I know I tend to joke about Bavaria’s beer gardens and festivals, poking fun about how I’d like to drink while you’re off exploring the sites of some town. Then I find a place like the Swabian town of Ichenhausen, which somehow manages to make me stop kidding around for a few minutes.
Please don’t get me wrong, it’s not a dried up old town where they roll the sidewalks up at 6pm. It’s just that Ichenhausen’s large Jewish population (making up 13% of the entire town’s population prior to World War II) is now gone.
The only thing that remains of Ichenhausen’s Jews today is the former synagogue (destroyed in 1938), which is now a cultural meeting center with an exhibit detailing how they lived here from the mid-16th century until the Nazis took power in the 1930’s.
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Also highlighted within the synagogue are traditions of the Jewish people, as well as their history within the region. The building, as it is a culture center, also holds many literary readings, concerts, and art exhibitions.
The other site that remains of Ichenhausen’s Jewish citizens is the Jewish cemetery. It’s divided into four sections with the oldest part dating to around 1536 (it’s not very well preserved, but historical nonetheless).
The “new” section was used from the 19th century until 1942, when the last Jewish resident from town was buried. That wasn’t the last funeral, though. Ichenhausen’s Jewish cemetery was used again in 1945 to bury 18 Hungarian Jews from the Burgau forced labor camp; and the last one in 1946 to bury three from a displaced persons camp after the war.
Both the former synagogue meeting center and cemetery are open to visitors on the 4th Sunday of the month from March to October (1:30p-5pm) or by special appointment.
Other sites in Ichenhausen include swimming at the Günz (River & Dam) from mid-May to the middle of September. If you got the urge to swim in the winter, you’ll have to do it at the indoor pool.
Then you’ve got the School Museum at the Lower Castle (open Tuesday to Sunday); and the Upper Castle (built 1566) is now the town’s Town Hall.
I like the timber-framed Roßkammhaus that was built in 1680; and is now the town’s public library.
If you’d rather be outside than inside, I suggest the Celtic Path with information stops detailing the life of the Celts — and their deaths as there are Celtic grave mounds along the trail.
Now, it’s time for a beer. What? I only said Ichenhausen makes me stop joking around and forget about beer for a few minutes — and we’ve certainly passed that by now. ;-)