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Prussian city in the district of Coblenz; formerly a free city. Jews lived there probably as early as the twelfth century, since a young Jew of "Writschlar" is mentioned in connection with the murder of Alexander of Andernach (Aronius, "Regesten," No. 345, pp. 154 et seq.). The name of Wetzlar occurs also in a document of the year 1241, which contains the "taxes of the Jews" ("Monatsschrift," 1904, p. 71). On May 15, 1265, Archbishop Werner of Mayence entered into a compact of public peace with several counts and cities, including Wetzlar, to protect the Jews against all violence (Aronius, ib. No. 706, p. 291), and on July 9, 1277, Rudolph I. granted Siegfried von Runkel an income of ten marks from the 100 marks which the community of Wetzlar was required to pay as a yearly tax to the emperor (Wiener, "Regesten," No. 59, p. 10). In the beginning of the fourteenth century Emperor Louis the Bavarian transferred to Siegfried's son, Dietrich von Runkel, the entire yearly tax which the Jews of Wetzlar were required to pay the sovereign, while, in recognition of the services of Gerhard, of the house of Solms-Königsberg, Henry VII. granted him 300 marks in silver from the money paid by the Jews for protection. Finally, in a document dated Mayence, June 5, 1349, Charles IV., as a reward for faithful services on the part of Count John of Nassau, called "Von Merenberg," made to him a conditional transfer of the Jews of Wetzlar, with the taxes they paid into the imperial exchequer.

Allowed to Admit Jews.

The community of Wetzlar was among those that suffered at the time of the Black Death in 1349 (Salfeld, "Martyrologium," pp. 78, 83 [German part, pp. 268, 284]); and in the same year, by a letter dated at Speyer on the Tuesday after Palm Sunday, Charles IV. confirmed all the privileges of the city of Wetzlar, adding that it should continue to levy the customary taxes on the Jews as servants of the royal treasury. Charles likewise confirmed the claim of Count John of Nassau-Weilburg to the Jewish taxes in a document dated March 17, 1362, but promised to impose no further burdens upon the Jews of that city. In 1382 King Wenzel granted Wetzlar the privilege of admitting Jews in order to enable the city to pay its debts, stipulating that they should be subject to the orders of the municipal council only. When the emperor, in 1491, levied a conscription upon the imperial cities, a valuation of 30 gulden was put upon the Jews of Wetzlar ("Blätter für Jüdische Geschichte und Literatur," supplement to "Israelit," 1900, i. 21). On Sept. 10, 1593, the municipal council decreed that within three months all Jews living in Wetzlar (including those from other cities) and holding notes against Christian citizens should renew them; otherwise the authorities would refuse to aid in collecting such notes. On March 20, 1604, the council enacted that the Jews should produce in court within a month all the notes they held against citizens. On Aug. 30, 1659, the Jews were forbidden to take as interest more than 4 pfennig per reichsthaler a week; and on June 4, 1661, they were prohibited from importing tobacco into Wetzlar. On the accession of Emperor Leopold (Aug. 30, 1661) the imperial commissioner, Count John Frederick of Hohenlohe, sent special envoys to receive the oath of allegiance of the Jews of Wetzlar in the town hall, in the presence of the council. Similar action was taken on the accession of Joseph I., in 1705; of Joseph II., in 1766; and of Leopold II., May 13, 1791.

About 1755 the Jews of Wetzlar were permitted to build a synagogue, which was dedicated in 1756; and a special tax of 10 kreuzer was imposed, to be paid to the messenger of the imperial supreme court of judicature at Wetzlar whenever he passed by on business ("Sulamith," 1807, ii. 407, note). Although the Judenstättigkeit permitted only twelve Jewish families to live in Wetzlar, the town council admitted a larger number, that they might divide among themselves the 20 or 30 reichsthaler paid by each Jew for permission to reside in the city. This was set forth by the citizens in a complaint to the council in 1707. An "agreement" was accordingly made on July 18, 1712, that the number of resident Jews should again be reduced to twelve families. In 1836 there were 680 Jews living at Wetzlar, which had been incorporated with the kingdom of Prussia in 1815; but in 1904 only a little over 170 resided there, and the community, which supports a philanthropic society and a ḥebra ḳaddisha, has included itself in the rabbinate of Dr. Munk at Marburg ("Statistisches Jahrbuch des Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeindebundes," 1903, p. 78).

Jews by the name of Wetzlar lived at Celle, in the province of Hanover (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." pp. 529, 1145), at Emden (see the local "Memorbuch"), at Frankfort-on-the-Main (Horovitz, "Die Inschriften des Alten Friedhofs der Israelitischen Gemeinde zu Frankfurt-am-Main," p. 743), at Altona (Grunwald, "Hamburgs Deutsche Juden," 1904, p. 305), at Prague (Hock, "Familien Prags," p. 120), and elsewhere. R. Joel of Wetzlar died at Minden, Westphalia, in 1698, while Solomon b. Simeon Wetzlar of Fürth wrote the moral code entitled "Ḥaḳirot ha-Leb" (Amsterdam, 1731; Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." No. 6978), and a certain Wolf Wetzlar Ashkenazi is mentioned by Maggid ("Zur Gesch. und Genealogie der Günzburge," p. 195, St. Petersburg, 1899).

  • Von Ulmenstein, Gesch. und Topographische Beschreibung der Kaiserlichen Freyen Reichsstadt Wetzlar, vol. i., Hadamar, 1802 (pp. 212 et seq., 250 et seq., 386 et seq., 493 et seq., 522); vol. ii., Wetzlar, 1806 (pp. 486, 534, 681, 730, 836); vol. iii., ib. 1810 (pp. 74, 76, 86 et seq., 154, 157 et seq.);
  • Abicht, Der Kreis Wetzlar, Historisch, Statistisch und Topographisch Dargestellt, i. 5, 124, Wetzlar, 1836;
  • Forschungen zur Deutschen Geschichte 1876, pp. 120, 134;
  • Zeit. für die Gesch. der Juden in Deutschland, ii. 36, 43 et seq.
D. A. Lew.
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