General information: First Jewish pres.: 1241 (Bopfingen), 1510 (Oberdorf ); peak Jewish pop.: 548 in 1846 (40% of the tot. pop.); pop. in 1933: 50 (Bopfingen), 87 (Ober.)
Summary: Bopfingen’s 13th-century Jewish community disappeared after the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49. Although Jews were expelled from Bopfingen and from Oberdorf (a village belonging to Bopfingen) in the 16th century and again in 1659, a Jewish presence was re-established there shortly afterwards. Rabbis served Oberdorf’s 19th-century community, and the village was also home to a regional rabbinate from 1832 until 1931. The community established synagogues in 1704 and in 1744/45, respectively; the latter of which was located at 15 Lange Strasse; in 1812, when the Lange Strasse synagogue was deemed unsafe, a new synagogue was inaugurated (renovated in 1858). Other communal institutions included a cemetery (consecrated in 1825) and a school (1820s). Recognized as a public institution in 1840, the school was renowned for the quality of the education provided there, attracting Christian pupils; in 1924, as a result of low enrollment, it was closed down. In 1933, a teacher/chazzan instructed 13 children in religion. Several Jewish associations and branches of nation- wide Jewish organizations were active in the community. The Jewish school reopened in 1936. On Pogrom Night, non-local SA men set the synagogue on fire. Local residents, both Jews and Christians, managed to extinguish the blaze, but not before a section of the interior had been destroyed. Ten Jewish men from Oberdorf and one from Bopfingen were sent to Dachau on Pogrom Night; two were separated from the group and shot, one of them fatally. In 1939, the building was sold to the municipality for much less than its actual value, as were other Jewish-owned buildings and the cemetery. During the war, 200 Jews from Stuttgart and from other places in Wuerttemberg were brought to Oberdorf, where, together with the Jews of Bopfingen, they were forced to live in crowded conditions. Of these Jews, 230 emigrated, 21 died in Oberdorf and 86 were deported to the East; all but two of the deported Jews died, as did 36 Oberdorf Jews. A memorial was unveiled at the cemetery in 1985. The synagogue building was used by a Catholic congregation from 1950 until 1968, after which it was used as a storage site. A local society bought the site in 1989, and the renovated building was opened as a memorial center in 1993. In 1997, a museum on the history of the Jews in the region was established there.
Photo: The synagogue of Oberdorf on a historical postcard, probably from the end of the 19th century. The synagogue building is depicted as place of interest to sightseers. Courtesy of: Peter K. Mueller, Kirchheim/Ries.
Author / Sources: Rachel Borut
Sources: AJ, PK-BW
Located in: baden-wuerttemberg