The History of the Jews of Hohenems

There was a Jewish community in Hohenems for more than three hundred years. Its heyday was in the first half of the nineteenth century, when it contributed to the region’s swift economic growth. In 1850, the community numbered more than five hundred people, or one sixth of the town’s population.

In the 1860s, the community began to decline as people moved away. What was left of the community was later destroyed during the period of Nazi rule. The last eight Jews living in Hohenems in 1939 were sent to concentration camps and murdered. One of them was Clara Heimann-Rosenthal, the last Jewish resident of this very house.
The Heimann-Rosenthal villa was designed by the Swiss architect Wilhelm Kubly and completed in 1864. It is a proud expression of the emancipation and self-image of the Jews of Hohenems. It is also an indication of the kind of life led by Clara’s parents, Charlotte and Anton Rosenthal. For several decades, they were the biggest employers in town.

The exhibition about the Jews in Hohenems recounts the history of a community — its development, friends and enemies, hopes and illusions, successes and destruction. It also looks at the cycle of human life as marked in Jewish tradition, religious festivals, the encounters between everyday life, tradition and progress in Hohenems, as well as the tensions in a history marked by diaspora and migration. Descendants of Jews from Hohenems now live all over the world. next