Karlsruhe

General information: First Jewish presence: 18th century; peak Jewish population: 3,386 in 1925; Jewish population in 1933: 3,199
Summary: The town of Karlsruhe was founded in 1715, shortly after which Jews established a presence there. The city was the capital of the Baden region, therefore the Jewish community that developed there was the most important in the principality. In 1720, the community appointed a rabbi who served all of Baden; between 1750 and 1769, the post was filled by Rabbi Nathaniel Weil, a renowned Talmudic scholar. The rabbinate became a district rabbinate in 1827. By 1725, the Karlsruhe Jewish community had established a synagogue, a mikveh and a hospital. A new synagogue was built in 1806, but it was destroyed during the fire of 1871; accordingly, another house of worship was inaugurated at Kronenstrasse in 1875. Karlsruhe’s Orthodox Jews seceded from the community in 1868; in 1881, their congregation—the Adass Jeshurun—founded a synagogue, a community center and a mikveh at 16 Karl-Friedrich-Strasse. Eastern European Jews established the Ahavat Israel synagogue in 1929. Two Jewish elementary schools were opened in 1865: one for the mainstream community, the other for Orthodox Jews. The community consecrated a cemetery in 1723, another in 1816 and yet another, at Haid-und Neustrasse, on an unspecified date. Orthodox Jews consecrated their own cemetery in 1872. Prominent local Jews included the following: Moritz Ellstaetter, Baden’s finance minister from 1878 to 1893; and Ludwig Hass and Ludwig Marum, ministers in the first Republican Government of Baden. In 1933, Dr. Hugo Schiff was the rabbi of the mainstream community; Dr. Jakob Etlinger was rabbi of the Orthodox community. Many Jewish associations and branches of national organizations were active in Karlsruhe that year. The Bialik adult education institute, a local cultural association and an elementary school were active well into the Nazi period. In October 1938, Karlsruhe’s Polish Jews were expelled to Poland. The main synagogue was set on fire on Pogrom Night, but the blaze was extinguished to protect the neighboring houses; all 28 Torah scrolls were thrown out, and several were torn or burned. The Orthodox synagogue was burned to the ground, many homes and businesses were destroyed, and Jewish men were marched through town and abused by a mob of rioters. The men were tortured at police headquarters, where two died, after which most were sent to Dachau. In total, 893 local Jews were deported to Gurs on October 22, 1940. Between 1942 and 1945, 387 Karlsruhe Jews were deported to Izbica, to Auschwitz and to Theresienstadt. At least 1,421 local Jews perished in the Shoah. A new Jewish community, founded in 1945, inaugurated a synagogue on Herrenstrasse in 1951; and in 1971 another synagogue was inaugurated on Knielinger Allee. Several plaques commemorate the Jews of Karlsruhe.
Photo: The synagogue of Karlsruhe in 1896. Courtesy of: State Archive of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Karlsruhe.
Author / Sources: Nurit Borut
Sources: AJ, PK-BW
Located in: Baden-Wuerttemberg