Bad Hersfeld

General information: First Jewish presence: 1347; peak Jewish population: 325 in 1910; Jewish population in 1933: 273
Summary: Although Jews received permission to settle in Bad Hersfeld in 1347, they were massacred in the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49. In 1362, however, another Jewish presence was established in Bad Hersfeld. Jews disappeared from the town in the 18th century, but returned in 1809/10, after which they belonged to the Niederaula community until the establishment, in 1878, of the Jewish community of Bad Hersfeld. The community of the Middle Ages maintained a synagogue and a cemetery. Members of the modern community prayed in Niederaula until 1877, when a prayer hall was inaugurated at Unteren Frauengasse. Local Jews established an elementary school and a new cemetery in 1878; then a synagogue, on Kaiserstrasse, in 1896; and a school building—it housed a mikveh—in 1898. The synagogue was desecrated and damaged in 1924. In 1933, 27 pupils attended the elementary school and 14 others received religious instruction. Several Jewish associations and branches of nationwide organizations were active in the community. In January 1933, four Jews were stabbed by SA men. Several Jewish homes and businesses were attacked that year. On November 8, 1938, two days before Pogrom Night, the synagogue was burned to the ground and the school destroyed. Jews were assaulted in the streets, and Jewish businesses (including a boardinghouse) and homes were vandalized and ransacked. In total, 116 Jews emigrated (54 to the United States), 140 relocated within Germany, 17 died in Bad Hersfeld and 23 were deported to Riga (December 1941), Majdanek (May 1942) and Theresienstadt (September 1942). At least 80 Bad Hersfeld Jews perished in the Shoah. A movie theater was later built on the synagogue site, but a memorial and several plaques have been unveiled in town. The cemetery was desecrated in 1978 and in 1980.
Author / Sources: Nurit Borut; Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-HNF
Located in: hesse