General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 230 in 1875; Jewish population in 1933: 155
Summary: Jews were persecuted in Rastatt in 1337/38, and expelled from the town in 1584 and again in 1615. The new Jewish community, established in or around 1683, had opened a prayer hall (in a private house) by the year 1720. Rastatt Jews dedicated a synagogue on Hildastrasse (present-day Ottersdorferstrasse) in 1829. The synagogue was renovated in 1859 and again in 1882, and in 1906 a new 322-seat house of worship was inaugurated on Leopoldsring. The community not only maintained its own cemetery (consecrated in 1881) and mikveh, but also employed a teacher of religion who served as shochet and chazzan. In October 1931, one day after the community celebrated the synagogue’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Nazis smashed the building’s windows. Twenty-eight Rastatt schoolchildren studied religion in 1933, and several Jewish associations and branches of nation-wide organizations were active in the town. Later, on Pogrom Night, rioters set the synagogue on fire and looted Jewish-owned businesses; Jewish men were sent to Dachau that night. A residential building was later constructed on the synagogue site. Thirty-eight local Jews emigrated, 19 relocated within Germany and 29 were deported to Gurs on October 22, 1942. At least 51 Rastatt Jews perished in the Shoah. Memorials to Rastatt’s former Jewish community have been unveiled at the old synagogue, the school building (in 1964), the cemetery (in 1972) and the train station (in 2000).
Photo: The synagogue of Rastatt, probably at the beginning of the 20th century. Courtesy of: The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, 7355/167.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AJ, EJL, HU, PK BW
Located in: baden-wuerttemberg