In 1803, Johann Christoph Freiherr von Aretin published the first complete overview of the history of the Jews in Bavaria: “History of the Jews in Baiern”. The author noted:
“The first historical news that we have of the existence of the Jews in Bavaria are also the first news of their ill-treatment”
Indeed, the history of the Jews in Munich is determined by cruel actions against the community of the Jewish population. As in the rest of the Holy Roman Empire, the Jews in medieval Munich suffered from inhumane pogroms: the Jews became “scapegoats” for everything that seemed inexplicable: for the thesis of the “ritual murders” or for the plague epidemics of the 14th century.
1442 is the year of the final expulsion of the Jews from Munich and there is practically no Jewish life in Munich for almost 300 years. It was not until 1763 that Jews returned to the electoral court under strict conditions as so-called “court Jews” and became the bankers of the lavish Wittelsbach rulers.
1813 heralded a new era with the “Jewish Edict” and the Kingdom of Bavaria opened itself up to Jewish citizens, but under the strictest control of immigration. Jews were accepted, but in manageable numbers and always adjustable. Only after the fall of this regulation in 1861 did Jews move to Munich in increasing numbers. Jewish culture is flourishing and the community is growing in such a way that the desire for a larger synagogue has increased. With the opening of the Old Main Synagogue on Herzog-Max-Strasse, one seemed to have arrived at the center of society. What a deceptive security!
The National Socialists destroy all of this with their downright morbid perception of a “Jewish world conspiracy”. After years of harassment and deprivation, the Nazi pogrom night marks a turning point concerning the violence against Jews. A tacit German population watches the events largely unaffected and now everything seemed possible for the National Socialists. For the Munich Jews, the inhumanity culminated in the deportations from November 1941 and the subsequent Holocaust.
The end of National Socialism gave birth to new Jewish life, albeit very slowly. It was a long way from the first facilities on Möhlstrasse during the post-war period, to the successful buildings of the Israelite religious community on St. Jakobs Platz with its all-dominating synagogue.
Join us on a walk through centuries of eventful history in Jewish Munich.