General information: First Jewish presence: early 17th century; peak Jewish population: 371 in 1900; Jewish population in 1933: 266
Summary: Jews lived in Frankenthal intermittently from the early 17th century onwards. Beginning in that century, religious services were conducted in prayer halls. A synagogue was established in Frankenthal in 1791; later, in 1885, a new synagogue was built on the same plot. In the mid-19th century, the congregation was introduced to the practice of using an organ and a choir during synagogue services. The Jews of Frankenthal consecrated a cemetery inside the municipal burial grounds in 1827; later, in 1916/17, a new cemetery was opened in the same area. A regional rabbinate was established in Frankenthal in 1828, but the rabbis themselves resided in Duerkheim. We also know that the town was home to a mikveh and a Jewish school, the latter of which was first mentioned in 1841 and presided over by Isaac Singer from 1849 until 1896. In 1933, 18 children received religious instruction. Several Jewish associations were active in the community, of which the Jews of Hessheim, Schauernheim and Oppau were members. On Pogrom Night, rioters destroyed the synagogue’s interior, smashed its windows and confiscated ritual objects. The building was set on fire but the fire brigade, disobeying orders, extinguished the blaze. Sixteen Jewish-owned homes and businesses were wrecked, and 23 Jewish men were sent to Dachau. Under Nazi rule, 72 Frankenthal Jews emigrated and 137 relocated within Germany. The town’s last 39 Jews, including 10 patients at the local Jewish sanatorium, were deported to Gurs in October 1940. At least 102 Frankenthal Jews perished in the Shoah. Bombed during a wartime air raid, the synagogue was subsequently demolished. A nearby street was renamed Synagogengasse (“Synagogue Alley”) in 1960, in honor of the former synagogue. A memorial stone was unveiled in 1977, followed by a monument in 1988.
Photo: he synagogue of Frankenthal is in the left/middle of the postcard; the card is thought to have been printed in the 1920s. Courtesy of: Historical Society of Frankenthal.
Author / Sources: Bronagh Bowerman
Sources: AJ, EJL, FJG, SG-RPS