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Jewish Migrations from Germany to Poland: the Rhineland Hypothesis Revisited

J. van Straten


Published: 2004/06/01


By the sixteenth century there was already a substantial Ashkenazi population residing in Eastern Europe which spoke Yiddish and followed Jewish rituals modeled on those of the Jewish population of Germany. It has consequently been assumed by many historians that Eastern European Jewry originated in a migration of Jews from Germany prior to that century fleeing the pogroms of the First Crusade, the pestilence of the Black Death, or the expulsions of the fifteenth century. The author examines the historical evidence for such migrations but concludes that no major migration to Poland appears to have taken place as a result of these three events.