General information: First Jewish presence: 1709; peak Jewish population: 59 in 1850; Jewish population in 1933: unknown (19 in 1932)
Summary: Although records from 1784 and 1803 refer to a synagogue in Vechta, they do not mention when or where it was established. We know for certain, however, that 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, 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 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.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: JGNB1, YV
Located in: lower-saxony