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Post Frankfurt's Jewish Museum: History of a Community
Created by John Eipper on 01/22/23 10:14 AM

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Frankfurt's Jewish Museum: History of a Community (Patrick Mears, -Germany, 01/22/23 10:14 am)

THE STORY OF FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN'S JEWISH COMMUNITY,
 As TOLD IN WORDS AND OBJECTS BY THE CITY'S JEWISH MUSEUM

I.  FROM CONSTANTINE THE GREAT TO THE DEMOLITION OF FRANKFURT'S JEWISH GHETTO (AD 321 TO 1796)

During the time of the Roman Empire, a number of Jewish communities were established north of the Alps and within the present borders of the Federal State of Germany. Some historians assert that the Decree of AD 321 issued by Emperor Constantine the Great is the earliest evidence of such a community, having been created within the limits of the present city of Cologne. https://miqua.lvr.de/media/miqua/presse/publikationen/321_broschuere/2022-09-23_321-Broschuere_ENGL_BF.pdf Other similar communities arose in other German areas during the Early Middle Ages and later, including the cities of Worms, Speyer and Mainz, all of which have recently been honored in 2021 by UNESCO as important Jewish cultural sites.

A Jewish community was founded in what is now the city of Frankfurt-am-Main in the 12th century. These first settlers likely founded their community in an area near the later-constructed Roman Catholic cathedral now officially named the "Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomew." The numbers of this religious group in Frankfurt waxed and waned throughout the Middle Ages, with residents sometimes fleeing the city to escape from anti-Jewish pogroms. In 1360 after the community returned to Frankfurt after such an attack eleven years before, the returning Jews were granted the right to settle and reside in the city.

In the year 1464 Frankfurt Jews were forced by the city rulers to reside in an area just within the city's boundaries. Within these grounds, Jewish residents built dwellings, business premises, and a synagogue. Later the city constructed a wall with gates around this area, commonly referred to as the "Judengasse," which drastically restricted the freedom of movement of the Jews living there. These walls and gates were demolished in 1796, although Jews continued to live in this ghetto thereafter. In 1846, the city granted its Jewish residents additional civil rights, including the right to reside outside of the ghetto. This award of the right of residence triggered many departures of Jews from the Judengasse to other city neighborhoods.

II.  THE RISE OF THE ROTHSCHILD DYNASTY IN FRANKFURT AND ITS SPREAD THROUGHOUT EUROPE

Although many Jewish residents of Frankfurt in the 19th century excelled in the realms of banking, finance, literature, mathematics and the sciences, the most notable of these families was the Rothschilds. The founders of this powerful dynasty were Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) and his wife, Gutle Schnapper Rothschild (1753-1849). Mayer Amschel was born in Frankfurt's Judengasse in 1744, which then was still a walled and gated, Jewish ghetto. His extraordinary financial success arose from his close relationship with Crown Prince Wilhelm of Hesse, which connection arose from Mayer Amschel's sale of ancient coins to the Prince, who was an avid collector. This relationship expanded in scope when Mayer Amschel provided banking services to his client, who had been elevated in 1785 to the title of "Wilhelm IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel."

When the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Hesse-Kassel in 1806, Wilhelm IX took refuge in the Duchy of Holstein. Prior to his escape from the French, Wilhelm had delivered a large batch of securities to Mayer Amschel for investment and possible sale during the Landgrave's exile. These securities and the profits earned therefrom were thereupon invested by another one of Mayer Amschel and Gurtle's sons, Nathan, on the London financial markets.

The famed and still prospering "Rothschild Dynasty" had its origins in 1798 when a son of Mayer Amschel and Gurtle named Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) emigrated to England, where he established the first foreign branch of the family's textile business. In 1804 Nathan acquired English citizenship and founded a bank in London. Another son, Jakob Mayer Rothschild (1792-1868), moved to Paris in 1811, where he engaged in banking and finance activities, one of which was financing the English armies in Portugal under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley, the First Duke of Wellington, during the Peninsular War against Napoleon's armies (1807-1814). Two other sons of Mayer Amschel and Gurtle established banks in Vienna and Naples, while the fifth son, Amschel Mayer Rothschild, assumed control of the Frankfurt bank after his father's death.

III.  THE GRANT OF CIVIL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES TO FRANKFURT'S JEWISH POPULATION AND THE RISE OF GERMAN ANTI-SEMITISM (1846-1933)

a.  Overview

The eighty-seven year period between 1846, the date of the emancipation of Frankfurt's Jewish population, and 1933, the first year of rule by the National Socialist German Workers' Party ("NSDAP") of the German state, was one of significant political, academic and social advances by Frankfurt's Jews. One milestone on this path to equality took place on December 21, 1848, when the German Parliament adopted a decree granting legal rights to all German citizens, including its Jewish minority. These achievements and advances are well summarized in a 2020 publication by Frankfurt's Jewish Museum titled "Jewish Frankfurt: From the Enlightenment to the Present" (hereinafter cited as Jewish Frankfurt):

"The fight for equal rights was accompanied by a cultural blossoming of Frankfurt's Jewish middle class. In 1800, the city had approximately 40,000 residents, including some 2,200 Jews. By 1864, its population had grown to more than 80,000, with almost 7,500 Jews. A diverse cultural life emerged with theater, opera performances, and the first museums, parallel to the bustling commercial activity at that time. The city saw the founding of banks, new industries and new sectors in which many Jews participated as company owners. . . .Wealthier families built urban mansions that offered space for new forms of social life. They served as venues for receptions, concerts and readings that had not been possible in the densely packed houses in the Judengasse. Many Jews joined associations dedicated to the cultivation of art, music and natural history. In reading circles they read the latest literature and political newspapers."

Jewish Frankfurt, pp. 69, 72.

b.  Bertha Pappenheim (1858-1936): Struggle for Women's Rights and Protection

Certain important Jewish personages from Frankfurt during this period stand out in the city's rich history of this time. Bertha Pappenheim (1858-1936), an Austrian from Vienna who moved to Frankfurt, her mother's hometown, as a young woman in 1888. There she had well-connected Goldschmidt and Oppenheim relatives from whom she obtained important support. After her arrival in Frankfurt, Bertha assumed an important leadership role in fighting against the "white slavery" of young Jewish women. At a 1904 meeting of the International Council of Women conducted in Berlin, the group decided to establish a national women's association for Germany with the title "Jüdischer Frauenbund" ("League of Jewish Women"). Bertha was elected its first president and held this leadership position for twenty years.

Bertha's main goal was her strong desire to establish a "safe place" where illegitimate girls and Jewish women, who were likely targets on the streets for prostitution, could be succored and helped according to humane principles and theories developed by Bertha. Ultimately she established such a refuge in the town of Neu-Isenburg near Frankfurt. In 1938, two years after Bertha's death, the NSDAP closed this facility, which was severely damaged by party activists and others on November 10, 1938, one day after Kristallnacht. Four years later, the NSDAP officially closed this home and deported the remaining residents there to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, where most met their deaths. Bertha's humanitarian work was honored by the West German state in 1954, when a postage stamp in her honor was issued in the series "Benefactors of Mankind."

c.  Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1800-1882): Painter of Jewish Personages and Customs

Another Jewish resident of Frankfurt who left his mark on his adopted city was the painter Moritz David Oppenheim (1800-1882). Oppenheim was born in the town of Hanau, which lies only 25 kilometers east of Frankfurt. He is often referred to as the "first Jewish painter of the modern era" and the "court painter of the Rothschild Family." His oeuvre consists primarily of works heavily influenced by his cultural and religious background.

Oppenheim began taking lessons in painting as a teenager from a well-known painter and copper engraver in Hanau, Konrad Westermeyer. Later at age 17, Oppenheim was admitted to and attended the Munich Academy of Arts. Later he sojourned in Paris and Rome, where he took lessons from master painters in those cities. In 1825, Oppenheim settled in Frankfurt to ply his trade there and quickly acquired many prosperous Jewish clients, the most visible being members of the Rothschild family. He painted numerous portraits of Rothschild family members including Gutle Rothschild, Charlotte Rothschild, Jakob/James de Rothschild and Karl Mayer von Rothschild. Oppenheim also created two works that illustrate the germination of the Rothschild's family wealth, which arose from Mayer Amschel's relations with the Elector of Hesse. These two paintings are entitled (i) "The Elector of Hesse Entrusting Rothschild with his Treasure," and (ii) "Mayer Amschel's Sons Returning the Elector's Treasure."

Other notable portraits made by Oppenheim during his lifetime were those of Heinrich Heine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Moses Mendelssohn and Ludwig Börne. Oppenheim is also remembered for his many works depicting Jewish life, customs and religious celebrations. Some notable examples of these works in his portfolio are collected under the title of "Pictures from Traditional Jewish Family Life," and include (i) "The Beginning of the Sabbath," (ii) "The Sabbath Blessing," and (iii) "The Wedding." Three of the artist's most acclaimed and popular works are (i) "Lavater and Lessing Visit Moses Mendelssohn" (1856), (ii) "The Return of the Jewish Volunteer to the Family Still Living According to Old Customs" (1833-34), and (iii) "Felix Mendelssohn Plays to Goethe" (1830).

Oppenheim has been recently honored by the design and casting of a metal structure by Robert Schad and titled "Die tanzende Bild." This work has been installed on the Freiheitsplatz in Oppenheim's hometown of Hanau. In turn, this sculpture and its installation inspired the 2016 production of a German film titled "Moritz Daniel Oppenheim: The First Jewish Painter."

d.  The Rise and Advancement of German Anti-Semitism (ca. 1880-1933)

It is impossible to identify the year in which Anti-Semitism in Germany during the 19th century took firm root and began to spread. One commentator has observed that there was one novel aspect to the growth and broadening of this disease in the Second German Empire; this factor had not been present in earlier outbreaks throughout German history:

"What was above all novel about anti-Semitism was how it focused on a Jewish population which had undergone a fundamental change. Jews were no longer a marginal religious group in a world regulated by religious affiliations, but rather a religious-cultural variant group in the very center of civil society."

Ulrich Wyrwa, "Anti-Semitism in Europe (1879-1914): Lines of Inquiry, Conception and Objectives of the Research Seminar" at the Center for Anti-Semitism Research, Annals of the University of Bucharest, Political Science Series, 13(1), at pp. 3-17. This article may be accessed via this link:

https://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/bitstream/handle/document/37739/ssoar-annunivbuch-2011-1-wyrwa-Anti-semitism_in_Europe_1879-1914_Lines.pdf?sequence=1 .

In an 2004 article titled "Anti-Semitism in Europe Before the Holocaust" by William I. Brustein and Ryan D. King, the authors posit that "(it) is commonly accepted that the years 1899 to 1939
are a high point in anti-Semitism in western societies (Weinberg, 1986; Bernstein, 1996)."

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0192512104038166 .

In 1925, the book Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, the progenitor of the unsuccessful "Beer Hall Putsch" in Munich on November 9, 1923, was published in Germany. This work was among other things a "declaration of war" on the Jewish people. Hitler blamed Jews (among other groups and nations) for the decline of the German state and its "Aryan Race." As the decade of the 1920s rolled on and political instability became the norm during the latter years of the Weimar Republic, the NSDAP began to increase its share of the vote in national and local elections. This process culminated in the party becoming the largest in the Reichstag after the 1932 elections. As a result of inter-party negotiations to form a national government in Germany, Hitler was named Germany's Chancellor on January 30, 1933 and quickly thereafter seized the reins of power throughout the nation.

e.  The Road from the Adoption of the Nuremberg Race Laws to the Adoption
of the "Final Solution" (1934-1942)

Although Hitler and his NSDAP first took aim at the Communist and Socialist political parties, their focus later shifted to Germany's Jewish population. One early step towards the Holocaust was taken when the Reichstag, acting in a special session, adopted the "Nuremberg Race Laws" in 1935. These laws

". . .institutionalized many of the racial theories underpinning Nazi ideology and
provided the legal framework for the systematic persecution of Jews in Germany.
The Nuremburg Race Laws did not identify a ‘Jew' as someone with particular religious
convictions but instead as someone with three or four Jewish grandparents. Many
Germans who had not practiced Judaism or who had not done so for many years found
themselves still subject to persecution under these laws. Even people with Jewish
grandparents who had converted to Christianity could be defined as Jews."

--Internet posting by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which may be accessed here:

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/nuremberg-race-laws .

Although many German Jews emigrated to other countries after the passage of these laws, many remained in their homes with their families. Three years after the Nuremberg Laws were enacted, the obscene and bloody truth about Hitler's aims in remaking Germany became clear to the world on November 9, 1938. On that day, known as Kristallnacht or "The Night of Broken Glass," a pogrom was executed nationwide by Nazi paramilitary forces, members of the Hitler Youth, and German civilians. The rioters targeted Jewish businesses, synagogues, hospitals and schools and damaged or destroyed more than 7,000 Jewish business premises, equipment and inventory. Deaths of Jews during the riots have been estimated at over 700 persons. This action was the precursor of the "Final Solution" adopted on January 20, 1942 at the Wannsee Conference. This decision taken then provided for the elimination of the remaining Jews in Germany. At the conclusion of this conference this course was firmly set by Hitler and the Nazi Party: to remove all Jews from Germany and its occupied territories by any means, either through forced emigration or death in concentration camps, in death camps, on the streets, in business premises, or in homes.

e.  The Impact of Nazi Decrees and Actions Impacting the Jewish Population in Frankfurt-am-Main During Hitler's Rule to the Surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allies in 1945

As noted above, many members of the Jewish community after emancipation in 1846 made great strides in improving their employment, wealth, social standing and political power in Frankfurt society and politics. Also, many Jews departed from the Judengasse and made their homes and business premises in other areas of the city. These advancements are described below, taken from a 2020 publication of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt and titled, "Jewish Frankfurt: From the Enlightenment to the Present, hereinafter cited as Jewish Frankfurt:

"The fight for equal rights was accompanied by a cultural blossoming of Frankfurt's Jewish middle class. In 1800, the city had approximately 40,000 residents, including some 2,200 Jews.

By 1864, its population had grown to more than 80,000, with almost 7,500 Jews. A diverse cultural life emerged with theaters, opera performances, and the first museums, parallel to the bustling commercial activity at the time. The city saw the founding of banks, new industries, and new sectors in which many Jews participated as company owners. . . .Wealthier families built urban mansions that offered space for new forms of social life. They served as venues for receptions, concerts, and readings that had not been possible in the densely packed houses in the Judengasse. Many Jews joined associations dedicated to the cultivation of art, music, and natural history. In reading circles, they read the latest literature and political newspapers."

Jewish Frankfurt, pp. 69, 72.

These positive advancements made by Frankfurt's Jewish community continued through the first three decades of the 20th century, but met a roadblock after 1933 that proved to be insurmountable. Many Frankfurt Jews who had the necessary financial resources and the opportunity to relocate to another, "safe" country, did so, although many who fled to West European countries like France and the Benelux countries enjoyed only a comparatively short reprieve from a final reckoning. In the meantime, the Nazis wasted no time in eradicating whatever physical evidence there was of the Jewish presence in the city. Jewish Frankfurt adeptly describes this attack on the Jewish population and its cultural, historical and religious milieu:

"Until the beginning of the Second World War, the city government and administration, the Gau leadership, and the Gestapo rigorously perused the goal of driving Jews out of Frankfurt through systematic harassment, discrimination, violence, and the deprivation of their rights, all while enriching themselves in the process of seizing their assets. . . .The traces of Jewish history in the city's public places were also systematically erased. The Urban Development Office renamed streets and squares that had been named after Jews. The city ordered the removal of monuments and fountains designed or constructed by Jews, as well as those that memorialized Jewish artists."

Jewish Frankfurt, pp. 108-109.

During World War II, the Allies systematically bombed Frankfurt, destroying many of its historical buildings and monuments as well as historical and civic records. In late March, 1945, the US Army took control of the city, which had suffered the destruction or damage to approximately 80 percent of its buildings during the war. Although Frankfurt in 1933 had a Jewish population of 26,158 with Jewish residents constituting 4.7% of the city's total inhabitants, by October 1941, the city had lost an estimated 20,000 of these residents. In that same time period approximately 10,000 Jews had moved from areas surrounding Frankfurt into the city, believing that it would be safer to live there. This proved to be a false hope, when on October 19, 1941, the Gestapo and the SA seized approximately 1,100 people and shipped them to the Lódz ghetto. This action was followed by numerous deportations from the city to destinations in the east, where they were placed in ghettos, concentration camps and extermination camps. At the end of the war, only 150 Jews emerged from hiding in the ruins of the city--a true "Ground Zero" at the time.

IV.  THE RECONSTRUCTION OF FRANKFURT AND THE CREATION OF THE JEWISH MUSEUM (1945-PRESENT)

a.  Recreation of the Jewish Community in Frankfurt-am-Main after V-E Day

On May 8, 1945, Germany's armed forces surrendered to the Allies, which signaled the end of armed hostilities on the Eastern Front. The date of May 8th is now commemorated in many nations as "Victory in Europe" or "V-E" day. Thus began the return of many Frankfurt's Jewish residents who had escaped Nazi persecution by hiding within or near the city or in other locales. Rabbi Doctor Leopold Neuhaus, having survived imprisonment in Theresienstadt, returned to Frankfurt and formally reestablished the Jewish Community there. A new Executive Board for the Community was elected in 1947, and two years later the Community became a public body with approximately 800 members. This group increased during the years that followed. Many new members were refugees from the Holocaust in Poland, survivors from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the failed "Prague Spring" of 1968. In addition, many Israelis who had emigrated before the war to what was then British Palestine also relocated in Frankfurt. Today, there are an estimated 7,000 members of Frankfurt's Jewish Community.

b.  Discovery of Ruins of a Portion of the Judengasse in 1987 and the Subsequent Creation of a Jewish Museum on the Site

In 1987, excavations for the construction of a new facility for Frankfurt's Municipal Electric Company on the Battonstrasse uncovered a large area containing foundations, walls, staircases, streets and windowsills that were originally part of the Jewish ghetto in the Judengasse. After this discovery, the Jewish Community negotiated with the city for the preservation of these ruins and their incorporation into a museum of Jewish history and culture. These negotiations were successful, and subsequently the Museum Judengasse was crated in the basement of the municipal building with an address of 47 Battonstrasse. Next to the museum and associated with it is the Old Jewish Cemetery. Although many Jewish gravestones in the cemetery were destroyed by NSDAP actions, many are still standing. The gravestone of Amschel Mayer Rothschild is still in the cemetery, along with gravestones of other important Jewish residents of Frankfurt. Entrance to the cemetery may be obtained through the Judengasse Museum. Information concerning this museum may be obtained via this link:

https://www.juedischesmuseum.de/en/visit/museum-judengasse/

Among the ruins of the structures in this museum are many Jewish religious and cultural artifacts on exhibit that reflect the lives of the residents of the Jewish ghetto from its creation to its destruction.

c.  The History of the Rothschild Palais and its Renovations to House Frankfurt's Jewish Museum (1843-2022)

The two adjacent buildings that now form the Jewish Museum's exhibition space, archives and offices are located in adjacent structures with two separate street addresses: Mainkai 14 and Mainkai 15. These two buildings were constructed during the first third of the 19th century by the then-Frankfurt City Architect, Johann Friedrich Christian Hess.  During his lifetime, Hess resided at Number 14 and he rented Number 15 to tenants. In 1843 Mayer Carl von Rothschild and his wife, Louise, purchased the building at Number 15. After Mayer Carl's death in 1886, his widow and his unmarried daughter granted public access to the ground floor of Number 15, to allow visitors to view the art treasures that this family had collected over the years.

Upon Louise de Rothschild's death in 1893, the family's art collection was either sold or donated to various third parties and a public library was established in then then-unoccupied Number 15. It soon became apparent that this space was too small to contain comfortably the library's collections, and consequently the city purchased Number 14 to make room for its books and art collections.

The library continued to occupy these two addresses until 1967, when the buildings were renovated to house the business offices of the Frankfurt Historical Museum. Seventeen years later, the Frankfurt City Council decided to house the Jewish Museum in the rooms occupied by the library. In 1988 the permanent exhibition of the museum was established there. However, this space ultimately proved to be too small to house together the Museum's permanent exhibition and temporary exhibitions. Consequently the city made extensive renovations to the both structures from 2015 to 2020, at which time the museum was opened to the public.

d.  The Jewish Museum's Permanent Exhibitions in the Rothschild Palais

The Jewish Museum's permanent exhibitions have been designated by the following three titles: (i) Past and Present, (ii) Tradition and Ritual, and (iii) Family and Everyday Life. Objects and writings that fall within these three categories are displayed on the three main floor of the Museum. Temporary exhibitions are typically assembled in the basement.

1.  Past and Present

One highlight in the Museum illustrating this theme are the exhibits describing the life and works of the Rothschild Family's "Court Painter," Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, who is discussed earlier in this essay. Some of his spectacular paintings are on exhibit, including his impressive portrayal of a seated Moses holding and pointing to the stone tablets bearing the Ten Commandments and titled "Moses and the Tablets of the Law." Oppenheim created this work while an art student in Munich during his young adulthood. Another striking painting by the artist on display is "Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Plays for Goethe," completed by the artist in 1864 in Frankfurt.

There are also on display a large number of objects from the 19th and 20th centuries that express Jewish resistance to the rising Anti-Semitism in Germany during that time, including books and pamphlets written by Jewish authors denouncing this racism. Other objects on view depict Jewish sufferings during Nazi rule as well as art objects confiscated by Nazis and later returned to their rightful owners. Photographs and objects from the Postwar period reflecting contemporary Jewish life in Hamburg round out this theme.

2.  Tradition and Ritual

Many religious objects closely associated with Jewish traditions and rituals are exhibited within the Museum on the Mainkai. Included among these are the "Passover Haggadah" printed in Frankfurt in 1731, which is an exquisite and colorful booklet that contains prayers used during the Jewish feast of Passover. Another Haggadah within the museum's collections is one for children, which was created and printed in Berlin 205 years later during the Third Reich. Also on display are a Seder plate created in 1858 in Vienna, a Torah curtain made in Germany either in 1866 or 1906, and a Tallit, a fringed garment for women to be worn as a prayer shawl, although this garment is typically worn by men and boys over 13. This piece of clothing was created by Rachel Kanter, an American fiber artist, in 2016.

An excellent and informative overview of the museum's objects fitting the theme of "Tradition and Ritual" is contained in Jewish Frankfurt at pages 174 and 177:

"The permanent exhibition of the Jewish Museum takes an integrative, contextualizing approach to Jewish traditions, emphasizing the plurality of Jewish existence and culture. Not only do the various regional forms of religious practice manifest themselves in the differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardic ones. They also shape the designs of the exhibited ceremonial objects and have gone hand in hand with a variety of spoken languages and written cultures. A rich written tradition provides evidence of diverse religious movements even in antiquity and contains discussions of how rituals are to be carried out. Starting with the Haskalah-the Jewish Enlightenment in the late eighteenth century-plurality in the Jewish communities of Europe became more pronounced. . . .The floor of the exhibition titled ‘Tradition and Ritual' provides various perspectives on the transformation of Jewish traditions.
It examines the history of the nineteenth-century schism in the Frankfurt community and shows the material expressions of religious practice in ceremonial culture."

3.  Family and Everyday Life

The third and final theme of the permanent exhibition in the Jewish Museum is titled "Family and Everyday Life" and describes the day-to-day life of members of the Jewish Community in Frankfurt during the nine centuries that Jews have resided in the city. In presenting this theme, the museum exhibition focuses on the stories and household objects of three families that "provide insight into everyday family lives and the plurality of Jewish lifestyles in modern times." Jewish Frankfurt, p. 215. These three families are the following:

i.  The Rothschilds, who have been discussed earlier in this text;

ii. The Franks, whose most famous member is Annelies Marie "Anne" Frank (1929-1945), who died in the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp near the town of Celle in the German Federal State of Niedersachsen. Anne was born in Frankfurt and is known world-wide for her diary that she wrote while hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II; and

iii.  The Sengers, who are the only Jewish family known to have survived World War II without going into hiding in the city of Frankfurt.

The exhibition contains portraits and photographs of members of these families along with everyday objects used by them during their lifetimes. I found this element of the museum's permanent exhibition to be the most impressive.

V.  Conclusion

Since moving to Germany in 2014, I have visited the Judengasse Museum and the museum in the Rothschild Palais three times each and have always discovered something new and fascinating during each viewing. The permanent and temporary exhibitions convey a compelling story of courage, resistance, resilience, creativity, talent, and acumen on the part of the Jewish residents of Frankfurt-am-Main, past and present. The Museum's website may be accessed via this link: Jewish Museum Frankfurt - Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt (juedischesmuseum.de).

The history surrounding the museum's objects on display has become highly relevant during these strange and dangerous times that we are now experiencing. When anti-Semitic statements are made regularly by national politicians and other public figures at televised public rallies and sometimes even "at table" with well-known and powerful politicians, those remarks must be openly challenged and disputed. As an elderly Jewish woman once remarked to me when we both campaigned in 1968 in my hometown for US Senator Eugene J. McCarthy for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States, these deadly sentiments did not simply disappear along with Hitler and the Third Reich, but still hovered just below the surface in American politics and culture, just waiting for an opportunity to break out again. It is clear from reading today's headlines that Anti-Semitism is now emerging from its cave and requires our full attention and resistance. "Nie wieder!!"

PARTIAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

Niall Ferguson, The House of Rothschild--Money's Prophets: 1798-1848, Penguin Books, New
York (1999).

Niall Ferguson, The House of Rothschild--The World's Banker: 1849-1999, Penguin Books, New
York (1999).

Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, The Judengasse in Frankfurt: History, Politics, Culture, Verlag C.H.
Beck, Munich (2016).

Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, Jewish Frankfurt: From the Enlightenment to the Present, Verlag
C.H. Beck, Munich (2020).

Timothy Snyder, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, Crown Publishing Group,
New York (2016).

Derek Wilson, Rothschild: A Story of Wealth and Power, Andre Deutsch Ltd., London (1988).

OTHER:

Documentary Film, "Moritz Daniel Oppenheim: The first Jewish painter," Feinschmeker Film and
Hesse Film and Media (2016). https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5521714/ .

--Copyright, Patrick E. Mears 2023, all rights reserved. Reproduction of this text and any portion of this is prohibited without the express written consent of Patrick E. Mears

JE comments:  Pat, what can I say?  Your essay gets an A from Prof. Eipper.  I had no idea that the Rothschild empire got its start in Frankfurt, or that Anne Frank was born there.  I certainly should have known the latter fact.

I also assumed that Frankfurt was always a financial capital, but the city may owe this distinction to the Rothschilds.  And to think it was numismatics that started the ball rolling for Mayer...

(Pat tells me off-Forum that he and Connie will return to the Frankfurt museum for Valentine's Day.  There is a new vegan restaurant on-site that they want to try. Enjoy, and please send a report.)


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