Photo: Weber, Haigerloch

Jewish Life at Haigerloch

By Uta Hentsch

Translation by Yochanan Grossman, Berlin

This is a report about the great events at Zollern-Albkreis, Schwaebische Alb, Germany, focusing on Jewish Life at Haigerloch-Hohenzollern, November 2003 and June 2004.

Part 1: Jewish Haigerloch 1346 - 1938

Map of Hechingen, Haigerloch and Bisingen

Hechingen and Haigerloch are two communities in the "Hohenzollern" region of the "Schwaebische Alb". Jewish life was terminated in both places through the inhuman hatred of Adolf Hitler during the years 1941-1942. This hatred was directed first and foremost against anything "Jewish", aiming to destroy it once and for all. The map shows how close the two communities are (about 25 kilometres), with Bisingen nearby. Both Hechingen and Haigerloch are commemorated in Yad Vashem's "Valley (of lost) communities". The two names are engraved on a high wall made of pale Jerusalem stone. They evoke a feeling of mourning and anger and, depending on the nationality of the visitor, perhaps also a sense of shame about the great human and cultural tragedies, which are hidden behind these names.

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

On November 9th 2003, the Old Synagogue of Haigerloch was reopened as a future exhibition and meeting place at Zollern-Albkreis, Schwaebische Alb. Seven months later, on June 13th 2004, the museum wing was opened to the public.

Let's take a look at the history of "Jewish Haigerloch" to better understand the significance of the event. The picture at the top of the page shows the Jewish "Haag" in Haigerloch around 1925. The red X on the picture marks the location of the Synagogue.

The small picturesque town in the Schwaebisch Alb was first recorded in historical documents in 1095. It received the status of a township in 1237, when it was ruled by the Count of Hohenberg. In the next five centuries, it changed hands three times until it became the possession of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (Prussia) in 1850, because the line of the Counts of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch ceased to exist.

Haigerloch can look back on a long history of Jewish life, because a "Jud vifelim" was mentioned as early as 1346. The oldest "letter of protection" for the Jews of Haigerloch was issued by Count Christoph Friedrich in October 6th 1534.

The hunting castle

Flag in the museum, on loan from the USA

Further letters of protection followed in the years 1595, 1640, 1688, 1700, 1745, 1780 and 1805. These letters of protection provided the Jews with the protection of the town's rulers, yet they also served as a convenient source of revenue for the authorities, since the Jewish citizens had to pay "protection money". The letters of protection gave rights to the Jews but also included restrictions and prohibitions. For instance, the Jews were only allowed to trade in textiles, clothing and household utilities, so that they could not accumulate great wealth.

During the 16th century, Haigerloch sheltered many Jews who were deported from many cities and the Jewish population of Haigerloch increased considerably. It was during this time that a Jewish community was founded, as a Jewish school / Synagogue was first mentioned in 1595.
At the "Cafe Maier" the traditional Shabbat bread
"Berches" is still baked in Jewish tradition.

The "Haag" was designed as a park and a "hunting castle" and was completed in 1770. It was given to the Jews in 1780 by Earl Karl Friedrich as a dwelling.

Until the middle of the 19th century, Jews were not allowed to work in the traditional trades since the guilds refused them membership. They were also not allowed to purchase real estate. Nevertheless, the Haag Synagogue was owned by a Mazza bakery and as came to light during the demolition of the building in 1940, it also had a "Judenmetzig" (Kosher butchery). The former Jewish inn "House Rose" at the entrance to the Haag is the only building that retained its name and still functions as an inn. It was known as a place for festivities and social meetings, not only for the Jews but also used by gentiles.

The "Jewish Community Haigerloch e.v.", named in accordance with the "Reichsgesetz" of 1938, was a very active community. In 1935, for example, ten community clubs were registered, including a singing club named "Gesangsverein Liederkranz". The "Israelite College" of Haigerloch was the only one of its kind in Hohenzollern at the beginning of 1933. This was a "one-teacher-school" that had only one classroom for pupils of all ages. The teacher also held the office of the cantor.

The three-story community house, which was built in 1844, served three functions. It was home and office of the Rabbi as well as the school. At the entrance to the building, one can still see the mark of the old Mezuza.

The Haigerloch Synagogue

The Synagogue of Haigerloch was consecrated on May 30th 1783 and was extended to accommodate 294 seats in 1839-40. In May 1845, a Mikveh (ritual bath) was installed and the building was extensively renovated.

During the night of the "Crystal Night" pogrom, (9th November 1938) the interior of the Synagogue was completely destroyed and it has not been used as a Synagogue ever since. In 1939 the town of Haigerloch purchased the building without ever putting it to any use.

When the building became private property in 1945, it was opened to the public, although not for its original purpose. At first it was used as a cinema hall and later it became a grocery shop. Finally, the building, which had lost most of its windows and was painted red, was used as a sadly neglected cultural building, almost ending up as a dilapidated ruin.

The Synagogue of Haigerloch - around 1925
Photos: Weber, Haigerloch

Report by Uta Hentsch, Bisingen, Germany

Jewish Life at Haigerloch - Part 2

Jewish Life at Haigerloch - Part 3

Read about Hechingen: Where Dreams Come True

Part 1: The History of Jewish Life In Hechingen

Part 2: About the Old Synagogue of Hechingen

Part 3: The 2003 Holidays

Read about the Christian Declaration of Berlin, 11/September/2004.

About Uta Hentsch

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