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The Jewish Community of Wilhelmshaven

Wilhelmshaven

A city in Lower Saxony in Germany.

First Jewish presence: in or around the year 1870; peak Jewish population: 200 in the 1920s (see below); Jewish population in 1933: 191

Jews moved to Wilhelmshaven, a new seaport and naval base, in or around the year 1870. By 1901, they were registered as an official Jewish community together with the Jews of neighboring Ruestringen. The community’s members included numerous merchants and butchers, three farmers, a theater director, a well-known writer and a high-ranking soldier. Burials were conducted in Jever until 1908, when the community consecrated its own cemetery in Schortens-Heidmuehle. In 1915, local Jews replaced their prayer room with a synagogue on the corner of Boersenstrasse and Parkstrasse; the building also housed a mikveh and a school, whose teacher not only performed the duties of shochet and chazzan, but also served as chaplain to Jewish sailors. The Jews of Wilhelmshaven and Ruestringen maintained a chevra kadisha, a Jewish women’s association and, later, a literary circle and a youth movement.

In 1933, 191 Jews still lived in town, of whom 100 left during the years 1933 to 1938. On Pogrom Night (November 9, 1938), Jewish shops and homes were vandalized. Jews were taken from their houses and publicly humiliated as onlookers threw stones at them. Thirty-four Jewish men were deported to the Sachsenhausen Nazi concentration camp. Members of various Nazi organizations set fire to the synagogue; the building burned down completely, after which the surrounding walls were blown up and the ritual objects were put on display in the street. A further 45 Jews were able to leave town before 1939. Wilhelmshaven’s remaining Jews were subsequently deported and murdered. At least 68 local Jews died in the Shoah. The former synagogue site became a memorial in the 1970s; in 1980, a plaque was unveiled there.

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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.

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
17684865
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Neustadtgodens

Neustadtgödens

A village (today part of the town of Sande) in the district of East Frisia, in lower Saxony, Germany.

The first letter of safe conduct was issued to four Jewish families in 1660. Their number increased steadily and in 1708 there were fourteen families living in the village. A synagogue and a school are first mentioned in the middle of the eighteenth century.

In 1836 the number of Jewish inhabitants reached 115 (7% of the total population), a development which reached its peak in 1848 when 197 Jews were living in Neustadtgodens. After that the number of Jews began to decrease. In 1922 the communal school had to be closed because there were not sufficient pupils among the remaining 22 families.

In 1852 a new synagogue and school were built.

When the Jews were attacked by their neighbors on a market day in 1782, soldiers from Emden were summoned for their protection. After the Jews had been granted civil and political rights in 1808, they played an active part in communal affairs. In 1893 four of the eleven members of the town council were Jewish.

The majority of the Jews of Neustadtgodens were merchants and butchers. The industrial revolution had a negative influence on rural trade and caused many Jews to move to bigger towns.

In 1933 the Jewish community of Neustadtgodens numbered 12 persons (1.8 % of the total population).


The Holocaust

Seven of the twelve Jews emigrated to the Netherlands, the remaining five were deported to the Nazi concentration and death camps. One of them returned after 1945 and died in 1974 as the last Jew of Neustadtgodens

Wittmund

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

Jewish presence in Wittmund is first mentioned in 1679 in connection with ben Isaac Bblitz, a Bible translator of the town, who printed a bible in Amsterdam. A Jewish school was mentioned in 1750 and in 1816 a synagogue was built. After the revolution of 1848, Jews took an active part in the communal life and became part of the “burgerwehr” (local civil guard) in 1852. In 1872 seventeen Jewish families were living in Wittmund. In 1911 the communal house for the poor was demolished and a new school was built in its place. The community had a circle for women and a “gemiluth hassadim” (charity society).

Some of the Jews living in Wittmund traded in textiles and had their own shops. In 1905 Moritz Neumark of Wittmund founded the furnace (“hochofenwerk”) in Luebeck and became its first manager.

In 1933 the Jewish community numbered 50 people.


The Holocaust

After the Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938), the Jewish community was forced to sell its synagogue which was later demolished. Twenty of the members succeeded in emigrating to the united states. Many of those who remained in Wittmund were deported to Nazi death camps and died in Auschwitz and Sobibor. The Jewish community of Wittmund ceased to exist in 1940.