There have been Jewish communities in many Thuringian towns and cities since the Middle Ages, and a number of cultural treasures bear witness to these earlier times. The Old Synagogue in Erfurt is one of the largest and best preserved medieval synagogues in Europe. The mikveh bath in Erfurt is another important part of Jewish tradition along with the synagogue and cemetery.
In many places, houses and factories belonging to Jewish families are still intact. This region would not have enjoyed such prosperity had it not been for the skill and savvy of the Jewish factory owners and merchants. Notable examples include the Simson factory in Suhl and the Tietz department store in Gera, where the former department store chain Hertie was founded. Festivals such as the Yiddish Summer in Weimar and events at Jewish cultural centres reflect the traditions of the Jewish people.
The Holocaust memorials and the stolpersteine (stumbling blocks), which are embedded in the pavements of many Thuringian towns and cities, make reference to a tragic chapter in Germany’s history. They commemorate the fate of those families who were deported during the Nazi era.