Krefeld,Duesseldorf,Rhine Province,Germany (Today in GERMANY)

First mention of a Jew receiving residence rights dates from 1617. Others followed in small numbers, earning their living as butchers and small-scale moneylenders. In the late 18th century, 10-11 Jewish families were present, expanding into the horse and cattle trade and bettering their economic circumstances. Isaak Meyer Fuld, a relative of Heinrich Heine, operated the mint in Krefeld and became the wealthiest member of the community. A synagogue was erected in 1764. Under French rule, Jews from smaller settlements settled in Krefeld and the Jewish population grew to 196 in 1812. Three Jewish family banks, including Fuld's, became prominent, gaining control of local credit, while the new settlers, comprising over half the total, generally eked out a living in petty trade and peddling. In 1809, Krefeld became capital of a district consistory embracing 20 communities and 5,484 Jews. Under Napoleon's "Infamous Decree" (1808) and later under Prussian rule, the Jews lost their control of credit facilities. However, they entered new commercial and industrial fields, becoming prominent as manufacturers and merchants of silk. The economic development of the city continued to attract Jews throughout the 19th century, their population rising to 1,085 in 1871 and a peak of 2,000 (total 107,245) in 1895. A Jew was first elected to the municipal council in 1846 with others following. At the same time, antisemitic groups also became vocal. Under Prussian community reorganization law, Krefeld was reduced to a center for three attached communities in 1854 (Anrath, Uerdingen, Fischeln). Reform tendencies were reflected in the new synagogue charter of 1876, which aroused Orthodox opposition in the community. A Jewish elementary school was opened in 1840, reaching an enrollment of 140 in 1865 and 200 at the turn of the century.
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