בכאו היהודית

 

Jewish Buchau

Jewish Buchau

 

Jewish Bad Buchau

For almost 600 years, Buchau has been the home for Jewish families. In the beginning, they lived in an area assigned to them but at the onset of the nineteenth century they were allowed to settle wherever they liked. Jewish shops and houses marked the image of the town. The synagogue was the landmark of a rather big community.

In the nineteenth century, the Jews took an essential part in the economic development of Buchau. The textile production and manufacturing were in their hands and the factory owners were well-respected citizens. In 1838, 736 Jews were living in Buchau, a third of the entire population of the town at that time.

Chronology:

1382

Jews were mentioned in the Federsee area

1401

Buchau Jews paid Jew taxes to King Ruprecht

1570

Buchau was mentioned as a Jewish community

1675

“New” cemetery at the edge of the island was built

1730/31:

First synagogue

1732

own Hebrew school; other lessons till 1803 in the Convent school; from 1825 in the city school; 1879 – 1938 together with Latin-, secondary and primary school at Lange Bau

1752

restriction of Jewish families to 45

1792

Abbess Maximiliana v. Stadion allowed 12 Jewish families to settle in Kappel with own community and synagogue

1807

Jews were allowed to earn their own money

1809

permission to run civil trade and accession to the guilds

1822

two Jewish families got permission to live in the main street (abolition of the ghettos)

1828

emancipation - civic equalization

1830

Buchaus first textile factories were run by Jews

1838

736 Jews lived in Buchau, one third of its entire population opening of the new synagogue with chimes

1841

construction of the rabbinate next to the synagogue

1854

the chimes were replaced by a clock

1873

union of the two communities, Buchau and Kappel

1900

at the turn of the century the Jews have the economical power and a decisive influence on community policy

1914/18:

Jewish and Non-Jewish fought in World War I

1923

Trikotagen Hermann Moos AG issued emergency money in 5, 20 and 100 million Mark bills (ltd. till end of 1923)

1931

Feb. 2, a local branch of the NSDAP was founded

1933

May 5, Judengasse was named Freigasse (now Judengasse)

1938

Reichsprogromnacht – Night of Broken Glass, destruction of the synagogue

1941/45:

first/last deportation – only 4 Jews returned to Buchau

1968

Siegbert Einstein, last Jew from Buchau died on Dec. 24th

The Rabbinate

Next to the synagogue was not only the apartment of the rabbi but also the place where the Hebrew children had their lessons done. On the ground floor was a library which was used by Jews as well as Christians. After the destruction of the synagogue, Moritz Vierfelder organized an oratory on the ground floor.

 

The Synagogues

The first synagogue was built in 1730-31. A fountain in the shape of a broken star of David represents it today. We don't know much about this house of God: it had a barred women's gallery and it could be heated which prove that the synagogue was used as a schoolhouse, too.

After the Jews' emancipation in 1828, the construction of the big synagogue of Buchau started. It was a classical construction that imprinted the town and was solemnly inaugurated in 1839. Jews and Christians took part in the ceremony. The synagogue had a small tower with chimes. In 1854, the chimes were replaced by a big clock bearing the following inscriptions: “I am glad when I am told we want to go to God's house.”

Like almost all synagogues in Germany, the Buchau synagogue too, was set on fire in the night of the 9th to the 10th of November in 1938. The flames were extinguished quickly because of the fire-brigade where Jews and Christians worked together. The authorities of Ochsenhausen did not want to be perceived as if they did not do their job properly so the synagogue was set on fire for the second time. This time the fire-brigades were only allowed to protect the building next to the synagogue. Its ground walls were 85 cm thick, the reason why the flames could not completely destroy the church. The Jews of Buchau had to pay themselves for the blasting of their synagogue, it was done by pioneers from Ulm on the eighteenth of November in 1938.

There, where once stood the Thora shrine now grows a weeping willow.

 

The Oratory

Before the Buchau community could build a synagogue, there were oratories in various houses. One of them still exists in a private house.

 

Jewish School and Mikwe

The Jewish community house was built in the Spitalstraße in 1825. This is were the Jewish children had their Hebrew lessons. Those children were attending the town school for their regular classes together with Christian children. Behind the community centre was the Mikwe.

 

The Jewish Cemetery

Until 1675, the Good Place was behind Kappel next to the Saulgauer Straße. The cemetery was built in 1650. The Jews from Mittelbiberach, Ravensburg and Aulendorf were allowed to be buried there, too.

The first funeral at the cemetery was in 1675. It was Levi Israel, son of Abraham Günzburger from Aulendorf who was first buried. Almost 1000 deceased are resting there. According to Jewish law, the last sleep is considered eternal. As it was impossible to enlarge the cemetery in the beginning, the dead ones were buried partly in three rows on top of each other. It wasn't until the emancipation in 1850 and 1892 that new sites could be bought. These acquisitions lead to the present size of the cemetery which has a surface of 6698 m² (8010.7 y²). All the tombstones are facing eastwards.

Unfortunately the cemetery was desecrated during the Third Reich. Tombstones were demolished and taken away.

If you take your time to decipher the tombstones' inscriptions, you'll find out that it tells you complete life-stories: many members of the same family died because of a common illness; they also tell you about how highly distinguished the deceased had been in his community.

The symbols on the tombstones represent the fates of the deceased: broken pillars mean the loss of life, a young person was laid to rest.

On the tombstone of Lazarus Wallersteiner, you'll find three symbols: an open book, a knife and a ram's horn which mean a pious life (book), circumcision of Jewish boys and leading them into Abrahams Union (knife) and having the honour to be the ram's horn blower in the community (ram's horn). Traditionally, the ram's horn is blown on Rosch Hashanah, the Jewish New Year's day in the synagogue.

On top of most tombstones you'll find little memory stones which are signs that the grave had been visited. This was an ancient practice dated back when the Jews still had unfortified cemeteries. Each and every little stone contributed to maintain the graves.

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