General information: First Jewish presence: 1288; peak Jewish population: 752 in 1885; Jewish population in 1933: 501
Summary: Although Bruchsal’s documented Jewish history began in 1288, it was not until after the Thirty Years’ War that Jews began to flourish there. Bruchsal’s original prayer room was located in the home of Jacob Suessel, a community leader from 1704 until 1750. During the Nazi period, it was considered the oldest prayer room in Baden. The community established a synagogue in 1802, a district rabbinate in 1827 and a new synagogue, with an organ, in 1881. Jews not only owned many businesses and helped found Bruchsal’s museum and library, but were also heavily involved in the tobacco and hops industries. The Baer-Oppenheimer family was a force in the textile industry. In 1933, Bruchsal’s 501 Jews maintained a cemetery, a mikveh and seven charity and welfare associations. Jewishowned businesses continued to support the local economy. In 1936, Bruchsal’s 40 Jewish schoolchildren were segregated from their Christian peers. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue was burned down, Jewish homes and businesses were attacked, windows were smashed, and furniture and merchandise were either damaged or looted; in Bruchsal, Jewish men were arrested that night and sent to Dachau. The synagogue’s ruins were later dismantled at the Jewish community’s expense. Seventy-six Bruchsal Jews emigrated, 30 relocated within Germany and one committed suicide in August 1938. On October 22, 1940, the last 79 Jews were deported to Gurs. Only four Jewish women, all of whom were married to Christians, remained in Bruchsal. At least 93 local Jews perished in the Shoah. A fire station was built on the former synagogue site (78 Friedrichtstrasse) in the 1950s. A plaque was unveiled there in 1966, followed by another in October 2000. One of the six pillars from the entrance to Bruchsal’s former synagogue has been moved to the Obergrombach Jewish cemetery.
Photo: The synagogue of Bruchsal in 1928. Courtesy of: Town Archive of Bruchsal.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: AJ, PK BDN-W
Located in: baden-wuerttemberg