Kingdom of the German empire. Jews are reported to have appeared in Saxony before the year 1000, in the train of the Lombards, settling principally in the cities of Merseburg, Naumburg, Torgau, and Meissen (B. Lindau, "Gesch. der Residenzstadt Dresden"). Emperor Otto II. (973-983) is said to have conferred various privileges upon them. Gunzelin, the brother of the margrave Eckard I., was deposed from the margravate of Meissen in 1009 by Emperor Henry II., because, among other things, he was accused of having sold Christian serfs to the Jews of that principality. In the twelfth century there was a "Jews' village" in the vicinity of the towns of Magdeburg, Aschersdorf, and Quedlinburg. The relations between the Jews and the Christians were amicable down to the thirteenth century; hatred toward the former first became manifest during the Crusades, though the persecutions at Halle in 1205, Gotha in 1212, Magdeburg in 1213, and Erfurt in 1215 were due chiefly to the desire of the Christians to get rid of their debts to the Jews. The persecutions were then continued with greater bitterness by Archbishop Rupert.The "Sachsenspiegel."
Shortly after the introduction of the "Sachsenspiegel" the Jews were deprived of all their privileges; their property was seized by the Christians, and they were compelled to engage in commerce and usury under such humiliating conditions that Duke Henry felt obliged to issue a "Jews' decree," in 1265, for the regulation of their status. This decree comprised fifteen sections, dealing chiefly with the legal status of the Jews, but designing also to afford them special protection, in addition to the privileges which the emperor accorded them as his chamber servants. Of these sections the following may be noted: (1) A Jew bringing an action against a Christian must produce as witnesses two Christians and one Jew, men of good repute. (2) A Christian bringing an action against a Jew must produce as witnesses two Jews and one Christian. (3) Any pledge may be taken without a witness. (4) A Jew who denies having received a pledge, and is subsequently found with it in his possession, is forced to surrender it, but is not punished. (5) Bail for a Jew is fixed at one gold mark for the imperial court, one gold mark for the margrave, one silver mark for the margrave's chamberlain, and one pound of pepper for each of the lower judges.During the Hussite Wars.
The Jewish community of Meissen was entirely outside the city walls, and the so-called "Jüdenthor" of Meissen derived its name from the Jewish suburb. At Freiberg, similarly, the Jüdenberg was outside the city. In the second half of the thirteenth century the condition of the Jews seems to have been more favorable, for in documents dated 1286, 1287, 1296, and 1327 they are referred to as landowners, farmers, and gardeners. In the fourteenth century Emperor Ludwig IV. of Bavaria transferred the protection of the Jews of part of Saxony to Margrave Frederick the Grave (1324-47), as at that time the Jews were again being persecuted (1328, 1330). They fared still worse in the second half of this century, when the Black Death swept over Germany. The extermination of the Jews of Meissen began in 1349. The persecutions took place chiefly at Nordhausen, Eisenach, and Dresden; only the Jews at Döbeln, Zschaits, Doschitz, and Freiberg were temporarily protected. The oppression continued under the succeeding margrave, Frederick the Severe, when the Jews of Bautzen and Zittau were the chief sufferers. The Jews of Görlitz were expelled by Duke John, after they had been cast into dungeons, their houses confiscated, and their synagogue razed. These conditions were somewhat ameliorated in the fifteenth century, under Duke Frederick the Warlike, who issued at Weissenfels a decree in which he granted absolute protection and self-government to the Jews of Saxony. The Jews were persecuted again during the Hussite wars, on the accusation of having taken part in that uprising, and in 1433 they were expelled from Meissen and Thuringia by Frederick the Mild (1428-64).
During the period of the Reformation they fared still worse. The elector Maurice of Saxony (1521-1553) expelled them from Zwickau, where they had been gladly received in 1308 by Frederick the Joyous; and a year later, in 1543, they were expelled from Plauen. The police regulation of John Frederick the Younger from the year 1556 decreed the body-tax, the interdiction against the stay of foreign Jews on Saxon soil longer than one night, and the prohibition of trade and traffic. Still more severe were the regulations issued by Elector August, who forbade foreign Jews to remain on Saxon soil even one night, on pain of having one-half the property found in their possession confiscated. These regulations remained in force for fully a century, until Oct. 2, 1682, when John George III. of Saxony issued a new decree, in which the onerous regulations relating to Jews passing through the country were somewhat modified, since those regulations were found to be detrimental to the yearly fairs at Leipsic. The condition of the Jews continued to improve under Frederick August the Strong, who was favorably disposed toward them on account of his court Jew Behrend Lehmann; he granted letters of protection to several Jewish families, with permission to settle at Dresden, and Leipsic. They were also permitted to maintain prayer-houses. August II. revived (April 4, 1733) the decrees of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, ordering in addition that the body-tax be paid thenceforth by all Jews, regardless of sex or age, though Elijah Behrend succeeded in securing the exemption of children under ten years of age. Behrend furthermore obtained permission for all Bohemian, Moravian, and Hungarian Jews to travel on any road through Saxony and secured the repeal of the edict forbidding them to remain in any place longer than one day.Elector August III.
The foundation of Jewish communal life is due to the elector August III., who issued decrees in 1772 and 1773 ordering every Jewish family settled in Saxony to report three times in every month the exact condition of the household. He introduced the so-called "personal tax," on payment of which every Jew living in Saxony was free to go to anycity for the purpose of trading there. About the beginning of the nineteenth century the condition of the Jews began to improve. On June 7, 1815, they were even permitted to give a solemn reception to the returning King Frederick August the Just. But civic equality and rights of citizenship were granted to them later in Saxony than elsewhere. After Bernhard Beer, Wilhelm T. Krug, and Moses Pinner had advocated the granting of such rights, on Oct. 3, 1834, King John of Saxony authorized the Jews to engage in all trades and industries; and on Dec. 20, following, affairs of Jewish culture and instruction were placed under the Ministry of Education. In 1836 the state granted the Jews a yearly contribution of 600 marks, and a year later, on May 18, 1837, they were empowered to organize themselves into communities with chapels of their own, and were granted citizenship, with the exception of municipal and political rights. The community of Dresden finally succeeded in obtaining full civic equality on Dec. 3, 1868, though the "Jews' oath" was not abrogated until Feb. 20, 1879.
According to the census of 1904, the Jewish population of Saxony was as follows: Annaberg, 105 persons; Bautzen, 54; Blasewitz, 21; Chemnitz, 1,150; Döbeln, 23; Dresden, 3,059; Freiberg, 56; Leipsic, 7,000; Lobau, 31; Löbtau, 38; Meissen, 32; Merane, 32; Mitweida, 41; Micksen, 20; Pirna, 24; Plauen, 250; Veilchenbach, 36; Wurzen, 39; Zittau, 135; Zwickau, 50. The total population of Saxony is 4,202,216.
- Mittheilungen des Vereins für die Gesch. der Stadt Meissen, ii., No. 4;
- Sidori, Gesch. der Juden in Sachsen, 1840;
- H. Kurthe, Zur Gesch. der Juden in der Oberlausitz, in Neues Archiv der Sächsischen Gesch. und Alterthumskunde, ii., No. 1, pp. 52 et seq.;
- Emil Lehmann, Gesammelte Schriften, 1899;
- I. Weil, Die Erste Kammer und die Juden in Sachsen, Hanau, 1837;
- M. Pinner, Was Haben die Juden in Sachsen zu Hoffen? Leipsic, 1833;
- Levi, Gesch. der Juden in Sachsen, Berlin, 1901;
- Salfeld, Martyrologium, s.v. Meissen;
- Aronius, Regesten, Nos. 389, 395, 422, 458, 633;
- Statistisches Jahrbuch, 1904, pp. 106-109.