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The Jewish Community of Cloppenburg


A town and capital of the Cloppenburg District in Lower Saxony, Germany.

First Jewish presence: early 18th century; peak Jewish population: see below; Jewish population in 1933: 30-46

Always small, the Jewish community of Cloppenburg numbered approximately 30 members between 1822 and 1922. Many Cloppenburg Jews were cattle and horse traders, butchers, merchants and tailors. Cloppenburg’s Jewish cemetery, consecrated in the 18th century, was located on the outskirts of town, on the route to Stedingsmuehlen. The first available record of a prayer room is from the 1830s, and we also know that this room was later replaced by rented premises that included a synagogue, a school and an apartment for a teacher who frequently served as chazzan and shochet. The community inaugurated a new synagogue on Krankenhausstrasse/Ritterstrasse in 1866, after which, in 1871, a new cemetery was consecrated next to the synagogue site. Many Jews joined local associations during the 19th century. On Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938), rioters burned down the synagogue building and confiscated its ritual objects. Jewish-owned businesses were looted and vandalized, and local Jewish men were sent to and imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen Nazi concentration camp for several weeks. Nineteen Cloppenburg Jews managed to emigrate from Germany during the following years. The cemetery was restored in 1954. Together with the adjacent synagogue site, it was converted into a memorial in 1983. A plaque commemorates the former Jewish community. At least 20 Cloppenburg Jews perished in the Shoah, most of them in Sobibor Nazi death camp.


This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.

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A city in the state of Lower Saxony, Germany

The Jewish community of  Oldenburg is heavily Russian, owing to the immigration that took place after the fall of the Soviet Union. Community institutions include a synagogue, and the Leo Trepp Beit Midrash (study house), which houses a Sunday school for Jewish students.

In spite of vandalism, both during the Kristallnacht pogrom and after World War II, many of the tombstones in Oldenburg’s Jewish cemetery have remained standing. The last burial that took place in the cemetery occurred in the year 2000, after which another cemetery was opened in the Bummerstede district, approximately 3 miles (5.5km) from the city center.

In 2013 there were 315 Jews living in Oldenburg, about the same number as were living in the city before World War II.



Jews were living in Oldenburg by the early 14th century and existed nearly continuously since then. In 1334 the municipal council decided to cease issuing letters of protection (Schutzbriefe) to Jews; nonetheless, Jews continued to live in Oldenburg under the protection of the Duke. Though the Duke of Oldenburg protected them, he also limited their economic activities to moneylending only.

During the period of the Black Plague (1348), the community ceased to exist, but was apparently restored after a short time.

Between 1667 and 1773 Oldenburg was ruled by Denmark. During this period the nobility enjoyed the services of Sephardi court Jews and financiers from Hamburg, including Jacob Mussaphia and his sons. The Goldschmidt family sold and traded meat in Oldenburg.

In 1807 there were 27 Jews living in Oldenburg (0.6% of the total population). It was during the 19th century that the Jews of Oldenburg, along with those across Europe, were emancipated and granted civil and legal rights. As a result, Jews saw their economic opportunities expand. The Jews of Oldenburg began working in textiles, as pharmacists, and in manufacturing, among other professions.

In 1827 the Jews were required to be called German names and to speak German.

In 1829 Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler was appointed as the first local Chief Rabbi (Landrabbiner) of Oldenburg. He was succeeded by Bernhard Wechsler (d. 1874), who oversaw the consecration of a new synagogue in Oldenburg in 1835.

A number of Jews from Oldenburg and the surrounding area were killed in action during World War I (1914-1918). The local synagogue erected plaques to commemorate the fallen. A number of organizations were also established to aid members of the Jewish community in the wake of the war, including a Jewish welfare organization, and a Gemilut Chassadim organization. Other organizations that served Oldenburg’s population during the interwar period were the Israelite Women’s Association, and a branch of the Maccabi Youth sports club.

The Jews of the duchy numbered 1,359 in 1900; by 1925 their number had declined to 1,015 (of whom 250 lived in Oldenburg itself). Other communities existed in the towns of Delmenhorst, Jever, Varel, Vechta and Wildeshausen and in the region of Birkenfeld, Bosen, Hoppstaedten, Oberstein, Idar and Soetern.


The Holocaust

When the Nazis took power in 1933 there were 279 Jews living in Oldenberg. In the wake of the Nazi rise to power, many Jews in Oldenburg – and, indeed, throughout Germany – began emigrating.

On Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, the synagogue was destroyed, along with the last two Jewish stores that had remained open. Most of the community's men, including the Landrabbiner Leo Trepp, were sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for a few weeks. By 1939 there were only 96 Jews remaining in Oldenburg.



Approximately 20 survivors returned to Oldenburg after the war and reestablished a Jewish community. A small prayer room was opened in 1948. Although the synagogue had been burned down during Kristallnacht, in 1949 and 1950 those responsible for the arson were tried and given prison sentences. However, the community declined, due mainly to emigration; by the end of the 1960's there were only four Jews living in Oldenburg, and the community itself was dissolved at the end of January 1971.

The Jewish community was revived, however, after the collapse of the USSR and the immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union to Germany. A new synagogue was opened in 1995, in a building that once housed a Baptist chapel. Rabbi Bea Wyler served as the community's rabbi during the late 1990's, the first female rabbi to serve a German congregation.


A city and also the capital of the Vechta district in Lower Saxony, Germany.

First Jewish presence: 1709; peak Jewish population: 59 in 1850; Jewish population in 1933: unknown (19 in 1932)

Although records from 1784 and 1803 refer to a synagogue in Vechta, they do not mention when or where it was established. In 1825 the Jewish community acquired a synagogue building—which also housed a school and an apartment for the teacher—on Klingenhagen (later, Juttastrasse). Vechta’s Jewish cemetery on Bergstruper Weg was probably consecrated in the early 1700s. In 1932, 19 Jews lived in Vechta, as well as five in nearby Lohne and one in Goldenstedt (the last two were affiliated communities). Later, in 1935, the synagogue building was remodeled to provide a residence for a Jewish family by the name of Marx. When the SA broke into the synagogue on Pogrom Night (November 9, 1938), they not only smashed the windows, but also destroyed and plundered both the synagogue and the Marx residence, after which they burned everything at the new market place (Neumarkt). Jewish-owned businesses, homes and the cemetery were severely vandalized. The Marx family found refuge with the Gerson family after the pogrom. Eventually sent to the Sachsenhausen Nazi concentration camp, Emanuel and Adolf Gerson were released. Adolf Gerson, who became president of the synagogue congregation in 1937, managed to escape to Palestine; in Bremen, Emanuel Gerson was arrested trying to board a ship to America; he committed suicide in a Hamburg prison in June 1940. In 1939, at which point only nine Jews lived in Vechta, the community sold the synagogue to private buyers. At least seven former residents of Vechta perished in the Shoah. The cemetery has been restored as far as was possible; in 1981 a memorial stone was unveiled not far from the former synagogue building.


This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.


A town in and the seat of the Emsland district of Lower Saxony, Germany.

First Jewish presence: unknown; peak Jewish population: 95 in 1871; Jewish population in 1933: 49

The earliest available record of a Jewish presence in Meppen mentions Fiebelmann Susmann of Haltern. In 1849, the Jews of Meppen inaugurated a synagogue on Nagelshof (later, 17, Nagelshof ), in the back of which they built a classroom and an apartment for a teacher. The first teacher was hired in 1816. Meppen was home to a Jewish school from the year 1851 until (approximately) 1921. Records from 1896 and 1901 mention a Talmud Torah school; after 1860, the community ran a Jewish sisterhood. By November 1938, 26 Jews had left town, seven of whom emigrated from Germany. On November 10, 1938, at four in the morning, an SA leader received orders to burn down the synagogue and arrest the remaining Jewish men, who were then interned in Sachsenhausen (one was sent to Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp). Before being sent to Sachsenhausen, one of the men managed to save a Torah shield from the ashes; he brought it with him when he immigrated to California, where it is now on display in a synagogue. At least 12 Meppen Jews perished in the Shoah. A memorial stone was placed near the synagogue site—it now accommodates a residential building—in 1996. Meppen’s Jewish cemetery was vandalized in 1952 and again in 1987/88.


This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.

Papenburg an der Ems

A city in the district of Emsland in Lower Saxony, Germany, situated at the river Ems.

First Jewish presence: 1771; peak Jewish population: 127 in 1890; Jewish population in 1933: 71

In 1863, after the synagogue in nearby Aschendorf ceased to function, the Jews of Papenburg an der Ems petitioned for their own synagogue. On May 12, 1887, one was inaugurated at 51 Hauptkanal; behind the new house of worship, in an older building, the community built a school and an apartment for a teacher. Papenburg’s mikveh, which was located in the Hes family home at 42 Hauptkanal, was renovated in 1921. We also know that the provincial rabbinate was in nearby Emden, and that from 1805 until 1937, burials were conducted in a cemetery two kilometers north of Aschendorf. In 1922, when only nine children attended the Jewish school, the authorities in Osnabrueck closed it down; the school was not reopened until 1937. On Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938), SA men set the synagogue and school building on fire. Jewish-owned property was vandalized and looted, and the Hes family’s home and business were set on fire. Jewish men were arrested and sent, via Osnabrueck, to the Oranienburg concentration camp. On December 5, 1941, most of the remaining Jews (five families) were deported to Riga. The last were taken to Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp on January 29, 1942. Alice Hes and the Polak sisters returned to Papenburg after the Shoah. Twenty-two of the 71 Jews who lived in Papenburg in 1933 perished in the Shoah. According to Yad Vashem, the death toll for Papenburg was approximately 60.


This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.


A town and capital of the district of Diepholz in Lower Saxony, Germany.

First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 78 in 1848; Jewish population in 1933: 37

The peak population figure for the Jewish community of Diepholz includes Jews from several neighboring communities. Community members were mainly cattle traders, butchers and textile merchants. A cemetery was consecrated on Schlesierstrasse/ Pommernstrasse in 1774. In 1835, the community replaced its prayer room with a synagogue on Muehlenstrasse; renovated in 1904 and 1907, the building included a school and an apartment for a teacher who, at times, served as shochet and chazzan. Jewish men and women not only donated generous sums to local charities, but also took an active part in the town’s social life, joining local clubs and organizations such as the sports club, the local choir and the fire brigade. A Jewish women’s association was established in Diepholz in 1929.

On Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938), Jewish homes and businesses were severely damaged, their owners arrested; the synagogue was vandalized and plundered, and the cemetery was desecrated. By 1939, only eight Jews lived in Diepholz; they were deported to concentration camps in 1942. After the war, Diepholz briefly served as a transit camp for survivors. Although the synagogue was rededicated in 1946, the building was pulled down in 1953 and replaced by a combined residential and commercial building. Memorials were erected at the synagogue site and cemetery in 1980 and 1997, respectively. At least 17 Diepholz Jews perished in the Shoah.


This entry was originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Destroyed German Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.