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Bonn, Germany

BONN (in medieval Hebrew literature בונא), city in west-central Germany on the Rhine river and capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990. During the First Crusade in 1096 the Jews in Bonn were martyred. A Jewish community again existed there in the 12th century which, following a murder accusation, had to pay the emperor and the bishop a fine of 400 marks. A Platea Judaeorum is recorded in Bonn before 1244. The Jews engaged in moneylending and many became wealthy. In an outbreak of violence on June 8, 1288, 104 Jews were killed. During the *Black Death (1348–49) the community was attacked and annihilated; the archbishop took over its property and pardoned the burghers for the crimes they had committed. Subsequently, there is no record of Jewish residence in Bonn until 1381. During 1421–22 there were 11 Jewish families who paid the archbishop of *Cologne an annual tax of 82 gulden. The Jews were expelled in the 15th century, but later returned. In 1578 the Jewish quarter was looted and many Jews were taken captive by a Protestant army besieging Bonn; they were later ransomed. During the 17th century the Jews in Bonn, who lived under the protection of the elector, mainly engaged in cattle-dealing and moneylending. They were attacked in 1665 by students from nearby *Deutz . The Jewish street was destroyed during a siege in 1689, but a new Jewish quarter with 17 houses and a synagogue was built in 1715. It was closed at night by guarded gates. Bonn was the seat of the *Landrabbiner of the Electorate of Cologne in the 17th and 18th centuries. Several *Court Jews resided in Bonn; some of them lived outside the Jewish quarter, including the celebrated physician Moses Wolff, the musician Solomon, and the court agent Simon Baruch (the grandfather of Ludwig *Boerne ). The Jews in Bonn suffered from a number of anti-Jewish regulations. The Jewish quarter was severely damaged by a flood in 1784.

During the occupation of Bonn by the French revolutionary army (1794), the Jews were declared citizens with equal rights, and the gate of the ghetto was publicly torn down. Two delegates from the Bonn community attended the *Assembly of Jewish Notables convened by *Napoleon in Paris in 1806. A Jewish elementary school with an attendance of 22 boys and 15 girls was opened in 1829; a society for the promotion of Jewish craftsmen was founded in 1840; and there existed several social institutions and associations. The 18th-century synagogue was replaced by a new one in 1878, which followed the *Reform rite. The community numbered 296 in 1796; 536 in 1871; and 1,228 in 1919. From its earliest days the community in Bonn was celebrated as a center of Jewish learning. Among the tosafists who lived there during the 12th century were *Joel b. Isaac ha-Levi (Ravyah), *Samuel b. Natronai , and *Ephraim b. Jacob . Toward the end of the 16th century the rabbi of Bonn was Ḥayyim b. Johanan Treves, a commentator of the maḥzor. Ludwig *Philippson and Moses *Hess lived in Bonn, and in 1879 there were five Jewish professors and lecturers at Bonn University.

In 1933 there were around 1,000 Jews in Bonn. In 1938 the synagogues were destroyed in the course of *Kristallnacht . In May 1939, 464 Jews remained after flight and emigration. In the summer of 1941 those still there were sent to a Benedictine monastery in Endenich, where they were joined by families evicted from Duisburg, Beuel, and other communities. During June and July 1942 about 400 Jewish inhabitants of the monastery (including around 200 from Bonn) were deported to Theresienstadt and Lodz in four transports; only seven survived. Jews in mixed marriages were sent to forced labor camps in September 1944. After the war a new community was formed and numbered 155 in 1967, mainly elderly persons. A new synagogue was opened in 1959. There were 826 community members in 2003, of whom 739 were recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union.


E. Simons, Geschichte der juedischen Gemeinden im Bonner Raum (1959); J. Buecher, Zur Geschichte der juedi schen Gemeinde in Beuel (1965); Germ Jud, 1 (1963), 46–60; 2 (1968), 93–95; Wiener Library, London, German Jewry (1958), 42f.; A. Levy, Aus Bonner Archiven (1929), 32; H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 4 (1963), 267ff.; 6 (1967), 172–90; Neugebauer, in: Bonner Geschichtsblaetter, 18 (1964), 158–227; 19 (1965), 196–206; M. Braubach, in: Rheinische Vierteljahrsblaetter, 32 (1968), 402–18. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Brocke, Der alte juedische Friedhof Bonn-Schwarzrheindorf (1998); B. Klein, in: Hirt und Herde (2002), 251–278.

[Ze'ev Wilhem Falk]

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