Krefeld and Bonn, and therefore developed its own institutions relatively late. The city’s first modern-day Jewish prayer room (with 74 seats for men and 48 for women) opened in 1804 in the former Klarissenkloster monastery. The building had become dilapidated by 1853 and was closed permanently; the prayer room had been too small for the growing Jewish community for some time. In 1856, a Jewish banker, Abraham Oppenheimer, donated money to facilitate the construction of a synagogue. The foundation stone was laid (on Glockengasse) in 1857; the same year in which the community’s first rabbi, Dr. Israel Schwarz, was appointed. In 1861, Rabbi Schwarz inaugurated the new, large synagogue building. Seating was provided for 226 men in the main hall and for 140 women on the balcony; the ritual baths were located in the cellar. In 1867, a fire destroyed the synagogue’s interior, along with valuable items and the community’s memorial book; however, the structure of the synagogue remained intact and the community rebuilt it in its original form, adding a small room for weekday prayers. At the end of the 19th century, as Cologne’s Jewish population continued to grow, the community found itself once again with a synagogue that was too small. For this reason, and because Jews were moving to the newer parts of the city, the community decided to build a second synagogue on Roonstrasse. This very grand and impressive structure took several years to complete—in the interim period, a temporary synagogue for 700 worshipers was used—and eventually opened in 1899; by then approximately 10,000 Jews lived in Cologne. The Roonstrasse synagogue became the center of Cologne’s mainstream, Liberal Jewish community. The building provided 800 seats for men and 600 for women; a school for religious studies with eight teaching rooms and living quarters for the rabbi was located in its back yard. There was also a wedding hall used for weekday prayers. Even after the Roonstrasse synagogue opened, many of Cologne’s Jews continued to pray in the Glockenglasse synagogue. The clash of traditional Jewish practice with modernity created division between the Orthodox members of Cologne’s Jewish community and its liberal Jews, who were in favor of reform. In 1863, a dispute about the liturgy in the Glockengasse synagogue prompted some Orthodox members, mostly of Eastern European origin, to break away from the main community and hold their own prayer services in private homes. They founded a strictly Orthodox prayer association, the Adass Jeschurun (operating within the framework of the greater community) in 1867, and established their own synagogue in 1884. In 1904, when a decision was made to put a musical instrument, an organ, in the synagogue on Roonstrasse, more Orthodox Jews withdrew from the mainstream community and formed another prayer association called the Kehillass Jisroel. In 1906, when the organ was finally installed, the Adass Jeschurun association formally withdrew from the community, incorporated the members of Kehillass Jisroel and, in 1908, became an independent synagogue association and a center of Orthodoxy for the entire Rhineland region. Its synagogue was located on St. Apernstrasse and had seating for 160 men and 80 women, with a mikveh in the cellar. Plans were made in 1914 to build another Orthodox synagogue in the new part of the city, and a foundation stone was even laid, but the outbreak of World War I prevented any progress. Jewish schools and Jewish education for children and young people were of paramount importance in Jewish communities in Germany. Many synagogues started out as schools and became synagogues only later on. This is where the Yiddish word for synagogue, “Schul,” meaning “school,” comes from. In Cologne, the Adass Jeschurun association operated a private elementary school called “Moriah,” next to the St. Apernstrasse synagogue, as well as the “Jawne” secondary school – the only Jewish secondary school in the Rhineland. Cologne’s seminary for Jewish schoolteachers was also supervised by Adass Jeschurun. Another Jewish elementary school on Luetzowstrasse gained municipal status in 1870, and became the largest Jewish school of its kind in the whole country. Cemeteries were another essential requirement of Jewish communities. Typically, a community that was too small or too short of funds to establish its own would use the cemetery of a larger community in its vicinity. Although the Cologne community fell into neither of these categories, its members, from all the synagogues, used the Jewish cemetery in nearby Deutz until a burial ground was laid in Cologne in at the end of World War I. That new cemetery was opened on Venloer Strasse; it has been preserved and is the largest in the wider Cologne area, with approximately 5,000 graves, some of which contain reburied remains from a medieval cemetery discovered by chance in 1927. In big cities such as Cologne there were always a number of smaller prayer rooms, often established inside privately-owned buildings. These rooms were also used as meeting places for various Jewish associations and clubs. In most cases, relatively little information is available about them. The ones we know about in Cologne are: 
18-22 Caecilienstrasse – this prayer room was inaugurated in 1902 and belonged to the Jewish Rhineland Lodge association. It was renovated in 1935 and thereafter served as a community center open to all the Jews of Cologne. 
• 35-37 Luetzowstrasse – Cologne’s Israelite Children’s Home, founded in 1890, bought this property on Luetzowstrasse in 1900 and, after receiving a donation of money in 1919, was able to install a small synagogue there. The synagogue opened in 1920. 
• 26 Bayardsgasse – more than one prayer room was located in this building; all of them belonged to Orthodox, Eastern European groups. The Cologne branch of the Misrachi, the Orthodox wing of the Zionist movement, had their offices here too. There was a mikveh in the cellar. 
There were several other prayer rooms in Cologne, most of them used by Orthodox Eastern European Jews; only their addresses are known: 41 Agrippastrasse; 9 Arndstrasse (belonged to the Tiferes Jisroel association); 3 Bachemstrasse (belonged to the Machsike Hada s s a s soc i a t ion) ; 1 Am Kl e ine n Griechenmarkt (belonged to the Gedulas Mordechai association); 15 Poststrasse (belonged to the Kol Jaakow association); 9 Quirinstrasse (belonged to the Talmud Thora association, which also established a yeshiva in the building); 44 Rothgerberbach (belonged to the Adass Jisroel association). Lastly, there was a prayer room on Thieboldsgasse and one in the Abraham Frank orphanage on Aachener Strasse. 


Community Life

Germany’s Jews put great emphasis on active participation in community life. Jewish communities, particularly in the large towns and cities, operated numerous clubs and associations. Some of these societies focused on youth activities, religious education, culture and the arts; others offered charity and took care of the sick. Almost every community had a chevra kadisha – a burial society that organized funerals and supported the bereaved. In Cologne, the late 1800s marked the beginning of the vibrant Jewish community life that flourished from the 1920s to the early 1930s. In 1888, the Rhineland Lodge (Rheinland Loge), which financed and managed numerous charitable and cultural organizations (including a mobile library), was founded; its purpose was to fight anti-Semitism, to strengthen Jewish identity and spiritual awareness, and to encourage good deeds and charity. The Lodge established Cologne’s first Jewish youth association in 1903. The following national Jewish organizations were also present in Cologne: the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith (Centralverein deutscher Staatsbuerger juedischen Glaubens), whose ideology was similar to that of the Rhineland Lodge; the B’nei B’rith (a community service organization); and, after World War I, the Reich Federation of Jewish Front Soldiers (Reichsbund juedischer Frontsoldaten). In 1925, Cologne recorded its highest Jewish population figure: 16,093. Membership of the Jewish community, however, which included Jews in affiliated communities outside the city’s boundaries, exceeded 20,000. Jews in nearby Ehrenfeld were affiliated with Cologne in 1913; those in Deutz and Muehlheim joined Cologne in 1927 and 1929, respectively. Jews of Eastern European origin (Ostjuden) were influential in Cologne and constituted approximately 25 percent of the city’s Jewish population in the 1920s. In 1921, they gained voting rights within the community, and their support for Zionism increased the influence of that movement in Cologne. Earlier, the World Zionist Organization had moved its headquarters to the city (in 1904), remaining there until 1911; furthermore, two Zionist leaders, David Wolffsohn (1865- 1914) and Max Isidor Bodenheimer (1865-1940) were residents of Cologne. Resurging anti-Semitism during the Weimar period, fueled by the libelous accusation that Jews on the home front and in government had betrayed the German army in World War I, further strengthened the popularity of Zionism. During these years, Jewish institutions in Cologne were attacked: the Roonstrasse synagogue in 1927 and the Adass Jeschurun synagogue in 1932, as were Jewish cemeteries in Cologne and its affiliated communities. Jews on their way to and from synagogue occasionally suffered taunts and abuse. Nevertheless, by 1933, the year of the Nazi takeover, Jewish community life in Cologne was thriving: 800 students were enrolled at Cologne’s Jewish elementary school and numerous organizations conducted all manner of charitable and cultural work. The Eastern European Jews ran associations of their own, including a women’s group. 


The Pre-War Nazi Period (1933-1938)
 
Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933; he and his Nazi Party immediately implemented their policy of excluding Germany’s Jewish population from economic, social, cultural and political life. Jewish businesses were boycotted, Jews were excluded from the civil service, and were fired from their jobs as teachers, lawyers, university lecturers, doctors and artists. The Nazis’ nation-wide, anti-Jewish boycott took place on April 1, 1933. SA thugs and members of the Hitler Youth stood outside Jewish shops to intimidate potential customers and prevent them entering. Some were equipped with cameras, ready to photograph and publicly shame (and probably threaten) anyone who defied the boycott. Anti-Semitic graffiti was smeared on the windows and doors of Jewish businesses; posters were put up instructing shoppers not to buy there. Jews were treated badly; some physically abused. In Cologne, Jewish store-owners were marched through the streets; Jewish lawyers were forced onto garbage trucks and paraded around the city. Some Jews were badly beaten up. Shortly afterwards, the mass firings of Jews began. The Cologne city council broke off all its contracts with Jewish suppliers and businessmen; Jewish sports clubs and athletes were banned from sports fields and facilities. Life soon became unbearable for Cologne’s Jewish residents, who began leaving the city. By June 1933, Cologne’s Jewish population had decreased to 14,816. By August, several Jews had committed suicide. In response, the community leaders issued a statement calling on Jews not to give up hope. Nevertheless, Cologne’s Jewish children’s hospital had to be closed down that year. In the two years that followed, more Jewish businessmen were forced to sell or give up their livelihoods as a result of the intensifying persecution. The Nuremberg laws, which outlined the definition of a Jew, were officially passed into German law on September 15, 1935. Blood was now officially the defining feature of Jewishness; even those who had converted to Christianity were considered Jews, albeit in different degrees, as were people of mixed Christian and Jewish heritage. Under the new legislation, Jews’ citizenship of the German Reich was revoked. Intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews was banned; sexual relationships between Jews and non-Jews were labeled Rassenschande, “racial defilement.” As non-Aryans with limited rights, Jews had little or no protection from anti-Semitic actions by the Nazi authorities or their non-Jewish neighbors. In Cologne that year, Jews were forbidden to use public swimming pools. By the fall, many Jewish families were in financial distress and depended on the community’s Jewish Winter Assistance Association during the cold months. The “aryanization” of Jewish property continued; a process whereby Jews were forced to sell their homes and businesses, often for significantly less than their true value, to non-Jews. In Cologne, the Oppenheim bank was aryanized in 1936. Jewish children were excluded from German schools, therefore attendance at Jewish schools increased. The Jewish elementary school and the high school in Cologne recorded their highest enrollment figures in 1935 (940 students) and in 1937 (423 students), respectively. By the winter of 1937, 2,500 Cologne Jews were dependent on aid in the form of clothing, food and heating fuel. In smaller towns and villages, the pressure of persecution shut down Jewish life completely. Many rural Jews moved to the cities hoping to escape into the anonymity of urban life; as a result, some rural synagogues and prayer rooms were closed and sold even before Pogrom Night. In cities such as Cologne, despite these privations, Jewish community life continued and Jews even planned for the future; albeit one outside Germany. Cologne’s Jewish schools intensified instruction in Hebrew and English, and initiated training programs in carpentry, needlework, child care, home economics, and agriculture, to prepare young Jews for emigration. Unsurprisingly, interest in Zionism and membership of Zionist youth movements increased significantly, and the Zionists gained a majority on Cologne’s Jewish community council for the first time in 1936. Cologne’s branch of the Jewish Cultural Association (Juedischer Kulturbund) helped keep spirits up by staging theater productions; the association had a membership of 5,000 in 1935 and was the second-largest branch after Berlin’s. Nevertheless, Jews in Cologne and throughout Germany were increasingly desperate for a way out. Jewish populations dwindled in the towns and cities too, as those who could escape the Nazi persecution did so, many of them leaving Germany altogether. International Jewish bodies cooperated with Jewish organizations in Germany to help Jews obtain visas and finance their emigration. Of the 503,000 Jews (by religion) in Germany in 1933, around 214,000 were still in the country in May 1939. 


Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938) and its Aftermath (November 1938 onwards)
 
The Nazis tried to present the nation-wide pogrom that took place on the night of November 9-10, 1938, as a spontaneous outburst of public rage against the Jewish population, caused by the assassination of Ernst vom Rath, a Paris-based German diplomat who was shot by a young Jew. The truth, however, is that that Pogrom Night consisted of a series of coordinated and possibly pre-planned attacks against Jewish communities all over Germany, Austria and in some parts of the Sudetenland, carried out by SA, SS and Hitler Youth members and, in some cases, ordinary civilians, while the authorities did nothing to intervene. On November 7, vom Rath was shot in Paris by 17-year-old Herschel Grynszpan. The attack was presumably an act of revenge for the treatment Grynszpan’s family members had experienced at the hands of the Gestapo, which had attempted to forcibly deport them from Germany, along with around 12,000 other Polish Jews, to Poland. The Polish authorities had no intention of allowing these Jews back into their country, and closed their borders. As a result, Grynszpan’s family and their fellow Jews spent weeks stranded in no-man’s-land in dire conditions. Grynszpan, who was living in Paris, is known to have received letters from his family detailing their suffering. Vom Rath died two days after the shooting, on November 9. Finally, the Nazis had a pretext for their pogrom, and the attacks began. Armed with axes and clubs, rioters wrecked synagogues, Jewish homes and Jewish-owned businesses; many of the synagogues were burned. Rheinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) gave orders that the police were to intervene only to protect non-Jews and their property, hence the absurd scenes witnessed in many towns as fire engines arrived at the site of a synagogue on fire only for their crews to sit back and watch it burn. Heydrich’s orders also stated that Jewish men, preferably the younger ones, were to be rounded up and arrested, and that archives containing information about members of Jewish communities were to be confiscated from synagogues. Presumably this last measure was intended to facilitate the deportation of Jews at a later stage. In Cologne, the city’s major synagogues were ransacked and burned; Jews were assaulted and Jewish homes and businesses looted and vandalized. An eyewitness described how, after the Glockengasse synagogue had been vandalized, plundered and burned in the early hours of November 10, a member of the Jewish community salvaged some torn parchment from a Torah scroll. With tears in his eyes, the man read the text to a frightened group of Cologne’s Jewish men and women, it said: “The Lord is coming to redeem us; and tomorrow you will witness something glorious.” The Roonstrasse and St. Apernstrasse synagogues suffered similar fates. On Roonstrasse, the mob jeered as the Star of David was torn from the synagogue’s dome. The building was then set on fire. On St. Apernstrasse, Gestapo men confiscated the Adass Jeschurun synagogue’s Torah scrolls and moveable furniture; they also took the archives and cash box, destroyed the building’s interior using axes and clubs, tore down the Star of David, and threw benches out the windows. That synagogue was not set on fire because a school and a fuel depot were located nearby. Synagogues in Cologne’s affiliated Jewish communities of Deutz and Muehlheim were also attacked and destroyed. As in all the cities, some of Cologne’s Jewish prayer rooms survived Pogrom Night unscathed, perhaps because they were inside multi-purpose buildings and therefore did not attract the attention of the rioters. The prayer rooms on Caelienstrasse and Bayardstrasse were not damaged. The Luetzwostrasse prayer room, inside the Jewish children’s home, was pelted with stones. All over the city, Jewish homes and businesses were attacked and Jewish men arrested. In total, around 30,000 Jewish men were taken into custody and sent to concentration camps, only to be released several weeks later. Four hundred Jewish men from Cologne ended up in Dachau. All over Germany, Jewish communities were forced to pay the cost of clearing the rubble from their ruined synagogues. Sometimes materials were taken from the sites and used for construction purposes elsewhere. By the end of 1939, approximately 8,000 Jews were still living in Cologne. Pogrom Night had effectively brought Jewish life in the city to a standstill, although for a short time afterwards, prayers were still held in the Caelienstrasse prayer house. Old conflicts were put aside and the congregation of the Adass Jeschurun synagogue reunited with the mainstream community. The St. Apernstrasse teacher’s seminary was closed down, and all Jewish schoolchildren were now taught under one roof in the Moriah school building. In September 1941, the Jewish Cultural Association was banned. Thanks to the efforts of the head teacher of the Jawne high school, more than 100 Jewish children from Cologne immigrated to Britain. Pogrom Night and its aftermath confirmed to those Jews hoping to wait out the Nazis that escape was in fact their only option, but for many it was too late. Visas became increasingly difficult to come by, even though the international community was aware of the dangerous predicament of Germany’s Jews. An international conference aimed at helping them was held in Evian, France, in July 1940; although the attendees included Britain, France and the United States, the only participant willing to take in large numbers of Jewish refugees was the Dominican Republic. Nevertheless, wherever visas could be obtained, Germany’s Jews took them. Families and friends were scattered all over the world; they went to Britain, Australia, South Africa, the United States, Palestine, South America, and even Shanghai. Many Jews who fled to other European countries later occupied by Germany were eventually deported to the camps and killed along with those who had stayed behind. 


The Deportations from Germany (1941-1944) 

The “Final Solution”—the euphemism by which Hitler and his colleagues referred to their program for the annihilation of Germany’s Jews—was implemented in 1941. That September, a decree was passed ordering all Jews to wear the yellow star badge (the Judenstern) visibly on their clothing. Jews who went out in public without the badge risked being arrested, abused, sent to a concentration camp, or put on the next transport to the East. The mass deportations—called “evacuations” or “emigrations” by the Nazis—of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps, began in mid-October. By that time Germany was at war; therefore, in large cities, many Jews who worked in armaments factories were exempted from deportation for as long as their work was useful to the state; this could be for a matter of months or even years. So-called “mixed-race” or “mischling” Jews and Jews who were married to Christians also received exemptions; at least for a while. Jews were ordered out of their homes and forced to move in together in so-called “Judenhaeuser” or “Jews’ houses.” Their own properties were confiscated by the state or taken over by members of the SA or Gestapo, or even by their “Aryan” civilian neighbors. In Cologne, during May and June of 1941, the Gestapo moved the remaining Jews into communal dwellings from which they were rounded up easily when the deportations began (just before the first transport left on October 21, 1941, headed for the Lodz ghetto in occupied Poland, there were 6,277 Jews living in the city). These deportees, the first to be taken from Cologne’s Deutz-Tief railway station, had to assemble at the city’s fairgrounds before their departure. All over Germany, the authorities used public areas and (in large cities) even synagogues as assembly points for Jews awaiting deportation. They would be ordered to arrive a few days or even weeks before the departure date with a suitcase of clothes and personal items for the journey. They would then sleep and live in the assembly area until the train left. Some were permitted to leave the assembly area to go to work during the day, but had to return immediately upon day’s end. They were often instructed to bring certain items of property, such as furs, typewriters and mattresses, to the assembly point, which the authorities would then confiscate. Jews who still had the means to pay were charged an “emigration tax” before departure. Items they were forced to leave on the railway platforms were sometimes sold at public auction, with the state claiming the proceeds; however, to avoid raising suspicions, the Nazi authorities allowed deportees take their clothes and personal belongings even on transports bound directly for extermination camps. As one transport left after another, the rate of suicide among Jews increased sharply. In Cologne, at the end of 1941, all the Jews still in the city were interned in a camp in the suburb of Muengersdorf, apart from those working in the armaments industry and the patients of the Jewish hospital. In July 1942, the children and most teachers from the Jewish school were deported to the Minsk ghetto. Administration workers from the Jewish community were the last to be deported, because the Nazi authorities used them to help organize the rounding up of Jews before departure. These administration workers and, sometimes, their direct family members, were exempted from deportation for as long as there was work they could usefully do. Eventually, when there were barely any Jews left to round up, the administration workers were also sent to the East. On May 19, 1943, Germany was officially declared “Judenrein” (“cleansed of Jews”). Some Jews were, however, left behind (as was the case in Cologne): those married to Christians, their children, and the very few who managed to remain in hiding. In Cologne, many of the Jews in mixed marriages were eventually deported in September and October 1944. Up to 50 Jews survived in hiding in the city. The last transport of Jews from Cologne left on October 1, 1944, headed for the Theresienstadt ghetto in today’s Czech Republic. Between October 1941 and October 1944, approximately 11,000 Jewish people were sent to the ghettos or extermination camps from Cologne; transports from the city reached Lodz, Riga, Theresienstadt, Minsk, the Lublin district of Poland, and Auschwitz. Needless to say, most of those Jews did not return; they were worked and starved to death in the camps, or murdered in the gas chambers. Up to 180,000 Jews are thought to have been killed by the Nazis while still in Germany, or to have died as a consequence of the persecution they suffered. 


Fate of the Synagogues During and After World War II
 
The destruction of Germany’s Jewish communities left behind empty, partly destroyed, or completely burned out synagogue buildings. Municipal councils often confiscated and sold these buildings, pocketing the money from the sale. During the war, some former synagogues were used to accommodate troops or prisoners, or even as bases for the Nazi Party and its affiliated organizations. After the war, they were converted into all manner of public and private facilities, including car parks, cinemas, private residences and gas stations. In Cologne, for example, the municipality took possession of the Glockenglasse synagogue building in 1943 and converted it into an opera house. Many former synagogue sites were left for decades without any form of recognition or commemoration, but as Germany slowly began to deal with its Nazi past, a readiness to remember and acknowledge the Pogrom Night of 1938 grew. Remembrance ceremonies are now held annually on the anniversary of the pogrom, and commemorative plaques and monuments have been erected in honor of Germany’s former Jewish communities and their synagogues. In Cologne, several memorial plaques have been unveiled: one on the building at the corner where Glockengasse meets Offenbachplatz, one near the site of the former St. Apernstrasse synagogue, and another at the old Jewish school building on Luetzowstrasse, now a vocational training college. A monument has been built in Cologne’s Jewish cemetery, where remnants of the Torah scrolls and ritual items that survived Pogrom Night are buried. In 2006, the municipality decided to build a museum of Jewish culture on the Rathausplatz. The museum contains a glass window through which visitors can view a medieval mikveh, 15 meters underground, rediscovered in the 1950s. The Roonstrasse synagogue was reopened in 1959, having been restored with the financial support of the German government. It contains a memorial hall, with a plaque paying tribute to all the Shoah’s victims, and specifically to the 11,000 Jews deported, most to their deaths, from Cologne. 


The Renewal of Germany’s Jewish Communities 

An estimated total of 8,000 Jews left the camps alive after the war. Many of these displaced persons re-established small, temporary communities and synagogues in Germany, which dissolved after a few years as their members moved on to rebuild their lives in Israel, the United States and elsewhere. In Cologne, a community, consisting mainly of Orthodox, Eastern European Jews, was founded in 1945. In 1949, this community inaugurated a small synagogue on Ottostrassel. Some, although not many, of these Jews remained in Germany. After the reopening of the Roonstrasse synagogue in 1959, the community established a youth center, a kindergarten, a retirement home and a library. From 600 persons in 1946, Cologne’s Jewish community had grown to 1,500 persons by 1981. Germany’s Jewish population received a boost in the 1990s as Soviet Jews arrived following the collapse of the Soviet Union; as a result, the Jewish community of Cologne is now, once again, one of Germany’s largest; numbering 6,000 in 2006.

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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.