The Jewish Community of Wiesbaden under the Nazi Regime
The Jews of Wiesbaden from Kristallnacht until the Annihilation of the Community
Following Kristallnacht, social welfare work in Wiesbaden was taken over by the Reich's Deputation of the German Jews (Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden). Public prayers were held in the Jewish school, which remained undamaged, and later on they were moved to the Orthodox synagogue. In May of 1939 there remained 1,225 Jews in Wiesbaden – less than half of the Jews who had lived in the city in 1933 – as well as several hundred “non-Jewish Jews”, converts, and “half” and “quarter” Jews, born from mixed marriages which were common in early 20th century Wiesbaden.
The Jews were driven out of their homes, and in the summer of 1940, all the city’s Jews were crowded into some 80 “Jewish Houses”. Jews were forbidden to enter certain parts of the city. In the winter of 1940-1941 only sick Jews were given coal, and the next winter no Jews were given any coal at all. In March 1941, the Reich Deputation of the German Jews employed 16 of the community’s members in its soup kitchen, clothes warehouse, the clinic, the old-age home and other public institutions. During this period fewer than one thousand Jews remained in the city; most of them were elderly persons and women. Fewer than 60 Jews were children under the age of 14. Jewish schooling continued until mid-1942
The Deportation of the Jews of Wiesbaden
In March, May and June of 1942 some 500 Jews were deported from Wiesbaden, among them several rabbis. The deportees were led in groups down the city’s streets toward the local train station, loaded onto cattle cars, and sent to the Lublin district in Poland. After a layover in Piaski these Jews were sent to Sobibor, Belzec and Majdanek, where they were murdered.
On the 11th of June 1942, more than 600 Jews from the district of Wiesbaden, mostly from the city itself, were loaded onto cattle cars and deported to Frankfurt. From Frankfurt, these Jews were deported together with 600 Jews from the Frankfurt community to the district of Lublin. Nearly two hundred of them were deported directly to Majdanek, and the rest were sent to Sobibor following a two-day stop in Izbicia. It is not known of anyone who survived this transport.
By the time of the next deportation, some 40 Jews in Wiesbaden had committed suicide.
On the 27th of August 1942, the last public prayer service was held in Wiesbaden. From the 27th to the 29th of August 1942, six hundred Jews, many of them elderly and weak, were collected in the courtyard of the Orthodox synagogue. The Jews were photographed at the collection point in front of the Orthodox synagogue, during their registration at the police station, and when they boarded the deportation train at the city’s train station. On the 29th of August the Jews of Wiesbaden were deported to Frankfurt, where another 600 local Jews boarded the train. On the 1st of September the train left Frankfurt, and it arrived in Theresienstadt the following day. The Jews on this transport were primarily elderly or sick people, as well as Jews who had been decorated or injured in World War I, and their families. Later, these Jews were deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz. Thirty-two Jews from this deportation survived the war.
The responsibility for liquidating the community’s assets was placed on Berthold Gutmann, a lawyer who was sent on the September 1st transport to Theresienstadt together with his son. The head of the Jewish community, Moritz Maxheimer, was also deported and was murdered in Auschwitz a month later. The secretary of the Jewish community, Arthur Strauss, was deported in March 1943 together with his wife Anna to Theresienstadt, from where he was deported in October 1944 to Auschwitz. Thirteen Jewish doctors from Wiesbaden were deported and perished as well, most of them in Theresienstadt.
In December 1942, fewer than 200 residents of Jewish origin remained in Wiesbaden; most of them were “half” or “quarter” Jews, or Jews married to Aryans who had been defined by the regime as having extra privileges. In 1943 these Jews were added to the Frankfurt community. Twenty-five of them were deported to Theresienstadt in February of 1945.