105. So-Called Jewish Community Seal of Ulm
Bibliography: Jäger, 1831.
According to Carl Jäger’s book on life in Ulm in the Middle Ages, a document from July 19, 1415, had a seal of the Jewish community in Ulm appended to it. This seal showed an ox’s head. Dr. Specker, the director of the Ulm city archives, states that this document is no longer in existence. No photograph of the document or seal is known. According to Dr. Specker, the Jews in Ulm were not entitled to use seals; in the standard form of document requesting a seal (Siegelbittformel), it was a city official possessing a seal who authenticated the papers. This view is supported by the fact that one of the leading Jewish bankers in the second half of the fourteenth century, Jäcklin (Jacob) by name, had as his home office the city of Ulm. Like his later counterpart Mayer Amschel Rothschild, Jäcklin stationed his sons in various cities of southern Germany and Switzerland. Isaac was located in Strasbourg, Viflin in Nuremberg, Fidel in Zurich. A fourth son lived in Reutlingen and a son-in-law in Konstanz (Constance). Jäcklin, a very influential person among Christians and Jews alike, ran a far-flung moneylending business from his base in Ulm. Documents preserved indicate that he and his family were owed monies amounting to thousands of gulden. In one dated November 13, 1378, the council of Ulm forced Jäcklin to agree to cancel all but two of the city debts. If any document calls for Jäcklin’s seal as legal proof of acquiescence, this document does, yet no seal of Jäcklin is known, nor do any of the documents to which Jäcklin was a part show the seal described by Jäger.
Ulm, technically in Württemberg, directly to the west, but abutting Bavaria, was a rather important city in the late medieval period with strong commercial ties to Augsburg, about forty-five miles away. The Jewish communities of the two cities were also interrelated, and the Jews of Ulm, a significant group of moneylenders of whom Jäcklin was merely the best known, were finally and definitively expelled in 1499. A record of their importance is found in the relatively common Jewish name of Ulman, in its several variations. The community was reconstituted in the nineteenth century, and out of it came Albert Einstein, who was born in Ulm in 1879.