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Jews in Würzburg, 1900-1945

Database compiled by Naomi Teveth

This database is an extract of over 13,000 individuals from Reiner Strätz's Biographisches Handbuch Würzburger Juden 1900-1945 (Würzburg 1989, two volumes), a collective biographical dictionary of Jews living in Würzburg, Lower Franconia, Germany, in the early 20th century.

Introduction by Reiner Strätz

1.   Summary of History of Jews in Würzburg

Würzburg is the "capital" of the district Lower Franconia in Bavaria, Germany. Today it has about 130,000 inhabitants. The small post-war Jewish community of survivors and "re-emigrants" has grown remarkably in the last years by immigrants from the former Soviet Union. With about 1,000 members, one-third of its maximum at the end of the 19th century, it now has the second largest Jewish population in Bavaria. Until 1802, for over 1,000 years, Würzburg and most of the region was governed by the "prince-bishops" (Fürstbischof) of Würzburg, which was apparently not the best place for a Jewish community. They permitted violent pogroms in the Middle Ages with hundreds of victims and finally evicted Jews in the late 16th century.

A few years ago, some thousand Jewish tombstones from the 12th and 13th century were discovered by chance. Well preserved by "Christian mortar" of a former monastery, they are now the greatest relics of a medieval Jewish cemetery worldwide. With the exception of the nearby independent town of Heidingsfeld (one of the four oldest Jewish communities in Germany, today a part of Würzburg) the Jews of the region survived in small places, sheltered against "protection money" (Schutzgelder) by their "Dorfherrschaften" (village rulers), mostly protestant knights and earls. This rural background, which was religiously accompanied by a rather orthodox orientation, can be found in many biographies of the modern Jewish community of Würzburg, dating back to the end of the prince- bishops' (Fürstbischof) regime.

2.   Intentions and Criteria

To my knowledge, the biographical dictionary "Jews in Würzburg, 1900 - 1945" is a unique attempt to construct a collective biography of a rather large Jewish community in Germany. It was compiled by the author in the early and middle 1980s in cooperation with the "Stadt Würzburg" and the "Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Würzburg". The concept had been developed by Prof. Herbert A. Strauss, born in Würzburg, faculty member of City College New York and founding director of the "Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung Berlin".

Criteria for inclusion were (with few exceptions) belonging to the Jewish community and residing in Würzburg for a minimum of three years. Including the parent generation in many of the short biographies on the one hand, the data of emigrants and their families on the other, the period of the dictionary actually extends from a good part of the 19th century to the 1980s.

The purpose of the work, at least in my view, was not a "Who was who" in Jewish Würzburg (there were not so many "Whos" either), but a "quantitative-democratic" documentation, depending on the sources. Many items such as birth or death dates in very short biographies of unknown persons needed more research than long articles about seemingly "prominent" persons. Some readers criticized apparent gaps concerning "VIPS", misunderstanding the aims of the documentation.

3.   Sources for this Database

Some remarks about the data are in order. The situation seemed to be rather difficult at first. Many files in the local archives had been lost in the heavy bombing of the town on March 16th 1945 with 5,000 deaths. Among the archival losses was the complete "Einwohnerkartei" (card index of the inhabitants).

  1. "Stadtarchiv" Würzburg
    To get basic data for the Jewish citizen I had to work through the predecessor of this card index, the "Einwohnermeldebögen" (list of registered inhabitants), reaching to the early 1920s: over 300,000 thin files, alphabetically kept in hundreds of cardboard boxes, for persons and families in Würzburg and , about three percent of them concerning Jewish inhabitants. Additional data were in many cases found in the "Grundlisten" (lists of houses and their residents, arranged by streets).

  2. "Bayerisches Staatsarchiv" Würzburg
    By an accident of history the local Nazis failed to a great extent in destroying their incriminating "Gestapo-Akten". Therefore, Würzburg is one of only three places in (Western) Germany where the files of the "Geheime Staatspolizei" were saved. (The other places are Düsseldorf and Neustadt/Weinstraße.) About 1,100 of the approximately 18,000 personal files relating to Jewish citizens were evaluated. Many files contain curricula vitae of persecuted persons, especially after the pogrom of November 9, 1938 (Kristallnacht) for most of the adult men still living in Würzburg.

  3. Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem
    The files of the former Jewish community ("Akten aus dem Besitz der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde Würzburg") as well as those of numerous rural communities in Lower Franconia were brought after the war, when a future Jewish life in Germany seemed to be unthinkable, to this archive. I used copies of essential files relating to Würzburg, such as lists of members of the community, tax lists, election lists, statistics of World War I, members in Jewish organizations which were "allowed" by the Nazis. By the way, this is a good source for genealogical research.

  4. Personal Sources
    In a kind of snowball-system, addresses of former citizens or their descendants were gathered all over the world, from England to New Zealand, of course mostly from the USA and Israel. Five hundred persons were found, including the alumni of the ILBA ("Israelitische Lehrerbildungsanstalt" Würzburg, Jewish Teachers` College). An astonishing 40 percent sent back a detailed questionnaire or/and letters, some of the persons with whom I was in contact, also sent additional informations on request.

  5. Other sources
    Of course, there was a great variety of other data — smaller amounts of materials in the archives, printed sources like memory books of other German towns or of the "Bundesarchiv Koblenz", local periodicals (except the "Aufbau", New York) such as year books of high schools in Würzburg or of Jewish institutions.

4.   Appeal for your help

If you have additional information about people from the Würzburg, please contact Mrs. Naomi Teveth at ntevet@netvision.net.il.


The Online Database, transcribed by Naomi Teveth

The online version of the database does not contain all of the information available in the biographical entries of the book. There are 13,027 individuals listed in the online database.

A typical entry (in German) in the book looks as follows:

BACHMANN Israel (Julius), geb. 26. März 1855 Schwanfeld/Ufr., gest. 5. Nov. 1928 Wü. E (Eltern = parents) : Amschel B., gest. Schwanfeld, Handelsmann u. Klara, geb. Weikersheimer, gest. Wiesenbronn/Ufr. Lederhändler. Augustinerstr. 1. Um 1883 ansässig; gründete die Fa. I.B. Leder- u.Schuhmacherartikel. Nach dem Verkauf des Geschäfts, um 1920, Privatier.

8 1883 Wü.: Babette, geb. Frank, geb. 6. Mai 1858 Bütthard/Ufr., gest. 2.Jan 1933 Lohr/Ufr. E: Jüdlein (?) F., Kaufmann, u. Zerline (?), geb. Lehmann, in Bütthard. K (Kinder=children): Albin (Alwin), geb. 13. Mai 1884 Wü. Zahnarzt in Stuttgart, Nürnberg. Emigrierte im Okt. 1933 nach Lugano.

Geographical data covered by the data are mainly Würzburg, Lower Franconia and its surrounding rural communities. Taking into account that people migrated either because they came to study in Würzburg, or moved to live there, or left Würzburg to live in another place, or married somebody from Würzburg, we can find data from many counties and states, such as Baden, Württemberg, Hessen, Prussia, Thuringia, Swabia, Upper Franconia, Middle Franconia, Pomerania, Posen, Alsace, Upper Palatinate and more. In addition, a number of the so-called "Ostjuden" (Eastern Jews) moved to Würzburg, therefore you will find also data from Galicia, Russia, etc. Taking into consideration that a number of Würzburgian Jews managed to emigrate, you will also find in some instances data from foreign countries, such as USA, Israel, Palestine, etc.

In the online database, each entry represents an individual and his/her genealogical data.

These data are organised in the following fields:

  • NAME : Surname, all in capital letters; Forname(s), including nicknames or changed names.
  • MAIDEN NAME: Maiden surname, in any.
  • BORN: Birth date (in numbers in the format dd-mm-yyyy) and Birth place (Town or village, and district or county).
  • DIED: Death date (in numbers in the format dd-mm-yyyy) and. Death place (Town or village where individual died).
  • MARRIED: When and where marriage first took place. If divorce or separation data are available, these are entered in brackets.
  • SPOUSE: For Husbands: Given name; for Wives: Given name + maiden name.
  • CHILDREN: Given names of children. Married daughters will have their married surname added (if known).
  • FATHER: Given name of father.  When the individual is a married daughter, the father's given name and surname are entered.
  • MOTHER: Mother's given name and maiden name.
  • SIBLINGS: Given names of siblings. If a sibling is married, the married surname is added (if known).
  • OCCUPATION: Occupation
  • ADDRESS IN WÜRZBURG: Address where person lived in Würzburg. Sometimes there is a second street name in brackets, representing the present name of the same street.
  • LAST RESIDENCE: Last known residence of individual.
  • COMMENTS: Notes include information on the following:
    a) Data on multiple marriages
    b) Deportation data
    c) Name changes d) Various notes

Notes:

  1. Umlaute:   The German umlaute characters were omitted and replaced by:

    • Ä / ä   =   AE / ae
    • Ö / ö   =   OE / oe
    • Ü / ü   =   UE / ue
    • ß   =   ss

  2. Abbreviations:

    • a.o.     and others
    • abt.     about
    • bef.     before

  3. Institutions:

    Bibrastr. 6
    ILBA school building with dormitories. The ILBA was closed down in the November pogrom of 1938 and the building was then used to house the expellees and refugees from the rural communities. At last people destined to be deported from Würzburg were housed in the building.
    ILBA
    Israelitische Lehrerbildungsanstalt (Jewish Teachers College) in Würzburg. Founded in 1864 (Kettengasse 6; 1884 Bibrastr. 6; 1931 Sandbergstr. 1). Teachers college with strictly orthodox orientation; until 1919 managed by the famous rabbis Seligmann Baer Bamberger and Nathan Bamberger; hereafter mostly autonomous. Training provided : Teachers in Jewish elementary schools and cantors (for the numerous rural Jewish communities). 1931/32 "Israelitische Präparandenschule Höchberg" affiliated to ILBA. Acceptance of female students after overcoming orthodox resistance. At last the only Jewish Teachers College in the German Reich; closure during the pogrom of November 1938.
    Konradstr. 3
    Add-on building to the "Israelitische Kranken-und Pfründnerhaus" (Jewish hospital and home for the aged). At last people destined to be deported from Würzburg were housed in the building.
    Duererstr. 20
    Location of the "Israelitische Kranken-und Pfründnerhaus" (Jewish hospital and home for the aged). At last people destined to be deported from Würzburg were housed in the building.

Conclusion

Due to lack of time and space I have not included in the online database all the biographical information available in the book.  The book is a publication of the City Archive Würzburg (Stadtarchiv Würzburg): Stadtarchiv Würzburg, Neubaustr. 12, 97070 Würzburg, Tel.: 0931/37-3228, 37-3308, email: <stadtarchiv.wuerzburg@phoneplus.de>.  Libraries where book is available include the National Library in Jerusalem, the Leo Baeck Institute in New York, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Anyone interested in adding or correcting the data, can contact me at ntevet@netvision.net.il.

Acknowledgment

A very special thanks goes to the author, Mr. Reiner Strätz, who from the beginning, when I first contacted him, has assisted me and given his kind permission to publish the online version of his work.

Naomi Teveth
Israel
Nov 2002


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