General information: First Jewish presence: unknown; peak Jewish population: 230 in 1816 (37.2% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 58
Summary: The earliest record of a Jewish presence in Schwanfeld mentions the Rindfleisch massacres of 1298. A Jewish community was re-established in the village in the 16th century. The Jews of Schwanfeld consecrated a cemetery in 1579, the same year during which they were permitted to appoint a rabbi, establish a Beit Din (a rabbinical court) and open a prayer hall. It was not until 1786, however, that a synagogue was built in Schwanfeld. We also know that a Jewish public school existed there in 1850, and that the village was home to a private Jewish elementary school in 1924. In 1933, the community employed a teacher—he also served as served as chazzan and shochet—who instructed five schoolchildren in religion. Five Jewish associations were active in Schwanfeld that year. On Pogrom Night, rioters destroyed the synagogue’s interior and ritual objects. Twenty-eight Schwanfeld Jews emigrated (25 went to the United States) and ten relocated within Germany. Eight of the remaining ten Jews were deported to Izbica (via Wuerzburg) in April 1942; the last two were deported to Theresienstadt (also via Wuerzburg) in September of the same year. At least 37 Schwanfeld Jews perished in the Shoah. In 1996, a documentary film about Schwanfeld’s former Jewish community called Geblieben sind die Namen (“The Names Remain”) was released; in 2005, a memorial plaque was unveiled in Schwanfeld.
Author / Sources: Dorothea Shefer-Vanson
Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-BAV
Located in: bavaria