Hoechst im Odenwald

General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 189 in 1871; Jewish population in 1933: 102
Summary: In the early 19th century, local Jews earned a living as small business owners, peddlers and livestock traders. Several decades later, as a result of financial hardship, some Jewish families from Hoechst immigrated to North America. Hoechst, which belonged to the Orthodox rabbinate in Darmstadt, formed a synagogue association together with Jews in its affiliated villages in 1923. The Jewish community established a synagogue (on Wilhelmstrasse), and a later cemetery, in 1797 and 1899, respectively. In 1904, a new synagogue—with 84 seats for men, 66 for women—was inaugurated; Moses Mai, who was born in Hoechst, covered the bulk of the construction costs. Local Jews used a mikveh located in the cellar of a private residence until 1918, when a modern mikveh was installed in the school building. At the Jewish school (operated from 1923 until 1938), 44 students were enrolled in 1936; the last teacher was Mr. Seif. We also know that the community maintained ritual burial associations and a fund for the poor. Beginning in 1933, Jews were persecuted in Hoechst, their businesses “aryanized.” Many local Jews left the town on November 10, 1938 (the day after Pogrom Night), soon after which the cemetery was desecrated. During the violence of the pogrom, SA men and local residents demolished Jewish property, the synagogue and the school; the synagogue was not set on fire, however, as the authorities feared for the safety of neighboring non-Jewish homes. In 1940, only 15 elderly Jews lived in Hoechst, all of whom were deported in 1942. The synagogue was demolished in 1946. Later, in 1985, a memorial was unveiled at Montmelianer Platz.
Photo: The destroyed synagogue of Hoechst im Odenwald after Pogrom Night, 1938. Courtesy of: City Archive of Hoechst.
Author / Sources: Svetlana Frank
Located in: hesse