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The pogrom of 1241

The advance of the Mongols on western Europe and rumours that these were the lost tribes of Israel and omens of the end of the world gave rise to a general antisemitic mood in Germany at the start of the 13th century. The activities in the city of the mendicant friars, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, increased religious tensions. This was the background of religious conflicts in Frankfurt whose causes are disputed but which led to an attack on the Jews, who had lived in the city since the mid12th century.
The occasion for the pogrom was a dispute over the baptism of a young Jewish man who, according to one source, had been held back by his parents and friends from being baptized as a Christian.
On 24 May 1241, a Friday evening, the Christian inhabitants of the city attakked the Jews and for two successive days invaded the Jewish quarter, which at that time directly adjoined the cathedral. The doors and gates of the Jewish houses were broken open with axes. The remarkable feature is that the Jews resisted, leading to open battles. However, they were overwhelmed by the numbers of the attackers. Around 70 Jews fled to a tower held by the imperial troops, but they were murdered treacherously. Several of them managed to flee, and 24 are reported to have saved themselves by being baptized as Christians. Around 180 Jews were murdered, including the three rabbis of the community. The synagogue was devastated, the Torah scrolls torn to shreds, and all the dwellings and the two yeshivas burnt down.
In memory of the destruction of Frankfurt's first Jewish community special songs of lamentation were written for the Jewish feast day Tish B'Av.
Around two decades later Jews started to settle in Frankfurt again and founded the second Jewish community, which lasted until the pogrom of 1349.

© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources