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Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg (Ger. Nuernberg) is a city in Bavaria, Germany. A report of 1146 records that many Jews from Rhenish towns fled to Nuremberg, but Jews are first mentioned in the city in 1182. By the 13th century, a large number of Jews were resident there. In reply to an inquiry from Weissenburg in 1288, the mayor and council of Nuremberg pointed out the laws then governing Jewish moneylending in the city. The memorbuch ascribed to Nuremberg by Siegmund Salfeld (see bibl.) would prove that a synagogue was consecrated there in 1296. Two years later, 728 Jews were victims of the *Rindfleisch persecutions, among them *Mordecai b. Hillel, author of the Mordekhai. Jews are mentioned in Nuremberg again in 1303. In 1313 Henry VII allowed the Schultheiss ("mayor") to admit more Jews and granted him their protection dues. However, two years later, King Louis IV of Bavaria (1314–47) allowed the council to demolish the houses that the Jews had rebuilt. In 1322 the Jews of Nuremberg, and their taxes, were pledged to the burgrave Frederick IV. Although King Louis promised in 1331 to protect the Jews against oppression and demanded an annual payment of 400 florins for three years in lieu of all taxes, he allowed the council to increase this sum according to the Jews' ability to pay. The council exerted strong pressure on the Jews, and many of them fled the town. Two years later, the king declared himself willing to readmit them: a list of 1338 shows that 212 authorized Jewish families (indicating a total of about 2,000 persons) were resident in the city. In 1342 Nuremberg Jews were compelled to pay the gueldener *Opferpfennig tax. The council continued to fight an increase in Jewish ownership of houses, and in 1344 Louis IV was obliged to promise that the Jews would no longer be permitted to purchase houses owned by Christians. In the *Black Death massacres, 560 Jews were burnt to death on December 5, 1349; the rest fled or were expelled. *Charles IV (1346–76) exonerated the town council: promising the property of the Jews to the burgrave of Nuremberg and the bishop of Bamberg, he allowed the majority of Jewish houses to be demolished to make room for the markets; the St. Mary Church (the Frauenkirche) was built on the site of the synagogue.

However, soon afterward, growing short of money, the city authorities were anxious to attract the Jews back, and in 1351, Charles IV permitted the burgrave to admit them and ordered the officials and knights to assist them. The Jewish community in Nuremberg increased rapidly. A contract concluded in 1352 between the city council and the Jews obliged the latter to live in a special quarter (the present Judenstrasse), and all debts of the citizens were canceled. A tax list of 1382 indicates that the Jewish population then numbered more than 500.

In 1310, King Henry VII restricted their commerce in the market and established a fixed interest rate. In the 14th–15th centuries, the right to live in Nuremberg could be acquired only by the head of a family, on payment to the council of a fee that was probably assessed according to the financial situation of the applicant. In addition, he had to provide guarantors and take an oath of loyalty. If a Jew wished to leave the city, he had to notify the council, pay all taxes and dues for the following year, hand over his pledges to a Jew of Nuremberg, and sell his property only to a citizen. Foreign Jews, with the exception of yeshivah students, could not be given accommodation in any house. If a Nuremberg Jewish couple married, they were allowed to stay four weeks only and, during that period, had to apply for admittance. Jews and Christians were forbidden to use each other's bathhouses. *Moneylending by Jews was regulated in substantially the same fashion as throughout Germany. Trading was forbidden to Jews in the 13th to 14th centuries except in horses and meat. The latter had to be sold at special stalls, separated from those of the Christians, who were not allowed to buy meat slaughtered by Jews. Jews were also forbidden to sell wine, beer, and some other foodstuffs to non-Jews.

As in other towns in Germany, the protection of the Jews (a profitable source of income) became a bone of contention between the municipality and the king. In 1352, the king granted the city council the right to admit Jews and promised not to pledge or to cede to anyone else the taxes payable by the Jews. However, by 1360 Charles IV admitted Jews to Nuremberg on his own accord and obtained one-third of the receipts for the transference of their protection dues to the municipality; in 1371, he demanded a further 400 florins for 20 years. In 1382 King Wenceslaus IV (1378–1419) again ceded to the city the protection of the Jews and their taxes for 19 years, against an annual payment of 400 florins. Nuremberg shared with Emperor Wenceslaus the gains from the cancellation of debts to Jews (1385). Jews in Nuremberg were arrested and released only after handing over the pledges they held and promising the city council still larger sums. The council appointed a special commission to collect the debts (without interest in the case of recent debts and with a deduction of one quarter in the case of old ones). The commission kept special accounts of "the Jews' money." Total extortion from the Jews approximated 95,000 florins at that time and a similar sum in 1390.

In 1412, King Sigismund (1411–37) handed over to the burgrave in Nuremberg his share of the Jewish taxes. However, in 1414, he forced the Jews to contribute 12,000 florins to the Church Council of Constance, and in 1416 obtained an annual payment of 10% of their movable assets for three years against a promise of leaving their other assets untouched and renouncing new taxes. At times the city council prevented the king from extorting large sums (Frederick III, in 1442, had to content himself with 7,000 florins) since they wanted to retain for themselves the income from the Jews. When the Synod of Bamberg prohibited the Jews from engaging in moneylending, the council intervened to have the decree revoked. The council also saw to it that the regulation requiring Jews to wear a distinguishing *badge and headdress was not strictly enforced; only foreign Jews were obliged to wear Gugeln, i.e., tall white caps.

With their increasing indebtedness to them, the common citizens' hatred of the Jews also grew. The position of the Jews was aggravated by the appearance in Nuremberg of John of *Capistrano in 1454; the Jews were compelled to attend his conversionist sermons (as they were in 1478 the sermons of Peter *Schwarz). In 1467, 18 Jews were burnt to death, accused of having killed four Christians. In 1470 the Jews obtained permission from Frederick III to continue moneylending for six years; three years later, the council began to agitate for their expulsion. A new municipal code of 1479 forbade them to charge interest and enforced a humiliating Jewish *oath. The Jews refused to obey the council's regulations, and relations between the townspeople and the Jews worsened. Around 1499 the city obtained a legal opinion from the synod that lending on interest to Christians was forbidden to Jews according to the Torah and Canon Law (W. Pirckheimer, Briefwechsel, 1, no. 89 (1940), 295–6). In 1498 Maximilian I (1485–1519) at last approved the expulsion of the Jews from Nuremberg forever. In March 1499, they left the city, some settling in the surrounding villages. Their houses and the synagogue were confiscated by the mayor in favor of the emperor and then purchased by the town for 8,000 florins. The cemetery was destroyed, and the tombstones were used for building purposes; one of these stones is located in the spiral staircase of St. Lorenzkirche.

Jewish communal *autonomy in Nuremberg was active and, in the main, respected. Internal Jewish matters, particularly of taxation, were decided by the rabbi (Judenmeister) and the council of the Jews (Judenrat); the five members of the latter were appointed every year by the town jurors. Attempts by the Jews to select their own council members were frustrated by the town authorities. The Judenrat apportioned the taxes payable by the community and administered its assets. Several noted personalities taught at the yeshivah in the city and were the community's rabbis: Mordecai b. Hillel, Jacob ha-Levi, Jacob *Margolioth, Jacob *Weil (1430–50), and Jacob *Pollack (from 1470). During Weil's period of office, a synod of rabbis was convened in Nuremberg. Meir b. Baruch of Rothenburg is said to have been the rabbi of Nuremberg. Some Hebrew was printed in Nuremberg (by non-Jews) during the 16th century, first on an engraved bookplate designed by Albrecht Duerer in 1503, and in J. Boeschenstein's Vil gutter Ermanungen (1525) and W. Fugger's Ein nutzlich und wolgegrundt Formular (1553). Between 1599 and 1602, large parts of a polyglot Bible were issued by Elijah Hutter; J.L. Muehlhausen's Sefer Niẓẓaḥon (with a Latin translation) appeared in 1644, printed by W. Endler.

Return and Settlement

It was not until the end of the 17th century that Jews were allowed to enter Nuremberg to purchase goods on payment of a body tax (Leibzoll), but they were not allowed to remain there. In the first half of the 19th century, individual Jews occasionally succeeded in staying for shorter or longer periods. At the end of the 1840s, a few Jews were living there, but it was only in 1850 that a Jew (Josef Kohn) was accepted as a citizen by the town council. A community began to form in 1857, subject to the rabbi of Fuerth. In 1859 the Israelitischer Religionsverein (Jewish Religious Association) was formed, and legalized as the Kultusgemeinde five years later. In the same year, the cemetery was opened, and ten years later (1874), the synagogue was consecrated. In 1875 the Orthodox members founded the Adass Israel community, which opened its own synagogue in 1902 and a primary school in 1921. The Jewish population of Nuremberg increased from 11 in 1825, to 219 in 1858, and 3,032 in 1880. It continued to rise from 5,956 in 1900 to 8,603 in 1915, and 9,000 in 1933, making it the second-largest community in Bavaria.

The Nazi Period

Between the two world wars, Nuremberg became the center of the Nazi Party; the molesting of Jews in the streets became an everyday occurrence. Julius *Streicher established one of the first branches of the nascent Nazi Party there in 1922 and edited the notorious antisemitic paper Der *Stuermer. Between 1922 and 1933, about 200 instances of cemetery desecration were reported in and around Nuremberg. While the Nazi Party annual rallies were in progress in the city, the Jews lived in fear of humiliation and attack. The reign of terror began in 1933 when Streicher was made Gauleiter of Franconia. On July 30, 400 wealthy and distinguished Jewish citizens were arrested and publicly maltreated; some were forced to trim the grass with their teeth. In succeeding years, boycotts and excesses continued without abating. On August 10, 1938, the synagogue and communal center were demolished. Exactly three months later, a systematically organized pogrom broke out. The two remaining synagogues and numerous shops were burned to the ground. Of the 91 Jews in Germany who met their deaths on Kristallnacht, 26 (including ten suicides) were in Nuremberg. Immediately afterward, between 2,000 and 3,000 Jews left the city. In 1939 only 2,611 Jews remained. In 1941 there were 1,800. A total of 1,601 were deported during the war (Dr. Benno Martin, head of the police, rescued many Jews from death and alleviated the suffering of others); the three main transports were 512 to *Riga on November 29, 1941 (16 survived); 426 to *Izbica on March 25, 1942 (none survived); and 533 to *Theresienstadt on September 10, 1942 (27 survived).

About 65 of the former inhabitants returned after the war and a community was reorganized, which numbered 181 in 1952 and 290 in 1970. In 1984 a new community center with a synagogue was opened. The Jewish community numbered 316 in 1989; 200 in 1990; and about 1,450 in 2005. More than 80 percent of the members are immigrants from the former Soviet Union.


A. Mueller, Geschichte der Juden in Nuernberg (1968). MEDIEVAL PERIOD: M. Wiener, Regesten zur Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland waehrend des Mittelalters (1862); O. Stabbe, Die Juden in Deutschland (1866), 49–66, 135–41, 211, 221, passim; H.C.B. Briegleb, in: J. Kobak's Jeschurun, 6 (1868), 1–28, 190–201; S. Taussig, Geschichte der Juden in Bayern (1874), 12, 23–24, 27, 32; M. Stern, Die israelitische Bevoelkerung der deutschen Staedte, 3 (1896); Salfeld, Martyrol; Aronius, Regesten; A. Suessmann, Die Judenschuldentilgungen unter Koenig Wenzel (1907); G. Caro, Sozial-und Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Juden, 2 vols. (1908–20), index; I. Schiper, Yidisher Geshikhte, 2 (1930); G. Kisch, in: HJ, 2 (1940), 23–24; A. Kober, in: PAAJR, 15 (1945), 65–67; Z. Avneri, in: Zion, 25 (1960), 57–61; Germ Jud, 1 (1963); 2 (1968); G. Michelfelder, in: Beitraege zur Wirtschaftsgeschichte Nuernberg (1967), 236–60. MODERN PERIOD: H. Barbeck, Geschichte der Juden in Nuernberg und Fuerth (1878); B. Ziemlich, Die israelitische Kultusgemeinde in Nuernberg (1900); R. Wassermann, in: Zeitschrift fuer Demographie und Statistik der Juden, 3 (1907), 77; M. Freudenthal, Die israelitische Kultusgemeinde Nuernberg 18741924 (1925); ZGJD, 2 (1930), 114, 125; J. Podro, Nuremberg, the Unholy City (1937); Nuernberger Stadtarchiv und Volksbuecherei, Schicksal juedischer Mitbuerger in Nuernberg 18501945 (1965); E.N. Peterson, The Limits of Hitler's Power (1969), 224–94; Yad Vashem Archives. HEBREW PRINTING: L. Loewenstein, in: JJLG, 10 (1912), 53, 168–70; A. Marx, Jewish History and Booklore (1944), 318; A. Freimann, Gazetteer of Hebrew Printing (1946), 54–55. ADD BIBLIOGRAPHY: Germania Judaica, vol. 3 1350–514 (1987), 1001–44; A. Eckert and H. Rusam, Geschichte der Juden in Nuernberg und Mittelfranken (Beitraege zur politischen Bildung, vol. 7) (19952); J. Kammerling, Andreas Osiander and the Jews of Nuremberg. A Reformation Pastor and Jewish Toleration in 16th-Century Germany (1998); M. Janetzko, Haben Sie nicht das Bankhaus Kohn gesehen? Ein juedisches Familienschicksal in Nuernberg 18501950 (Nuernberger Stadtgeschichten, vol. 1) (1998); M. Diefenbacher and W. Fischer-Pache (eds.), Mitten in Nuernberg. Juedische Firmen, Freiberufler und Institutionen am Vorabend des Nationalsozialismus (Quellen zur Geschichte und Kultur der Stadt Nuernberg, vol. 28) (1998); idem, Gedenkbuch fuer die Nuernberger Opfer der Schoa, vol. 1 and 2 (Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte und Kultur der Stadt Nuernberg, vol. 29, 30) (1998, 2002); L. Rosenberg, Spuren und Fragmente. Juedische Buecher, juedische Schicksale in Nuernberg (Ausstellungskatalog der Stadtbibliothek Nuernberg, vol. 102) (2000).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.