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Translation from Pinkas ha-kehilot Germanyah
Translation from Pinkas ha-kehilot Germanyah
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 1992
Published in Jerusalem, 1992
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Germany
Volume 3, pages 84-90, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1992
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Bad Nauheim, Germany
At the beginning of the 20th century, Jews in Bad Nauheim owned 11 kosher hotels and pensions, especially for the use of Jewish convalescents, and seven additional, non-kosher institutions. These included the convalescent home of Professor Scheinwald, which served Jews and gentiles alike. The number of Jewish (or apostates of Jewish descent) doctors and dentists during the years 1880-1935 reached 50. The dentist Dr. Hodes opened a factory for the production of dentures. Among the numerous Jewish academics, there were 50 doctors, 7 jurists, an agronomist (Dr. Hans Stahl), an economist (Dr. Heinrich Kahn), and an elementary and high-school teacher.
The Jewish doctors, who set themselves up on the fame of Bad Nauheim, and attracted convalescents from all corners of Europe and other parts of the world, including Kaisers, heads of state, financial tycoons, artists, scientists, and many other famous personalities, were known to be first class. The veteran cardiologists of Bad Nauheim included Professor Isidore Meyer Groedel (1850-1921), who set up a private sanatorium for heart ailments in Bad Nauheim; as well as his son, Professor Franz Groedel (1881-1951), a researcher of international acclaim, and the founder of the Kerckhoff Institute for heart and circulatory research (which was set up in Bad Nauheim thanks to him), and the head of the sanatorium set up by his father. Professor Franz Groedel treated sick people lacking in means gratis. Both professor Groedels, the father and the son, abandoned their religion (1919). There was also Professor August Schott (1839-1866) and his brother Professor Theodore Schott, who developed a methodology for treating heart ailments that was adopted in many countries. They also became famous outside the country, especially in England. Dr. Soli Scheinwald (born 1871) was the head of the union of physicians in Bad Nauheim and the owner of a large, private sanatorium. He was the author of many important medical publications. Dr. Emil May (born 1872) served as the medical director of the convalescent home for Jewish men. Dr. Emanuel Hirsch (1864-1929), a public health physician, was the author of professional articles and a member of the editorial board of several medical publications. He was active in various communal bodies and organizations in Bad Nauheim, and served as the principal of the children's hostel. Dr. Siegfried Hertz (1892-1985) was the medical director of the women's hostel.
The Jews of Bad Nauheim also played prominent roles in the various branches of business and free professions, as well as in communal and cultural life in the city. Whereas most of the economic unions were closed to Jews during the 19th century, by the end of that century many of them had joined social and sporting organizations as well as professional unions, charitable organizations, political parties, and the like. The lawyer and notary Dr. Arthur Stahl, one of the most prominent maskilim of the city, was a member of the city council for the Democratic Party and served as a director of many communal bodies and several local unions. Similar to him was Emil Rosenthal (born in 1872), a descendant of the first mayor Samuel Rosenthal,
and the owner of a large, modern butcher shop the oldest in Bad Nauheim. He also served as the chairman of the bicycle riders' union, and the vice chairman of the athletic union. In 1911, the head of the community Isidore Baumblatt served as chairman of the organization for social enjoyment. Aside from his roles in the medical organizations, Dr. Siegfried Hertz served as chairman of the chess society. Albert Strauss was the head of the Radical-Democratic Party. Dr. Emanuel Hirsch was on the leadership committee of the high school, which had three Jews on its staff. The proportion of Jewish students in that school some of them coming from the residents of the area reached approximately 10%. Many of the Jewish youth attended high schools in other cities. Many other Jews, especially physicians, served as well as directors and members of the leadership board of many variegated organization both professional ones and other ones. The lawyer Dr. Rudolf Stahl (born in 1899) was a member of the communal council (from 1926), and head of the Work Group (Arbeitsgemeinschft). He published a book on the history of the community in 1929, on the occasion of the dedication of the new synagogue.
Anti-Semitism: In 1899, a Jewish medical practitioner brought one of the jurists of the local court to trial, on the complaint that he disparaged him on account of his Jewishness. However, the court refused to take on the case, on the pretext that it is not a communal matter. In 1907, a group of local residents organized themselves against the self-assertion of the wearing of kapotes by the Russian Jews.
Communal Life: At first, the Jews of Nauheim worshipped in Friedberg (see entry). In 1828, through the efforts of Samuel Rosenthal, they asked permission from the government to open a house of prayer in their village. At first, the Jews of Nauheim were divided among themselves about this question, for some of them preferred to save expenses. However, finally in 1830, they rented two rooms for this purpose, and a community arose in Nauheim. The first head of the community, Samuel Rosenthal, served in his role until 1833. He was followed by Maier Neuhaus (until 1841); Amschel Greenbaum a wealthy Jew who owned two large houses, a fruit warehouse, and agricultural lands, and lent money for interest (until 1863); and the banker Heinmann Greenbaum, who represented the community for more than 30 years.
In 1830, the community first engaged a cantor, David Kohn of Posen. However, after only two years, an arrangement was made with the community of Friedberg, which still also provided worshippers to make up the minyan in Nauheim. According to the arrangement, the cantors of Friedberg would also serve in Nauheim, which allowed them to save expenses. From 1873, the community employed its own teacher, cantor and shochet (ritual slaughterer), who, aside from religious studies, also taught general subjects in the elementary school. The teacher Yaakov Spiro of Schenklengsfeld (until 1879) was the son of the Kabbalist Hertz Spiro, who led the Kabbala circle in Hersfeld the only one in Hessen. Apparently, his son also followed in his path and disseminated the knowledge of Kabbala in Bad Nauheim. Herman Oppenheimer served as the teacher of religion, cantor and shochet from 1881. He served for close to a half a century (until 1929) and also served as the religion teacher in the public high school.
The development of the community and its institutions was helped significantly by the fact that it had to service the many Jews who were among the convalescents. During the 1860s, the space in the old prayer hall became too small. As well, the cemetery from the 17th century, where many Jewish convalescents were buried, was completely filled. A new Jewish cemetery was opened in 1865, and the building of the synagogue, with 50 seats for men and 40 seats in the women's gallery, was completed in 1866. The parnassim (administrators) of the city, who held that it was appropriate to build a synagogue in an enlightened style (while the Gothic building style was still used for churches only), made the granting of a building permit contingent upon changing the original building plan and producing a written note of obligation stating that the community would pay its part for of the building expenses.
In 1875, the community founded a convalescent home for Jewish men of minimal means, and in 1878, the Organization for the Support of Needy Jewish Convalescents was founded through the efforts of five local heads of families. The signatories of the charter of the organization also included the physicians Dr. August Schott and Professor Groedel. In 1893, a convalescent home was founded for Jewish children through donations from Baroness Mathilde Rothschild and the charitable organizations of the Jews of Frankfurt. Children from all the communities of Germany would come to this convalescent home, and those lacking in means would be treated gratis. In 1899, the children's home moved to a new building that was also built through the generosity of donors, headed by the philanthropist Moshe Michael Mainz. It housed 210 children in 1901. The medical director was Dr. Emanuel Hirsch (died in 1929). In 1904, the Organization for the Support of Needy Jewish Convalescents, whose leadership had moved to Frankfurt, founded a convalescent home for Jewish women, also through the donations of Baroness Rothschild. A short time before the outbreak of the First World War, the Organization for the Support of Needy Jewish Convalescents merged with the Jewish men's home.
The main Jewish cemetery was expanded in 1902. The old burial area was closed, and new, adjacent area was opened with an area of 2,130 square meters. In 1903, a tahara room was built there from donated money, mostly from Russian Jews. A separate section was designated for the burial of Jewish convalescents from foreign countries.
In 1910, the city council allocated a large, spacious lot to the expanding community for the building of a new synagogue. However, the actual building was pushed off repeatedly, primarily due to financial reasons. A building plan was solicited in 1913, but the money that had been raised disappeared during the First World War and the following years of inflation.
In 1875, the Jewish community of Steinfurt was annexed to the community of Bad Nauheim, and at the end of the 19th century, their cemetery was transferred to the ownership of the community.
Six members of the community fell during the First World War. The Jewish convalescent home was temporarily converted to a military hospital, and only a portion remained to accommodate the small number of sick children. In 1915, the community celebrated the 25th anniversary of the founding of the home. The first nurse of the men's home earned an honorary award from the Medical Corps and the Red Cross for her care of the war injured.
During the war, Nachum Goldmann founded a Zionist chapter in Bad Nauheim. Most of its members were from the ranks of the Eastern Jews and it disbanded after a few years, when Goldmann left. In 1917, a Jewish women's organization was founded, which occupied itself with charity and assistance efforts.
In 1920, the women's home housed 135 heart patients, and the children's home housed 175 sick children. In 1930, the women's home had amassed a deficit of 4,000 marks, and found it difficult to fill the need for convalescent accommodations for women. In 1932, the annual deficit of the home reached 7,000 marks, due to the inability of the convalescents to bear the costs of their care.
In 1926, the communal council finally decided to undertake the building of the new synagogue. The lot had been obtained from the government of Hessen already in 1920. The city council granted the community a loan of 150,000 marks, which was the estimate of the building expenses. A convalescent from Munich, Avraham (Alfred) Kaufman, loaned the community 40,000 marks for five years without interest. The synagogue, planned by the Jewish architect Richard Kaufman from Frankfurt, excelled in its splendid but simple modern style. The building, which was completed and dedicated in August 1929, had 150 seats for men and 100 for women, a lecture hall, a meeting hall, a residence for the teacher, and a mikva [ritual bath].
|Bad Nauheim. Dedication of Torah scroll, 1929|
Emil Rosenthal served as the chairman of the communal council on the eve of the ascent of the Nazis to power. His brother Berthold Rosenthal was a member of the council. Karl Betman served as the cantor and shochet. The annual budget of the community was approximately 15,000 marks (in 1930), of which 2,000 marks were for education. The community owned the synagogue, three cemeteries, and a mikva, and conducted kosher slaughter. Alongside chapters of The Central organization, the Zionist Council, The Union of Jewish Youth, and The Covenant of Soldiers of the Front, there existed locally a Chevra Kadisha [Burial Society], a Jewish women's organization, a Jewish men's organization, a brotherly fraternity under the auspices of Dr. Siegfried Hertz, and a Work Group (Arbeitsgemeinschaft) headed by Dr. Rutolf Stohl. The community was affiliated with the Orthodox rabbinate of Upper Hessen in Giessen (see entry).
Already in 1933, a convention of Jewish teachers in Germany convened in Bad Nauheim, under the auspices of The National Delegation for judging the credentials of teachers.
Anti-Semitism and the fight against it: In 1920, the police of Hessen drafted an augmented guard to provide security for the congress of 2,000 physicians and researchers of science. There were a large number of Jews among the organizers and invitees to this congress, and the participants issued a resolution protesting the anti-Semitic incitement against Albert Einstein, who also took part in a portion of the deliberations.
Despite the fact that the residents wished to preserve the good name of the city
of baths and summer vacations before the many guests and convalescents, there was also open anti-Semitism there. The Victoria Hotel of Bad Nauheim declared that Jews were not welcome there already at the beginning of the 1920s. In 1924, the Central Union of Hessen complained to the city council of Bad Nauheim about a bookseller who sold anti-Semitic books, including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in his bookstore. The city council threatened to revoke the civic contract of the bookseller. In 1930, the city council requested the assistance of the Government of Hessen in its battle against growing anti-Semitic propaganda, but the interior minister refused to get involved.
In the elections to the Reichstag of September 14, 1930, the Nazis obtained 24.2% of the vote of the residents (in contrast to the 18.5% they obtained in Hessen in general). Their proportion doubled by July 31, 1932 (51.3%, and in Hessen 43.1%. They obtained more than 54% on March 5, 1933.
The boycott remained in full force from that time. It was supervised by the local boycott committee. A list of Germans who violated the boycott was published in the local newspaper on April 7, 1933. The Covenant of Soldiers of the Front attempted to protect its members from the boycott. Sali Rosenthal, a member of the organization, even attempted to convince the S.A. people that harming the fighters of the front was illegal, but this had no effect. Two Catholic priests who expressed public support for the Jews were referred to as dangerous enemies who are conducting their deeds in the darkness in the local newspaper of Bad Nauheim. On August 29, 1933, a warning was published exhorting the Jews to behave appropriately and keep their distance from German girls. The community, which already bore a heavy burden of obligations from the building of the synagogue in 1926, was ordered to pay the bank guarantee of 150,000 mark that was granted to it by the city council for that purpose, and was accused of having moved the signature of the mayor on the document of guarantee from sixth place to first place. The boycott and the firings especially affected the many Jewish physicians in Bad Nauheim, who hastened to emigrate. By 1936, only six Jewish doctors remained active in the city.
Berthold Rosenthal, a member of the communal council and the brother and partner of the head of the community, committed suicide at the end of August 1933. Two girls around the age of 20 who were not permitted to marry their Aryan fiancés also committed suicide, as well as Frances Groedel (the granddaughter of Professor Isidore Groedel, a half Jew whose father Dr. Theodore Groedel had fallen in the First World War as a physician). Emil Adler and his wife (the owners of a large hotel), the former head of the community Isidore Baumblatt and his wife (the owners of a furniture store), Dr. Weinberg, and several other Jews did the same. The suicide attempt of Dr. May failed, and he emigrated. The couple Alfred and Mina Stern were imprisoned by the police and sent to a concentration camp, where the wife was taken out to be killed. The husband survived and immigrated to the United States.
In the wake of the increasing decrees and boycotts, the city council asked the Jewish community, for financial reasons, to continue to host Jews at the baths. In 1935, the famous British medical journal, The Lancet, published a letter from the city council of Bad Nauheim, requesting to put to rest the rumors that they were discriminating among sick people in that city. What they did not publish was the fact that the civic subsidy for Jewish convalescents lacking in means had been cancelled, whereas needy gentiles continued to benefit from civic participation in their expenses. Apparently, monetary considerations mitigated the actual persecutions in Bad Nauheim, and it became known throughout the area as a place where Jews could find a modicum of relief from the oppression of the Nazi regime. More than 150 non-local Jews settled in Bad Nauheim between the years 1933-1939. On the other hand, approximately 250 Jews emigrated, most to the United States, and some (about 15 families) to the Land of Israel.
Communal life: In the wake of the increasing persecution, the community expanded its activities in all areas of life. Almost every evening, the local Zionist chapter, the Union of Jewish Youth, and other Jewish organizations and institutions conducted cultural and social activities, lectures (mostly about the Land of Israel), history courses, and courses under the auspices of the Jewish seminary in Frankfurt. In October 1934, the Union of Jewish Women of Hessen conducted a weeklong study session there. Even the Jewish convalescent homes succeeded in hosting Jewish sick people under difficult conditions, with the financial help of various Jews, including the fund of Professor D. Simonson.
In January 1937, the community opened a public regional school in the building of the children's hospice, with Karl Betman serving as principal. Ninety students from Bad Nauheim and other communities studied at that school. A dormitory was opened for students from distant places. There were already 170 students in the school in the summer of 1937, 60 of whom were residents of the dormitory. The Central Union donated a library to the school. At the end of that year, a convention of Jewish teachers of Hessen was convened in the school, headed by Professor Ernst Kantrovich of Frankfurt.
During that period, Karl Betman was the spiritual and organizational leader of the community. The community succeeded in maintaining a rich and variegated set of activities in many arenas. It even secretly continued to conduct shechita (ritual slaughter) in accordance with Jewish law for those Jewish hotels that had not yet closed. After the emigration of the head of the community Emil Rosenthal (1937), a new communal council was chosen, headed by Albert Spiegel.
Kristallnacht: On November 10, 1938, the local S.A. members entered a tavern in Bad Nauheim, and from there, with the active assistance of many other residents, went out to destroy the Jewish homes and stores with their contents. They tossed the merchandise on the road and pillaged. The members of the Hitler Youth assisted the members of the S.A to remove the clothes and furniture from the destroyed houses and burn them in the streets. The vice mayor and head of the local Nazi cell attempted to restrain the hooligans to some degree. Throughout the day, severe attacks on Jewish houses also took place.
Several of the communal notables (Dr. Greenbaum, and Herman Perlsheim) were forced to run through the streets with degrading placards tied to their necks.
The hooligans also broke into the synagogue and destroyed the façade of the building as well as the contents. Holy objects and valuable rugs were also destroyed. (Some of the holy objects had already been transferred to a different place.) Then, they set the synagogue on fire, but they found residents who were enlisted to extinguish the fire (apparently due to the fact that there was a delegation of physicians from France present at the time), and the building was saved. A motorcycle used by the Chevra Kadisha was stolen and later given over to the police. The approximately 150 students of the Jewish school were brought to the lower yard of the police station. While they were there, they set the teachers' room, the office and the classrooms on fire. The Jewish men up to the age of 60 were arrested and sent to Buchenwald, where Aharon Stern died after about a week.
Later, several of the hooligans gave over the stolen property to the police, and their names were recorded. (After the war, the Americans used these lists to bring them to trial.)
The head of the community Albert Spiegel, whose store had been destroyed, committed suicide after Kristallnacht, as well as another Jew who owned a textile store.
After the emigration of the last medical director of the women's hostel, Dr. Hertz, the directorship the hostel was given over to the teacher Karl Betman, who was given the authority to represent the hostel and sign in its name (February 1939). The teacher Betman also emigrated in May of that year. The Jewish school was closed in 1940. The women's hostel was turned into an old age home, and approximately 100 Jews who had remained in Bad Nauheim, the majority of them elderly, who had lost their homes were housed there, along with other residents of Hessen. The old age home was emptied of its residents in September 1942. The 25 youngest of them were deported to the death camps in Poland, and the 79 elderly people were sent to Theresienstadt. Only three Jews, who were married to German wives, remained in Bad Nauheim.
It is difficult to trace the fate of the Jews of Bad Nauheim, since many Jews from other places had settled there during the time of Nazi rule. (Despite the large number of emigrants, the community grew in size from 1933-1939.) From among the 400 Jews who lived (some temporarily) in Bad Nauheim in 1933: 138 people emigrated; 190 moved to other places in Germany, some of whom also emigrated; 33 died in Bad Nauheim; more than 10 committed suicide; 96 were deported to concentration camps in 1942; another four were deported at other times; two Jews moved to an unknown destination; one Jewess was killed while attempting to escape from Germany; and two Jews were hidden until the end of the war and survived. The primary destinations of the Jewish emigrants of Bad Nauheim were the United States, the Land of Israel, England, several other European countries, South America, and South Africa (in descending order).
Seventy Jews who had survived the camps, mainly from Eastern Europe, arrived in Bad Nauheim in September 1945. They were housed in the former Jewish hotel that had been owned by the Perlsheim family. A communal council and relief committee were set up. Additional survivors arrived later. Dr. Kelerman, a refugee from Hungary, was chosen as the head of the community; Marcus Wachtel (see later) was chosen as the secretary; and Leo Rosner, a native of Bad Nauheim who had survived the concentration camps, was appointed as the trustee for the distribution of foodstuffs.
Professor Franz Groedel did not agree to the request of the new mayor to return to Bad Nauheim from the United States, but he sent containers filled with foodstuffs for distribution to the residents of the city.
In 1947, a hostel for 90 Jewish children who had survived the Ohsvaga Camp, almost all suffering from malnutrition, was opened in Bad Nauheim. The Israeli children's author Anda Amir-Pinkerfeld, who served as the emissary of the Jewish Agency, often visited this hostel and had a great deal of influence on the education of the children. In 1948, more than 300 Jews who were liberated from the camps and approximately 1,000 Jewish American soldiers lived in Bad Nauheim, and there were signs on the road pointing the way to the synagogue. Rabbi Shlomo Dzialdow, a member of Agudas Yisroel, served in Bad Nauheim from 1946-1962. In 1946, the rabbi founded a hachsharah kibbutz called Chofetz Chaim for approximately 80 youths in the former children's and men's hostels. Most of these Jewish refugees made aliya to Israel in 1948. A smaller number chose to immigrate to the United States and Canada, or settled in Bad Nauheim.
A Jewish school, in which 18 students studied under three teachers, existed in Bad Nauheim from 1953-1959. Approximately 100 Jews, mainly elderly, lived there during the early 1970s. The synagogue set up a memorial plaque for the local Holocaust victims. The synagogue was desecrated in 1952, and was renovated once again in 1960. The Jewish cemetery on Homburger Street was returned to the community, and served the Jews of Bad Nauheim and the district. The old Jewish cemetery was closed and given over to the supervision of the city council.
The Kristallnacht hooligans whose names had been recorded with the police when they returned the pillaged property (see above) were summoned to the police and fined. The fines were given over to the renewed Jewish community. In March 1946, the district court of Giessen sentenced two of the Kristallnacht hooligans to two years and to nine months of jail. In November 1946, this court obtained the names of two additional accused, and 27 additional hooligans were sentenced during the years 1949-1950. At first, the district court stopped the trials due to the length of time that had passed, but they were renewed due to an appeal of the general prosecutor. This time, some of the accused were sentenced to prison terms of three to nine months, some were acquitted, and some were not tried at all due to the time that had passed.
Kolb, Stephan: Die Geschichte der Bad Nauheimer Juden, Bad Nauheim, 1987.
Stahl, R. Geschichte der Nauheimer Juden, Bad Nauheim, 1929.
M.V. / B.P.
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