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The International Institute for Holocaust Research

CHEMNITZ (from 1953 until 1990 known as Karl Marx Stadt) Saxony, Germany. The first documentary evidence of Jews living in Chemnitz dates from 1357. After a residence ban on Jews was issued in 1539, no Jews settled in Chemnitz until the middle of the 19th century. Despite virulent anti-Semitism, a community of 101 developed in 1871. From 1875, welfare organizations were founded and religious services were held in private apartments. In 1876 a religious school was set up; a cemetery was established in 1879; and a rabbi was engaged in 1881. By 1890, the community numbered 955 people, and in 1899 a synagogue was consecrated where services were held in accordance with Liberal practices, including a synagogue choir. In 1903, a branch of the Central Union (C.V.) was founded, followed in 1906 by a local Zionist group. Around this time, Jews from Eastern Europe arrived in Chemnitz and during WWI some 1,200 East European Jews, who were expelled from Leipzig and Dresden, were interned near Chemnitz. The Chemnitz community council cared for these internees, many of whom became residents of the city. In 1925, the Jewish population was 3,500, of whom only 1,400 were German nationals. However, the immigrant East European Jews gained the right to vote in communal elections only after a bitter fight waged primarily by the Zionists. Even then they were not allowed to run for office. In the 1920s, in addition to the synagogue, there were two Orthodox prayer rooms and in 1922, Orthodox Jews set up a Talmud torah school, which had an enrollment of 200 children; 155 children attended the Liberal religious school. The community maintained welfare and sports associations, youth groups, and various Liberal and Zionist organizations. A cultural and administrative center opened in 1932. Most community members were self-employed (including, in 1930, 25 Jewish physicians and 12 lawyers) or employed as white-collar personnel. There were very few blue-collar workers. Jewish firms controlled 35% of the city's textile industry. In the Weimar period, two Jews served on the city council and one community member was the editor of a Communist newspaper. In 1927, Nazis attacked a Jew, who died from his injuries.
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