Jewish life in Rastatt

Middle Ages to early modern times

From the Middle Ages until the early modern times there are only sporadic news of Jewish citizens in Rastatt. One of them was Mathias Schweitzer, a court Jew and Judenschultheiss. He is commemorated by a memorial plaque dated 1703 in the courtyard of the town museum.

Commemorative plaque in the city museum
A memorial plaque in the town museum commemorates the Jewish shul bailiff Mathias Schweitzer.

18. Century

Repeatedly affected by persecutions and expulsions, fewer than ten Jewish families lived in Rastatt at the turn of the 18th century. But after the devastating wars in the 17th century, Jewish families were allowed to settle in the depopulated margraviate. This was also in order to bring in taxes for the sovereign. Thus, in the 18th century, on the initiative of Margravine Sibylla Augusta, the small Jewish community had to finance the paving of the streets of the young residential town of Rastatt.

Old picture of the residence of Mathias Schweitzer


Between 1827 and 1829, the first synagogue is built in today's Ottersdorfer Straße. At this time, more than 60 Jewish residents live in Rastatt.


in 1877, Josef Altschul was the first Jewish citizen to be elected to the town's citizens' committee. Until 1933, Jews continued to be active as citizens' committee members or members of various local associations. In addition, numerous Jewish associations of various orientations are founded. Among others, the Israelitische Kranken- und Unterstützungsverein, the Jüdischer Jugendbund and a Jewish bowling club.

Old photo with group of people. Jewish bowling club.
More and more Jewish clubs are founded in Rastatt. Among them also a Jewish bowling club.


in 1881, a Jewish cemetery was established near the Rastatt train station. The presumably last burial was in August 1939. The Jewish cemetery still exists today.

Gravestones at the Jewish cemetery
The Jewish cemetery still exists in Rastatt today. The last burial took place in 1939.


After the abandonment of the Rastatt fortress in 1890, the number of new Jewish citizens grows to about 250.

Arthur Wertheimer shakes hands with Christian Zwiebelhofer
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Jew Arthur Wertheimer and his Christian friend Christian Zwiebelhofer recorded their friendship in a joint photograph. The picture was taken in the studio of Wilhelm Amann


Over time, the synagogue in Ottersdorfer Strasse becomes dilapidated and too small for the growing number of Jewish residents. Therefore, a new synagogue was built in 1906 at the Ottersdorfer Tor. The city supports the construction by donating the land.

Old photo of the synagogue
The foundation stone for the new synagogue was laid on September 14, 1905, by the renowned Karlsruhe architect Ludwig Levy, who had previously built the synagogues in Baden-Baden, Kaiserslautern and Strasbourg.


Jewish citizens increasingly shape the cityscape of Rastatt. They set up businesses such as the cardboard box factory Dreyfuss & Roos, the Badische Polierscheiben- und Putzwollenfabrik Groener & Bloch and, in the early 1920s, the crepe and colored paper factory Werola, which brought the city income and created jobs.
Around 1900, there was also a respectable number of Jewish merchants and craftsmen. In addition, some Jewish families belong to the educated middle class, including lawyers and doctors, whose children attend the Ludwig-Wilhelm-Gymnasium.

Letterhead of the company Dreyfuss & Roos Cartonnagen-Fabrik
Letterhead of the company Dreyfuss & Roos Cartonnagen-Fabrik in Muggensturm and Rastatt. The Rastatt entrepreneur Julius Roos, like many other Jewish businessmen, was expropriated during the Nazi era.


The coexistence of the Jewish and Christian communities functioned well until the end of the 1920s. Even if the defeat in the First World War and the economically strained situation in the Weimar Republic led to the first discords.


With the seizure of power by the National Socialists in March 1933, the situation of the Jewish community deteriorates rapidly. Anti-Jewish measures such as the boycott of Jews in April 1933 and the enactment of anti-Jewish laws increasingly pushed Jews out of public and economic life.
As a result, many Jewish families were driven to emigrate. This possibility was not open to all Jewish citizens. Those left behind were mainly the elderly and those who presumably could not leave the city for family reasons.

SA members stand in front of a car in front of the practice of the doctor Alfred Grünebaum
SA members call for a boycott in front of the practice of the doctor Alfred Grünebaum (Josefstraße 6, then Murgtalstraße).


In the course of November 10, 1938, the Rastatt synagogue is completely destroyed during the November pogroms.

Old picture on which the synagogue tower is burning
Fire of the synagogue on November 10, 1938. The synagogue was first vandalized in the afternoon by SS and SA men in civilian clothes, then set on fire.


On October 22, 1940, the 30 Jews still living in Rastatt are also taken away as part of the deportation of southwest German Jews to Gurs in France. Only three of them survive the Holocaust. This is the end of the Jewish community in Rastatt.

Wood engraving
Decades later, Dieter Klumpp, a contemporary witness from Rastatt, recorded his memories of the events of October 22, 1940 on a wood engraving.

Today: Monuments in Rastatt

Exhibition room of the city museum with pictures in the room
The Kantorenhaus, where the cantor of the Jewish community lived, survived the destruction of the Reichspogromnacht largely unscathed and today houses a documentation room on Rastatt's Jewish history

The Kantorenhaus and the Jewish cemetery in particular have been preserved as visible monuments to Jewish community life in Rastatt.
Furthermore, several memorials in the Rastatt city area commemorate the crimes of National Socialism and the Jewish victims of National Socialism. A plaque at the Kantorenhaus refers to the destroyed synagogue. A memorial stone in front of the train station and a memorial near the former synagogue commemorate the deportation of Rastatt's Jews to Gurs. In addition, Rastatt is a member of the working group for the care of the cemetery for deportees in Gurs.
Since 2013, so-called "Stolpersteine" have also been laid in Rastatt in memory of the victims of National Socialism.

Road sign with "Gurs 1127 km" and a memorial stone and flowers in front of a stone
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the deportation of Jewish citizens to Gurs, a memorial stone was erected at the Rastatt train station in 2000.