KREMS, city in Lower Austria. Jews are first mentioned in Krems in 1136 when "Ernustus Judeus" witnessed a legal transaction. In 1293 two Jews were broken on the wheel following a *blood libel; the rest of the community was forced to pay the local nobility for their protection. In the 13th and 14th centuries the Krems community was one of the most important in Austria. The Jews were moneylenders and they were not restricted to dwellings in any one quarter of the city. Persecutions occurred in 1337 and 1347. On Sept. 29, 1349, inflamed by rumors that the Jews had caused the *Black Death, the populace of Krems and the nearby villages massacred most of the Jews and plundered their homes. A few escaped to the fortress. Duke Albrecht V ordered his soldiers to punish the attackers, laid penalties on the city, and sentenced three of the ringleaders to death. In 1355 Jews are recorded as living in Krems, owning houses all over the city, but in 1422 a Jewish street is mentioned. There was a local Jewish oath, recorded in 1416. The gravestone of a rabbi, Naḥlifa or Nehemiah, forms part of the outer wall of the 15th-century parish church. Other personages of note from Krems include R. Israel (great-grandfather of R. Israel *Isserlein) who may have been appointed chief rabbi of the Jews in all the German communities, and R. Aaron Blumlein, a colleague of R. Jacob *Moellin (Maharil), who died a martyr in Vienna. The Vienna archives preserve a ketubbah of 1391/92 from Krems, and the Krems municipal archives contain fragments of a Megillat Esther used in the cover of a tithe book of 1431.
In 1421 the Jews were expelled from Krems. Individual Jewish hide, fur, and feather merchants did business in the local markets in the 17th century. In 1638, every Jew visiting the market paid one reichsthaler. By 1652 there were 12 Jewish families in Krems. R. Samuel Koidonover wrote his Naftali Ẓevi there in 1656–59. In reprisal for a sentence passed against a Jew accused of theft, Moldavian Jews boycotted the Krems market in 1701. The community was reestablished in the middle of the 19th century. A cemetery was opened in 1853, another in 1880. A synagogue was consecrated in 1894. The community numbered 179 in 1869, 595 in 1880, and about 200 in 1932. In September 1938 the synagogue was seized, ostensibly to serve as a shelter for Sudeten refugees. Doors and windows were smashed on Kristallnacht (Nov. 10, 1938) and the 92 remaining Jews fled to Vienna soon after. The synagogue building still existed in 1970 but was no longer in use.
The neighboring locality of Langenlois had a Jewish settlement in 1245, a synagogue and a Jewish street, and in nearby Spitz and Stein an der Donau there were also important medieval communities.
Germ Jud, 1 (1937), 149–50, 2 (1968), 453–5; L. Moses, Juden in Niederoesterreich (1935), 203; idem, in: Juedisches Archiv (Nov. 1927), 9–17; (Mar. 1928), 18; (June–Aug. 1928), 3–8; (Jan.–Feb. 1929), 52–3; H. Ebner, in: Mitteilungen des Kremser Stadtarchives (1965), 73f.; O. Brunner (ed.), Rechtsquellen der Staedte Krems und Stein (1953), 56, 80, 99, 112; H. von Voltelini, in: Mitteilungen des Vereins fuer die Geschichte d. Stadt Wien, 12 (1932), 64–70; A. Engel (ed.), idem, in: Gedenkbuch Kuratoriums (1936), 90–101.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.