Jewish life in WittlichStarting out from the houses, squares and cultural centres of the formerly flourishing Jewish Community, the visitor is to be given the opportunity of encountering the vanished Jewish culture again.
The Synagogue was the spiritual centre of the Jewish community. In addition to the history of the Synagogue and its function, the exhibition also refers to the common origins of the Jews and Christians and the anti-Judaism of the Church. In addition to other important exhibits, a fragment of a Torah scroll is shown which was discovered some years ago during reconstruction work at Tiergartenstrasse 26. The oldest gravestones in Wittlich (1671/72) are to be found at the Jewish cemetery. The great importance the cemetery has for the Jewish culture, is being explained. The century-old stones speak through their form and symbolism. With the approval from the Jewish Community Trier, the fragments of two gravestones have been put together again for the exhibition.
Arthur Feiner, born in Wittlich in 1907, donated a small prayer book for the exhibition which had accompanied him on his odyssey from Germany around the world. In response to questions about his fate, he answered in a letter from Denver, USA, in 1993:
At the Jewish school, Kirchstrasse 1, the teacher David Hartmann was the last to also teach Hebrew in addition to the general classes. The school promoted the assimilation to German culture. On the photo shown here (approx. 1934) pupils celebrate the Jewish joyful event – Purim. Their costumes can be traced back to the influence of the “Christian” carnival.
The cattle market, one of the largest in western Germany, played a special role for Jewish citizens. Almost half of them worked in cattle trading. This astonishing dominance goes back ultimately to the strict Jewish dietary laws. In Wittlich, just like in other small towns and rural areas, Jews became involved in working in this occupation already early on in order to ensure the supply of ritually pure meat. Many houses on the market place were in Jewish ownership until the “Aryanisation” in the thirties. Josef Bender sold hosiery products at Marktplatz 1, the Ermann-Bach family owned a wholesale food business. Next door was Emil Frank's clothes shop and at Marktplatz 7 the Wolff family had a shoe shop. With the boycott of Jewish shops on 1 April 1933, first the Jewish businesses disappeared and then the families.
|1309||A Jew is mentioned in a document in Wittlich for the first time.|
|1663||The poll tax list for the town of Wittlich includes 184 adults, 14 of them Jews|
|1808||68 Jews of Wittlich announce their new family names at the Town Hall|
|1910||The new Synagogue is consecrated|
|1938||In the “Reichsprogromnnacht” the interior furnishings of the Synagogue are destroyed|
|1942||With the deportation of the last Jewish citizens, the Jewish community of Wittlich is extinguished|