“Above all, in a study of Goethe one finds one’s Jewish substance”, Ludwig Straus1

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Jews were noted in the region by the tenth century, while organized communities appeared about three centuries later. In territory that is part of Thuringia today, Erfurt stands as the oldest Jewish settlement, having begun in the twelfth century. During the next 200 years, it grew to become a major religious and social center, one of the largest then in German lands. Through the ages though, Jews in parts of today’s Thuringia suffered from a variety of persecutions. The persecution culminated in the fourteenth century during the Black Death accusations. Perhaps because these lands were rural, scattered and far from centers of power, the Jews quickly recuperated. During the Middle Ages, many Jewish scholars emerged as well. In the mid-fifteenth century, Thuringia became part of Saxony and the Jews’ circumstances deteriorated, propelled by the Reformation. They were expelled in 1559. The entire territory of Thuringia began disintegrating and although Jews couldn’t live in cities, by the end of the seventeenth century they were allowed to settle on estates of the nobility. After 1848, Thuringia was no longer a jurisdictional entity, and the Jews “enjoyed” the same rights as their fellow Jews in the rest of Germany.2

Jüdische Landesgemeinde Thüringen

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1  George l. Mosse. Germans Jews beyond Judaism,  p 14
2  Based on a article in Hadassah magazine. August/September 2000 Vol. 82 No. 1

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