General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 192 in 1850 (11% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 44
Summary: Windecken, which is today part of the town of Nidderau, was an independent town with a Jewish community; the community may have been the oldest and largest in the dominion of the Count of Hanau. Jews were persecuted in Windecken during the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49, and it was not until the 15th century that a new Jewish presence was established there. Most local Jews lived on the Judengasse, or “Jews’ alley” (in the southeast of town), a Jewish ghetto of sorts that was dissolved in the 19th century. The Jewish community inaugurated a synagogue on Judengasse (the street was renamed three times: as Synagogengasse, or “synagogue alley” in 1918; as Braugasse in 1933; and, later, as Ostheimer Strasse) in 1481, where it stayed until 1938; the building also housed a mikveh and a Jewish school. Windecken also had a Jewish cemetery, consecrated on the road that led to the town of Hanau, either in 1497 or 1505. Prominent local Jews included the Oppenheim family, members of which established an important bank in Egypt (financing the railways there). After the pogroms of 1835 and 1891, Windecken’s Jewish population began to dwindle. Nevertheless, local Jews took an active part in the town’s life, even serving on the local council. In 1933, when 44 Jews were living in Windecken, the Nazis enforced the boycott of Jewish stores. During the following years, almost all Jewish-owned stores were “aryanized,” namely, transferred to non-Jewish ownership. In 1938, only 12 Jews still lived in Windecken. On Pogrom Night (November 1938), the Nazis burned down the ancient synagogue. All Jews had left the town by July 1941. According to Yad Vashem, 14 local Jews were killed in the Shoah. Windecken is no longer home to a Jewish community. In November 1985, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the former synagogue site (the street has once again been given the name Synagogenstrasse, and the plaque is located at property number 22).
Author / Sources: Benjamin Rosendahl
Sources: AJ, EJL, LJG, SG-H, YV
Located in: hesse