Merchant Rights: Letter of Protection for the Jews of Ichenhausen

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Until the nineteenth century, the residence and trading rights of Jews in the German territories were defined in letters of protection (Schutzbriefe), which had to be purchased. The Jews of Ichenhausen, which was part of the Margraviate of Burgau in Upper Swabia, were granted this letter of protection in 1717. This document is known as the Burgauer Rezess (Burgau Settlement) and replaced and annulled all the letters of protection that had previously been granted to individual Jewish residents of the town.

Rules about Everyday Life

In most cases these letters were awarded to individual Jews by the local nobility, and many not only specified the duration of residence and the terms of purchase, but also contained additional provisions and restrictions, including rules on the marriage of children, the inheritance of the conferred rights, travel regulations and the levying and amount of taxes.

The Community in Ichenhausen

In the second half of the seventeenth century, a growing number of letters of protection were issued to entire communities. The provisions for the Jews of Ichenhausen in this quite favorable letter included permanent residence rights, the entitlement of inheritance (restricted, however, to the thirty-five houses already owned by Jews), unlimited trading rights, unhindered religious practice, and the application of Jewish law in internal Jewish affairs.

"Respect and Obedience"

The letter also regulated the different taxes that could be levied on Jews and the fixed amount of Schutzgeld (protection money) they had to pay. Finally, it demanded that Jews, who made up almost half the local population, show "all due respect and obedience."

(9) Selected Objects from the Archive Alle anzeigen

Selected Objects from the Archive

Adoption contract Gloeden and Loevy

Even a Jewish-sounding name could be cause for discrimination. So the siblings Erich and Ursula Loevy chose to be adopted by Bernhard Gloeden, a grammar school teacher and family friend.

A desperate letter to their son in Sweden

"As long as we are still here, we will write to you every third day," wrote Paul and Sophie Berliner to their son, Gert, who was living in Stockholm, on 6 November 1941.

Martin Riesenburger’s Service Card

A provisional document from February 1953 certified that Martin Riesenburger was a rabbi responsible for pastoral care in East Berlin prisons.

Index cards from the British Army

Thousands of German emigrants fought against Germany in the British Army during the Second World War. In case of capture, they had to change their names, as these index cards document.

Frieda Neuber's Leather Pouch

Shortly before being deported to Theresienstadt, Frieder Neuber gave this leather pouch to her niece. The letters inside it document her desperate attempts to leave the country.

Memmelsdorf Genizah

In February 2002, workers renovating a house discovered a burlap sack filled with papers and personal items when they opened up a section of the ceiling. The house had been owned by Jews from 1775 to 1939.

Red Cross Letter to Emmy Warschauer

After the outbreak of the Second World War, the aid organization’s message service gave emigrants a way to contact relatives in Germany. That’s how Emmy Warschauer received confirmation that her daughter was alive.

Letter of Protection for the Jews of Ichenhausen

Until the nineteenth century, the residence and trading rights of Jews in the German territories were defined in letters of protection (Schutzbriefe), which had to be purchased.

Journeyman’s Book Belonging to the Shoemaker Leopold Willstätter

Leopold Willstätter traveled around southwest Germany and France as a journeyman from 1836 to 1843. The journeyman's book with a precise description of him also served as a form of identification.

Schutzbrief (Protective Letter)

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Early Modern Period

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