Expulsion of Jews from Regensburg

On February 22nd, 1519, shortly after the death of Emperor Maximilian, the city of Regensburg expelled the whole community of 500 Jews.

Emperor Maximilian had long been a protector of the Jews in the imperial cities, extracting from them substantial taxes in exchange. Only few weeks after his death, the Regensburg community organized the expulsion of Jews. Citizens blamed their prosperous Jewish neighbors for their economic troubles; the rumors were also spread that Jews slaughter and sacrifice Christian children in their “obscure religious rituals”.

All Jews had to leave the city and were allowed to take with them only what they could carry.

The whole Jewish Quarter in the very centre of the city was thoroughly destroyed, including the Synagogue. Around 400 tombstones from the Jewish cemetery were destroyed or used as building material. On the grounds of Jewish Quarter the “Neupfarr” (new religion) church was subsequently built, in honor of the “Virgin”.

I photographed the following painting on the ceiling of St. Cassian church, not far away from Neupfarr Square in Regensburg, where Jewish community once existed. The painting depicts “glorious” victory over Jews in year 1519. On the right of “Victoria” you can see people destroying the synagogue. Under her foot lies an old Jew, with a knife in his hand, who has just massacred some children – their bodies lie further down. The bags with coins (1000!) are spread on the stairs.

A ceiling painting from St. Cassian church in Regensburg, depicting expulsion of Jews from Regensburg in February 1519

A ceiling painting from St. Cassian church in Regensburg, depicting expulsion of Jews from Regensburg in February 1519 Previous Next Close
A ceiling painting from St. Cassian church in Regensburg, depicting expulsion of Jews from Regensburg in February 1519 - detail
A ceiling painting from St. Cassian church in Regensburg, depicting expulsion of Jews from Regensburg in February 1519 - detail Previous Next Close
A ceiling painting ftom St. Cassian church in Regensburg, depicting expulsion of Jews from Regensburg in February 1519 - detail
A ceiling painting from St. Cassian church in Regensburg, depicting expulsion of Jews from Regensburg in February 1519 - detail Previous Next Close

Here is an excerpt from The Excavations at Neupfarrplatz Square:

The Jewish Community in Regensburg

The Jewish quarter in Regensburg is first mentioned in a document dating from c. 1000 A.D. This is also the earliest mention of a Jewish settlement in Germany. For more than 500 years Jews lived here, largely free of persecution and pogroms, and left their mark on the history of Regensburg.

The Jewish quarter comprised about 39 houses and several public buildings, such as the synagogue. The community had its own administration, seal and judge. By the end of the 15th century, tension between Jews and Christians was beginning to increase. A few weeks after the death of Emperor Maximilian I, under whose rule Jews had enjoyed protection, the town council decided to expel the Jews from Regensburg.

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