General information: First Jewish presence: 1230; peak Jewish population: 1,399 in 1925; Jewish population in 1933: 1,138
Summary: The Jews of Freiburg, first mentioned in 1230, were annihilated during the Black Death pogroms of 1349. Jews were allowed to return to the town in 1373, but were expelled in 1401 and 1424. Individual Jews lived in Freiburg throughout the ensuing centuries, but it was only in 1862 that they were permitted to settle freely. A community was founded in 1863, and peaked in 1925 with 1,399 members. The Jewish community established a prayer hall in 1864; a synagogue at Werderstrasse in 1870 (enlarged and renovated in 1926); a cemetery in 1870 (desecrated in 1910); an orphanage in 1874; and, finally, a mikveh. Orthodox Jews founded their own congregation in 1895, one year after which they inaugurated a prayer hall inside the community center (near the aforementioned synagogue). Freiburg hosted a district rabbinate after 1885. Jewish students were first admitted to Freiburg University in the late 1800s: by 1924/25, they made up 10% of the student body and were a majority in the medical faculty. Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president, obtained his doctorate in chemistry from Freiburg in 1899. Many Jewish professors, including the philosopher Edmund Husserl and Nobel laureate Hans Adolf Krebs, taught at the university. In 1933, 1,138 Jews lived in Freiburg. Dr. Julius Zimels was district rabbi, and the community employed two teachers/cantors—they instructed 128 schoolchildren— and a shochet. Many Jewish associations and branches of national organizations were active in Freiburg. During the Nazi period, all Jewish university staff members were fired. Rabbi Zimels emigrated in 1936, after which Rabbi Siegfried Scheuermann held the post of district rabbi. On Pogrom Night, after the synagogue was set on fire, its charred ruins were blown up. One hundred Jewish men were sent to Dachau (some were tortured beforehand), where two died. Rabbi Scheuermann, forced to leave Germany, immigrated to the United States. The synagogue’s ruins were cleared at the community’s expanse. Six hundred and fifty-seven local Jews emigrated, others relocated inside Germany, 148 died in Freiburg, nine committed suicide and, on October 22, 1940, 350 were deported to Gurs. Forty-one Jews—old, sick or married to Christians—remained in Freiburg after the deportation; most were deported to Theresienstadt in 1942. At least 314 Freiburg Jews perished in the Shoah. A new community was founded in Freiburg in 1945; in 1987, a new synagogue was inaugurated there. The cemetery, which had been heavily damaged during the Nazi period, was later renovated, and memorials were unveiled at the former synagogue site (1962) and cemetery (1986).
Photo: The synagogue of Freiburg. Courtesy of: City Archive of Freiburg, M 736/1772.
Author / Sources: Nurit Borut and Maren Cohen
Sources: AJ, PK-BW
Located in: baden-wuerttemberg