Jewish Residential Patterns
Before the French Revolution, Jews were far from evenly distributed in the German lands. In the east and the extreme southwest, individual Jewish communities were relatively large, while in many other regions Jews were scattered in tiny pockets. Jews lived segregated in ghetto-like concentrations in some towns but more or less integrated among the general population in others. Like the majority of non-Jews, Jews in the German lands lived overwhelmingly in villages and towns of fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. Beginning at the time of the Napoleonic invasions, German Jewish residential segregation slowly decreased but did not disappear. Jews remained unevenly distributed in the various regions of Germany, as well as within the neighborhoods in specific towns as late as 1871.
The uneven distribution of Jews followed general territorial divisions. Germany west of the Elbe was divided into hundreds of tiny duchies, church territories, and city-states, each with a different policy about Jewish residence. Larger states in eastern Germany, like Bavaria, Saxony, and Austria, produced more uniform patterns of Jewish settlement. The two areas of densest Jewish population around 1815 were the formerly Polish territories of Posen and West Prussia in the east and the area of the middle and upper Rhine and Main River valleys far to the southwest. In between, there were a few centers of moderate Jewish population in Silesia, southern Hannover, Ostfriesland, and the cities of Berlin and Hamburg.
Jews in the formerly Polish eastern provinces lived in concentrated settle