The Matzah Factory in Hamburg: Round Matzot

I. An Uplifting Story

(see: Irmgard Stein, Jüdische Baudenkmäler in Hamburg, 1984)

A special feature in Hamburg must not be left unmentioned:
The Matzah Factory of the Association of German-Jewish Synagogues in Hamburg, owned by Leopold Katz, Kohlhöfen No. 20.

Matzah bakingDuring hundreds of years the unleavened bread necessary for the Pessach festival, for the most part, had been baked by the joint efforts of several housewives. Later small bakeries took over the hard work and baked the so-called “bread of poverty”, or “bread of slavery”. It finally became the “bread of liberation” once our forefathers left Egypt. The ritual baking-rules were always kept under rabbinical supervision.

Kohlhöfen SynagogueIn 1890, the decision was made in Hamburg to put into use industry and technology for matzah baking. Hence in 1892, a matzah factory was built in the area belonging to the Jewish community on Breiter Gang 42 and on a piece of land behind the Kohlhöfen synagogue, and in 1893 the machine-baking process started off. At the beginning, the part of passing the dough was mostly done manually, but in the following years machines got more and more modernized. A great part of the Jewish population of Germany could be supplied with matzot produced in Hamburg.

The matzah factoryAt the end of 1934 the matzah factory closed down, because the plot had been sold. However, soon new premises were found near Wandsbek, in the building complex of a cacao and chocolate factory. Thus in spring 1935 the round mazzot found their way to the Jewish communities – especially to the big orthodox ones in Berlin, Frankfurt and Leipzig.

The Kohlhöfen gateIts entrance door, an architectural peculiarity, connected the new factory to the former Kohlhöfen synagogue: This door, which had formerly led to the main hall of the synagogue, now became the gate to the factory “in order to remember an historical Jewish place in an enterprise dedicated to fulfilling religious practices”.

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