General information: First Jewish presence: 1277; peak Jewish population: 237 in 1902; Jewish population in 1933: 133
Summary: The Jewish population of Hameln, always vulnerable to the whims of the ruling classes, fluctuated until the beginning of the 18th century, when the local Jewish congregation was formally affiliated with the rabbinate of nearby Hanover. Glueckel von Hameln (1646-1724), the famous Jewish diarist, was married to a Hameln Jew. The community established a prayer hall (on Backerstrasse) in 1670, a new prayer hall (on Altenmarkstrasse) in or around 1770, and an impressive, Romanesque-style synagogue in 1870. Hameln Jews were initially confined to two professions—cattle dealing and moneylending—but after the 1848 revolution, when restrictions on Jews were removed, they branched out into many other fields; for example, garment manufacturing, wholesale clothing, retail, law and medicine. The anti-Jewish boycott of 1933 and the subsequent “aryanization” of Jewish-owned businesses crippled the Jewish community of Hameln. Polish Jews were expelled from Hameln in 1938, and on Pogrom Night (November 1938), the synagogue was set on fire, Jewish homes were vandalized and householders were arrested. A memorial plaque now marks the site of the demolished synagogue building. Of the approximately 100 Hameln Jews, the town’s last, who were deported in 1942, few survived. The new Jewish community of Hameln, rebuilt after the war, established two synagogues: one liberal, the other Orthodox.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin
Sources: JGL, HNB
Located in: lower-saxony