Station:  Jewish Community
M: Some ten years after the Huguenots settled in Offenbach, a Jewish community was also established. This was in 1707 and 1708, under Count Johann Philipp. He wanted to alleviate the grim fallout from the 30 Years' War and supported both Huguenot religious refugees and Jews settling in the county. He hoped they’d revive the economy and boost the population, which had been severely reduced. However, the Jewish community was only covered by statutes rather than privileges, unlike the Huguenots. The statutes regulated the lives of the Jews, but didn’t grant them any rights. Count Johann Philipp only allowed them to establish a Jewish cemetery and a synagogue, and to practice some professions.
F: Offenbach’s first Jewish place of worship was built in 1729 in what was then “Judengasse”, Jews’ Alley. It became the centre of Jewish life for almost 200 years. In 1910, the Jewish community had 2,360 members. The old synagogue was no longer large enough, so it was shut down, sold off and remodelled. Recent renovation work uncovered its façade beneath the cladding on the front of a commercial building.
The outer wall in Grosse Marktstrasse, formerly Judengasse, is now a memorial site.
M: In 1916, a new synagogue was built in Goethestrasse– a domed structure with seating for more than 800 people. Today, it’s a venue where events are held. We have a model on display here, but you can discover more about it at stop number 22.
F: The Jewish community played an important role in driving Offenbach's economic and cultural upturn. The city became the home of Hebrew letterpress printing, which produced almost 150 printed works in Hebrew. An example from this period is the old Hebrew book in the display case.
M: When the Nazis came to power in 1933, many Jews emigrated. Others were deported and murdered by the Nazis. After the Shoah, the number of Jewish people still living in Offenbach was just 18. The large synagogue could no longer be used, and a transfer of ownership to the city was contractually agreed. It was replaced by a new, smaller synagogue on Kaiserstrasse that was inaugurated in 1956.
F: Today, there are once again more than 2,000 Jewish people living in Offenbach.
Foto 1: © Haus der Stadtgeschichte
Foto 2: © Dagmar Trüpschuch