49°33' / 8°40'
Translation from Pinkas ha-kehilot Germanyah
Translation from Pinkas ha-kehilot Germanyah
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem, 1972
Published in Jerusalem, 1972
Project Coordinator and Translator
Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Germany
Volume 2, page 332, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1972
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
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|No. of Jews|
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After a few years Prince Ruprecht the First (1383-1390), accepted six Jewish refugee families from Worms and Speyer as residents of Weinheim, on payment of high 'Protection' fees. Counted among the refugees were the doctor Wahlen and Rabbi Leblanc, later to become 'State Rabbi' for the Jews of the right bank of the Rhine (at the beginning of the 15th Century). The Jews made their living in money-lending and other financial dealings. A few of them were owners of vineyards. They lived in 'Jews' Lane' where the synagogue was also situated. At the end of the lane was the Judenturm, whose foundations were discovered in the 19th Century. In 1831 all the Pfalz Jews were exiled on the orders of the ruler, Ruprecht the Second, and all their property confiscated and distributed to the citizens at the whim of the ruler.
In the 16th Century only one Jew was recorded as living in Weinheim - Charles Mackronberg, and on the eve of the 'Thirty Years' War' (1618-1648), there was again only one Jew known to be living in Weinheim and in 1627, a request by another Jew to settle in Weinheim was rejected by the ruler.
Towards the end of the century, the number of incidents of acts against the Jews increased and in 1686 the town council was forced to publish a decree forbidding the stoning of Jews and the shouting of insulting remarks at them. The Jewish community of Weinheim grew to nine families in 1721, all of whom owned their own houses, and by 1743 there were 12 families living there.
In the 18th Century, the Jews of Weinheim were engaged in trading in livestock - beef and horses - and other, mainly agricultural products.
The community of Weinheim belonged to the Pfalz organization 'Sons of the State'. In 1702 the tri-annual congress of the representatives of the organization took place in Weinheim. In 1739, Lazarus Leib from Weinheim was one of the two chief subscription collectors of the organization and Feitel, also a community member, was area collector.
The Hirsch Family was especially conspicuous in the economic life of Weinheim. The patriarch of the family, Zigmund Hirsch (1845-1908), by profession a stockbrocker, settled in Weinheim in 1867 and acquired a factory for processing horse skins. The factory was failing and insolvent but under his hands it became a prosperous business, which, in time became the largest factory of its type in the whole of Europe. In 1894, he transferred the factory to his two sons, Max (b.1871), and Julius (b.1874). At that time, the factory employed about 150 workers and exported its products to other European countries.
Zigmund Hirsch was conspicuous in community affairs as well, contributing much to its institutions and functioning as member of its community committee. He was also elected to the Inspection Committee which was an adjunct of the municipal framework.
During this period Max Hirsch (see above), was numbered among the active members of the community was a member of the community council and a supporter of all its institutions, and was a member of the council of the local villages. His brother, Julius Hirsch who was also elected to the community council and municipal institutions was especially dedicated to the development of art and its institutions in Weinheim.
In 1906, the community, after many years of strenuous effort succeeded in raising the money to finance the building of a new synagogue. The building was consecrated with an impressive ceremony which was attended by many guests of high standing, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
The Jews of Weinheim owned 19 commercial houses and shops, the Hirsch Brothers' factory for leather processing and shoe manufacture, which all together employed close to 400 people. 12 Jews were engaged in other, varying forms of trade and commerce, 9 were clerks or sales-staff, and 6 were artisans. Among the free professions were found the attorney, Pfalzer, the doctor, Friedrich Reiss, the chemist Ernst Löwy and the pianist, Paulina Rotschild.
The Jews of Weinheim were subjected to persecution in all its manifestations from the very beginning of the change-over of the government to the Nazi regime. In March 1933, the Municipal Council, under pressure of the National Socialist Party, prohibited the ritual slaughter of animals according to Jewish precepts, and on the eve of 'Boycott Day' (April 1, 1933), Party members daubed the fronts of Jewish business premises with yellow circles. The anti-Semitic incitement became more and more fierce and at the same time the economic boycott tightened, while the financial distress of the community grew in proportion. The isolation of the Jews within the community was virtually total. In reaction to their growing distress, the Jews increased their efforts to maintain the vitality of the religious, cultural and social life of the community by closing the ranks and giving mutual assistance to each other. The teachers Sigbert Silbermann (b.1911, emigrated to France 1934), and his replacement Artur Auerbacher (b.1898), instituted courses in Hebrew and lectures by guest speakers on Judaism and Zionist topics, bringing the community closer to the Zionist movement and its activities. In March 1936, Dr. Moritz Pfalzer died and was taken for burial to his birth-place Hemsbach.
By November 1938, 43 of Weinheim's Jews had emigrated (14 to the United States, 6 to South America, 5 to Palestine, 7 to Italy and the rest to various other destinations); 21 people moved to other places in Germany from whence some of them later also emigrated.
The Hirsch brothers, who managed to maintain their hold on their factory until the end of 1937, were forced to close at the beginning of 1938 but not before they had secured from the purchasers an obligation to continue the employment of the factory's workers (all of whom were 'Aryans').
Most of the men were sent to Dachau where they were detained for several weeks.
On the eve of the Second World War, the 'Bureau for Adult Education' of the 'National Association' tried to open foreign language courses for local Jews but was prevented from putting the scheme into operation by the authorities.
After 'Kristallnacht', another 24 Jews managed to emigrate - (6 to the United States, 5 to England, 4 to Switzerland, 2 to France, 2 to Portugal, 2 to Cuba, 2 to Palestine and 1 to Holland). 15 Jews moved to other places in Germany. The Hirsch Family which was among those who emigrated to the United States, opened there a factory for the processing of leather and the manufacture of shoes.
In the Autumn of 1940 there were only 50 Jews remaining in Weinheim. 46 of them (20 men, 24 women and 2 children), were deported to Guers on the 22nd October. In Weinheim remained a Jewish youth named Carl Heinz Klausemann. He escaped from there in April 1942 but all further trace of him was lost, and three Jewish women who were married to Germans and were not deported but suffered from severe persecution throughout the duration of the war.
From the time of the rise of the Nazis to power 200 Jews altogether dwelt in Weinheim - (168 in the Spring 1933, 8 children who were subsequently born and 25 people who joined the community). 102 emigrated, 24 of them died locally and 62 were sent to camps. 49 of them were exterminated there and 13 survived, among them the children Doris Hirsch (b. 1933) and Kurt Alstaadter (b.1930). Among the dead were the teacher Artur Auerbacher with his wife and two children, who were deported in April 1942 to Izbice. The fate of all the remaining Jews is unknown.
In Weinheim there was a hospital for the mentally ill in which there were also 26 Jews. These Jews were transferred to Heppenheim where they were executed in the 'Euthanasia' programme.
* The numbers relate to the 168 Jews who dwelt in Weinheim in June 1933, 8 children who were subsequently born and 5 Jews who joined the community during the Nazi Era.
One of the community, born in 1904, was married to a non-Jewish woman and emigrated to Holland with his wife in 1936. During the war he was arrested and in order to save himself from deportation to the East, he and his wife agreed to be sterilized.
After the war 3 Jewish women, married to 'Aryans' were still living in Weinheim but not one of the surviving Jews who were citizens of Weinheim returned to live there. On the site of the original synagogue now stands a private dwelling-house. In 1960 the Municipality erected a plaque on the street where the old Prayer-house had been situated.
Yad Vashem Archives:08/33, pp. 105-106.- 08/80, p. 14.- PKG/Q/226, 511; PKG/Weinheim/1960, 1962; PKG/Municipality of Hemsbach to Yad Vashem, 22.3.1977.-
MicrofilmJM/1796.- BD-23/Gestapo, r.6, f.26b.-
Bibliography:Fresin, Josef: Die Geschicte der Stadt Weinheim, Weinheim, 1962.-
Horsch, Daniel: Sie waren unsere Bürger. Die jüdische Gemeinde in Weinheim. Weinheimer Geschichtsblatt, no. 26(1964), Weinheim.-
Pflästerer, Philipp: Weinheim um 1721. Weinheimer Geschichtsblatt, no.26 (1974) 98.- Weiss, Johann Gustav: Geschichte der Stadt Weinheim, Weinheim, 1922, pp. 468-470, 504-505, 511.- Zinkgräf, Karl: Bilder aus der Geschichte der Stadt Weinheim, Weinheim, 1911.-
AZJ, 29.8.1906, 11.9.1908, 31.3.1911, 19.12.1919.-
CV, 8.3.1923, 23.8.1929, 9.9.1932, 12.3.1936.-
IFB, 27.5.1920, 4.12.1930, 21.5.1931, 20.8.1931.-
IGB, 23.8.1929, 20.2.1935, 18.3.1936.-
Isr 1.11.1860, 16.1.1861, 21.8.1861, 8.10.1862, 25.3.1863, 24.9.1863, 28.4.1892, 15.7.1929, 26.3.1936.-
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