PFORZHEIM, city in Baden, Germany. The first reference to the presence of Jews dates from the 13th century. In 1267 the discovery of the corpse of a drowned girl gave rise to a *blood libel against the Jewish community, and their communal leaders were killed. Their martyrdom was extolled in religious verse and the day of their death (20th Tammuz) set aside as a fast day. The community was almost annihilated during the *Black Death persecutions of 1349. In the 15th century a few *Schutzjuden lived in Pforzheim. In the early 16th century J. *Reuchlin, the renowned humanist, intervened on behalf of the Jews of Pforzheim with Margrave Philip I (1479–1533). Expelled with all the Jews of *Baden in 1614, they returned in 1670. The handful of Jewish families in Pforzheim in the 18th century dealt mainly in cattle, leather, and cloth. Prior to 1812, worship was conducted in a private home, but in that year a synagogue was built. It remained in use until 1893, when a new synagogue was built, later renovated in 1930. A cemetery was consecrated in 1846 and a school founded in 1832. The community increased from 101 in 1801 to 287 in 1875 and continued to grow, in part due to the flourishing jewelry industry; by 1900 it had reached 535, and by 1927 around 1,000. By June 1933 the Jewish population had fallen to 770 (1.1% of the total population). In the 20th century Jews were important in the financial and industrial life of the city. With the rise of Nazism, Jewish enterprises were boycotted and the community was further depleted through emigration, largely to the U.S. and Ereẓ Israel. On Nov. 10, 1938, the synagogue was desecrated and partly demolished. One hundred and eighty-three Jews were deported to the *Gurs concentration camp on Oct. 22, 1940; 21 returned after the war. They were affiliated with the *Karlsruhe community and possessed a new cemetery. A memorial was erected in 1967 on the site of the synagogue. In 1976 there were 120 Jews in the city. In 1994 a Jewish community was founded in Pforzheim, which numbered 434 in 2004. The majority of the members are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. A new community center functioned from 2006.
Germania Judaica, 2 (1968), 654–5; F. Hundsnurscher and G. Taddey, Die juedischen Gemeinden in Baden (1968); Salfeld, Martyrol, index; PK, Germanyah; G. Braendle (ed.), Gurs – Vorhoelle von Auschwitz. Antisemitismus in Pforzheim 1920–1980 (1980); idem, Die juedischen Mitbuerger der Stadt Pforzheim (1985); G. Braendle and W. Zink, Juedische Gottes haeuser in Pforzheim (1990); M. Preuss, Der juedische Friedhof auf der Schanz in Pforzheim (1994); G. Braendle, Juedisches Pforzheim. Einladung zur Spurensuche (Orte juedischer Kultur) (2001). WEBSITES: www.alemannia-judaica.de; www.jgm-net.de/Baden/pforzhm.html; www.israelitische-kultusgemeinde-pforzheim.de.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.