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Rath, the third secretary, who happened to receive him. The event was used by the government to organize the most brutal and comprehensive pogrom against Jews during the night of 9'/10 November which has come to be known as Kristal1nacht (Crystal night). Throughout Germany remaining, Jewish businesses, homes and synagogues were burned and destroyed. Jews were savagely beaten, about 100 000(?) were murdered and 26 000 were carried off into concentration camps. It was the beginning of the Holocaust.




The Kohnstamm family lived in the village of Niederwerrn, nowadays a small town on the outskirts of the city of Schweinfurt. While Schweinfurt had since the fourteenth century enjoyed the privileges of a free imperial city, which included the Judenregal, the village of Niederwerrn was part of the tiny territory of the Barons of Münster, who held it since 1420 as the feudal vassals of the bishops of  Würzburg.


It is not known when Jews first came to reside at Niederwerm, but it is unlikely to have been before 1500. The first record dates from 1657. However, there was a Jewish community at Schweinfurt as early as the first half of the thirteenth century. Large enough to have maintained a synagogue and cemetery it existed, with interruptions when Jews were expelled and subsequently readmitted, until 1555.  At that time, following heavy damage to Schweinfurt during the so-called Margraves' War (Margi Krieg), Jews were again expelled and none allowed to return until early in the nineteenth century. Many of them are believed to have moved into the surrounding villages, including, Niederwerrn, where they either auqgmented an existing small community or founded a new one. The Barons of Miinster valued them for the financial advantages they brought to the area.


In August 1802, shortly before the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the electorate of Bavaria, by the grace of Napoleon soon to be raised to the rank of a kingdom, occupied much of Franconia including, Schweinfurt and Niederwerrn. The acquisition was confirmed later that year and since the area has remained with Bavaria, except for the period of 1810-1814, when it was part of the short-lived grand duchy of Würzburg. Bavaria is now a land of the Federal Republic of Germany.


Having been summarily expelled in 1553 there were very few Jews living in Bavaria at the time of its acquisition of Franconia. The small numbers remaining, were tolerated by special licence or as factors serving the electors' financial needs. In 1726 the reigning elector owed them over five million guilders, a very substantial sum indicative of their value to him. The gain of Franconia thus gave rise to a substantial increase in the number of Jews in the new kingdom. It follows that the members of the Kohnstamm, family, residing in the early part of the nineteenth century in Niederwerm and Franconian villages recently acquired by Bavaria, became subject to the Bavarian Royal Ordinance of 10 June 1813, known as the Judenedikt ('the Jews' ordinance'). This emancipatory edict followed similar legislation that had already been promulgated in Austria in 1781, in France in 1791, in French occupied or controlled German areas between 1797 and 1808, and in Prussia in 1812. The ordinance permitted the free pursuit of the Jewish religion, and Jewish communities obtained the same rights as other religious bodies. It formalized various existing regulations concerning, Jews and established the principle of civil rights, but without conferring complete equality. It included the three conditions referred to above and replaced the former letters of protection (Schutzbriefe) by new registers (Matrikel). These provided for the registration of Jewish births, marriages and deaths by the local priest but also served to restrict their freedom of movement, closely controlled, and in some cases reduced, the number of Jews living in any locality and limited the number of marriages. In some country areas such as Franconia, which had become part of Bavaria only a short time previously, the ordinance worsened rather than improved, Jewish civil rights.


For many years after its issue efforts by and on behalf of the Jews to improve the terms of the Judenedikt remained ineffective. The new constitution of 1818 still did not accord them full civil except in the territories on the left bank of the Rhine, where they continued to enjoy the more liberal rights acquired in 1797 during,the French occupation. It was only in 1872 that the constitution of the reunified German empire, of which Bavaria became part, conferred complete equality before the law throughout Germany.


On the economic side opportunities for Jews improved somewhat as a result of the Judenedikt..  Cities were now prepared to receive them, but in the country districts change was slow in coming. As a result there was throughout the nineteenth century a movement of Jews leaving the countryside to find a wider scope and greater freedom of choice for their ambitions in cities, such as Munich, Nuremberg, Bamber


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