General information: First Jewish presence: 1697; peak Jewish population: 302 in 1910; Jewish population in 1933: 112
Summary: From 1781 until 1893, Wolfenbuettel was home to an 80- seat synagogue at 12 Harzstrasse. The synagogue had been founded by Samuel Gumpel, who in 1786 opened a free Talmud Torah school (later known as the “Samsonschule” or “Samson School”) for Jewish children from poor families. Enlarged in 1843 and then renamed the Samson School for Higher Level Studies, the renowned institution closed down in 1928, but not before it had produced 700 graduates, including Leo Zunz and Emile Berliner. In 1893, Wolfenbuettel’s Jewish community, which belonged to the Braunschweig rabbinate, inaugurated a larger synagogue on Lessingstrasse. The following Jewish organizations were active in Wolfenbuettel in 1933: a sisterhood, a chevra kadisha, a welfare organization, a branch of the German Zionist organization and a branch of the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith. During the years 1933 to 1939, more than half the Jewish population left Wolfenbuettel. According to sources, eight local Jews immigrated to South America, five to Palestine, five to the United States, four to England and four to the Netherlands. On Pogrom Night, rioters burned down Wolfenbuettel’s new synagogue. Sixty Jews lived in Wolfenbuettel in 1939, a number that had dropped to 48 by August of that year. Later, in February of 1941, 52 Jews lived in the town, many of whom were deported, via Braunschweig, to Warsaw on March 31, 1942. The remaining Jews were deported to Auschwitz on July 11, 1942 or on March 16, 1943. At least 52 Wolfenbuettel Jews perished in the Shoah. In 1986, the citizens of Wolfenbuettel prevented the new owner of the older synagogue from renovating the building for his own purposes.
Photo: The synagogue of Wolfenbuettel. Courtesy of: Unknown.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: Pinkas HaKehilot Germania Volume 4
Located in: lower-saxony