The present documentary source is a brief excerpt from tax lists of the early modern period, reproduced in Max Grunwald’s 1904 local history: “Hamburgs deutsche Juden bis zur Auflösung der Dreigemeinde 1811” [“Hamburg’s German Jews up to the Dissolution of the Triple Congregation 1811”]. The tax lists printed therein cover the years 1716, 1725, and 1734. The 1716 list records approximately 100 entries along with the amount of tax paid. For the year 1725 there are about 700 entries, detailing individual occupational activities, residential locations, and reported assets. For 1734 only the 124 Jews of Wandsbek are recorded; in addition, the total number of Jews in Hamburg and Altona is specified. Because of its relative comprehensiveness, the tax list of 1725 will be taken as an example. Consideration of the tax records of 1725 recommends itself because they were compiled after the exemption from regulations occasioned by the plague and war years but before the economic crisis of the late 1720s. Thus, they afford a representative view into a few aspects of Jewish life in Hamburg during the early modern era.
Tax lists were compiled by the elders of the Jewish congregation, before whom all Jews had to appear every three or four years in order to declare, under oath, their total assets. On this basis the elders decided the amount of tax owed. These varied because the Senate and city assembly’s determination of the annual amount of tax to be paid was periodically revised. The congregation’s internal bureaucratic procedure served the purposes of collecting, storing, controlling, and justifying the individual taxpayer’s contribution. The tax lists published by Grunwald have been digitized and are accessible online in the Frankfurt Freimann-Collection.
The tax documentary records afford important insights into the family relations, occupational structure, income distribution, and residential districts of the Jewish population in the early modern era.
The Tax Lists of 1725, published in: Max Grunwald, Hamburg's German Jews up to the Dissolution of the Triple Congregation 1811, pp. 191-194 (translated by Richard S. Levy), edited in: Key Documents of German-Jewish History, <https://dx.doi.org/10.23691/jgo:source-149.en.v1> [January 29, 2020].