Schwaben RegionWhile not known to everyone, the so called “Medinat Schwaben” formed a unique Jewish-German cultural landscape which experienced its zenith in the first half of the 19th century.

The majority of Jewish communities belonged to one of two distinct political entities: the margraviate of Burgau south of the Danube and the earldom of Oettingen to its north.  The political conflicts between the house Hapsburg, the local gentry and the civic leadership in the case of Burgau and the interconfessional strife between the Catholic and Protestant branches of the Oettingens provided the Jewish communities with enough “wiggle room” to ease their precarious struggle for existence.

The Jewish communities formed part of villages within these political entities which were comprised of Jews, Catholics and Protestants. In some of those villages Jews occasionally even formed a numerical majority.  The Jewish communities maintained a tight network of familial and cultural interconnections extending to communities in adjacent regions, such as Wassertrüdingen in Unterfranken as well as Laupheim and Buchau in Baden-Wuerttemberg. 

In view of its particular history and geography “Medinat Schwaben” should be considered as a unit by Jewish genealogists.

About the Data

We are in the fortunate situation that the University of Augsburg, the Bayerisches Staatsarchiv in Augsburg and local historians, among them Rolf Hofmann, Doris Pfister and Peter Fassl have taken a special interest in the Jewish history of the region.  As a consequence, we not only have an exhaustive catalogue of available documents accessible on the internet, but Rolf Hofmann has already transcribed most of the BMD (birth, marriage & death) registers and grave lists in the Oettingen area.

The Pfister/Fassl catalogue has pinpointed corresponding documents for the other regions in Bavarian Swabia.  Most of the BMD registers were collected by the Nazi “Reichssippenamt” for its criminal purposes.  The system of Jewish Civil Records in Southern Germany has its own fascinating history(click here).

This situation created a unique opportunity for Jewish genealogists not only to develop an integrated genealogical database for a defined Jewish population in Southern Germany in the early 19th century, but to also expand our understanding of the historic, geographic, cultural and economic circumstances which allowed this society to flourish.

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This database and, above all, its content, is the result of the enthusiasm, skill, good eyesight and a lot of hard work and persistence of a group of dedicated volunteers.  They have invested hundreds, even thousands of hours transcribing the copies of original 19th-century civil records we received from the Bavarian State Archive in Augsburg.  The records were often almost illegible.  But with patience and mutual support, a reasonably accurate version was created.

The volunteers are:

Ralph N. Baer, Esther Bloch, Naomi Bloch, Ralph Bloch, Erwin Bosch, Rolf Hofmann, Stuart Hollander, Ernest Kallmann, David T. Lewis, Pierre Malpart, Reuven Mohr, Marcelo Rosenbaum, Sonja Uhl, Rachel Unkefer, Adam Yamey, and Werner Zimmt.

For anyone researching ancestors who came from this area, this incredible material is without parallel. In this regard, we would like to specicially thank Ralph Bloch of Jewish Genealogy in Bavaria-Swabia ( for choosing that JewishGen be the home of this incredibly vital information, and for gifting this information to us.

It is our hope that this new generous gift will not only benefit the thousands of people researching their German Jewish roots, but also to serve as a model to the many people who have created valuable online resources but do not have a way to make sure that their work will remain accessible for future generations. 

Additional Resources

Below you will find articles and books relevant to our research.

Jewish Identity in Early Modern Germany: Memory, Power and Community. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Jan 1, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-7546-5897-9.

Nach Hause Vertrieben – Geschichte einer Kindheit in Hitler-Deutschland.
Oelbaum Verlag Augsburg 1999; ISBN 3-927217-41-7.

medinat bodase. Zur Geschichte der Juden am Bodensee 1450-1618;
Vol. 3, Konstanz 2001.

Mehr als Steine… Synagogen Gedenkband Bayern, Vol. 1.
Kunstverlag Josef Fink; ISBN 978-3-98870-411-3.

Landjudentum im deutschen Südwesten während der Frühen Neuzeit.  Kießling, Rolf/ Ullmann, Sabine (Hgg.), Berlin 1999 (Colloquia Augustana 10).

Die gesellschaftlische Eingliederung der deutschen Einwanderer in Israel.  (Eine soziologische Untersuchung der Einwanderung aus Deutschland zwischen 1933 und 1945). Europaeische Verlagsanstalt Frankfurt a/M, 1967; ASIN: B0000BQ0MQ.

Geschichte und Kultur der Juden in SchwabenGeschichte und Kultur der Juden in SchwabenGeschichte und Kultur der Juden in Schwaben. Wiss. Tagung der Heimatpflege des Bezirks Schwaben in Zsarb. m.d. Schwabenakademie Irsee am 14./15. Oktober 1989 in Irsee, Sigmaringen 1994 (Irseer Schriften 2).

Geschichte und Kultur der Juden in Schwaben II. Neuere Forschungen und Zeitzeugenberichte. Gerhard Willi (Ed.), Stuttgart 2000 (Irseer Schriften 5).

Die israelitische Kultusgemeinde in Hainsfarth (Landkreis Donau’Ries) im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert.  Studien zur Geschichte des Bayerischen Schwaben. ISBN: 3-89639-332-4.

Die jüdische Gemeinde von Harburg (1671-1871).
Steinmeier, Nördlingen 1988; ISBN: 3923645899.

“……..aus der Stadt gewiesen” Die Juden von Usingen.  Gesellschaft fuer Christlich-Juedische
Zusammenarbeit Watterau, 1966; ISBN3-923840-02-0.

Jüdischer Friedhof Georgensgmünd; Die Kunstdenkmäler von Bayern.  Deutscher Kunstverlag, München, Berlin 2006; ISBN 3-422-06559-8.

Jüdisches Leben auf dem Lande. Studien zur deutsch-jüdischen Geschichte.  Schriftenreihe wissenschaftlicher Abhandlungen des Leo Baeck Instituts 56; Tübingen 1997.

“Vier Schwestern” Lebenserinnerungen Von Elisabeth, Lotte, Sophie und Gertrud Dann aus Augsburg. Wissner-Verlag Augsburg, 1998. ISBN 3-89639-098-8.

Ungleiche Partnerschaft. Simon Günzburg und die erste Ansiedlung von Juden vor den Toren Augsburgs in der Frühen Neuzeit. Kießling, Rolf/ Ullmann, Sabine (Hgg.), Berlin 1999
(Colloquia Augustana 10) p. 77-89.

Medinat Schwaben. Jüdisches Leben in einer süddeutschen Landschaft in der Frühneuzeit. Juden in Schwaben im Kontext des Alten Reiches, hg. von Rolf Kiessling, Berlin 1995, pp. 80-109.

Geschichte und Kultur der Juden in Bayern, Bd. 1-2, 1: Aufsätze, 2: Lebensläufe. (Veröffentlichungen zur Bayerischen Geschichte und Kultur 17/88-18/88); München / New York / London / Paris 1988.

Judengemeinden in Schwaben im Kontext des Alten Reiches.Kießling, Rolf (Hg.), Berlin 1995 (Colloquia Augustana 2).

Nachbarschaft und Konkurrenz; Juden und Christen in Dörfern der Markgrafschaft Burgau 1650 – 1750.  Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen; 1999; ISBN 3-525-35466-5.

Searching the Data

There are currently [xyz-ips snippet=”pub-JGBS-count”] records in this data set, which can be accessed via the  JewishGen’s German Collection.

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