“Bad Kissingen”
Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities:
Germany volume 1
(Germany)

50°12' / 10°05'

Translation from Pinkas ha-kehilot Germanyah

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1972


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Project Coordinator and Translator

Elizabeth Levy

 

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This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Germany
Volume 1, pages 419-425, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1972


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[Pages 419-425]

Bad Kissingen, Germany

(In Jewish sources: Kissinge, Kissingee, Kissingen, Kisca)

The population of Bad Kissingen:

Year Total
Population
No. of Jews
in Population
% of Jews
in Population
1816 1,064 181 17.0
1837 1,600 210 13.1
1867 2,591 314 12.1
1880 3,873 356 9.2
1900 4,757 333 7.0
1910 5,831 307 5.3
1925 9,517 504 5.3
1933 8,579 344 4.0
1.1.1936 - 218  
1.1.1938 - 156  
9.11.1938 - 103  
17.5.1939 8,787 63 0.7
1.1.1940 - 56  
7.2.1942 - 43  
25.4.1942 - 20  
22.5.1942 - 1  
13.5.1943 - 1  
1961 - 9  

 

The division of population by religion in percentage in 1933:

JewsCatholicsProtestantsOthers
4.075.220.50.3

The First of the Jewish Settlement

Jews were already living in Bad Kissingen back in the 13th century, and as their brothers in Franconia, they died “in God's honor” in the Rindfleisch decrees in 1298. We do not have information regarding the fate of the Jewish community from Bad Kissingen until the 17th century. At that time it became part of the Niederwerrn circle that surrounded the communities that were established in the estates of the Franconian knights and were subordinate to the state rabbinate in Wuerzburg. At that same time, the Jews of Bad Kissingen were awarded “protection papers” from three authorities: The Erthal princedom, von Heller and the Wuerzburg Cardinals.

In the 18th Century

In the 50s of the 17th century, the butchers of Bad Kissingen complained to the authorities that the local Jews were dealing with the illegal slaughter and sale of cattle. Also, in 1725 the town citizens put in a complaint against the Jews stating that they were buying property without papers and again in 1798 they complained about the growing number of Jews in town.

Then and always, the Bad Kissingen community had a Rabbi of their own, also serving as a public emissary (consul or delegate). In 1705 the synagogue in town was opened. Rabbis and community leaders of the 18th and 19th century are mentioned in the community's memorial book (opened in 1744). The names of Rabbis in Bad Kissingen between the years 1700-1770 include Yitzhak Ben Rafael, Shlomo Falk (son of Abraham, who was the first community leader and county representative of the Jews for 20 years) and Moshe Ben Yehuda Katz (d: 1734).

The Cemetery: In the first quarter of the 19th century, Rabbi Moshe Yaacov served as town rabbi. In 1801 the cemetery in Bad Kissingen was opened. Before that the Jews were brought to rest in the regional Jewish cemetery in Pfaffenhausen, Hammelburg. There was a Chevre Kadisha operating since the middle of the 18th century.

The Rabbinate: In December 1839, Bad Kissingen was promoted to be the Rabbinate county seat that controlled a population of 2,467 Jews (537 families) and the first regional rabbi elected was Lazarus Adler (until 1852) who held the position until 1852. In 1853 Rabbi Gabriel ben Naftali Lippman was elected as district Rabbi (he published the writings of Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra) and served in this position until 1864. In 1853 a synagogue was established in Bad Kissingen.

During the years 1865-1899, the regional rabbi was Rabbi Moshe Arieh Leib Bamberger, who published the collection (midrash) “A Good Lesson” (Lekach Tov) and a commentary to Perkei Avot.

The Twentieth Century Rabbinate

In the years 1902-1932 Rabbi Yitzhak Seckel Bamberger (1863-1934) held the district Rabbinate chair that encompassed 38 communities. (He was also in charge of the religious lessons that were given in the general high schools.) The new syngagogue was dedicated in 1902.

The town as a Medical Center for Jews. A crucial factor in the development of the community was the famous healing baths of Bad Kissingen that were inundated every year with thousands of ill people, among the many Jews from Germany and other countries. A significant part of the hotels, the pensions, resorts and restaurants were owned by Jews. Many Jewish doctors made their livings in the baths and the convalescence centers in Bad Kissingen. The pediatric Jewish children's theraputic center that was established in town in 1905 at the initiative of Rabbi Seckel Bamberger provideed medical treatment almost for free for poor sick children from all parts of Germany. (In the summer of 1920 there were 226 children in the institution, in 1923 there were 245, and in 1931, after enlarging and refurbishing in 1925, the number of children reached 400.) In 1919 a wing was added to the a building for working Jewish women and young women. In 1920, 30 women received treatment there. In the beginning of 1927 Rabbi Bamberger also initiated the establishment of an adult convalescence center. During the summer of 1928, the institution took in 185 healing Jewish women, of which only 63 came from Bavaria and the remainder from around Germany.

In October 1932 the community celebrated the naming of Rabbi Menachem Ephraim as the district rabbi in Bad Kissingen and the 40th year of service of the head teacher and cantor Ludwig Steinberger.

There began a decrease in the number of Jews in Bad Kissingen beginning in 1925, caused mainly by the reduction in the number of sick Jews coming from outside the city. In 1931 the community established an association to promote vacation and health visits of Jewish guests. In the 30s, approximately 300 Jews settled there.

Under Nazi Rule (1933-1938)

Community Institutions and Organizations. In 1933, the number of Jews in Bad Kissingen was close to 350 however approximately 50 of them were temporary workers and laborers who worked in the Jewish tourist system in local bath houses. At this time the community had a synagogue, a community house with a prayer room, classrooms and two apartments, a mikve and a cemetery. The district rabbinate was housed in Bad Kissingen, controlling 28 communities under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Menachem Ephraim. The Bad Kissingen community excelled in an active public and social life. Burial societies for men and women were active there (from 1860), a foundation for the promotion of labor and agriculture between Jews (from the middle of the 19th century), local branches of C.V., the central association of German Jews, The Alliance of Jewish Front Soldiers (R.J.F.), and of the Zionist Federation. Similarly, the Jewish youth group “Ezra” was active in the community.

During the school year 1932/33 religious studies lessons were given to 20 children. The community budget ( in 1931) was 30,073 Mark.

Persecution and Edicts. Most (about 90 percent) of the community made their living in the tourist industry and bath houses; hurt by the boycott after the Nazis came to power. The first victims of the Nazi regime were the owners of hotels, pensions and restaurants, and the Jewish doctors. The economic boycott was accompanied by abuse and harm to the local Jews.

Rabbi Ephraim, who tried to get the authorities to free the incarcerated Jews who were accused of seeking help for the Social Democrats and the Communists, was arrested himself at the end of March 1933 and imprisoned in the jail in Schweinfurt. During this month a strict search took place in the Jewish sanatorium looking for weapons and propaganda against the Nazis. The community's senior treasurer was arrested and jailed.

At the order of the Gestapo in Wurzburg in July 1933 an “Aktion” was carried out against stores, shops and Jewish institutions. During this action all the money of the the Alliance of Jewish Front Soldiers (R.J.F.) and various documents were taken. The social boycott also worstened and in August 1934 the city authorities forbade Jews to bathe together with non-Jews in the public bath houses (the prohibition was cancelled later temporarily under pressure from the Reich due to negative feedback in foreign papers). In January 1935 the community complained to the local police about the smashing of windows in Jewish homes that had become a daily occurrence and that anonymous persons had fired shots through the home of a local Jewish merchant. In February that same year bullies painted the display windows of Jewish shops in town with paint that could not be removed and a few owners of Jewish knit factories were arrested and their business were closed (the persons were released some time later).

On the night of Augsut 8, 1935 anonymous persons etched the word “Kosher” (in Hebrew letters) on the display windows of Jewish shops, and within a few days a smelly liquid was inserted into the locks of Jewish shops. These things were done in order to drive away non-Jewish customers; these customers, if seen leaving Jewish shops, were arrested in the street and threatened regarding shopping with the Jews. In May 1936 the Jewish cemetery was desecrated; four stones were pulled out of place and all the windows in the Purification House were smashed. That same month a Jewish merchant was forcibly removed from the annual market that took place in the city.

The administration of the district rabbinate in Bad Kissingen and the internal public life of the community stood under the strict supervision of the Gestapo. The local police supervisor was present at central board meetings of the district rabbinate communities - under the directorship of Rabbi Ephraim – in May 1934 and in October 1936, at the public meeting protest of representatives of the communities against the decision of the Union of Jewish Communities in Bavaria to eliminate the district rabbinate in Bad Kissingen, and at the meeting that took place in December 1937. Meetings of the community admnistration all took place unter police supervision (at the meeting on June 30, 1936 the topic of discussion was the establishment of a Jewish elementary school in town and the repair of damage to the desecrated cemetery).

Culture, Education and Welfare. Despite these difficulties, the communited managed to carry out normal social and religious life. On March 13, 1934 it joined the “Juedischer Kulterbund”, the Jewish Cultural Association of Bavaria and in November of the same year (and in January 1935) Rabbi Ephriam managed, through the head administration of the Jewish youth organization of Bavaria, to receive permission from the authorities to renew organized activity among Jewish youth that had been stopped around when the Nazis took power and this time within the framework of “Juedischer Jegnedbund”, the Association of Jewish Youth.

On November 24, 1936 the Mayor of Bad Kissingen dispatched a firm letter to the community with an order “to make sure that the children of the local Jews (“Judenkinder”) were taken out of the general elementary school as soon as possible”. In the case that these children would not be accepted into the special class for Jewish children in Schweinfurt, he suggested the establishment of a class in Bad Kissingen under the administration of the head teacher Steinberger.

The assets of the Jewish Loan in Bad Kissingen, whose independent capital amounted to 4,000 Mark in 1935, succeeded for the most part in easing the economic stress on the Jews of the city. As a result of the situation, many of the outside sources that had supported two Jewish convalescence centers in the city were blocked (one for children, which cared for 460 children from poor families in 1935, and one for adults), and the burden of their maintenance fell on the community. Similarly, as it seems from Bad Kissingen's mayor's letter of August 1935, another 15 Jewish penions were operating that hosted 600 Jews from among the 4,300 guests from outside the city in July of that year.

New Persecution and Emigration. In April 1937 the Gestapo of Wurtzburg forbade the operation of Jewish sport organizations, apart from cultural and religious activities. In the beginning of May 1938 the Mayor of Bad Kissingen publicized new ordinances that strictly limited the Jews of the city and the Jewish guests that visited the medicinal baths. Jews were forbidden from visiting places of entertainment and they were forced to mark their stores with yellow signs with the words “Jewish store”. Jewish guests at the convalecsent homes received yellow tickets that extremely limited their visit. They were permitted accommodation from then on at licensed pensions and Jewish hotels and were permitted to receive medical care according to doctor's orders (on January 1, 1938 there were still 115 sick children hospitalized in the Jewish pediatric medical center, and at the convelscent center there were 44 patients). During the same period the owner of a Jewish hotel in town was accused by the police of holding a “minyon” at his house on Saturday evening.

Following the anti-Jewish “aktion” that was mentioned, the Jews began to leave Bad Kissingen in July 1933. Most of those leaving were the young and families with children, and only the old and the frail remained, whose economic situation no longer enabled them to remain in their apartments. Therefore, in Seoptember 1938, the district Rabbi Ephraim contacted Rabbbi Shimon Hanover in Wurzburg regarding the hospitalization of the elderly, couples and individuals in the old age home in his city.

The process of elimination of the community

Year Left the place Emigrated Deported
1933 19 12  
1934 4 19  
1935 5 7  
1936 11 11  
1937 10 23  
1938 59 35  
1939 24 14  
1940 *8    
1941 *2 2  
25.4.1942**     23
1.5.1942 1    
10.9.1942**     4
23.9.1942**     13
Total 143 123 40

* These were deported to Gheto Theresienstadt and one woman was sent to a concentration camp, see below.
** see below

 

Bad Kissingen Jews sent elsewhere in Germany (1933-1942)

Place 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 Total
Bad Toelz 3                   3
Berlin     1   4 20 3 1     29
Hamburg       3             3
Wiesbaden   1     2 4         7
Wuerzburg 2           3 2   1 8
Tauberbischofsheim 2         1         3
Leipzig         1 2         3
Mannheim 2         1 1       4
Muenchen 3           1       4
Nuernberg           1   2     3
Frankfurt a. Main 4   3 3 1 13 7       31
Koeln     1       2       3
Individuals to Various locations 3 3   5 2 16 7 3 2   41
Unknown           1         1
Total 19 4 5 11 10 59 24 8 2 1 143

 

Emigration of Jews from Bad Kissingen to other countries (1933-1941)

Country 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1941 Total
Italy 2         4     6
England 1     1 4 2 5   13
Israel 2 10 5 2 1 1     21
USA 1 5 2 7 17 27 5   64
Holland 5         1 2   8
Yugoslavia   1             1
Luxembourg   1             1
Czechoslovakia   1     1       2
Cuba               2 2
Romania       1         1
Switzerland 1 1         1   3
Unknown             1   1
Total 12 19 7 11 23 35 14 2 123

The Holocaust

The district director (“Kreisleiter”) already visited the Bad Kissingen synagogue on October 14, 1938 accompanied by two members of the Nazi party. In a conversation with the caretaker they said that the continued existance of the synagogue is just a matter of time. After the caretaker told him of this conversation, the Chairman of the community committee contacted the Council of Jewish Communities in Bavaria and asked if any measures should be taken in light of this warning.

The November Pogroms and Emigration. Less than a month later, in the early hours of the morning of November 10, plain-clothed local S.S. men spread out destroying the homes of the Jews in the city. They shattered the display windows of all the Jewish shops and threw the merchandise into the street. Sixteen shops were totally destroyed. Later the wild crowds - who had blackened their faces so as not to be recognized – destroyed the Jewish hotel and the Jewish medical institutions in the city. They broke into the syngagoue through the back entrance and set it on fire; only the walls of the building remained. Before that the rioters took out all the furniture, setting it afire as the local community watched. The fire moved on to the garage housing two cars belonging to a local Jew, owner of a transportation company. He overdid himself while trying to put out the fire and within two days he died. As the Jewish men were then in the Dachau concentration camp, the Jewish women in town were forced to take care of his burial.

Twenty-eight of the Jewish men in Bad Kissingen were arrested by order of the city Comissar Conrath. From among them, 14 were chosen including two sons of the deceased rabbi Zekel Bamberger, who served as rabbis in the Stuttgart and Mainz communities and who happened to come to Bad Kissingen for the year anniversity of their father's death. The 14 men were chained to one another and led through the city streets to the Jewish cemetery. There they were forced to open the grave in which Rabbi Ephraim had buried imperfect holy objects the week before, to load the objects onto a wagon and to move them to another place. At the end of the task they were chained up again and led through the city again. Afterwards the two young rabbis were forced to pay a health tax (“Kurtaxe”) of 10 Marks for being in town. Later all men under the age of 70 were sent to the Dachau concentration camp.

Rabbi Ephraim, who was warned a few days before the riots, succeeded in escaping to another country; his library was conviscated by the authorities. The Torahs that were transferred from the synagogue to the community house, were locked there under the command of the authorities (by blackmailing the guard the community was able to exchange the Torahs with defective ones), also a valuable Parochet was confiscated (from 1745), a silver plate (from 1769), jackets for the Torahs and a Hanukah menorah made completely of copper. In the prayer room that was in the Community House, all the utensils and furniture were totally ruined and the ritual articles were destroyed, among them articles that were transferred to Band Kissingen a month earlier from the Willmars community. The 35 Jewish families that were in Bad Kissingen at the time were forbidden to hold public prayer.

Among the 266 Jews in Bad Kissingen who left the city in the years 1933-1942, 123 emigrated to other countries, among them 21 to Eretz Israel and 143 moved their homes to other cities in Germany. During the same period, 34 members of the community died. One Jewish woman was arrested in Bad Kissingen on November 14, 1940 and was sent the to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp. Another Jewish woman was arrested in 1941. Her fate is unknown.

In July 1941 the regional director of the Gestapo in Wurzburg announced the annexation of the Bad Kissingen community to the “National Union of German Jews” (“Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland”) and appointed a trustee to the authorities from the Bad Kissingen regional rabbincal community.

The final Extermination. On February 7, 1942, 43 Jews were living in the community; the fate of the remaining was determined during the months April – May of that same year. On April 24, 23 of them were transferred to Wurzburg and deported from there to Izbica, near Lublin, on the 25th . Five of the remaining were transferred to Wurzburg on May 1 and four of them were deported on September 23, 1942 to Ghetto Theresienstadt. One woman died in Wurzburg nine days before this deportation. On May 10th, another 12 of Bad Kissingen's Jews were transferred to Wurzburg and another on the following day; four of them deported to Theresiendstadt on September 10th of that year and nine on the 23rd. Another three of the Jews from Bad Kissingen were deported to Thersienstadt on the following dates: two who where sent to Schweinfurt in 1940 and 1941 were deported on September 10, 1942 and one who was sent to Wurzburg in 1940 was deported on September 23, 1942. The fate of one of Bad Kissingen's Jews who was counted in the city in the Gestapo census of February 7, 1942 is unknown.

On May 13, 1943 there was one Jewish woman living in Bad Kissingen who was not deported as she was married to a non-Jew.

After the war not one Jew returned to Bad Kissingen.

The Community House with the two apartments was not harmed. The Children's clinic and rehabilitation house survived until after the war however their furniture and tools were partially detroyed. The Jewish cemetery is there and it is under the supervision of the Union of Jewish Communities of Bavaria. Furthermore, the community registry (in Hebrew) for the years 1770-1820 still remains.

In mid February 1949 14 participants from the November 1938 riots in Bad Kissingen were brought to the district court in Schweinfurt. Thirteen of them were acquitted and only one was sentenced to 30 months incarciration.

In 1956 a small prayer place was opened in Bad Kissingen. In August 1967 a memorial plaque was placed where the synagogue destroyed in the November 1938 riots once stood.

There are no Jews in Bad Kissingen today.


The Central Archive of the History of the Jewish People

G/5/1668-70, 1672.—Inv/250:13; 486/3:93.- N/19/96. - WR/15; 101a-103;132; 136; 143; 174; 180; 183-84; 205-7; 214; 380; 446a; 487a, f. 17.

Yad Vashem Archive

JRSO/Bayern, p. 2 (Bad Kissingen). – M-1/DN-5/3; 1709. – M-1/DN-25/1818-19; 1820/49-51, 53; 1821-22; 1923/19, 23, 42-43,- O-4/20/11-46 (Landgericht Schweinfurt; KLs 43/49). – O-42 (Brueckheimer, Simon; Der 10 November 1938. MS., p. 9; idem: Inventarisierung wichtiger Akten. IV, p. 17). – PKG/S.1/ Bad Kissingen/1960; S.6/1964; S.9/1969 (Landratsamt Bad Kissingen: 17.3.1969).

Microfilms:

BD/23 – Gestapo, r. 3, f.10, pp 9-10; f. 11, p. 12; f.13, pp. 58-63. – JM/1700, r.1:8; r. 5: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 49, 65, 66, 87, 93, 100, 113, 114.- JM /1954. r.2 – JM/ 2709, r. 1: 510-15; r. 2: 792, 808-9, 812-14, 816, 844, 867, 885, 894, 896, 912-13, 915-16, 918, 923, 1047-52; r.3: 1170-71, 1180, 1186-88, 1202-3; 1105, 1209-11, 1221, 1228, 1231, 1237, 1241-44, 1255, 1260, 1269, 1272-73, 1285-86, 13-1, 1323, 1333, 1335, 1339-40, 1342, 1348-50, 1355, 1369, 1527, 1573, 1659. – JM/2858, r.1:551, 561, 564, 680; r. 3:35, 307, 528, 540, 1078, 1081; r.4:650.- JM/2864:2335.-

Bibliography

Almanach des Schocken Verlags auf das Jahr 5699. Berlin, 1938/1939, p. 143 (bad Kissingen).

Atlas von Bayern. Nuernberg, 1836 (Untermain Kreis) p. 246.

Avneri, Zvi (ed.): Germania Judaica, vol. II (!). Tuebingen, 1968, p. 401 (Kissingen).

Esh, Shaul. The Bamberger Family. Jerusalem, 1964, pp 35-38, 55, 57.

Hohn, K.; Atlas von Bayern. Nuernberg, 1840, (Ufr.) p. 58.

The Jewish Encyclopedia: vol. 7, New York and London, 1904, p. 517 (Kissingen).

Keyser, Erich (ed.); Deutsches Staedtebuch, Bayern. Manuskrpt-Exzerpt: Unterfranken p. 14 (Bad Kissingen).

Kober, Adolf: Jewish Communities in Germany from the Age of Enlightenment to their Destruction by the Nazis. Jewish Social Studies, New York, vol. 9 (July 1947) no. 3, pg 209 (Kissingen [Bai]).

Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland: (Zentral-ausschuss der deutschen Juden fuer Hilfe und Aufbau) Berlin, Arbeitsberichte, mimeogr. (1 April – e December 1933) p. 43; (1 anuar – 30 Juni 1934) pp. 51; 57; (1 Juli – 31 Dezember 1934) pp. 41, 43; (1935) p. 100; (1938) p. 73.

Salfeld, S.; Martyrologium, pp. 66, 233.

Schwab, Hermann: Chachme Ashkenaz. London, 1964, p. 20.

Schwarz, Stefan: Zur Einweihung des Betsaals in Bad Kissingen. Muenchener Jued. Nachrichten, Muenchen ( 4 Sept. 1956) no 27/28, p.9.

Weinberg, M.: Die Memorbuecher der jued. Gem.in Bayern, pp. 109-17.

Newspapers

Allgemeine unabhaengige juedische Wochenzeitung in Deutschland, Duesseldorf, vol. 22 ( 8 Sept. 1967) no. 24, p. 14.

Jewish Chronicle, London (Aug.3, 1934) no. 3408, p. 14; (Jan 11, 1935) no 3431, p. 14; (Feb 8, 1935) no. 3435, p. 13; (May 13, 1938) no. 3605, p. 30a.

Der Orient, Leipzig, vol. 1 (8 Febr. 1840) no. 6, pp 45-46.

 

ger1_00419a.jpg [35 KB] - Bad Kissingen Synagogue
ger1_00419b.jpg [42 KB] - Children's Jewish Convalescence Center
Bad Kissingen Synagogue   Children's Jewish Convalescence Center

 

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