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DIESSENHOFEN:

City in the Swiss canton of Thurgau, connected by a bridge with the village of Gailingen in Baden. It attracted the Jews in early times by its favorable position. In 1348 the Jews here were accused of having poisoned the wells: their houses were plundered by the mob, and some of the Jews were burned at the stake. Over three hundred sought refuge in the fortress of Kyburg, where they were protected by the Austrian governor; but when he himself was threatened by the cities of Diessenhofen and Winterthur, the fugitives were either expelled and left to the mercy of their persecutors, or, as other authorities state, were burned by the governor on Sept. 18, 1349, to save the "innocent ones" from the fury of the mob (Pupikofer, "Gesch. des Thurgaus," i. 204; mauuscript material in Löwenstein, "Gesch. der Juden am Bodensee," p. 81).

Jews settled in Diessenhofen again within half a century; but in 1401 a false accusation again gave rise to butcheries. The outrider of the governor had murdered Konrad, the four-year-old son of Councilor Hermann Lory of Diessenhofen. To save himself the man said that the Jew Michael Vinelmann (Veitelmann), who, with his son Gütlieb, had been admitted in 1396 on the condition of paying a yearly tax of eight gulden, had instigated the murder, and had promised three gulden "for the hot blood of the Christian child." The outrider was broken on the wheel; the Jew was burned alive without any examination; and little Konrad was sainted. On this occasion Jews at Schaffhausen, Winterthur, and other places were either burned or forced to accept baptism.

Contrary to all expectation Jews soon returned to Diessenhofen. As early as 1426, when its citizens "were in great debt and obliged to admit Jews and other people in order to better bear the great yearly tax," as one may read in the "ainunge" (town records) of Diessenhofen (Pupikofer, l.c. p. 63), a Jew was admitted as citizen, notwithstanding the objection of Junker Molli of Diessenhofen, an evilminded person who had voted for the burning of Huss at the Council of Constance. The number of Jews in the city increased gradually. In 1453 the Jews Triefus (Dreifus) and Mennlis paid a tax of two pounds of heller each; the latter, who was in 1479 granted a safe-conduct for two years, settled in 1481 at Thiengen. As early as 1482 attempts were made to expel the Jews from Thurgau, but fortunately for them the governors were open to bribery. In 1489 the Jews of Diessenhofen were granted protection for three years, but in 1494 they had to leave the place with the other Jews of the canton.

Nothing is known of the religious condition of the Jews of Diessenhofen, except that they were forbidden to sell meat slaughtered according to ritual on the ordinary meat-stalls. The synagogue is said to have stood on the site now occupied by the house "Zum Erker." For several centuries no Jews lived here. Those that came from Gailingen on business had to pay the so-called Jews' tax, or Jews' stakemoney, of from three to five batzen. Even toward the end of the eighteenth century the Jews were forbidden to pass across the Rheinbrücke on Sundays, except to the physician, apothecary, or midwife. In 1865 a Jew was granted the privilege of settling at Diessenhofen. In 1902 about twenty Jewish families were living in the city.

Bibliography:
  • Löwenstein, Gesch. der Juden am Bodensee, pp. 79 et seq.;
  • Monatsschrift, xii. 405 et seq.
G. M. K.
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