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Aachen, Germany

AACHEN (Aix-la-Chapelle; in Jewish sources: אש, אכא, אייש), city on the German-Belgian border; former capital of the Carolingian Empire. The delegation sent by *Charlemagne to the caliph Harun al-Rashid in 797 included a Jew, Isaac, who probably acted as interpreter or guide, and subsequently reported back to Aachen. Jewish merchants were active in Aachen by about 820. A "Jews' street" is known to have existed from the 11th century. The Aachen community, which paid only 15 marks in tax to the emperor in 1241, cannot have been large. In 1349 the Jews were "given" to the count of Juelich, who received their taxes and authorized Jewish residence in Aachen. The Jews were expelled from Aachen in 1629, most settling in neighboring Burtscheid. However, Jewish moneylenders were again active in Aachen about ten years later. They were included in the municipal jurisdiction in 1777. Prior to the inauguration of a Jewish cemetery in 1823, the Jews of Aachen buried their dead in Vaals across the border in the Netherlands. In 1847 the community was organized under the Prussian Jewish Community Statute. A Jewish elementary school was founded in 1845. The synagogue, built in 1862, was destroyed in the 1938 *Kristallnacht .

The Jewish population had increased from 114 in 1816 to 1,345 by 1933. In 1939, after emigration and arrests, there were 782 Jews living in the city. Others subsequently managed to flee and the rest were deported between March 1942 and September 1944. After the war, there were 62 Jews in Aachen. A new synagogue and communal center were built at the expense of the German government in 1957. In 1966 the Jewish community of Aachen and environs numbered 163. As a result of the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union, the number of community members increased from 326 in 1989 to 1,434 in 2003. Another new synagogue and community center were inaugurated in 1995.


H. Jaulus, Geschichte der Aachener Juden (1924). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Bierganz, A. Kreutz, Juden in Aachen (1988); H. Lepper, Von der Emanzipation zum Holocaust. Die Israelitische Synagogengemeinde Aachen 1801–1942, 2 vols. (1994).

[Ernst Roth /

Stefan Rohrbacher (2nd ed.)]

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