For over 200 years, Frankfurt am Main has been the city with the largest proportion of Jewish residents. In its native Jewish sons – Mayer Amschel Rothschild, artist Moritz Oppenheim, philosopher Martin Buber, Zionist statesman Nahum Goldmann and Daniel Cohn-Bendit – can be seen the sweep of creativity and energy that emerged from Frankfurt Jewry.
Among the Frankfurt institutions that trace their origins to Jewish founders is the Frankfurter Allgemeine, one of Germany’s most prestigious newspapers. Today, more than 10,000 Jews live in the Frankfurt metropolitan area.
In the heart of the city, Frankfurt’s 15th-century City Hall, is a Holocaust Memorial, adjacent to the Paulskirche church where, in 1848, the Frankfurt National Assembly made an abortive attempt to unify Germany and to guarantee human rights and emancipation.
Frankfurt’s Jewish Museum at Untermainkai is housed in what was once the “Rothschild Palais.” The museum underscores how, over the centuries, the city’s Jewish community was central to Frankfurt’s development as one of Germany’s leading commercial centers. The museum’s vast array of exhibits, memorabilia and artifacts trace both the history of Jews in Frankfurt and Germany.
Nearby is the related Judengasse Museum. Here high-tech devices illustrate 300 years of everyday life for Frankfurt Jews. Abutting the Judengasse Museum is Frankfurt’s oldest Jewish Cemetery. Its surrounding wall contains 11,000 plaques detailing the name, birth-date and place of death of the 11,000 Frankfurt Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Frankfurt’s two 20th-century cemeteries are also fascinating. The Ignatz Bubis Jewish Community Center is one of the most impressive Jewish structures built in postwar Germany. A few blocks away is the grey-stoned Westend Synagogue, the only Frankfurt synagogue to survive Kristallnacht.