General information: First Jewish presence: 1248; peak Jewish population: 530 in 1837; Jewish population in 1933: 261
Summary: The earliest available record of a Jewish presence in Bayreuth is dated 1248. Jews settled permanently there in the mid- 18th century. In 1837, Bayreuth’s Jewish community peaked at 530. During the Middle Ages, rabbis for the entire principality lived in Bayreuth. The town’s Jews established a synagogue on Muenzgasse in 1760, a Talmud Torah school in 1781, a mikveh in 1783, a cemetery in 1787 (expanded in 1846 and 1906) and an elementary school in 1824. A community rabbi was appointed in 1827: Joseph Aub, the renowned Liberal rabbi, held this post from 1829 until 1852. Bayreuth was home to a district rabbinate between 1852 and 1936. In 1933, 261 Jews lived in Bayreuth. The community ran several Jewish associations and branches of nationwide Jewish organizations. Bayreuth’s second, smaller synagogue was renovated in 1934, the same year in which Nazis kidnapped a local Jew. On Pogrom Night, attackers wielding pickaxes and crowbars destroyed the synagogue’s interior, furniture and ritual objects; the community house and the Jewish school suffered the same fate. Jewish homes and businesses were looted, and the cemetery was damaged. Jewish men were imprisoned locally, and several were deported to Dachau. At least 39 local Jews emigrated, 10 died in Bayreuth and two committed suicide. Many others relocated within Germany. The 80 Jews who still lived there at the end of 1939 were forcibly moved into a few apartments. In November 1941, 60 Jews were deported to Riga. Eleven Jews, sent to Bamberg in January 1942, were later deported to Theresienstadt. At least 144 Bayreuth Jews perished in the Shoah. In 1946, the synagogue and cemetery were renovated by a newly-established community of displaced Jews (most left by 1948). Yet another community was later founded in Bayreuth, and in 2007 it counted 500 members. Memorial plaques have been unveiled the cemetery.
Photo: The synagogue of Bayreuth after the attack on Pogrom Night. The windows are broken. The street outside the synagogue has been roped off. Courtesy of: City Archive of Bayreuth.
Author / Sources: Hannah Porat; Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-BAV, SG-B; www.geschichtswerkstatt-bayreuth.de
Located in: bavaria