Eastern Jews in Wiesbaden’s Westend

Beginning in 1885, more and more Eastern European Jews settled in Wiesbaden. Over time, a traditional orthodox milieu of families from Galicia, White Russia, the Ukraine and Poland, with its own religious and social infrastructure, emerged in the state’s capital. More than 400 Eastern European Jews lived in Wiesbaden in the 1920s, the overwhelming majority of them from Poland, including, for example, the Ferster hatmaking dynasty, which today owns several stores in Jerusalem and New York. The majority of the Westend/Wiesbaden Jews were, however, petty merchants dealing in second-hand goods, women shopkeepers and a few factory workers. The Wirgin brothers were an exception. They became renowed as camera manufacturers and developed a modern reflex-camera model (later “Edixa”).

Ten years of archival research, including an extensive search overseas among the descendants of this orthodox community, has assembled valuable documents, most of which have not yet been published. They provide many insights into the development of this community and the cautious way it changed over the course of generations. They illuminate the disintegration of that world’s religious, professional, social, political and cultural Institutions.

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