General information: First Jewish presence: early 14th century; peak Jewish population: 145 in 1864; Jewish population in 1933: 77
Summary: The Jews of 14th-century Aschersleben, most of whom were small business owners and moneylenders, lived in the Juedendorf (Jews’ village) outside the city walls. Banished from Aschersleben by the bishop of Halberstadt in 1495, Jews did not return to the town until 1767, when two Jewish families settled there. Residence restrictions were eased during the period of Westphalian rule. Beginning in 1831, the community maintained a prayer room and a mikveh. In 1852, a synagogue was inaugurated in the backyard of a house at 12 Juedendorf, next to which were rooms for classes in religion and apartments for the community’s teacher and chazzan. A rabbi served the community between 1884 and 1895. Aschersleben was home to two Jewish cemeteries: the first, established on an unspecified date, was located on the corner of Johannisplatz and Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse; the second, dedicated in 1872, was located on 35 Schmidtmann Strasse. Many Aschersleben Jews were successful professionals, and we also know that several textile shops and two banks were owned by local Jews. With the rise of Nazism, many Jews left Aschersleben. The community was dissolved in 1935, but rioters nevertheless destroyed the synagogue and the cemetery hall on Pogrom Night; several elderly Jews were deported to Theresienstadt. At least 25 Aschersleben Jews perished in the Shoah. Aschersleben was home to a forced labor camp for Jewish women between December of 1940 and 1943; records suggest that approximately 70 Austrian prisoners were deported to Auschwitz from this camp. In January 1944, a satellite camp of Buchenwald was established in Aschersleben. From there approximately 450 men and 500 (mostly Jewish) women—they had been brought there to assemble aircraft fuselages—were, in April of 1945, sent on a death march to Torgau. Today, only 65 tombstones and some ruins from the foundations of the former synagogue still exist as a reminder that Aschersleben was once home to a Jewish community.
Author / Sources: Beate Grosz-Wenker; Sources: AJ, EJL, JL, W-G, YV
Located in: saxony-anhalt