KOBLENZ


KOBLENZ, city in Germany. Jews are first mentioned in a customs toll of 1104; an individual Jew, Vives of Koblenz, is noted as living in Cologne about 1135; the community is mentioned in *Benjamin of Tudela's Itinerary (c. 1172). A 1209 toll register set a discriminatory fee for Jews but the Mainz Nuremberg *Memorbuch credits "Isaac and his wife Bela" with its removal. The Jew Suesskind granted a loan against the security of a mortgage on a house to Archbishop Theodore of *Trier, which the latter had redeemed by 1238. In 1265 Archbishop Henry granted the Jews a privilege of protection, yet on April 2, 1265, some 20 Jews were slain. A father who had martyred his wife and four sons but was himself saved from committing suicide by gentiles asked *Meir of Rothenburg if he had to do penance and was given a lenient reply, referring to earlier such events.

Archbishop Henry's peace treaty with the city, signed in 1285, after a revolt, stipulated that violation of Jewish life and property should be punished. In 1307 the Jewish community (universitas Judeorum), headed by a magistrate, received the rights of joint citizenship from the municipality. Jewish houses and properties are mentioned in sources dating from 1275 to 1333, the Jews' gate in 1282, the cemetery in 1303, and the nursing home in 1356. The main Jewish quarter was near the Old Town. R. *Asher b. Jehiel moved to Koblenz (c. 1282) and his older brother Ḥayyim functioned there as rabbi. The scribe Eliezer b. Samuel ha-Levi wrote a parchment Bible in 1344. The names of three Jews who died as martyrs in 1287 or 1288 have been preserved. From 1279 to 1346 Jews appear as moneylenders to the city council, the archbishop of Trier, and the local nobility: the Moselle bridge tolls were frequently farmed to them. The Jews were persecuted again in 1337, and most severely during the *Black Death in 1348–49. Their property was sold by Archbishop Boemund, but they were again living in Koblenz from 1351 on under the archbishop's protection. The city law, codified some time before 1424, excluded Jews, along with clerics and servants, from jury service in the courts. Added sections concluded in 1515 contain a Jewish oath formula with threatening clauses in case of perjury characteristic of the 15th century and later. The Jews were expelled from Koblenz in 1418.

Almost 100 years later (1512–18) a new community came into being with the admission of five families, who obtained a charter. The Trier bishopric issued successive Jewry regulations from 1555 to 1771, restricting the Jews to pawnbrokerage and certain kinds of trade. In 1723 they were ordered to live on a Jews' street (renamed Mint Street in 1886), and to refrain from wearing bright, costly clothes. The rabbinical synods of the Trier bishopric frequently met in Koblenz, concerning themselves with education and communal welfare. The authority of the local rabbi extended over the entire region. A welfare organization was founded in 1772. The Memorbuch begun in 1610 (continued until 1850) lists the names of the community leaders, many of whom were talmudic scholars and physicians, foremost among them the *Wallich family.

In 1794 the Jews' gate was broken down and emancipation came to Koblenz in 1797. The Rhine and Moselle district Jewish assembly was held in Koblenz in 1808. In 1811 the bank of Leopold Seligmann was founded, and in 1815 that of R.J. Goldschmidt. Antisemitic Hep! *Hep! riots occurred in 1819. A synagogue was built in 1826 and a new one in 1851. Mutual aid and welfare agencies were founded (1827–30) and a school in 1840. In 1808, 342 Jews lived in Koblenz; the number fell to 242 in 1836, but rose to 400 in 1849, 558 in 1880, 709 (1.8% of the total population) in 1925, 800 in 1929, and dropped to 669 in 1933; in May 1939 there were only 308. The figures reflect the restrictive laws in the early 19th century, their later removal, and emigration from 1933 on. Beginning in 1933 the Nazi boycott of Jewish stores began and Jews were harassed in other ways. The synagogue was burned in November 1938. From 1942 to 1943, 177 Jews were deported to the East, and 544 from the Bendorf-Sain-Koblenz district, where a Jewish mental hospital was located. Twenty-two Koblenz Jews survived the Holocaust. The city erected a memorial to the Jewish victims. In 1948 the burial hall was converted into a synagogue, also used by Jews of nearby towns. The Jewish population of the whole area was 68 in 1945/46, 78 in 1948, and 94 in 1963, and in Koblenz itself it was 35 in 1961 and around 100 in 1987.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

K. Schilling (ed.), Monumenta Judaica-Handbuch (1963), index; Germ Jud, 1 (19632), 141–7; 2 (1968), 407–14; EJ, 6 (Berlin, 1934), 145–50, with bibliography; G. Engelbert, in: E. Keyser (ed.), Staedtebuch fuer Rheinland-Pfalz und Saarland (1964), 211f.; M.N. Adler, The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (1901), 1, 80; 71 (Hebr.); I.A. Agus, Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg (1947), no. 784; S. Neumann, Statistik der Juden in Preussen (1884), 48; Die Originallisten der Gestapo mit den Namen der Deportierten des Kreises Koblens (n.d.) passim.

[Toni Oelsner]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.