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History of the Jews in a Small German Town
Hersfeld 1330–1970

by Otto Abbes ©2016, Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-941501-24-5, 252 pp
 

In past decades, several short publications about the history of the Jews

in Hersfeld have appeared. They have described, in few pages, events or

periods concerning the persecution of the Jews in the Middle Ages and the

pogrom of 1938, among others. Only the work of Paul Arnsberg, in his: The

Jewish Communities in Hessen (Die jüdischen Gemeinden in Hessen, Frankfurt

am Main 1971) provides somewhat of an overview of Jews in Hersfeld.

However, only four pages of text in his book are inadequate for a presentation

of 600 years of Jewish history in Hersfeld. An attempt to publish a commemorative volume to the Hersfeld victims of the Holocaust was not

feasible. The present book is not a memorial in the traditional sense of the

word, but is nevertheless dedicated to the memory of Jewish victims from

Hersfeld.

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Foreword to the English Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Translator’s Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

 

 

Chapter 1

Excluded, Persecuted, Ridiculed

1.1 From the Middle Ages Until the 19th Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Persecution of the Jews in the Middle Ages

Financial Transactions Between Jews and Abbots

An Official Document Refers to Jews

The Jewish School

The Royal Prerogative (Judenregal) To Rule Over the Jews

The Great Plague is Blamed on the Jews

The Return of the Jews

The Landgraves Assume Responsibility for the Judenregal

The Reformation and the Jewish Question

Philipp the Magnanimous and the Ordinances for the Jews (Judenordnung)

Philipp’s Successors and their Ordinances for the Jews (Landesordnung)

Provincial (State) Councils and Provincial Rabbis

Compulsory Church Attendance for the Jews

Baptizing of Jews

The Landgravine Writes to the Hersfeld City Council (Hersfelder Rat)

The Census of the Jews

The Ordinances for the Jews of 1749

 

 

1.2 Anti-Semitism and Emancipation in the 19th and 20th Centuries . . .25

Elector (Kurfürst) Wilhelm I Returns in 1813

Jews are not Welcome in Hersfeld

The Rejection of the Jews in the Surrounding Villages

Hersfeld Merchants Against Jewish Tradesmen

No Money Lending Allowed

Land Transactions and Money Lending by the Jews

New Laws Bring No Relief

No Right of Citizenship for Jews

Karl Sunkel of Hersfeld Appears Before the Provincial Assembly

The Revolution of 1848-No Excesses in Hersfeld

Comparison of Jewish Occupations in Kurhessen

The Situation After 1850

1868-1871: Jews in Germany Gain Equality

The Emergence of Anti-Semitic Political Parties

Caricature and Satire as a Means of Jewish Defamation

Hersfeld Elects the Anti-Semite Ludwig Werner

The German People’s Movement and Other Right Wing Parties

 

 

Chapter 2

Jewish Life In Hersfeld

2.1 The Jewish Citizens 1809-1861 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49

Napoleon Rules Europe

The Old Jewish Cemetery

The Israelite (Jewish) Citizens and Their Families

The Beermann Dellevie Family

The Jonas Brecker (Breckes) Family

The Peritz Dellevie Family

Carl Dellevie, Doctor of Medicine

The Period Following 1845

 

 

2.2 The Israelite (Jewish) Community in Hersfeld 1877 . . . . . . . . . . .58

The Establishment of the Synagogue Congregation

The First Members of the Congregation

The Facilities of the Congregation

The New Jewish Cemetery

The First Religious Services and the Jewish School

The Ritual Bath (Mikveh)

The Jewish School in the Rittergasse

The Report of the State Rabbi

The Second Location for Religious Services

The Early Years of the Reich (Gründerzeit) to the First World War

Jewish Firms and Shops

Jewish Butchers and Kosher Meat Preparation

Comparisons Between Christian and Jewish Merchants

List of Jewish Taxpayers in Hersfeld, 1894

The Bank of Jakob Hahn

The Congregation Builds a Synagogue

The Dedication of the Synagogue

A Jewish School is to be Built

The Dedication of the School, 1898

The Jewish Teachers

The Jewish Graduates (Abiturienten) of the Gymnasium

Cultural Societies

The First World War 1914-1919

Jewish Soldiers Killed in the First World War

 

 

Chapter 3

The Jews Of Hersfeld In The Third Reich

3.1. Disenfranchisement and Persecution 1933 to 1939 . . . . . . . . . .87

Development of the Local Party (NSDAP)

The Takeover of Power By the Nazis

Even the Churches Conformed

Was the Unemployment Problem a Factor?

The Election for the Hersfeld City Council (Stadtparlament)

The NSDAP Becomes the National Political Party

Party Members Occupy Senior Positions

The Hierarchy of the Hersfeld NSDAP

District Office of the NSDAP

Neighborhood NSDAP Groups

Cell Leaders

Block Leaders

Hitler’s Plan and Methods

The Jews are Bullied and Intimidated

The Boycott of the Jews

The Masterminds Were in the NSDAP

The State Secret Police/Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei)

The First Concentration Camps

Laws and Ordinances Against the Jews

The Hersfelder Zeitung is Banned for Three Days

Clubs and Social Groups are “Aryanized”

“My Homeland” (“Mein Heimatland”) and the Historical Society

Restrictions on Jewish Recreation Activities

Expulsion of Jewish Club Members and Schoolchildren

Many Teachers Were Party Members

The Honor Roll of the Gymnasium

Schools in the Period of National Socialism

Introduction of the Identity Card

The Identity Card of the Lawyer Dr. Theodor Dellevie

Identity Papers (or the Control Over the German Jews)

Jews From Other Countries Were Also Kept Under Surveillance

Emigration and Resettlement

Jews Desiring to Emigrate were Hindered

Difficulties Abroad

The 1938 Pogrom in Hersfeld

The Official Reports

The Organizers of the Assaults

Jews are Placed into “Protective Custody”

Recollections of Witnesses

The Jews are Punished

Ordinances, Circulars, and Laws

Jewish Houses are in Demand

Wertheim, Breitenstrasse #22

A Dubious Acquisition

Jewish Communities and Organizations Lose Their Rights

Jewish Community Properties are in Demand

The Jewish Cemeteries

Fewer and Fewer Jews

Residential Rights of Jews are Revoked

Occupants of the “Judenhaus” at Bahnhofstrasse #11

 

 

3.2. The War Worsens the Situation for the Jews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .139

The “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”

The Deportations and the Disposition of Jewish Property

The Hersfeld Victims of the Holocaust

List of Hersfeld Holocaust Victims

Clarification of the List of Holocaust Victims

Acquisition of Jewish Winter Garments

The Weekend of Deportations in Hersfeld

The Last Jews are “Resettled”

Biographical Data of the Hersfeld Deportees

The Deportation of the Last Jews in the District

Seven Jews from Niederaula

The Last Jews in the District of Hersfeld

1945: Jews Live in Hersfeld Once Again

In Retrospect

 

 

Chapter 4

The Fate Of Individual Hersfeld Jews Between 1933 And 1945

4.1. Many Paths Led to Freedom or to Death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .163

Jakob Rothschild, Reluctant Emigrant

Ruth Rapp (née Friedmann), The Tragedy of the St. Louis

Jack Hahn – Jack of All Trades

The Aftermath of the 1938 Pogrom

Mail From Germany

Jack Hahn in England and Canada

Berta and Karl Katz–Wounded in War But Still Deported

The Landsberg Children–Many Paths to Freedom

 

 

4.2. Rescue Initiatives for Jewish Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .188

The Schmidt Children

The Goldschmidt Boys

The Speier Girls

Jakob Hahn of Klausstrasse #18

Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .194

Napoleonic Decree of January 27, 1808

Jewish Businesses in Hersfeld

Persons Mentioned in the Text

The Last Jewish Burials in Hersfeld Through 1939

Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .206

Reference Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .210

 

 

The Naming of Persons in the Text *

In accordance with the commonly used practice of identifying the names of

persons mentioned in historical texts, the following is applied: names of former

Jewish citizens, or witnesses to past events, or of contemporaneous important

personalities such as mayors or district and provincial administrators, are

spelled out. Names of Nazi Party members, who gained notoriety through their

unlawful acts, or who died years ago are, as a rule, spelled out. Former party

members who occupied minor official positions are not named.

*Cf.: Volksgemeinschaft und Volksfeinde, Kassel 1933-1945, Kassel 1984, Vorwort.

*Cf.: Kropat, Wolf-Arno, Kristallnacht in Hessen, Wiesbaden 1988, Einleitung,

Seite 6 f.

In past decades, several short publications about the history of the Jews

in Hersfeld have appeared. ey have described, in few pages, events or

periods concerning the persecution of the Jews in the Middle Ages and the

pogrom of 1938, among others. Only the work of Paul Arnsberg, in his: e

Jewish Communities in Hessen (Die jüdischen Gemeinden in Hessen, Frankfurt

am Main 1971) provides somewhat of an overview of Jews in Hersfeld.

However, only four pages of text in his book are inadequate for a presentation

of 600 years of Jewish history in Hersfeld. An attempt to publish a commemorative

volume to the Hersfeld victims of the Holocaust was not

feasible. e present book is not a memorial in the traditional sense of the

word, but

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE

During the 1960s, I was stationed in Bad Hersfeld (formerly Hersfeld) while on duty as a US Army officer. I lived with a German family, and through them met and befriended many local residents. I have been married to a native Hersfelder for the past forty-nine years. She and I still have friends and family living there.

 

A few years ago while on one of her frequent trips to her hometown, my wife purchased a copy of Otto Abbes’ book, Hersfelds jüdische Geschichte – 1330-1970, originally published in German in 2002. My perusal of this history by a German author led to a challenge that I undertook upon my retirement. Namely, translating the book you are now reading from German into English.

 

Although most, if not all of the Hersfeld victims of the Holocaust are now deceased, my hope is that their descendants, who do not understand the German language, might have an interest or even some sense of closure in reading about the lives and fates of their forebears. In fact, thanks to the Internet, I have already received queries and some information pertaining to their relatives from two adult grandchildren of Jewish Hersfelders.

In closing, I want to thank my daughters Natalie Shaye Howell, Alexandra Shaye Brown and my granddaughter Shaye L’Herisson Howell for their help with the final proofreading of the manuscript. For her patience and support, I thank my loving and exceptional care-giving wife Barbel Hirschhauser Shaye.

History of the Jews in a Small German Town

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