General information: First Jewish presence: Middle Ages: peak Jewish pop.: 300 in 1871 (approx. 10% of the total pop.); Jewish pop. in 1933: approx. 70
Summary: Records do not tell us when Jews first settled in Wolfhagen, but we do know that in 1235, 18 local Jews were murdered in a pogrom. The Jewish community, established in the 18th century and affiliated with the rabbinate in Kassel, numbered 59 members in 1788. In 1777, the community established a synagogue—the building also housed a school—on Schuetzenberger Strasse. Later, in 1859, a new synagogue and school were built on Mittelstrasse and Gerichtsstrasse, respectively; the school housed a mikveh and an apartment for the teacher. (The old synagogue building was later torn down.) We also know that burials were conducted in a cemetery on Auf der Liemecke (the oldest gravestone there is dated 1712) until the 1820s, after which, in 1834, a new cemetery was consecrated on Wilhelmstrasse. In 1933, approximately 70 Jews lived in Wolfhagen (65 in 1934). A teacher instructed 10 Jewish schoolchildren in religion, and four Jewish welfare organizations were active in the community: an association for young men, the Chevre Bachurim (established in 1811), the Chevre Hochnosas Kalloh which helped brides arrange and finance their weddings (founded in 1855), the Chevre Haschlischi (literally, the “third association”, established in 1833) and the Chewras Noschim, or women’s association. In January 1934, the Nazis closed down the Jewish elementary school. On Pogrom Night, SA troops from Arolsen and local residents set the synagogue on fire, looted Jewish homes and desecrated the cemetery. By November 1939, approximately 55 local Jews had relocated within Germany; ten or 11 Jews had immigrated to Paraguay, the Netherlands or Palestine. Three Jewish residents passed away in Wolfhagen. At least 22 local Jews perished in the Shoah. After the war, a memorial stone was unveiled on Platz der Freiheit (“freedom square”) in Wolfhagen.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Sources: AJ, DJGH, EJL, FJG, SIA, YV
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Located in: hesse