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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community in Würzburg

Würzburg During the Holocaust

Kristallnacht

The Jews of Würzburg suffered a heavy blow on Kristallnacht, between the 9th and the 10th of November, 1938. Nearly 1,000 SA militiamen raided Jewish residences throughout the city, robbing their valuables and destroying their contents. Jewish shops were looted and destroyed. Though the synagogue in Würzburg was not set on fire, as it was too close to neighboring buildings, its contents were gutted and burnt. The Torah scrolls disappeared, and later a few charred scrolls resurfaced in the yard of a local resident. The contents of the small synagogue were similarly destroyed.

A group of SA militiamen stormed the old building of the Teachers Seminary. They shook the students out of their beds and tortured them. Egged on by many of the local inhabitants, the SA proceeded to gut the building, destroying whatever utensils and furnishings they could find, uprooting the doors, and breaking the windows. In light of the violence one of the students called the police, who arrived on the scene only to arrest the older students. This act was cheered by the crowd.

On Kristallnacht and in the days which followed, hundreds of men from Würzburg and neighboring communities were imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo. Some 300 Jewish men were deported to the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps. Among those imprisoned was the secretary of the Jewish community, Reuven Eschwege. He was taken to the building of the Jewish community and forced to open the safe where the community stored its official documents, its valuable ritual objects, bonds, and other precious items. The contents of the safe were confiscated by the Gestapo. The next day, members of the community were banned from entering the community building, and the authorities demanded that the Jewish community pay for damages the riots had caused to the electrical system. The libraries, housing important books and manuscripts, were also confiscated. The Jewish community had to finance the conversion of the old Teachers Seminary into a dormitory for Jewish refugees from the vicinity of Würzburg, who had fled their original places of residence on Kristallnacht.