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Darmstadt, Germany

DARMSTADT, city in Hesse, Germany. Jews were mentioned there from the 16th century. They were subjected to the severe restriction of the Judenordnung enacted for the whole of *Hesse Jewry in 1585 and reimposed in 1629. In the 16th and 17th centuries Darmstadt Jews were compelled to attend Christian missionary sermons, like the other Hesse communities. They were granted permission to assemble for prayers only in 1695. A synagogue was erected in 1737, and the cemetery was established in 1709. The community numbered 200 persons in 1771. Its Memorbuch encompasses the years 1711 to 1863. The community flourished after the grant of civil rights to Jews.

About 2,000 Jews lived in Darmstadt in 1913, and 3,000 in 1933, many of them immigrants from Eastern Europe. A new synagogue was built in 1876. However, the local Orthodox members seceded and in 1906 founded an independent community and synagogue, which totaled approximately 110 families in 1925. The Orientalist Julius Landsberger served as rabbi of Darmstadt at the end of the 19th century. The last noted rabbi of the Reform community of the city was the scholar Bruno *Italiener . The poet Karl *Wolfskehl , the literary historian Friedrich *Gundolf , and the architect Alfred *Messel were all born in Darmstadt. Emigration after Hitler's rise to power reduced the community to fewer than 700 by August 1938. On Nov. 10, 1938, both the main synagogue, with its 30 Torah scrolls, and the Orthodox one were burned down. The remaining Jews were deported starting in December 1940. There were 70 Jews living in the city and 30 in the district in 1967. A new synagogue was inaugurated in 1988, when there were 116 community members. Due to the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union, their number rose to 670 in 2003.

Sources: Lebermann, in: JJLG, 20 (1929), 181–252; A. Mueller, Zur Geschichte der Judenfrage in den rechtsrheinischen Besitzungen der Landgrafschaft Hessen-Darmstadt in 16., 17. und 18. Jahrhundert… (1937); Darmstaedter israelitischer Kalender… (1939); B. Postal and S.H. Abramson, Landmarks of a People… (1962); H.W. Sabais (ed.), Vom Geist einer Stadt… (1956); FJW (1932–33), 378–9: E.G. Franz, Juden als Darmstaedter Buerger (1984); B. Szklanowski, Bet ha-Ḥayyim. Der juedische Friedhof in Darmstadt (1988); R. Dreesen, Darmstadt als Deportationsort (2004).

[Edmund Meir / Stefan Rohrbacher (2nd ed.)]

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