Jüdische Pflege- geschichte

Jewish Nursing History

Biographien und Institutionen in Frankfurt am Main

Jewish Hospitals in Frankfurt am Main (1829 – 1942)

For the care of the patients, for the edification of the parish, for the good of the city of our fathers”

The opening of Frankfurt´s Jewish Ghetto (1462 – 1796) and the granting of the long sought-for status as citizens (“isaelitische Bürger”) on 1st September 1824 (Heuberger/Krohn 1988, page 37) created the framework for the resolution of the cramped and outdated hospital system of the Ghetto time. Finally Frankfurt´s two Jewish communities – the Jewish community with a liberal majority and the smaller conservative Jewish religious community – could then establish a modern medical and care system. Both Jewish-religious (with their own synagogues and kosher cooking) and inter-denominational oriented hospitals and nursing homes emerged; even the conservative-Jewish institutions admitted non-Jews in accordance with the Bikkur-Cholim-provisions.

As early as 1829, a few decades prior to the establishment of equality of Frankfurt´s Jewish population on 8th October, 1864, the “Hospital of the Jewish Health Insurances ” opened its doors at Rechneigrabenstrasse 28 – 20 (next to the “Neuer Börneplatz” memorial). The Rothschild banker family had the double building erected: “The barons Amschel, Salomon, Nathan, Carl, Jacob von Rothschild put up this house in accordance with the wishes of their immortalized father [Mayer Amschel Rothschild, d.V.); “for the care of the patients, for the edification of the parish, for the good of the city of our fathers”; a monument of filial reverence and fraternal unity” (quotation by Arnsberg 1983, book volume 2, page 123). The hospital emerged from the two Jewish insurance companies for men (established in 1738 and 1758) and the Jewish health insurance for women (established in 1761) of Frankfurt´s Jewish Ghetto. All three health insurance companies were social benefit societies with their own wards where in-patients and out-patients received treatment. In 1826 Siegmund Geisenheimer, authorized representative of the banking house Rothschild M.A. and a member of the hospital administration, managed the centralization of the health insurances under the same roof in an organizational tour de force. In 1831 the hospital had up to 30 beds (Jewish health insurance for men: about 15 beds; Jewish health insurance for women: about 12 beds); an old Frankfurt City Guide (no author [1843], page 48) also praised its “little synagogue” (“Kippe-Stubb”). Claire Simon (“Sister Claire”) became matron of the health insurance for women in 1917. By September 1942 the hospital of the Jewish health insurance companies came to a sad end as a collection site prior to the Frankfurt deportations; allied air attacks on Nazi Frankfurt destroyed the twin building of the health insurance for men and the health insurance for women (cp. Unna 1965; Schiebler 1994, page 163-141).

The Dr. Christ Children´s Hospital (1845 – 1943/44) on Theobaldstrasse (today Theobald-Christ-Strasse), in Frankfurt affectionately called “Spitälchen” , was the common project of two closely befriended physicians and founders: the Gentile Dr. Theobald Christ and the baptized Jew Dr. Salomo Friedrich (Salomon) Stiebel, both Protestants. 30 years later, the Jewish benefactress Louise von Rothschild from Frankfurt established the “Clementine Girls´Hospital” on Bornheimer Landwehr 10 which was named after her daughter Clementine. The emergence of today´s Clementine Children´s Hospital on Theobald-Christ-Strasse 16 resulted from these two respected institutions of Frankfurt´s patient care that admitted girls and boys irrespective of religion and social origin (cp. Hövels et al. 1995; Reschke 2011).

In 1870 the “Hospital of Georgine Sara von Rothschild Foundation” was founded – first as the “Foreigner’s Hospital” with six beds – at Unterweg 20. Initially, the hospital, also known as “Rothschild´s Hospital”, took care of needy Jewish patients, especially those who did not find accommodation in other Jewish treatment centers. It was called “Georgine Sara von Rothschild”, named after the daughter of the founding couple Hannah Mathilde and Wilhelm Carl von Rothschild; she was also the cousin of Clementine von Rothschild who had likewise died early and for whom the Clementine Children´s Hospital had been named. The body responsible for the “Rothschild´s Hospital” was the neo-orthodox Jewish religious community (IRG ): established in 1850; it positioned itself as guardian of Jewish tradition over against the larger liberal Frankfurt Jewish community from which it also institutionally broke away in 1876 (cp. Heuberger/Krohn 1988, page 74-77). In 1878 a new building, financed by Mathilde and Wilhelm von Rothschild, was opened, initially with 40 beds at Röderbergweg 97, followed by buildings at Röderbergweg 93 and Rhönstrasse 50 (staff residence). The senior doctor Dr. Marcus (Markus) Hirsch participated in these developments from the beginning. Seven decades later, in April 1941, the National Socialists also closed this hospital and sent both staff and patients to Frankfurt’s last remaining Jewish hospital (Gagernstrasse 36, see below). Around 1943 air attacks on Frankfurt destroyed the building and property of “Rothschild´s Hospital”. The chronicler of Jewish history, Dr. Paul Arnsberg, a qualified attorney, achieved the re-establishment of the Georgine Sara von Rothschild Foundation in 1976 (cp. Lustiger 1994; Krohn 2000).

“Jewish communities were – even in times of great hardship – exemplary in building and maintaining a number of social welfare institutions (e.g. hospitals, orphanages, infirmaries, retirement homes, soup kitchens etc.). The basis for this is the obligation in Judaism to provide assistance to the poor and the sick and to assure the strengthening and restoration of the material independence of each needy person” (Werner, Klaus et al.: Jews in Heddernheim. In: Heuberger 1990, page 46). This was also true for the once independent Jewish communities of outlying districts which are now incorporated into the city of Frankfurt am Main. Despite the fact that few historical sources are available, some information about Jewish nursing in Bergen-Enkheim, Bockenheim, Fechenheim, Griesheim, Heddernheim, Höchst, Niederursel or Rödelheim have become discovered in the meantime (cp. Arnsberg 1983, book volume 2, page 507-595; Heuberger 1990). From 1874 the small Jewish endowed hospital of the “Foundation of Joseph and Hannchen May for sick and needy people” existed in Rödelheim at Alexanderstrasse 96 (seat of the foundation), not far from today´s Josef-May-Strasse. Due to the incorporation of Rödelheim into Frankfurt on 1st April 1910, the hospital (until 1937 with Jewish prayer room) became part of the municipal hospital and was later used as a retirement home. Today (as of 2017) it houses the Social and Rehabilitation Center West, still a retirement and nursing home, albeit non-Jewish.

Further research is needed on the institutional history of the private hospitals which also offered inpatient treatment established by Jews in Frankfurt am Main. The first doctor´s office of this kind was probably the private hospital of Dr. Siegmund Theodor Stein which was opened in 1867 and later expanded to include the treatment of internal and nervous disorders. On 1st April 1904 the Frankfurt neurologist Prof. Dr. Adolf Albrecht Friedländer , of Jewish origin and born in Vienna, established the “Hohe Mark” hospital, a large hospital for psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychosomatic medicine set in the heart of the Taunus region (close to Oberursel near Frankfurt), as a private clinic for the European high nobility (cp. http://www.hohemark.de/startseite/, all following links searched dated 24-Oct-2017). The “Herxheim Clinic and Polyclinic for Skin and Venereal Diseases“ became well-known in Frankfurt; Paul Arnsberg (1983 book volume 2, page 271; book volume 3, page 187, page 277) gave various locations for the institution: Friedberger Landstrasse 57, Heiligkreuzgasse and Holzgraben (both without house numbers) as well as Zeppelinallee 47 (Herxheim villa). In 1876 Dr. Salomon Herxheimer , who along with his younger brother and successor Prof. Dr. Karl Herxheimer was recognised as being among the German pioneers of dermatology, founded the respected clinic which also helped uninsured needy persons suffering from skin diseases. In memory of her deceased husband, Fanny Herxheimer established the “Medical Councillor Dr. Salomon Herxheimer Foundation” in 1899 to provide continuing care to poor patients suffering from skin disorders. Her sister Rose Livingston (Löwenstein), who had been baptized a Christian in 1891, founded the still active “Nellini Church Foundation” with initially 25 places for single elderly women of Evangelical faith at Cronstettenstrasse 57 (cp. http://www.nellinistift.de/). A street name in Frankfurt´s Gallus neighbour recalls the merits of the Herxheimer family (Arnsberg 1983; Lachenmann 1995; also cp. Kallmorgen 1936).

The „Gumpertz‘ infirmary“ (1888-1941) founded by Betty Gumpertz at Röderbergweg 62 – 64 was an ambitious Jewish women´s project within the circle of the conservative Jewish religious community. It supported the poorest of the poor in Frankfurt´s east end whose numbers continued to increase due to the migration of refuges who were victims of anti-Semitic pogroms in East Europe. Nursing homes for patients with contagious and, at that time, incurable diseases were referred to as infirmaries up to the 18th century. The Gumpertz´ infirmary specialized in the care of socially disadvantaged individuals suffering from chronic diseases. Opened in 1888 on Rückertstrasse, it soon moved into a new building with 20 places at Ostendstrasse 75 in 1892 and into a new building with 60 beds at Röderbergweg 62 – 64 in 1907. Among the foundresses, in addition to Betty Gumpertz and Träutchen (Thekla) Höchberg, were the sisters Minna Caroline (Minka) von Goldschmidt-Rothschild and Adelheid de Rothschild, which was why the Gumpertz´ infirmary was sometimes also referred to as “Rothschild´s infirmary”. Thekla Mandel, as matron from the beginning until her marriage, was an active participant in affairs; she was followed by Rahel (Spiero) Seckbach in 1907. In 1938 the main building of “Gumpertz´ Infirmary” was sold under NS-conditions through the City of Frankfurt to the “Hospital of the Holy Spirit” (Schiebler 1994, page 135); at last (1941) it stayed at Danziger Platz 15. Since 1956, the “August-Stunz-Center ” (Röderbergweg 82), a retirement home of the Worker´s Welfare (cp. to Gumpertz´ infirmary Lenarz 2003; Otto 1998; Schiebler 1994, page 135, page 282; also cp. Müller 2006, page 97), has existed on its former premises.

Hannah Louise von Rothschild, founder of ‚Carolinum‘
© Dr. Edgar Bönisch, 2009

On 16th October 1890 Hannah Louise von Rothschild founded the medical facility and dental hospital Carolinum at Bürgerstrasse 7 (today known as Wilhelm-Leuschner-Strasse, a different Bürgerstrasse continues to exist in Frankfurt today); it was a state-of-the-art hospital also serving people in need. The Carolinum, named after her deceased father Mayer Carl von Rothschild, developed into a central and still respected institution of dentistry in Frankfurt. Hannah Louise von Rothschild was actively supported by the non-Jewish senior doctor Dr. Dr. Jakob de Bary – chairman of the Carolinum foundation board until his death in 1915 – and his daughter, Luise de Bary, who was matron for many years. In 1910 the Carolinum moved into Ludwig-Rehn-Strasse and affiliated itself from the beginning with Frankfurt University which was founded through endowments on 26th October 1914. Due to the deft dealings of the non-Jewish board headed by Jakob de Bary´s son Dr. Dr. August de Bary , the Carolinum survived the Nazi era as the only Jewish foundation in Frankfurt. In 1978 the dental clinic moved into a new building on the clinic premises at Theodor-Stern-Kai 7 where it is still successfully and, in accordance with the wishes of the foundress Hannah Louise von Rothschild, also socially active as the Carolinum University Dental Institute of of Goethe University Frankfurt/Main (cp. http://www.med.uni-frankfurt.de/carolinum/).

With the Mathilde von Rothschild´s Children´s Hospital (1886 – 1941) at Röderbergweg 109, also known as Rothschild´s Children´s Hospital, Mathilde von Rothschild founded an institution, which offered needy Jewish (and on request also certainly non-Jewish) children free care and nutrition. Initially 12 children received free in-patient treatment, later up to 100 per year, and in 1932, the number had increased up to140. Further research in needed on the conservative-religious institution and its certainly mostly Jewish nursing staff. In June 1941 the National Socialists closed the children’s hospital. They admitted the remaining little patients together with the nursing staff to Frankfurt’s now last Jewish hospital (Gagernstrasse 36, see below), which was misused as collection site prior to deportation.

In 1904 the Jewish business couple Auguste and Fritz Gans (in 1895 baptized as Protestants) established an inter-denominational clinic called “Böttgerheim” at Böttgerstrasse 20-22 (cp. Gans/Groening 2006). A nursery and a state-recognized nursing school for the training of baby nurses were affiliated with this modern and socially progressive institution; the nurses´ house was located on the adjoining Hallgartenstrasse from 1909. In 1920 the City of Frankfurt am Main took over the Böttgerheim which was in financial need after the war, and passed it into the sponsorship of the newly founded city health department two years later. From 1921 – 1929 the well-known German-Jewish pediatrician Prof. Dr. Paul Grosser directed the children’s hospital. Under the NS-regime the Böttgerheim was called “Municipal Children´s Hospital” from 1934. The hospital and residential care facility was re-opened in 1947 and continued until the closure by the City of Frankfurt in 1975. Today (as of 2017) the old foundation building as well as an additional new building house a birthing and counseling center for the parents of babies and infants (www.geburtshausfrankfurt.de) – in accordance with the wishes of the donor couple Gans.

Due to generous donations from Frankfurt´s Jewish residents, the big “Hospital of the Jewish Frankfurt am Main Community”, which was built at Gagernstrasse 36 in 1914, became operational with initially 200 beds (cp. Hanauer 1914). The clinic with modern technologies, often called simply referred to the “Jewish hospital” (though many non-Jewish patients also sought and found treatment there), existed until the Nazi forced eviction in 1942. Its precursors were the “Old Jewish Hospital for Foreigners” (1796-1875) as well as the “Hospital of the Jewish Frankfurt am Main Community” on Königswarterstrasse (Königswarter Hospital, 1875-1914), both established in Frankfurt’s Jewish Ghetto. Senior doctor of the old Jewish Foreigners´ Hospital on Völckerschen Biergarten from 1817 was Dr. Salomo Friedrich (Salomon) Stiebel , later co-founder of the above-mentioned Dr. Christ´s Children´s Hospital . When Dr. Stiebel retired after working 40 years, the practitioner and gynecologist Dr. Heinrich Schwarzschild (1803-1878) advanced to be the second doctor in charge of the hospital. Not least due to his insistence could the founding of Königswarter Hospital at Grünen Weg 26 (later Königswarterstrasse) with 80 beds be realised in 1875; generous donors were the banker Isaac Löw Königswarter and his wife Elisabeth. Their ward for internal medicine was directed by the surgeon and obstetrician Dr. Simon Kirchheim from 1877; he was also an active promoter of professional Jewish nursing as a paid female profession. Rosalie Jüttner was probably the first Jewish student nurse at the Königswarter Hospital in Germany followed by Minna Hirsch, first matron of the Königswarter Hospital (closed in 1914) and the succeeding Jewish hospital on Gagernstrasse as well as of the “Association for Jewish Nurses of Frankfurt am Main”. Today a Christian-influenced institution is located on Königswarter Strasse (16 instead of 26), the Red Cross Hospital. (as of 2017).

Along with the new Jewish hospital, the nurses´ residence of the “Association for Jewish Nurses of Frankfurt am Main” was also opened in 1914. The internationally known diabetes researcher Prof. Dr. Simon Isaac was medical director and senior consultant of the ward for internal medicine until he was forced to emigrate in 1939, followed by Dr. Alfred Valentin Marx. Further senior medical consultants were: for the polyclinics, the medical councilor Dr. Adolf Deutsch , for the women´s hospital, Dr. Arnold Baerwald , for the Ear-Nose-Throat-Clinic, Dr. Max Meier , for the eye clinic, Dr. Isaak Horowitz and for the surgery department, Dr. Emil Altschüler, who was director from 1935 of the Bikur Cholim Hospital in Jerusalem (still operating in 2017). In April 1939, the City of Frankfurt am Main “purchased” the entire property of the hospital for RM 90,000 through so-called “Jews Contracts” in order to rent it back to the Jewish community afterwards (cp. in summary Karpf 2003). Upon arrival of staff and patients of the already closed Rothschild´s hospitals on Röderbergweg, a Gestapo report of 1942 listed almost 400 patients, more than 100 employees (including the medical and nursing staff) and 37 student nurses (Steppe 1997, page 246). In October 1942 the big Jewish hospital was also forcibly evacuated; the previously accommodated patients were deported to Theresienstadt and other death camps. From November 1942 there was only one Jewish ward in a “community accommodation” (collection and transit camp prior to deportation) at Hermesweg 5-7. Its closure in the night of the fourth to the fifth day of October meant the end of institutional Jewish nursing in Frankfurt am Main. After the war the senior citizen center of the Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main came into existence on the premises at Gagernstrasse 36. Until the present day, no Jewish hospital has been re-established in Frankfurt am Main (cp. to situation of the Jewish hospital systems after the Nazi era Arnsberg 1970).

Birgit Seemann, 2010, updated 2020
(Translated by Yvonne Ford)

Selected Literature and Links [24.10.2017]

Andernacht, Dietrich/ Sterling, Eleonore (Bearb.) 1963: Dokumente zur Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden 1933-1945. Hg.: Kommission zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden. Frankfurt/M.

Arnsberg, Paul 1970: Die jüdische Diaspora. (Referat des Vortrags). In: Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenhäuser in Europa, S. 20-27

Arnsberg, Paul 1983: Die Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden seit der Französischen Revolution. Darmstadt, 3 Bände

Bolzenius, Rupert 1994: Beispielhafte Entwicklungsgeschichte jüdischer Krankenhäuser in Deutschland. Das Hekdesch der jüdischen Gemeinde in Frankfurt am Main und seine Nachfolgeeinrichtungen. Das israelitische Asyl für Kranke und Altersschwache in Köln. Das Jüdische Krankenhaus in Gailingen. Das Israelitische Altersheim in Aachen. Unveröff. Diss. med., Technische Hochschule Aachen

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Krankenhausgeschichte e.V. 1970: Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenhäuser in Europa. Historia hospitalium, Sonderheft 1970

Gans, Angela von/ Groening, Monika 2006: Die Familie Gans 1350 – 1963. Ursprung und Schicksal einer wiederentdeckten Gelehrten- und Wirtschaftsdynastie. 2., durchges. Aufl. Ubstadt-Weiher [u.a.]

Heuberger, Georg [Hg.] 1990: Die vergessenen Nachbarn. Juden in Frankfurter Vororten. [Bergen-Enkheim, Bockenheim, Heddernheim, Höchst, Rödelheim; Begleitheft zu der Ausstellung des Jüdischen Museums der Stadt Frankfurt am Main […] Verantw.: Georg Heuberger; Konzeption u. Gesamtleitung: Helga Krohn]. Frankfurt/M.

Heuberger, Rachel/ Krohn, Helga (Hg.) 1998: Hinaus aus dem Ghetto… Juden in Frankfurt am Main. 1800 – 1950. Mit Beitr. v. Cilly Kugelmann [u.a.]. [Begleitbuch zur ständigen Ausstellung des Jüdischen Museums der Stadt Frankfurt am Main]. Frankfurt/M.

Hanauer, Wilhelm 1914: Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenpflege in Frankfurt am Main. In: Festschrift zur Einweihung des neuen Krankenhauses der Israelitischen Gemeinde zu Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt/M.

Hövels, Otto/ Dippel, Jürgen/ Daub, Ute 1995: Festschrift zum 150-jährigen Jubiläum des Clementine Kinderhospitals – Dr. Christ´sche Stiftung 1845 – 1995. Hg.: Clementine Kinderhospital – Dr. Christ´sche Stiftung. Gießen

Jenss, Harro [u.a.] (Hg.): Israelitisches Krankenhaus in Hamburg – 175 Jahre. Berlin 2016

Jetter, Dieter 1970: Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenhäuser. In: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Krankenhausgeschichte e.V. 1970, S. 29-59 (Wiederabdruck in: Der Krankenhausarzt. Fachzeitschrift für das Krankenhauswesen, 45 (1972) 1 (Januar), S. 23-40)

Kallmorgen, Wilhelm 1936: Siebenhundert Jahre Heilkunde in Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt/M. – [Zahlreiche Einträge zu jüdischen Ärztinnen und Ärzten und Institutionen der Frankfurter Pflege und Medizin.]

Karpf, Ernst 2003: Krankenhaus der Israelitischen Gemeinde an der Gagernstraße, http://www.ffmhist.de/

Krohn, Helga 2000: „Auf einem der luftigsten und freundlichsten Punkte der Stadt, auf dem Röderberge, sind die jüdischen Spitäler.“ Soziale Einrichtungen auf dem Röderbergweg. In: dies. (Red.): Ostend. Blick in ein jüdisches Viertel. Mit Beitr. v. Helga Krohn [u.a.] u. e. Einl. v. Georg Heuberger. Erinnerungen v. Wilhelm Herzfeld […]. Frankfurt/M., S. 128-143

Lachenmann, Hanna (Red.) [u.a.] 1995: Getrost und freudig. 125 Jahre Frankfurter Diakonissenhaus 1870-1995 [Festschrift]. Blätter aus dem Frankfurter Diakonissenhaus Nr. 386 (1995/2)

Lenarz, Michael 2003: Stiftungen jüdischer Bürger Frankfurts für die Wohlfahrtspflege. Übersicht und Geschichte nach 1933, http://www.ffmhist.de/

Lustiger, Arno (Hg.) 1994: Jüdische Stiftungen in Frankfurt am Main. Stiftungen, Schenkungen, Organisationen und Vereine mit Kurzbiographien jüdischer Bürger dargestellt von Gerhard Schiebler. Mit Beitr. v. Hans Achinger [u.a.]. Hg. i.A. der M.-J.-Kirchheim’schen Stiftung in Frankfurt am Main. 2. unveränd. Aufl. Sigmaringen 1994

Müller, Bruno 2006: Stiftungen in Frankfurt am Main. Geschichte und Wirkung. Neubearb. u. fortgesetzt durch Hans-Otto Schembs. Frankfurt/M.

Murken, Axel Hinrich 1993/94: Vom Hekdesch zum Allgemeinen Krankenhaus. Jüdische Krankenhäuser im Wandel ihrer 800jährigen Geschichte vom 13. Jahrhundert bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg. In: Historia Hospitalium 19 (1993/94), S. 115-142

o.Verf. o.J. [1843]: Die freie Stadt Frankfurt am Main nebst ihren Umgebungen. Ein Wegweiser für Fremde und Einheimische. Mit Stahlstichen. Frankfurt/M.

Otto, Arnim 1998: Juden im Frankfurter Osten 1796 bis 1945. 3. bearb. u. Veränd. Aufl. Offenbach/M.

Reschke, Barbara [Red.] 2011: Full of talent and grace. Clementine von Rothschild 1845-1865. Zum 125-jährigen Bestehen des Clementine Kinderhospitals. Hg. v. Vorstand der Clementine Kinderhospital – Dr. Christ´schen Stiftung. [2. erg. Aufl.] Frankfurt/M.

Schiebler, Gerhard 1994: Stiftungen, Schenkungen, Organisationen und Vereine mit Kurzbiographien jüdischer Bürger. In: Lustiger 1994, S. 9-288

Seemann, Birgit 2010: Jüdische Krankenpflege in Frankfurt am Main. Ein Forschungsprojekt. In: TRIBÜNE. Zeitschrift zum Verständnis des Judentums 49 (2010) 193, S. 124-134

Seemann, Birgit 2016: Stiefkind der Forschung: Das Rothschild’sche Kinderhospital in Frankfurt am Main (1886–1941). In: nurinst – Jahrbuch 2016. Beiträge zur deutschen und jüdischen Geschichte. Schwerpunktthema: Kinder. Im Auftrag des Nürnberger Instituts für NS-Forschung und jüdische Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts hg. v. Jim G. Tobias u. Nicola Schlichting. Nürnberg, S. 155-170

Seemann, Birgit/ Bönisch, Edgar 2010: Die Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenpflege am Beispiel Frankfurt am Main und ihre Präsentation im Internet. In: Hallische Beiträge zur Zeitgeschichte (Hg.: Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Institut für Geschichte) 2010/1 (Heft 19). Schwerpunkt: Pflegegeschichte. Focus: Nursing History. Mit Beiträgen v. Wendy Gagen [u.a.], S. 55-86

Steppe, Hilde 1997: „… den Kranken zum Troste und dem Judenthum zur Ehre …“. Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenpflege in Deutschland. Frankfurt am Main

Tauber, Alon 2008: Zwischen Kontinuität und Neuanfang. Die Entstehung der jüdischen Nachkriegsgemeinde in Frankfurt am Main 1945-1949. Wiesbaden

Unna, Josef 1965: Die israelitische Männer- und Frauen-Krankenkasse („Kippestub“) in Frankfurt a.M. In: Bulletin des Leo-Baeck-Instituts 8 (1965) 31, S. 227-239

Windecker, Dieter 1990: 100 Jahre Freiherr-Carl-von-Rothschild’sche Stiftung Carolinum. 100 Jahre Stiftung Carolinum. Die Geschichte der Stiftung und die Entwicklung der Zahnklinik an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität zu Frankfurt am Main. Berlin


Carolinum Zahnärztliches Universitäts-Institut der Universität Frankfurt am Main: http://www.med.uni-frankfurt.de/carolinum/

Clementine Kinderhospital, Frankfurt am Main: www.clementine-kinderhospital.de

Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurt am Main 1933-1945, http://www.ffmhist.de/

Museum Judengasse Frankfurt am Main: http://www.museumjudengasse.de/de/home/

Hospitals in the Frankfurt Jewish Ghetto

The Establishment of the Ghettos
In Frankfurt on Main Jewish residents were mentioned in official documents as early as 1074 (Mayer 1966, page 9). The Pogroms of 1241 and 1349 destroyed the first Jewish communities. After returning to settle in the city again, the Jewish residents continued to live without protection, legally discriminated against and constantly threatened by Christian anti-Jewish sentiment whose goal was expulsion of the Jews. There was, however, no prohibition against Jews moving into predominantly Christian areas of the city, and there were Christian citizens of Frankfurt who lived in the Jewish quarters. How Jewish nursing was organised during this time is largely unknown, although there was no strict separation so that, in case of need, Jews could be cared for by Christians and Christians by Jews. Jewish doctors were already caring for Christian patients in the 14th century. Such forms of co-existence (see, however, Grebner 2009) ended abruptly in 1460 (over one hundred years after the last pogrom) when the Frankfurt City Council ordered the establishment of a Jewish ghetto (for background on the reasons, see Backhaus et al. 2006). Two years later Jewish families had to leave their homes and were forced to live in the ghetto. We can learn more about this period from the online databank of the Jewish Museum Judengasse in Frankfurt on Main. “Judengasse, the Frankfurt Jewish ghetto, was located in what is now the eastern section of the city center. It started at Konstablerwache, ran along the Staufenmauer and stretched beyond the current Kurt-Schumacher-Street up to the area where the municipal services’ building currently stands. Judengasse was enclosed by walls and was, therefore, separated from the rest of the city. There were gates at the northern and southern ends of the ghetto, as well as in the middle, on the westside facing the city center, at the so-called Judenbrückchen. These gates were closed every night, as well as on Sundays and holidays; Jews could only leave their narrow streets on workdays.” Frankfurt’s Judengasse, „the first ghetto in Germany and one of the first in Europe“ (introduction in Backhaus et al 2006, page 10) physically separated the Jewish minority from the Christian majority. At the same time, the walls offered the Jewish inhabitants no protection. During the Milk-fat Uprising in 1614, anti-semitic attackers broke into the Judengasse, forcing the inhabitants out and plundering their houses.

Photography: Frankfurt "Judengasse", partial view, about 1868.
Frankfurt „Judengasse“, partial view, about 1868
Foto: Theodor Creifelds (Quelle: Wikimedia)

Only the forcible establishment of the Jewish ghetto led to separate Jewish hospitals which would endure across several centuries. The first Jewish hospital, the Hekdesch (or in new Hebrew “Hakdesch”, also called “Heckhaus”), a house “consecrated” to the poor and sick, was one of the oldest houses in the Frankfurt Jewish ghetto; it was built in 1462 on the land that is now the Konstablerwache. As a so-called „stranger’s hospital,“ it took in the poor and sick who came from outside the city, and therefore – in contrast with the inhabitants of Judengasse – had no rights to residency (Judenstättigkeit) in the city. At the beginning of the 18th century a couple, who themselves lived along with their child in the Heckdesch, cared for about 15 patients. After a large fire, the facility was re-located in 1711 from the Judengasse to the property of the Jewish Cemetery and the neighbouring Völkerschen Bleichgartens; the hospital for sick residents of the Judengasse was also re-located to the same area (Building 102 in the ghetto, opening date unknown). Since 1535 the third nursing institution had existed at this location, the so-called Blatternhaus (Blattern = smallpox) which treated patients with contagious diseases. The hospital for residents of the Judengasse and the Blatternhaus were probably connected in the same century; the single-story building with a little synagogue and a little apartment for the “orderly” were located on the same property where the Börneplatz Synagogue was later built (1882). The former “stranger’s hospital”, the Heckdesch, was given a new location comprising 6 small houses in 1718; this institution existed until it was destroyed by air raids during World War II.

The sick and those needing care in the institutions in the Jewish ghetto were attended to by so-called orderlies for the sick. Due to the separation between care of males and females, there were also female orderlies. The orderlies were regarded as low employees of the Jewish Community and, as such, received low wages and lived in simple houses near the hospitals. The administration of the nursing facilities was conducted by an unpaid volunteer known as the hospital master, a person who had a high reputation within the Jewish community administration. Coming from wealthy families, this position gave the person the opportunity to fulfill the religious obligation to perform charity deeds (“Zedaka”). Due to the population growth, among other reasons, the need for nursing care in the Judengasse increased in the 16th century. Since then, in addition to the orderlies for the sick, a “Heckdeschverwalter” or “Hekdeschmann,” was responsible for direct patient care. This man, a sort of head nurse, led the hospital through living directly in the facility. Since the 17th century, the Jewish community continuously employed two doctors; they were instructed to follow these guidelines: fees were set for the treatment of wealthy patients – the poor were treated for free. Jewish doctors, both male and female, were so well respected from the Middle Ages onward, that they were consulted by Christians patients far beyond the ghetto walls. From 1631 to 1640 the renowned doctor and scholar Dr. Josef Salomo del Medigo (also known as Joseph Solomon Delmedigo) (1591 – 1655) worked as a community doctor in the Frankfurt Jewish ghetto; he was followed in 1640 by his student and son-in-law Zalmann Bingen (dates of his birth and death unknown).

“back out of the ghetto…”
In 1796 the Jewish ghetto burned down yet again, this time due to the fire of the French troops. The homeless residents were put up outside the ghetto. Although the Frankfurt city government was not able to push through legislation to rebuild the ghetto, the ghetto ordinance was not formally rescinded until 1811. After further conflicts with the Frankfurt City Council Jewish were allowed – after more than three hundred years! – to live wherever they chose in the city. Beginning in the midst of the 19th century, wealthy Jewish families increasingly settled in the Frankfurt Westend, whereas the poorer returned to the area of the former Jewish ghetto which had been torn down at the end of the 1880’s. In the year 1835 Judengasse was renamed after the political author and journalist Ludwig Börne (1786 – 1837), known at the time as Juda Löw Baruch, who had been born in the ghetto; thereafter the street was called Börnestraße. The long emprisonment was over, the way for emanicipation was free. The legal equality of Jewish and Christian citizens of Frankfurt in the year 1864 (followed in 1870/1871 throughout the newly founded German Empire) provided the impetus for the founding of modern Jewish hospitals in Frankfurt on Main; these institutions opened their doors to patients of all confessions and carried on the tradition of Jewish nursing which had begun under ghetto conditions.

Birgit Seemann, 2009, updated 2017

(Translated by Yvonne Ford)


Arnsberg, Paul 1983: Die Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden seit der Französischen Revolution. Darmstadt, 3 Bände

Backhaus, Fritz 2000: „Im Heckhuß die Lahmen, Blinden und Hungerleider…“. Die sozialen Institutionen in der Frankfurter Judengasse. In: Jersch-Wenzel, Stefi (Hg.) 2000: Juden und Armut in Mittel- und Osteuropa. Hg. in Verbindung mit François Guesnet [u.a.] im Auftrag des Simon-Dubnow-Instituts für Jüdische Geschichte und Kultur e.V. Köln [u.a.], S. 31-54

Backhaus, Fritz u.a. (Hg.) 2006: Die Frankfurter Judengasse. Jüdisches Leben in der frühen Neuzeit. Frankfurt/M.

Backhaus, Fritz/ Gross, Raphael/ Kößling, Sabine/ Wenzel, Mirjam (eds.) 2016: The Judengasse in Frankfurt. Catalog of the permanent exhibition of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt. History, politics, culture. Transl. into English by Adam Blauhut and Michael Foster. Munich

Bolzenius, Rupert 1994: Beispielhafte Entwicklungsgeschichte jüdischer Krankenhäuser in Deutschland. Das Hekdesch der jüdischen Gemeinde in Frankfurt am Main und seine Nachfolgeeinrichtungen. Das israelitische Asyl für Kranke und Altersschwache in Köln. Das Jüdische Krankenhaus in Gailingen. Das Israelitische Altersheim in Aachen. Unveröff. Diss. med., Techn. Hochsch. Aachen

Burger, Thorsten 2013: Frankfurt am Main als jüdisches Migrationsziel zu Beginn der Frühen Neuzeit. Rechtliche, wirtschaftliche und soziale Bedingungen für das Leben in der Judengasse. Wiesbaden.

Grebner, Gundula 2009: Gewalt im Alltag. Frankfurt am Main. In: Kalonymos. Beiträge zur deutsch-jüdischen Geschichte aus dem Salomon Ludwig Steinheim-Institut 12 (2009) 2, S. 1-6

Heuberger, Georg [Hg.] 1992: Stationen des Vergessens – der Börneplatzkonflikt. Begleitbuch zur Eröffnungsausstellung / Museum Judengasse. [Hg. i. A. … der Stadt Frankfurt am Main; Jüdisches Museum. Red.: Roswitha Nees, Dieter Bartetzko]. Frankfurt/M.

Heuberger, Rachel/ Krohn, Helga (Hg.) 1988: Hinaus aus dem Ghetto… Juden in Frankfurt am Main. 1800 – 1950. Begleitbuch zur ständigen Ausstellung des Jüdischen Museums der Stadt Frankfurt am Main. Mit Beitr. v. Cilly Kugelmann [u.a.]. Frankfurt/M., S. 13-38

Kasper-Holtkotte, Cilli 2010: Die jüdische Gemeinde von Frankfurt/Main in der Frühen Neuzeit. Familien, Netzwerke und Konflikte eines jüdischen Zentrums. Berlin; New York, NY

Mayer, Eugen 1966: Die Frankfurter Juden. Blicke in die Vergangenheit. Frankfurt/M.

Murken, Axel Hinrich 1993/94: Vom Hekdesch zum Allgemeinen Krankenhaus. Jüdische Krankenhäuser im Wandel ihrer 800jährigen Geschichte vom 13. Jahrhundert bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg, in: Historia Hospitalium 19 (1993/94), S. 115-142

Schembs, Hans-Otto (Bearb.) 1978: Bibliographie zur Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden. 1781-1945. Hg. v. d. Kommission zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden. Bearb. v. Hans-Otto Schembs mit Verwendung d. Vorarbeiten v. Ernst Loewy u. Rosel Andernacht. Frankfurt/M.

Wolf, Siegbert (Hg.) 1996: Frankfurt am Main. Jüdisches Städtebild. Mit 21 Fotografien. Frankfurt/M. [Mit Beiträgen u.a. von Goethe zur Judengasse]

Further source material

Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main (Hg.) 1996: Orte der Erinnerung. Juden in Frankfurt am Main. [Topographische Stadtkarte]. Frankfurt/M.

Museum Judengasse Frankfurt am Main (mit Infobank): http://www.museumjudengasse.de/de/home/, [24.10.2017]

Wamers, Egon/ Grossbach, Markus 2000: Die Judengasse in Frankfurt am Main. Ergebnisse der archäologischen Untersuchungen am Börneplatz. Unter Mitarb. v. Jens Lorenz Franzen [u.a.]. [Hg. … vom Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Archäologisches Museum, der Stadt Frankfurt am Main]. Stuttgart

Ehemaliges Vorderhaus des Gumpertz'schen Siechenhauses

Gumpertz´ Infirmary (1888 – 1941) – Jewish Care for the “Poorest of the Poor” in Frankfurt´s East End

In the middle ages an infirmary mainly acted as a disease hospital (e.g. for lepers), where the “inmates” were separated from the healthy population and “kept” like prisoners, sometimes for life. In the course of industrialization the infirmary changed into an asylum for needy people with physical disabilities, chronic diseases and disabilities. Due to familiar and village networks being torn apart by migration to the cities, as well as the increasing specialization of hospitals on curable patients, no one could take care of them and they vegetated. Also old people found shelter in asylusm. Before the “first pure nursing homes and infirmaries” were established in the 19th century, they “had been accommodated in alms- and workhouses, where also ‚persons with bad reputation‘, ‚morons‘, ‚incorrigible alcoholics‘, ‚work-shy individuals‘ and offenders lived” (Graber-Dünow 2013: 245). Frail people had to work for their living, wear prison clothes and fear physical abuses. Here it was necessary to remedy the situation: Professional “Homes for the Incurable” (Stolberg 2011: 71) were the predecessors of today´s modern retirement and nursing homes and inpatient hospices. In addition to Gumpertz´ infirmary these include in Frankfurt am Main the municipal almshouse and infirmary called “Sandhöfer Allee” (later “Sandhof Hospital”), the Schmidborn-Rücker´s infirmary, the Karl and Emilie Jaeger´s children´s infirmary run by the Deaconess Association and since 1922 also the Jewish founded Rödelheim Hospital (cp. file inventory of ISG Ffm).

The accelerated industrialization in the Wilhelmine era posed new challenges also for the Jewish communities. Thus, the need for care increased in Frankfurt´s East End, where low-income Jewish people lived, and where, since the 1880s, persons displaced due to anti-Semitism had been arriving from Eastern Europe. The Jewish religious society (conservative secession community, which had left the bigger liberal Frankfurt am Main Jewish community) was worried about the appropriate ritual care of dependent Jewish people. The result of these considerations was an independent in-patient facility for frail, terminally ill and bedridden needy people of Jewish faith: Gumpertz´ infirmary, however, was,according to the provisions of Bikkur Cholim (Jewish obligation to patient visits or nursing),also open for non-Jewish people. After humble beginnings the infirmary united professional nursing, care of the elderly and severely disabled as well as poor relief under one roof. Soon it developed into an important protagonist of the local Jewish welfare system. Very impressive are the number and volume of endowments and donations by members of Frankfurt´s two Jewish communities: for free beds, equipment for medical treatment and care, books and other cultural activities, the organization of the religious festivities, the construction and maintenance of the in-house synagogue, which was officially opened in 1911 (cp. Gumpertz´ infirmary 1909 and 1913 et seqq.). The great importance of the synagogue for the residents of the facility is reflected, among other things, in the fact that the infirmary employed with Salomon Wolpert its own in-house rabbi.

Personalities of the Frankfurt Lodge Bne Briss
Gut, Elias 1928: History of the Frankfurt Lodge (1888-1928). Frankfurt a.M. 1928 (between p. 70 u. 71)

The beginnings
In 1888 the Frankfurt Jewish foundress Betty Gumpertz initiated Gumpertz´ Infirmary, bearing the name ofthe association which had been named after her. It was established in order to “provide accommodation and care for destitute, chronically ill, ailing people of both sexes” and to grant them competent “medical care” instead of simply custody (Gump Statute 1895: 3). According to the statutes the intention was “not to consider the religious denomination with regard to the services offered by the association. Since this aim, however, could not be achieved due to the limited resources of the association, only sick people of Jewish faith shall be considered. However, if these are not present, non-Jewish may also be accommodated by decision of the board” (ibid.: 4). The applicants shall have a “good reputation” – a certificate of “moral conduct” had to be submitted to the examining board – and should have lived in Frankfurt for at least two years. Accommodation and care were usually free of charge. In accordance with the statute there was “a room for the performance of the prayers according to strict Jewish rite” (ibid.: 5), where the foundress Betty Gumpertz herself and her deceased family members were commemorated.
In 1895 the board of the Gumpertz´ Infirmary association consisted of the well-known social reformer and chairman Charles L. Hallgarten as well as Michael Moses Mainz (vice chairman), Julius Goldschmidt (secretary to the board, later president), Joseph Holzmann (counter secretary), director Hermann Rais (treasurer), Hermann Schott (economist), Raphael Ettlinger (vice secretary to the board and vice economist), the banker Otto Höchberg (assessor) and the solicitor Julius Plotke (assessor). Probably because women were not allowed to lead any associations or clubs in the German Empire until 1908 in accordance with the Prussian law governing organizational affairs, Betty Gumpertz was involved in her foundation as an honorary member and “lady of honor” (ibid.: 8); furthermore, she was authorized to nominate a second lady of honor. On 11th May 1895 Gumpertz´ infirmary obtained the status as a legal entity under public law.

Rueckertstrasse around 1865/1868. Street view seen from Hanauer Landstrasse
© Institute for the History of Frankfurt am Main

The locations
In 1888 Gumpertz´ infirmary started as a small inpatient facility on Rückertstrasse (Arnsberg 1983 vol. 1: 764 and vol. 2: 120; Cohn-Neßler 1920: 174; Schiebler 1994: 135, 282). The hosting capacities were quickly exhausted. Betty Gumpertz´ large donation of RM 60,000 made the purchase of the property at 75 Ostendstrasse possible, where a building with initially 20 beds was opened in 1892 (ISG Ffm: welfare office Sign. 877). The board of the association determined the 10th October 1892 as the official founding date. In September 1893 another generous foundress, Träutchen Höchberg, provided the infirmary, which was increasingly in demand, with RM 50,000 (cp. Schiebler 1994: 135). Nevertheless, the premises came up against limiting factors again due to the continuing demands for care outside the home. It was rescued by the annexation of the (dependent) Minka von Goldschmidt-Rothschild Foundation, established in 1905, to the association Gumpertz´ Infirmary: Thanks to the large donation of one million Marks initiated by Mathilde von Rothschild a new building with at least 60 beds (cp. ibid.) was built at 62-64 Röderbergweg, which was also called “Rothschild´s Infirmary”. “[…] due to this magnificent building located in the middle of the old park, the Jewish nursing home and infirmary was, like its long-term administrator Hermann Seckbach emphasized, “enabled to treat and care for its patients in case of necessary operations or the like on its own, because the foundation building had theatres, x-ray facilities, laboratory and the most diverse electrical and other baths available” (Seckbach 1917). In addition to the newly constructed “front house” the property 62-64 Röderbergweg comprised a smaller old “rear building” (building of the association “Gumpertz´ Infirmary), which caused the senior doctor Dr. Alfred Günzburg a lot of worry: “According to the express wish of the foundress [Mathilde von Rothschild for her daughter Minka who passed away in 1903, B.S.] only women are admitted to the new foundation, while men are cared for in the old house, an old villa converted for hospital purposes, in a makeshift way, where bathrooms, toilets and sculleries are missing. There is no sitting room! A lift for persons is urgently needed in order to take slow-moving persons into the garden. Now the board is approached with the urgent task of rebuilding the men´s house in such a way that it meets the most important requirements of modern health care” (Gumpertz´ Infirmary 1909, page 7 et seqq.).

Floor plan of the Minka von Goldschmidt-Rothschild’schen Siechenhaus (Sick House) (front building of the total property of the Gumpertz’sches „Sick house“), Roederbergweg 62-64, undated (ca. 1907)

The urgently needed rebuilding measures were carried out, and also the big “front house” was further modernized. The subdivision into a “men´s house” (rear building) and a “women´s house” (front house) still existed during World War I.
In addition to the nursing care in “Rothschild´s Hospital” and the pediatric nursing in Rothschild´s Children´s Hospital, Gumpertz´ infirmary was the third cornerstone of care provision on Röderbergweg (also see Eckhardt 2006; Krohn 2000). All three facilities were close to the conservative-Jewish religious society and in corresponding contact.

Military hospital during World War I
Right after the beginning of the First World War Gumpertz´ infirmary was involved in Frankfurt´s nursing in 1914. Run as military hospital 33, it set up an intensive care ward for officers and soldiers with up to 40 beds. Soldiers of all denominations found accommodation there so that, in addition to Jewish festivities, Christmas was also celebrated. “It was occupied from its mobilization until 12th December 1918, accommodated 671 soldiers, including 434 wounded men. Furthermore, 154 military persons were treated there as outpatients” (Jewish nurse association Ffm 1920, page 36). The administrator Hermann Seckbach also took the military hospital under his proven wing. Under the direction of his future wife, matron Rahel Spiero, some of her colleagues of the Association for Jewish Nurses of Frankfurt am Main, whose names have not been passed on yet, worked there. Also the residents of the infirmary soon became active: Some male patients solemnized a “Jahrzeitstiftung ” for dead soldiers, “…a light is lit in the synagogue of our facility daily during the year of mourning and on the day of death fburns continuously and a Kaddish prayer alternately performed by the patients” (accountability report 1914 and 1915 (1916, page 7), cp. Gumpertz´ infirmary 1913 et seqq.).

Gumertz’sches Siechenhaus (Sick House) / Title page of a report from 1916 in the university library Frankfurt am Main 2011
Report of the association of the charity „Gumpertz’sches Siechenhaus“ and the Minka von Goldschmidt-Rothschild Charity 1913 ff

In addition to the military hospital the regular care operation had to be continued: “On 1st January 1916 there were 35 women and 22 men in our facilities. In three years 24 women and 20 men newly joined us. 28 women and 25 men died or were dismissed so that on 1st January 1919 there were 31 women and 17 men in our facilities” (accountability report 1916, 1917 and 1918 (1919, page 4), cp. Gumpertz´ infirmary 1913 et seqq.). On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Gumpertz´ infirmary the administrator and author Hermann Seckbach, who also defended his protégés in a journalistic way, emphasized in the newspaper “Frankfurt´s news” in 1917: “[…] for many years we have regarded it as our most important task not to let people suffering from [sic!] long-term illnesses to simply drift-off. Thus, we find a number of cases which could be given back to life and their families or who work within our facility as employees” (Seckbach 1917).
After the end of war Mathilde von Rothschild and the family of her deceased daughter Minka – her husband Max von Goldschmidt-Rothschild and their children Albert, Rudolf, Lili, Lucy and Erich – did everything to take Gumpertz´ infirmary through the difficult inflation years.

The 1920s
In Fanny Cohn-Nessler´s newspaper report “The infirmary of Frankfurt” from 1920, which is still worth reading today, it says with praise: “The Minka-von Goldschmidt-Rothschild Foundation, a stately elongated building of red sandstone and bricks, near the East Railway Station (Hanau Railway) and a beautiful park, faces Röderbergweg. The infirmary, coming from a legacy of Mrs Gumpertz […], now has received its own big house in the garden of the above-mentioned foundation. Both facilities enjoy a particularly good reputation among the welfare facilities of the old empire city. […] it is a conventional figure of speech in Frankfurt: best food and best agreement among the residents can be found in these two homes that are one; because both facilities are equipped for chronically ill and frail individuals” (Cohn-Nessler 1920: 174 [pointed out in the original]). The author provides also insights into the internal architecture and furnishings: “When entering the foundation you come into the posh-looking vestibule. Marble cladding, alternating with yellow polished wooden surfaces, mirrors on the walls, wide wooden staircases with carved railings” (ibid.). On the ground floor of the front house of the Minka von Goldschmidt-Rothschild Foundation described above could be found among others, the doctors´ room, the room of the house nurse, examination rooms and theatres, the x-ray room as well as the dining room used for festivities. Visitor Fanny Cohn-Nessler was particularly impressed by a room being filled by a large Shabbat furnace (furnace for keeping food warm for the Shabbat): “The house is run in a strict ritual manner. The Shabbat furnace keeps food and drinks warm at a consistently hot (high) temperature during the whole Saturday. For a capacity of about hundred people – including the administration, care and service staff. A tunnel train connects both properties [front and rear building, B.S.]. The food train (lowry wagon) runs in both directions and carries the food including the necessary dishes, cutlery [sic] etc. to the different elevators, which are on all floors. The big kitchen, provided with all equipment of modern times, is located in the basement; also a pesah-kitchen. […] The laundry is on the second floor and equipped with steam operation following the example of large laundries in Berlin and other cities” (ibid.). The rooms of the men´s and women´s division were decorated in white. A large conservation room promoted the communication among the still mobile residents.

Due to the specialization of Gumpertz´ infirmary on long-term care it referred to itself temporarily with the name affix of “Jewish Nursing Home and Infirmary”. In order to remedy its financial difficulties – like almost all social and care institutions, the infirmary fought economic problems in the 1920s – the board strove to upgrade the infirmary to the status of a hospital. However, it continued to be classified as an infirmary and a nursing home by order of the authorities, since short-term care and outpatient clinic were missing. Probably that was why it cut down the operation of its hospital in favor of the elderly care in 1922. In 1929 Gumpertz´ infirmary had to rent its main building (front house) with 90 beds for initially 20 years to the City of Frankfurt am Main, whose aim was to expand the municipal medical care, but reserved in the lease contract the option to buy the complete property. The infirmary itself retreated into its second building (rear building), a villa with 30 beds. The City of Frankfurt agreed to pay the annual rent for the front house and took on maintenance and renovation work. It also planned building extensions with integrated apartments for the nurses. On 27th July 1931 the front house was assigned to the City Health Office as health institution in accordance with the decision of the Magistrate and run as a so-called “mixed” business – with a bigger department for chronically ill patients and a smaller infirmary department – by the chamber office of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit. As a result of the severely fluctuating occupancy of Frankfurt´s hospital beds, the concept of the Municipal Hospital East” and also of a “Municipal Infirmary” was discarded again; instead, spare beds should be made available in the “front house” e.g. for influenza epidemics (ISG Ffm: welfare office Sign. 877; magistrate records Sign. 8.957).

The NS-era
After the seizure of power by the national socialists the City of Frankfurt intended to sublease Gumpertz´ front house to the military police department of the major detachment IV of the Stormtroopers (“SA”) of the NSDAP as their military police station. Since this initially could not be realized, the city suddenly terminated the lease contract in May 1933. The Gumpertz´ Foundation, represented by its chairman Dr. Richard Merzbach, instituted proceedings against the sudden termination of the contract, which was a sign that not just the loss of workplaces for the (now -predominantly Christian) nursing staff was on its way, but also the financial ruin for the whole institution. The SA-military-police-department asserted its interest in a take-over in a rude manner: If the city does not exert appropriate pressure on the Jewish landlord, the military police station would possibly move in without having permission. The department even threatened to report the infirmary because of sabotage (ISG Ffm: magistrate records Sign. 8.957: Letter of the Lord Mayor Krebs dated 02/10/1933). Finally, the infirmary had to leave the front house to the city at reduced rent and without the condition to use the building solely for hospital purposes. In accordance with a magistrate decision of 16th October 1933 the SA-military-police-department moved into the front house on 4th November 1933, where 65 persons lived in April 1934. Thus, Gumpertz´ infirmary had a National Socialist neighbor on its own property. On top of everything it was still in disputes over the lease with the city which had in the meantime stopped its payments. Official sublease for the SA-military-police-corps was the “Prussian Treasury” from 1934 until 1936 (with a renewal option until 1944) that was to share the renovation and maintenance costs in equal parts with the City of Frankfurt. However, there was an argument concerning this topic with the city, especially because the military police delayed their rental payments. After the move-out of the military police the 1st unit of hundred policemen of Frankfurt´s uniformed police was initially accommodated in the front house in 1936/37 until being transferred into “Gutleut” barracks. They were temporarily followed by “Hitler-vacationers-comradeships” (in 1937), who consisted of older national socialists “of outstanding merit” like political leaders, storm troopers and members of the shield squadron.

Due to increased demand the front house was to be used as a nursing home and infirmary again in the fall of 1937 and purchased as “inexpensively” as possible by the Gumpertz Foundation. In addition, the Office for “Social Self-Responsibility” of the Nazi German Labour Front intended to establish a research institute for slim diseases in order to counteract reduced efficiency of the Aryan labor force, whether due to overload in the workplace or unhealthy lifestyle, by targeted preventive and optimization measures. In 1937 kitchen, main pantry for food distribution, dining and dressing rooms for the staff, rooms for the storage of hospital clothes and dirty laundry, heating and domestic hot water production plants were located in the basement, on the first floor there were a hospital ward with 13 beds, a room for the medical director of the aforementioned research institute together with a secretarial pool, a room for the cardiac event recorder, a chemical examination room, two physical examination rooms, the diagnostic radiology department with darkroom and the porter´s room, on the second and third floor a hospital ward with 38 beds and adjoining rooms each. In the attic you found the living areas for a doctor, a senior nurse, 15 nurses and 14 domestic servants. In 1938 the city announced its intention to purchase the entire property 62-64 Röderbergweg extending to Danziger Platz and Henschelstrasse, which was certainly rejected by the Gumpertz´ Foundation. However, in April 1938 the foundation had to agree to the sale of its front house which was then called “Röderbergweg Nursing Home and Infirmary”, in short Röderbergweg Home. The “Hospital of the Holy Spirit” took over the management and had extensive reconstruction and renovation work done. After its official opening on 21st November the Röderbergweg Home was occupied with 26 (non-Jewish) chronically ill and ailing patients in agreement with the welfare office (ISG Ffm: magistrate records Sign. 8.958).

The (dependent) Gumpertz´ Infirmary Foundation and Minka von Goldschmidt-Rothschild Foundation were forcibly incorporated into the “Empire´s Association of German Jews” (ISG: foundation department: Sign. 146) on 28th September 1940. On 7th April 1941 the NS-authorities forced the nursing staff and the 46 patients out of the rear building (since 1932 under the address: Danziger Platz 15) transferring to the Hospital of the Jewish Community (at 36 Gagernstrasse). Their biographic data and further destiny are still unexplored: Were they deported to Theresienstadt ghetto like Siegmund Keller and the matron of Gumpertz´ infirmary, Rahel Seckbach? Did some fall prey to not only the Shoah, but also the eugenic Nazi mass murder of disabled people (T4) (see Lilienthal 2009)? In accordance with the “Hausstandsbüchern” [records kept by the local police stations that listed Frankfurt´s residents sorted by street and house number] for 36 Gagernstrasse (ISG Ffm: Part 2, Sign. 687) many displaced patients from the house at 15 Danziger Platz died still in hospital, which was not even equipped for the care of chronically ill patients. With regard to the staff, the “deportees database” of the Börneplatz memorial (Jewish museum of Frankfurt am Main) registers under the address 15 Danziger Platz, in addition to the longstanding domestic employee Rachel Kaplan, the nurse intern Edith Appel (nurse interns), Leopold Lion (porter) and Zilla Reiss (cook, teaching nurse); the “Hausstandsbücher” (ISG Ffm: Part 2, Sign. 687) listed Cornelie (Cornelia) Butwies (commercial clerk, nurse, page 16, 18) as well as Klara Strauss (cook, page 341). In the beginning of 1942 the Empire´s Association of German Jews “sold” the remaining property at 15 Danziger Platz, where the commander´s office of Frankfurt am Main immediately set up the front control center and a teaching kitchen of the Air Force, under Nazi conditions. In 1944 allied air raids destroyed the property of the “Arianized” Gumpertz´ / Rothschild´s infirmary on Röderbergweg. The (non-Jewish) residents had been transferred already before the bombings: the chronically ill patients to Lange Strasse (Hospital of the Holy Spirit) and the sick patients to the Forest Hospital of Köppern near Friedrichsdorf (Taunus). Did they get caught up in the wheels of the eugenic Nazi mass murder (cp. for Hesse among others Daub 1992; Hahn 2001; Leuchtweis-Gerlach 2001; Sandner 2003; also see Graber-Dünow 2013)?

The former ‚Gumpertz’sches Siechenhaus‘, 1975 – Photo: Klaus Meier-Ude
© Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Frankfurt am Main, Sig. S7C1998_30.569

Since 1956 the nursing facility “August-Stunz-Zentrum” of the Workers´ Welfare has been located on the property, today 82 Röderbergweg. On July 25th, 2015, a memorial plaque of the Gumpertz Infirmary is placed on the entrance area of the “August-Stunz-Zentrum”.

I thank Simone Hofmann (B’nai B’rith Frankfurt Schönstädt Lodge, Frankfurt am Main), Felicitas Gürsching (“Library of the Old” of the Historical Museum of Frankfurt am Main), Hanna and Dieter Eckhardt (Historical workshop of the Workers‘ Welfare Frankfurt am Main), Annette Handrich, and Dr. Siegbert Wolf (both City Archive Frankfurt am Main) for important leads.

Birgit Seemann, 2013, updated 2018
(Translated by Yvonne Ford)

Unpublished sources

ISG Ffm: Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main:

Hausstandsbücher Gagernstraße 36: Sign. 686 (Teil 1); Sign. 687 (Teil 2).

Magistratsakten: Sign. 8.756: Fürsorgewesen: Siechenheime.

Magistratsakten: Sign. 8.957: Städtische Krankenanstalten: Ermietung des Gumpertzschen [sic] Siechenhauses zur Unterbringung von Kranken und Weiterverpachtung an die Feldjägerei (1930–1938).

Magistratsakten: Sign. T/ 3.028 (Tiefbau- und Hochbauamt, 1904, 1916).

Magistrat: Nachträge Sign. 19 u. Sign. 110.

Sammlung Ortsgeschichte / S3N: Sign. 5.150: Gumpertzsches [sic] Siechenhaus.

Stiftungsabteilung: Sign. 146: Minka von Goldschmidt-Rothschild-Stiftung (1939-1940).

Wohlfahrtsamt: Sign. 877 (1893–1928): Magistrat, Waisen- und Armen-Amt Frankfurt a.M.

Selected Literature

Andernacht, Dietrich/ Sterling, Eleonore (Bearb.) 1963: Dokumente zur Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden 1933-1945. Hg.: Kommission zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden. Frankfurt/M.

Anonym. 1909: [Rubrik ‚Vermischtes‘: Zeitungsnotiz Gumpertz´sches Siechenhaus.] In: Der Israelit, Nr. 50, 16.12.1909. Online-Ausg. Univ.-Bibliothek Frankfurt/M.: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:hebis:30:1-151202.

Anonym. 1912: [Zeitungsnotiz: Wohlfahrtspflege.] In: Deutscher Reichsanzeiger (Berlin), Nr. 176, 25.07.1912. Online-Ausg. Univ.-Bibliothek Frankfurt/M.: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:hebis:30:1-151202.

Arnsberg, Paul 1983: Die Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden seit der Französischen Revolution. Darmstadt, 3 Bände.

Cohn-Neßler, Fanny 1920: Das Frankfurter Siechenhaus. Die Minka-von-Goldschmidt-Rothschild-Stiftung. In: Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums 1920, H. 16 (16.04.1920), S. 174-175 [Online-Ausg.: www.compactmemory.de].

Daub, Ute 1992: „Krankenhaus-Sonderanlage Aktion Brandt in Köppern im Taunus“ – Die letzte Phase der „Euthanasie“ in Frankfurt am Main. In: Psychologie und Gesellschaftskritik 16 (1992) 2, Online-Ausg. 2011: http://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/handle/document/26651.

Eckardt, Hanna 2006: Der Röderbergweg, einst beispielhafte Adresse jüdischer Sozialeinrichtungen. In: Zu Hause im Ostend. 50 Jahre August-Stunz-Zentrum. Festschrift zum 50-jährigen Jubiläum. Hg. von der Geschichtswerkstatt der AWO Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt a.M., S. 10-13.

Graber-Dünow, Michael 2013: Zur Geschichte der „Geschlossenen Altersfürsorge“ von 1919 bis 1945. In: Hilde Steppe (Hg.): Krankenpflege im Nationalsozialismus. 10., aktualis. u. erw. Aufl. Frankfurt/M., S. 245-255.

GumpSiechenhaus 1909: Sechzehnter Rechenschaftsbericht des Vereins „Gumpertz`sches Siechenhaus“ in Frankfurt a.M. für das Jahr 1908. Frankfurt/M.: Slobotzky.

GumpSiechenhaus 1913ff.: Rechenschaftsbericht des Vereins „Gumpertz`sches Siechenhaus“ und der „Minka von Goldschmidt-Rothschild-Stiftung“. Frankfurt/M.: Slobotzky, 1913ff. [Online-Ausg.: Univ.-Bibl. Frankfurt/M. 2011: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:hebis:30:1-306391].

GumpSiechenhaus 1936: Gumpertz´sches Siechenhaus. [Bericht von der Generalversammlung des Vereins.] In: Der Israelit, 20.05.1936, Nr. 21, S. 14f. [Online-Ausg.: http://edocs.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/volltexte/2008/38052/original/Israelit_1936_21.pdf].

GumpStatut 1895: Revidirtes Statut für den Verein Gumpertz´sches Siechenhaus zu Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt/M.: Druck v. Benno Schmidt, Stiftstraße 22. [ISG Ffm: Sammlung S3/N 5.150].

Hahn, Susanne 2001: Köppern als Alten- und Siechenheim in der Trägerschaft zum Heiligen Geist in Frankfurt am Main seit 1934 und die „Aktion Brandt“. In: Vanja, Christina/ Siefert, Helmut (Hg.) 2001: „In waldig-ländlicher Umgebung“. Das Waldkrankenhaus Köppern: Von der agrikolen Kolonie der Stadt Frankfurt zum Zentrum für Soziale Psychiatrie Hochtaunus. Kassel, S. 196-219.

Jüdischer Schwesternverein Ffm 1920: Verein für jüdische Krankenpflegerinnen zu Frankfurt a.M.: Rechenschaftsbericht 1913 bis 1919. Frankfurt/M.

Kallmorgen, Wilhelm 1936: Siebenhundert Jahre Heilkunde in Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt/M.

Kingreen, Monica (Hg.) 1999: „Nach der Kristallnacht“. Jüdisches Leben und antijüdische Politik in Frankfurt am Main 1938 – 1945 Frankfurt/M., New York.

Krohn, Helga 2000: „Auf einem der luftigsten und freundlichsten Punkte der Stadt, auf dem Röderberge, sind die jüdischen Spitäler“. In: dies. [u.a.]: Ostend. Blick in ein jüdisches Viertel. [Begleitbuch zur Ausstellung im Jüdischen Museum Frankfurt/M.]. Mit Beitr. v. Helga Krohn […] u. e. Einl. v. Georg Heuberger. Erinnerungen von Wilhelm Herzfeld [u.a.]. Frankfurt/M., S. 128-143.

Leuchtweis-Gerlach, Brigitte 2001: Das Waldkrankenhaus Köppern (1901 – 1945). Die Geschichte einer psychiatrischen Klinik. Frankfurt/M.

Lilienthal, Georg 2009: Jüdische Patienten als Opfer der NS-„Euthanasie“-Verbrechen. In: Medaon – Magazin für jüdisches Leben in Forschung und Bildung, Ausgabe 5, 09.11.2009: www.medaon.de.

Otto, Arnim 1998: Juden im Frankfurter Osten 1796 bis 1945. 3., bearb. u. veränd. Aufl. Offenbach/M., S. 220f.

Sandner, Peter 2003: Verwaltung des Krankenmordes. Der Bezirksverband Nassau im Nationalsozialismus. Gießen.

Schiebler, Gerhard 1994: Stiftungen, Schenkungen, Organisationen und Vereine mit Kurzbiographien jüdischer Bürger. In: Lustiger, Arno (Hg.) 1994: Jüdische Stiftungen in Frankfurt am Main. Stiftungen, Schenkungen, Organisationen und Vereine mit Kurzbiographien jüdischer Bürger dargest. v. Gerhard Schiebler. Mit Beitr. v. Hans Achinger [u.a.]. Hg. i.A. der M.-J.-Kirchheim’schen Stiftung in Frankfurt am Main. 2. unveränd. Aufl. Sigmaringen 1994, S. 11-288.

Seckbach, Hermann 1917: Fünfundzwanzig Jahre Siechenhaus. Von Verwalter H. Seckbach. In: Frankfurter Nachrichten, 20.09.1917.

Seemann, Birgit 2014: „Glück im Hause des Leids“. Jüdische Pflegegeschichte am Beispiel des Gumpertz’schen Siechenhauses (1888-1941) in Frankfurt/Main. In: Geschichte der Pflege. Das Journal für historische Forschung der Pflege- und Gesundheitsberufe 3 (2014) 2, S. 38-50

Seemann, Birgit 2017: Judentum und Pflege: Zur Sozialgeschichte des orthodox-jüdischen Gumpertz’schen Siechenhauses in Frankfurt am Main (1888–1941). In: Nolte, Karin/ Vanja, Christina/ Bruns, Florian/ Dross, Fritz (Hg.): Geschichte der Pflege im Krankenhaus. Historia Hospitalium. Jahrbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Krankenhausgeschichte, Band 30. Berlin, S. 13-40

Seide, Adam 1987: Rebecca oder ein Haus für Jungfrauen jüdischen Glaubens besserer Stände in Frankfurt am Main. Roman. Frankfurt a.M.

Steppe, Hilde 1997: „… den Kranken zum Troste und dem Judenthum zur Ehre …“. Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenpflege in Deutschland. Frankfurt/M.

Stolberg, Michael 2011: Fürsorgliche Ausgrenzung. Die Geschichte der Unheilbarenhäuser (1500–1900). In: Stollberg, Gunnar u.a. (Hg.): Krankenhausgeschichte heute. Was heißt und zu welchem Ende studiert man Hospital- und Krankenhausgeschichte? Berlin, Münster = Historia hospitalium; Bd. 27, S. 71-78.

Zenker, Dinah 2013: Spiritualität in der Pflege. Ein Ansatz und ein Plädoyer aus der Perspektive der jüdischen Orthodoxie. In: Dachs, Gisela (Hg.): Alter. Jüdischer Almanach der Leo Baeck Institute. Hg. im Auftr. des Leo Baeck Instituts Jerusalem. 2. Aufl. Berlin, S. 127-134.


Selected internet sources (last visited 24.10.2017)

Alemannia Judaica: Alemannia Judaica – Arbeitsgemeinschaft für die Erforschung der Geschichte der Juden im süddeutschen und angrenzenden Raum: www.alemannia-judaica.de.

ISG Ffm: Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main (mit Datenbank): www.stadtgeschichte-ffm.de sowie http://www.ffmhist.de/

JM Ffm: Jüdisches Museum und Museum Judengasse Frankfurt am Main (mit der internen biographischen Datenbank der Gedenkstätte Neuer Börneplatz): www.juedischesmuseum.de.

MJ Ffm: Museum Judengasse Frankfurt am Main (Infobank): http://www.museumjudengasse.de/de/home/