Bad Buchau

General information: First Jewish presence: 1382; peak Jewish population: 828 in 1858; Jewish population in 1933: 162
Summary: The oldest record of a Jewish presence in Bad Buchau is dated 1382. The Jewish population peaked at 828 in 1858, making Bad Buchau’s community the largest in Wuerttemberg at that time. Local Jews established several prayer rooms in the 15th century, an official community in the 16th century, and their first synagogue in 1731. The community’s status subsequently grew, as a result of which the town hosted a regional rabbinate in the 18th century. A new synagogue, the only one in Germany to feature a bell tower, was inaugurated in 1839; the house of worship contained a mikveh and a small Jewish museum, the latter during the 1920s. The community also maintained a Jewish school and a cemetery. Albert Einstein’s father was born in Bad Buchau in 1847. In 1933, 162 Jews lived in Bad Buchau. Several associations were active there, and six pupils still attended the Jewish school. The community’s last rabbi was Abraham Schlesinger, one of Germany’s few Zionist rabbis. Although the synagogue was set on fire on Pogrom Night, the fire brigade and several local residents, including the mayor, extinguished the blaze. Jewish homes and businesses were nonetheless vandalized, and 12 men were sent to Dachau. The synagogue was set on fire the following day, burning down completely; the ruins were later demolished. In 1942, 44 Jews were sent to Bad Buchau. They were among the 111 Jews deported from the town to the East in 1941 and 1942. At least 56 Bad Buchau Jews died in the Shoah. A descendant of a local Jew later planted a weeping willow on the spot where the Torah shrine once stood. A memorial stone and plaque were unveiled at the former synagogue site, as was, at the cemetery, a monument.
Photo: The synagogue of Buchau. Courtesy of: Leo Baeck Institute Photo Archive, 2963.
Author / Sources: Yehoshua Ahrens; Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-BW
Located in: baden-wuerttemberg