Historical overview

History of the Jewish community

Extrated and translated from the German source: http://www.alemannia-judaica.de

A Jewish community existed in Fulda as earlyas the Middle Ages. Presumably there were Jews living since the granting of the market in 1019. The Catholic scholar Rabanus Maurus mentions “Jewish contemporaries” as early as the ninth century. The first mention of a Jewish community can be found on the occasion of an alleged ritual murder. In the course of the persecution of the Jews on December 28, 1235, about 34 members of the community were killed because of an alleged ritual murder of three or even five children. In July 1236, however, the Fulda Jews were released from the charge against them on the basis of the judgment of an inquiry commission. On March 22, 1349, the Jews were persecuted during the plague. About 180 Jews were killed, though some might well have escaped.

In 1367, two Jews were again mentioned in the town, who lived in the “Judengasse”, which was which was a relatively wide street in the outskirts, but by no means directly on the wall. In the 15th and 16th century, only a few Jewish families lived in the city and the formation took place around 1500. 

Jewish community life blossomed in the 16th and 17th century, although during this time the contrast between the citizenry and the Jews of the city became increasingly strong. The number of Jewish “householders” (apparently families) rose from 18 in 1567 to 28 in 1586 to 50 in 1601, and 80 in 1623. In 1603 Fulda became the seat of a Jewish court and a  Yeshiva (Talmud school) was also established. In 1671, all the Jews from Fulda  were expelled, with the exception of five families who could continue to live in Judengasse. Their names were Hirsch on the Trepp (named after the steps of the “Judenberg”, later the family name Trepp, etc.), solitary Seligmann at the Tanzhütte (the vegetable market), Lemble Geys as well as the widow Koppelen and her son.

In the 18th century, the number of Jewish families in the city increased again, but Jewish life in the city was limited due to numerous decrees and restrictions. It was only after the French Revolution (1789) that a process began which finally led to the legal equality of the Jews with the Christians according to the laws of 1833.

In the 19th century the number of Jewish inhabitants developed as follows: 1802, 237 Jewish inhabitants (2.8% of a total of 8,559 inhabitants). In 1827, 324 Jewish inhabitants (3.5% of 9.266), 1854, 291 (3.3% of 9.547),  1895, 566 (3.9% of 14,528), 1905, 861 (4.2% of 20,419), 1910, 957 (4.3% of 22,487).

During this time, a synagogue, a Jewish school, a ritual bath and a cemetery existed. In addition to the rabbi  there were Jewish teachers, ritual butchers and others concerned with the upkeep of the community. 

Fulda was in the 19th/20th century the seat of a provincial rabbinate. As provincial rabbis had been active since the middle of the 19the century:

Dr. Jakob Rosenberg, Dr. Samuel Enoch, Dr. Michael Cahn and Dr. Leo Cahn.

In addition to the provincial rabbis there were several rabbinate assessors, including:

Baruch Kunstadt.

In the First World War, the following Jewish soldiers were killed in action: Julius Birnbaum (born May 11, 1893 in Fulda, died August 8, 1918), Eugen Eschwege (born July 7, 1885, died 29 July 1916), Josef Eschwege (born April 19. 1877 in Fulda, died April 14, 1916), Julius Flörsheim (born January 25, 1881 in Flieden, died April 18, 1917), Isfried Freund (bornMay 28, 1897 in Fulda, died July 25, 1917), David Goldschmidt (born July 5, 1897 in Fulda, died October 7, 1916) , Johann Julius Greif (born November 3, 1878 in Fulda, died Ocotber 7, 1916), Alfred Herrmann (born April 25, 1896 in Richlawo, died April 21, 1916), Moritz Kamm (born June 10, 1886 in Hettenhausen, died October 5, 1917), Siegfried Katzmann (born April 6, 1894 in Flieden, died July 27, 1916), Adolf Nußbaum (born April 16, 1898 in Fulda, died October 17, 1917), Artur Nußbaum (born December 28, 1889 in Fulda, died November 6, 1914), Siegmund Simon Plaut (born April 3, 1877 in Huenfeld, died October 29, 1918), Siegfried Seligstein (born September 18, 1892 in Fulda, died November 18, 1918),   Friedrich Moritz Sichel (born February 5, 1888 in Fulda, died March 16,1915), Simon Strauss (born April 24, 1878 in Obermoss, died September 20, 1916).

Around 1925, the community consisted of  1,137 persons (4.3% of a total of 26,140 inhabitants),  At the “Israelitischen Volksschule” 69 children were taught by teachers Möller and Sonn. At other schools in the city, Rabbi Dr. Cahn taught religious education. 

In 1932, the municipal councilors were M. Kugelmann (1st Prefecture), M. Wertheim (2nd Prefecture) and Dr. L. Herz (3rd Preface). There was a finance committee (Chairman Dr. L. Herz) and a Kaschruth committee (chairman S. Ansbacher) in the municipality management. Furthermore, the teachers were Ivan Möller and Abraham Sonn in the community and the Israelitischen Volksschule. 92 children were taught in three classes. A further 60 children received religious instruction.

Prior to the war, the Jews of Fulda supported or participated in a number of community organisations. Among these were:

Chevra Bikkur-Cholim, the association for the support of poor Jewish patients (founded in 1927, in 1932, under the chairmanship of Moritz Oppenheimer with 90 members),
Chevra Kadisch, (the Jewish burial sociaty, and in 1932 under the chairmanship of Isak Wertheim),
Israelitischer Frauenverein e.V. (founded in 1900, and in 1932 under the presidency of Ida Nußbaum, with 260 members),
Association “Ritual cuisine in the country hospital” providing kosher food to Jewish patients (founded in 1927, and in 1932 under the chairmanship of Rabbi Dr. Cahn).
Other clubs were the Maharam Schiff-Loge U.O.B.B. (in 1932 under the chairmanship of Isak Wertheim), the East-Jewish association, the Shass-Chevra (in 1932 under the chairmanship of S. Ansbacher).

By 1933 1,058 Jewish persons lived in the city (3.89% of a total of 27,753 inhabitants). In the following years, members of the Jewish community moved away or emigrated because of the consequences of the economic boycotts, the increasing deprivation of rights and reprisals. The boycott of  April 1, 1933  affected more than 100 Jewish owned businesses whose owners were forced to abandon their business in the following years. On July 11, 1935, a brutal attack on Jewish cattle dealers and their livestock at Fulda’s  cattle market was committed primarily by farmers from neighboring communities. 

By April 1, 1937, 852 Jewish inhabitants remained in the city. On November 9th, 1938, Jewish shops and homes came under attack during the Kristallnacht pogrom. The Jewish Volksschule was attacked by fanatical youths, the institution smashed; the old and new Jewish cemeteries were heavily desecrated. On the morning of the 10th of November, the Synagogue was burnt down under the guidance of the SS commander, Otto Grüner, and his accomplicis. Jewish men were arrested and locked into the Catholic journeyman’s house in Florengasse; most of them were then transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

While approximately 1.545 Jews living in the city emigrated after 1933, other families moved from the countryside to Fulda. By the end of 1940, the remaining Jewish families had to coalesce in so-called “Jewish houses” (eg Mittelstraße 25 and 28, Am Stockhaus 2 and 10, Karlstraße 32 and 37, Petersberger Straße 25, Rhönstraße 6). Before the deportations began, on September 30, 1941, 248 Jewish persons resided in the city. After the deportations concluded, no Jews remained in Fulda – the city had become “judenrein” – Jew free.  About 600 children, women and men were deported and murdered in concentration camps.

For a list of the Jews who were born in Fulda and / or lived there for a longer period of time, who had been killed during the Nazi period, see  “The memorial book of the Federal Archives for the victims of the National Socialist persecution of Jews in Germany (1933-1945)“.

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