General information: First Jewish presence: unknown (see below); peak Jewish population: 236 in 1861 (13.6% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 90
Summary: By 1664, five Jewish families had settled in Reichensachsen. Sixteen Jewish households were registered there in 1776, making the community the second largest in the region. By 1861, the Jews of Wichmannshausen (54 in 1861) and Datterode had been affiliated with the Reichensachsen community; Datterode’s Jews remained affiliated with Reichensachsen until 1884/85. The community maintained a synagogue (established in either the 18th or the 19th century), a mikveh and an elementary school, the last of which was located on a street called Herrengasse (or perhaps “Herrenstrasse”) and housed an apartment for the teacher. In 1903, a new synagogue was built on Herrengasse, after which the old house of worship was torn down; damaged by lightning in 1910, the new synagogue was renovated in 1911. We also know that the community maintained a cemetery on Spitzenberg (consecrated in or around the year 1710). In 1933, three Jewish associations (a chevra kadisha, a Gemillut Chassodim charitable society and a women’s association) conducted welfare work in Reichensachsen. A matzo factory (established in 1929) was in business that year. Although we do not know how many children studied religion in 1933, records do tell us that, in 1931/32, a teacher/ chazzan instructed 11 children at the elementary school, which was officially closed in January 1934; schoolchildren from Wichmannshausen attended the Jewish elementary school in Reichensachsen until 1931/32 (no Jews lived in Wichmannshausen in 1932). On Pogrom Night, local residents and/or SA men destroyed the synagogue’s interior, throwing Torah scrolls into a ditch and some of the synagogue’s other contents into the Wehre River. Many local Jews emigrated or moved to other German cities after 1933. Fourteen Jews died in Reichensachsen and 33 were deported. At least 63 Reichensachsen Jews perished in the Shoah, as did five from Wichmannshausen and seven from Datterode. The synagogue building served as a plumber’s workshop until 1954, when it was torn down. A memorial stone was later unveiled on Langenhainer Strasse.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Sources: AJ, DJGH, EJL, SIA
Located in: hesse