The Jewish Cemetery in Rödelsee on Schwanberg

The Jewish Cemetery in Rödelsee on Schwanberg

During a visit to Kitzingen during the past year we had also driven up the nearby Schwanberg to take some photos of the vines and the surrounding countryside.

The elevated position had also afforded our view of a large walled compound that we later learned was a Jewish cemetery. Our interest was further increased when we were able to gather initial information about this Jewish cemetery, which is considered to be one of the largest in Bavaria.

Rödelsee Jewish Cemetery became the central burial place

juedischer friedhof roedelsee 1So we wanted to use our renewed presence in Kitzingen to also visit the Jewish cemetery. From Rödelsee we leave the town via the old Iphoefer Straße, then turn left and then turn right onto the next concrete path. Approximately at the level of the cemetery, a road leads directly to the entrance area, which, however, is not quite reached. The vehicle should be parked about 200 meters beforehand and the rest of the way covered on foot.

The Jewish cemetery in Rödelsee was laid out in the 15th century and was first mentioned in 1432 and again in 1526. In 1563 the aristocratic landowner, namely Wilhelm Moritz von Hessberg, confirmed the existence of the Jewish cemetery. It is the year 1602 when the construction of the perimeter wall and the construction of a Tahara house are approved. The Rödelsee Jewish Cemetery became the central burial place for several surrounding Jewish communities, e.g. from Großlangheim, Hüttenheim, Kitzingen, Mainbernheim, Mainstockheim and Marktbreit. Due to several extensions, the first of which took place in 1614, the cemetery is divided into five cemeteries. In the 19th century there was another expansion, so that the total area of the cemetery was 188.30 ares, which can have more than 2,500 gravestones.

juedischer friedhof roedelsee 3Today the cemetery is owned by the Israelite religious community and is administered from Munich. Entering the cemetery is at your own risk, some tombstones are too loose in their foundations due to weathering and storms, so that they can easily fall over.

Unfortunately, this cemetery is also visited again and again by uninvited visitors, so that we also found the entrance gate locked. However, a notice board states that the key to the gate is available in Rödelsee so that visitors can enter the site. The visitor's book is also kept here, which, in addition to information about the cemetery, also expects information about the visitor. We give up the key and continue our tour around the outside of the site. To the left of the entrance is the younger part of the cemetery from the 19th/20th centuries. Century, easily recognizable by the less weathered tombstones. There is also a memorial for those who died in World War I.

The cemetery was desecrated several times before and during the Nazi era (newspaper articles document the year 1929, 1932, 1936). During the November pogrom of 1938, the small Tahara cottage was even set on fire. In 1950 it was finally demolished. The washing stone from the Taharahaus was disused as a memorial stone in 1950 and set up in the middle of the site. In 1981, however, this too was destroyed. In 1983 a new memorial stone was erected to commemorate the Jews from Rödelsee and the surrounding area who died during the Nazi era.

Historical outline

1432 and 1526    First mentions of the cemetery
1563                    Wilhelm Moritz von Hessberg approved the cemetery "am Steig". (First documentary mention)
1602                    Friedrich Albert von Hessberg approves the construction of a wall and a mortuary for the ritual washing of the corpse.
1614                    Extension of the cemetery 19th century. Another extension around 1920 installation of a memorial for Jewish dead soldiers in the cemetery area
1929/1932/1936  desecration of cemeteries
November 10,1938 SS men set the morgue on fire
1939                    Tombstones are knocked over and destroyed
1942                    Closure of the cemetery
1945                    repair work on stones and on the wall by formerly active National Socialists.
1950                    demolition of the ruins of the morgue. The wash stone comes with an inscribed and erected as a memorial stone.
1981                    Unknown persons destroyed the memorial stone.

press releases

The construction of a new cemetery hall and the renovation of the old Tahara house (1921)

Article in the magazine "Der Israelit" from September 1, 1921:

"Kitzingen, August 15 (1921). In the Israelite central cemeteries in Rödelsee, which according to the cadastre of the rent office existed 'from time immemorial', it was previously considered a great nuisance that the usual prayers and obituaries had to take place in the open air at funerals; it might have been the same The little house, several hundred years old, in which the ritual ablutions take place, is in a very dilapidated condition.It was thanks to a very well-known, generous donation from Mr. Julius Klugmann from New York and his wife Fränzi, the former of whom comes from Wiesenbronn, which belongs to the cemetery district possible to erect a contemporary, stately building and to thoroughly renovate the old house. The noble donors have earned a great merit and their names were immortalized for all time by a memorial plaque attached to the building."

Reports of the first desecration of a cemetery in November 1929

Cemetery desecration in Rödelsee (source: CV newspaper of November 8th, 1929). During the night of November 3rd and 4th, eleven gravestones were knocked over in the Israelite district cemetery in Rödelsee near Kitzingen, and eight of them were smashed by vandals. The grave monument of Rabbi Thalheimer from Mainbernheim is among those that were completely destroyed. The desecrated graves include five children's graves. The footprints point to Mainbernheim. Since a right-wing extremist meeting was recently held there, it is reasonable to assume that the act is a result of this incitement. The investigations were immediately taken up energetically. The cemetery administration has offered a reward of 500 marks for the arrest of the culprit.

Kitzingen (source: Bavarian Jewish Community Newspaper of November 15, 1929).

judische friedhof iphofenA criminal act, born out of the swamp of rudeness and meanness, was committed in the Israelite district cemetery of Rödelsee near Kitzingen. In the night from November 3rd to 4th (1929) 11 tombstones were knocked over by criminal hands and eight of them were smashed in a vandalistic manner. Five stones stood on children's graves, six on adult graves. Among the shattered stones is the grave monument of Rabbi Thalheimer, who died decades ago and was in office in Mainbernheim. It's the second time that brutalized lads have desecrated this venerable cemetery, laid out centuries ago. Bridging has also been committed several times. One wonders how it is possible that the degeneration and savagery of customs have reached such a grave. These are the consequences of hurting and whipping up all the base instincts that emanate from the ethnic side. Under the action of such influences in the perpetrators the feeling of piety for the dead, which is inherent even in primitive peoples, has been lost. One should not believe that such cultural disgrace is possible in a civilized state. How much longer will one tolerate the incitement that bears such fruit and thereby desecrate Germany's reputation? The cemetery administration is offering a reward of RM 500 for those who catch the crimes. Charges have been filed and all efforts are being made to investigate, so it is hoped that the criminals can be caught and brought to justice.

Michael Schneeberger and Christian Reuther wrote a book about the Rödelsee cemetery: "Nothing more to say and nothing to mourn. A Jewish cemetery in Germany." DM 36.00, Edition Hentrich

Please read as well:

The Camposanto - Old Cemetery in Buttstädt

Eerily beautiful - the central cemetery in Vienna


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