From the village to the city
Baden in particular was extremely progressive in the integration of Jewish fellow citizens. As early as 1809, the young Grand Duchy of Baden was the first state in Germany to recognize the Jewish religious community permanently. The so-called "Badisches Judenedikt" (Baden Jewish Edict) placed Jews on an equal footing, and compulsory schooling, conscription and hereditary surnames were introduced. These decisive improvements culminated in 1862 in civil equality, which the liberally governed Grand Duchy of Baden was the first German state to grant.
Many Jewish families used this new freedom to escape the confines of small villages and moved first to nearby small towns, such as Bruchsal, and later to large cities such as Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Heidelberg and Freiburg. Many Jews there achieved social advancement through diligence and the use of the educational opportunities offered and were active as merchants, inventors, tradesmen, civil servants or freelancers such as lawyers.
From Boycott to Deportation: The Persecution of Jews in the German Southwest 1933 - 1945
When Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of the German Reich in 1933, about 31,000 citizens of the Jewish faith lived in 520 communities in the states of Württemberg, Baden and Hohenzollern. The great majority of them possessed German citizenship.
Proscribed by the National Socialist racial ideology, the Jews in the "Third Reich" were exposed to a continuously increasing pressure of persecution. Reprisals, such as the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, aimed at the social and economic declassification of the religious minority. Open acts of violence threatened people of Jewish faith in life and limb, including during the Reichspogromnacht. In the night from 9 to 10 November 1938, synagogues, prayer rooms and shops throughout Germany were destroyed and burned down. Of the 151 synagogues that existed on the territory of today's Baden-Württemberg at that time, 60 were burned down, 77 were demolished and plundered, and only 15 survived comparatively unscathed.
The Jewish population reacted with mass emigration: by 1941, about 63 percent of the Jews living in Württemberg, Baden and Hohenzollern at the beginning of 1933 had emigrated.
During the Second World War, Jewish people living in the German Reich were socially excluded and deprived of their rights. From 1940, the Nazi regime successively deported Jews to concentration and extermination camps. More than 8,500 people of Jewish faith from Württemberg, Baden and Hohenzollern died violently during the Nazi era.
How should this history be dealt with in the future?
There is no reparation. What happened cannot be undone. But it is now possible to set an example in dealing with the property that was the property of the Bruchsal Jewish community for 150 years before the forced expropriation more than 80 years ago. The signs are being set 80 years after the desecration and destruction of the Bruchsal synagogue and 65 years after the dishonouring of the property of the Jewish temple by the construction of a fire station.
Here the Förderverein proposes to build a House of the History of the Jews of Baden on the synagogue site. This is expressly not to be another Holocaust memorial. In the place of the former Bruchsal Synagogue, the economic and cultural contributions of Jewish fellow citizens to the history, culture, politics and economy of Baden will be honoured.
In this way, it is possible to set signs of remembrance, of reconciliation, but also signs against the anti-Semitism that has flared up again everywhere or the racism that has meanwhile been lived out quite openly.
The Bruchsal inner-city synagogue site with its eventful history is ideally suited for this purpose.
A House of the History of the Jews of Baden as an institution of supra-regional importance strengthens Bruchsal as a central centre and increases the attractiveness of the inner city.