General information: First Jewish presence: 1241/1242; peak Jewish population: 164 in 1806; Jewish population in 1933: 142
Summary: Records tell us that the town’s first synagogue was incinerated, with many Jews inside, in the Black Death pogroms of 1348/1349. Esslingen’s modern Jewish community was founded in 1806. The community established a cemetery in 1807; a prayer hall in 1809; a synagogue in 1819 (renovated in 1889/90 to include 30 seats for men, 30 for women, 25 for boys and 25 for girls); an orphanage, called the Wilhelmspflege, in 1842; and a school in 1828. In 1873, when the school was closed down, classes were moved to the orphanage. The orphanage moved to 146, Muelbergerstrasse in 1913. In 1933, several Jewish associations and branches of national organizations were active in the town. Later, on Pogrom Night (November 1938), the synagogue was plundered and damaged, after which members of the Hitler Youth used the building for their activities. The cemetery was largely destroyed during the Nazi period. Most local Jews emigrated from Germany. Seven were deported to Riga, three were sent to Theresienstadt and, in August 1942, 10 orphans were deported to Auschwitz. At least 38 Esslingen Jews perished in the Shoah. Today, the Jews of Esslingen are members of Stuttgart’s Jewish community. The former synagogue houses a gallery and several plaques, the orphanage a school.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-BW
Located in: baden-wuerttemberg