Eastern-European Jewish life in Wiesbaden Collection

Two and one-half million Jews left their homes and fled from Eastern to Western Europe between 1880 and 1914 because of pogroms and waves of persecutions. Most of the immigrants to Germany went to Berlin and settled in the “Scheunenviertel”.

A small group of these Eastern-European Jewish families went to Wiesbaden, mostly from Galicia. They fled the great poverty and hunger in many regions of Galicia. Many of them dwelt initialy in Wagemann Street and the neighboring streets of the old part of town. After approximately 1914, they preferred living in the Westend of the city. In 1935, 302 Eastern-European Jews lived there – they preferred Hellmund Street.

There only a few other German cities with immigrant neighborhoods in which Eastern-European Jews – most from the same area of origin – settled in such close proximity and in such a large concentration.

At the beginning of 1930 approximately 640 Eastern-European Jews lived in Wiesbaden. Two thirds came from Poland and Galicia. About half of them were living in the Westend; by 1935 about half of these “Polish” Jews had been born in the city.

Statistical Overview: Origins of Eastern-European Jews (1935)

Eastern-European Jews

Source: Genealogical Data Bank of Paul Lazarus Foundation (PLS) based on the data bank of the City Archives

Source: Genealogical Data Bank of Paul Lazarus Foundation (PLS) based on the data bank of the City Archives

Jewish Orthodoxy in the Westend

Paul Lazarus, long-time rabbi of the Liberal Community at Michelsberg, writes in his memoires that most of the Eastern-European Jews had been members of the Main Community, but that they attended houses of prayer they had established themselves. Some of them belonged to the Neo-Orthodox Community on Friedrich Street and participated in the services held there.
About half of the Eastern-European Jews in the Westend lived a strictly orthodox life. Beginning in 1918, approximately, they maintained a Talmud-Torah Prayer house (known in Yiddish as a “shtibl”) at Kleine Schwalbacher Street 10. In 1929, they transferred this prayer house to Bluecherstrasse 6. Two other prayer houses were on Michelsberg (Ahawat Schalom) and at Geisberg Street 3 (Ahawat Zion).

Emigration to Western European Countries bordering on Germany began in 1934; some families immigrated to Palestine. The end of Eastern European Jewish life in the Westend began on October 28, 1938. The deportations to the dead camps that quickly followed sealed the fate of Jewish Eastern European life in the Westend.

Textile Trade in the Westend

Many Eastern European Jewish families were engaged in the textile business, some of them in the second-hand trade. The business was often handled by the women in their homes on different floors of the buildings. The men were often salesmen. Because customers were allowed to pay in installments, the clientele consisted mostly of the poorer people of the Westend.
In 1920, in Hellmund Street alone, the number of Jewish salesmen amounted to 76 persons. There were many Eastern-European Jewish businesses on Wellritz and Wagemann Streets, mainly second-hand shops.

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