HEILBRONN , city in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. There apparently were Jews living in Heilbronn in the second half of the 11th century, as attested by an inscription found in an old synagogue mentioning Nathan ha-Parnas. By the end of the 13th century, their number must have been significant because on Oct. 19, 1298, the followers of *Rindfleisch massacred 143 Jews at Heilbronn. Jewish learning evidently flourished as the names of scholars and teachers are recorded among the martyrs. Jews had reestablished themselves in Heilbronn by 1316. They possessed a synagogue and a cemetery, and lived on a Judengasse, where non-Jews also resided. During the *Black Death persecutions between February and April 1349 the community was expelled and their property transferred to the city. Some returned in 1357 and in 1361 obtained royal protection. After 1411 King Sigismund granted the Jews of Heilbronn protection of life and property, limited taxation, freedom of movement, and judicial autonomy in Jewish lawsuits; a Jewish oath was to apply in cases tried before the city court. The Jews were expelled from Heilbronn three times during the 15th century, the last in 1490 when the synagogue and the cemetery were confiscated.
Subsequently, until the 19th century, there was no organized Jewish community in the city. Individual Jews were allowed into the city during the daytime on payment of a body-toll. Seven Jewish families settled in nearby Sontheim, where they built a synagogue in 1702.
After the grant of civil emancipation to the Jews in Wuerttemberg by the edict of 1828 a number of Jews settled in Heilbronn and became citizens there. The Jewish lawyer, Moritz Kallmann, was active in the revolution of 1848 and became a city councilor. The community, established officially in 1851, numbered 65 persons in 1858, 137 in 1862, 994 in 1885 (3.5% of the total population), 815 in 1900, and 900 in 1925 (2%). In Sontheim there were 88 Jews in 1822 (8.8%), 45 in 1855, 72 in 1870, and 59 in 1880. The Heilbronn community was liberal in its religious affiliation. Jewish children attended the general schools and received additional religious education in schools sponsored by the community. A large synagogue was built in 1877. A separate Orthodox community was established in 1911. At Sontheim a Jewish old-age home was established in 1907 and cared for 78 persons in 1937. During the Weimar period antisemitism was at a low ebb. There was even an attempt on Hitler's life in Heilbronn in 1926.
After the Nazi rise to power in 1933 the 790 Jews then living at Heilbronn were subjected to restrictions and discrimination, boycott of Jewish goods, vicious agitation in the press, and occasionally physical attacks. In 1936 the community was forced to establish its own elementary school. In October 1938, all Jews of Polish citizenship were deported back to Poland. On Nov. 10–11, 1938, the synagogue was set on fire, the windows of Jewish stores were smashed, and Jewish homes destroyed. Many Jews from Heilbronn were sent to Dachau. In August 1939 the community was officially dissolved. By 1941, around 600 Jews had emigrated. The others were deported to the East, along with 88 Heilbronn Jews who had found refuge in other localities. There were 10 Jews living in Heilbronn in 1967. In 2004 there were about 65 Jews living in Heilbronn who officially belong to the Jewish community of Wuerttemberg in Stuttgart. About 80% of them were immigrants from the former Soviet Union who came to Germany after 1990.
H. Franke, Geschichte und Schicksal der Juden in Heilbronn (1963), incl. bibl.; P. Sauer, Die juedischen Gemeinden in Wuerttemberg und Hohenzollern (1966), 95–100; O. Mayer, Die Geschichte der Juden in Heilbronn (1927); Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 346–50. add. bibliography: W. Angerbauer, "Heilbronn," in: W. Angerbauer and H.G. Frank, Juedische Gemeinden in Kreis und Stadt Heilbronn. Geschichte, Schicksale, Do kumente (1986; Schriftenreihe des Landkreises Heilbronn, vol. 1), 81–101; H.G. Frank, "Und unser Glaube ist Sieg." Die Judentaufe in Heilbronn – Wie aus dem Juden Hirsch anno 1717 Georg Heinrich Siegfried wurde, 249–255.
[Ze'ev Wilhem Falk]