General information: First Jewish presence: 13th century; peak Jewish population: 337 in 1900; Jewish population in 1933: 271
Summary: Offenburg’s 13th-century Jewish community was annihilated in the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49. Although the community of the 17th century managed to establish two prayer rooms and a cemetery, it was expelled in 1689. Jews were permitted to return to Offenburg in 1862, after which they established an official community (in 1865), a prayer room (in 1868) and a cemetery (in 1870). The Offenburg synagogue, dedicated at Langestrasse in 1875, was renovated in 1922 and again in 1934. The school was located there, as was an apartment for a teacher who also served as chazzan and shochet. In 1876, however, the Jewish school was shut down together with all confessional schools in Baden. Offenburg became the seat of a regional rabbinate in 1893. In 1933, 271 Jews lived in Offenburg. Siegfried Ucko was regional rabbi, and 28 schoolchildren studied religion. Several Jewish associations and branches of nation-wide organizations were active in the community that year. Rabbi Ucko emigrated from Germany in 1937 and was replaced by Herbert Finkelscherer. The synagogue’s interior was destroyed on Pogrom Night, as were the ritual objects, Torah scrolls and the Jewish-owned Café Weil. All Jewish men were imprisoned, beaten, publicly humiliated and deported to Dachau. Two died there; a third shortly after his release. In 1940, the synagogue building was sold to the municipality. One hundred and fifty-six Jews emigrated, 45 relocated within Germany, 19 died in Offenbach and 92 were deported to Gurs on October 22, 1940. Two Jews, both of whom were married to Christians, were deported to Theresienstadt in 1944/1945. At least 97 Offenbach Jews perished in the Shoah. Several commemorative plaques have been unveiled at the cemetery. The Offenbach municipality purchased the synagogue building in 1997; which in 2002 was reopened as a memorial site and social hall.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AH, AJ, EJL, HU, PK BW
Located in: baden-wuerttemberg