Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities:
Germany volume 3

50°40' / 09°46'

Translation from Pinkas ha-kehilot Germanyah

Published by Yad Vashem

Published in Jerusalem, 1992



Project Coordinator and Donor


Our sincere appreciation to Yad Vashem for permission
to put this material on the JewishGen web site.

This is a translation from: Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Germany
Volume 3, pages 448-449, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1992

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

[Page 448]

Hünfeld, Germany
(a city in the Fulda region)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

YearNumber of
of Jews

Religious Affiliation by Percentage in 1925


History of the Community

A Jew from Hünfeld is mentioned in the court annals of Frankfurt in 1383.

In 1734, a few Jews lived in the city. Most of them were peddlers and small-scale merchants of meager means. They conducted communal prayer services in private homes, and later in an old, dilapidated house. In 1860, they received a permit to build a synagogue, but they were not able to afford this right, so they conducted a campaign. In 1868, they even sent a request for assistance to the King of Prussia. In 1886, a fire broke out in the city, and the synagogue went up in flames. Only the Torah scrolls were saved from the burning building. The community, left without a place of worship, borrowed 8,000 mark and built a new synagogue. The Jewish newspapers published a call for help in paying off this heavy debt. Many Jewish families left the city in the wake of that fire.

The Jews of Hünfeld buried their dead in Burghaun (see entry). The children also studied their religious studies there for many years. In 1868, the city hired its own religion teacher, and in September 1888, when it grew to the point where there were 35-40 students at the age of compulsory education, a one-class elementary school was opened. Isadore Lorge taught there until his retirement in 1904. L Braunschweiger replaced him and continued on until the final days of the community. He also served as the cantor and shochet (ritual slaughterer). At the end of the 19th century the number of students continually declined, from 8 in 1900 until only 3 in 1905. In 1899, four Jews of Mackenzell joined the community. 6 – 10 Jews still lived there several decades earlier.

In 1895, anti-Semitic initiatives took place in the sugar factory in Hünfeld. The slogan was “no Jewish wealth”, and they were careful not to sell their products to Jews. After some time, that enterprise declared bankruptcy.

A Jew from Hünfeld fell during the First World War.

The Jewish school closed in 1924 due to a lack of students. The teacher Braunschweiger remained as a teacher of religion, cantor and shochet. In 1925, a chapter of “the Covenant of Soldiers of the Front” was founded in Hünfeld.

In 1932, the community had a synagogue and mikva (ritual bath), and it conducted kosher slaughter. Nine students studied religious studies. A women's and men's' organization were active in the city. The community belonged to the rabbinate of the Fulda region, and was headed by Herman Katz.

In the Reichstag elections of September 14, 1930, the Catholic Centrum party won a decisive majority of 69.5%. The Nazis received 22.9% of the vote (in Hessen-Nassau – 20.8%). The Centrum Party still retained power on March 5, 1933, with 64.4% of the vote. The Nazis obtained only 29.6% of the vote (in Hessen-Nassau, they obtained 49.4%).

Under Nazi Rule

In the summer of 1933, the city council decided to set up a cattle market that was “Jew-free”. On September 25, 1933, a list of 13 businesses

[Page 449]

owned by Jews was published (most of them were cattle merchants and shoemakers). In the autumn of that year, the regional bulletin Hünfelder Kreisblatt opened with the declaration of a regular “corner of shame”, in which the names of Germans who conducted business with Jews were listed. In December 1934, one of the leaders of the farmers of the region was brought to trial for attempting to extort from a Jew. In 1935, the window panes of Jewish houses were broken, and acts of scheming against Jews increased continually. In April, 20 Jews were arrested, and in June, the Gestapo reported on the increase of acts of terror against the Jews and their property.

On the evening of November 9, 1938, a guard was set up to stand guard over the synagogue, which was next to the large, flammable grain storehouse. That night, most of the windowpanes of the building as well as those of the home of a Jewish family were broken. The next morning, the synagogue was set on fire and burnt to its foundations. The members of the S. A. (Sturmbateilung) and members of the party imprisoned five Jewish men and gave them over to the police. Two were freed for reasons of health and three were sent to Buchenwald.

During the years of 1939-1940, the city council conducted a large-scale correspondence with the regional authorities with regard to the question of financial responsibility for the destruction of the synagogue.

From among the 74 Jewish residents of Hünfeld (55 in the census of 1933, and 19 who apparently settled temporarily in Hünfeld after that time), 25 emigrated – 16 to the United States, 3 to Holland, 3 to Australia, and one each to France, Italy and the Land of Israel. 33 Jews moved to other places in Germany. At the end of October 1939, 12 Jews remained, most of them elderly. These included a couple who lacked citizenship. In 1941, eight Jews of Hünfeld were arrested by the Gestapo, and deported from the city to an unknown location. On May 15, 1942, two Jews were deported to Majdanek, and the final 11 Jews were deported to Theresienstadt on September 5, 1942. It appears that other Jews who came from Hünfeld were also deported to the concentration and death camps after they left Hünfeld.

In the autumn of 1944, a forced labor camp was set up in Hünfeld where approximately 40 prisoners were kept. The vast majority of them were Jews, half of them from Berlin and other cities of Germany.

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
Emerita Yizkor Book Project Manager, Joyce Field
Contact person for this translation
This web page created by Max Heffler

Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 17 May 2007 by LA