The discrimination and persecution of Jews reached a temporary climax in Frankfurt with the November pogroms of 1938. Synagogues were set on fire, Jewish businesses and homes were looted and demolished, and in many cases their owners and residents were mistreated. Frankfurt‘s citizens mostly stood idly by or even participated.
As a result of the pogroms, several thousand Jews from Frankfurt were deported to concentration camps – mostly to Buchenwald or Dachau. Some of them were imprisoned in the Klapperfeld until their deportation. It is known that numerous Jewish men were imprisoned in Klapperfeld during this time. There they had their hair and beards cut off, which was a particular humiliation for especially religious Jews.
In the years that followed, Jews continued to be imprisoned in the Klapperfeld. For many, this was their last stop before deportation to the concentration and extermination camps.
On the top floor of the police prison was the so-called »Judenabteilung« (Jewish Department), which was set up especially for this purpose and was characterised by particularly miserable prison conditions.
The detainees were locked in cages in a large room. There was just enough space to fit one cot lengthwise and two cots widthwise. They were closed by barred doors, so that each of the opposite cages could be seen by the other. The prisoners often remained here for several months without occupation and without the possibility to move around. Short walks through the courtyard were the exception. They had hardly any light, because the windows were darkened with blue paint. If there was overcrowding, two people were locked in a cage.
In the »Jewish section« there were mainly women from so-called »mixed marriages«. Jews living in »mixed marriages« were initially spared by the Nazis, not least because they had to expect resistance from their families.
From the spring of 1943, the Frankfurt Gestapo also began to systematically persecute them. Heinrich Baab, who was head of the so-called Jewish Department of the Frankfurt Gestapo in 1942/43, boasted that he had liquidated at least 387 women from »mixed marriages«. Many of them had to endure months in the wire cages and were then deported from Frankfurt‘s main railway station in special compartments of ordinary trains, mostly to Auschwitz. Their relatives often received the news of their death only 14 days later.