Jews don't always put Germany on the top of their travel destination list, but the fact is that outside of Israel, no country contains more important and beautiful Jewish historical sites than does Germany. Weissensee, the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, is in Berlin, there's a lovely ritual bath (mikveh) in Friedberg dating back to the 13th century, and there's a rare, surviving Jugendstil synagogue in Ausburg. From Aachen to Würzburg, nearly 200 sites left out of most guide books are described and detailed, including what there is to see (often with color pictures), what the history is, and most importantly, how to get there.
In Ansbach there's a synagogue from the 18th century that escaped destruction during the "Reichskristallnacht" of 1938. Its Torah was burned, but the building itself was left unhurt. Annual memorial services are held on November 9 (the date of kristallnacht) in this Baroque synagogue, attended by Catholics, Protestants, and Jews from throughout Bavaria. In Hofgeismar there's a fine Judaica museum that tells the story, through its archive of texts and pictures, of a Jewish community that dates back to 1470, and there's a cemetery that was started in 1695.
The last burial of a Hofgeismar Jew was in 1935, but the cemetery contains Jewish displaced persons who died in 1946 and 1947, plus a memorial of a gravestone and a buried piece of soap, erected in 1945 by Jewish concentration camp survivors.
Documenting the history of individual settlements throughout Germany, as well as what remains to be seen of them, this unique guide keeps the history alive and makes possible an unusual German tour.
by Stephanie Gold
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