General information: First Jewish presence: 13th century; peak Jewish population: 165 in 1829; Jewish population in 1933: approximately 394-438
Summary: The 13th-century Jewish community of Nordhausen maintained a synagogue, a cemetery and a mikveh. All Jews were expelled from the town in the middle of the 16th century, and it was not until 1808 that Jews were once again permitted to settle there. The modern community maintained a prayer room at 4, Ritterstrasse and, after 1826, a cemetery at 19, Am Ammerberg, which was enlarged in 1854 and in the 1860s. Finally, in September 1845, the Jews of Nordhausen inaugurated an impressive synagogue at 9/10, Pferdegasse (enlarged in 1888); the site also accommodated the community’s social hall. The synagogue community of Nordhausen was officially declared a public institution in 1847. Local Jews were active in public life. Anti-Semitic incidents intensified after World War I: the synagogue, for example, was desecrated in 1922. In 1933, approximately 438 Jews lived in Nordhausen; 33 children received religious instruction. Several social and cultural associations were active in the community that year, as were a shochet and a chazzan. In the mid-1930s, a local Jewish businessman was attacked for alleged race defilement. On Pogrom Night, Nazis broke into the synagogue and set the building on fire, burning it down; Jewish homes and stores were looted and damaged. Approximately 150 Jewish men were arrested, of whom 82 were sent to Buchenwald, where three died. The community’s chazzan was tortured to death, and his son committed suicide in Buchenwald. By 1939, 180 local Jewish residents had emigrated from Germany. The remaining 128 Jews were forcibly moved into designated “Jews’ houses” from which 84 were deported between April 1942, and March 1943. At least 20 Nordhausen Jews perished in the Shoah. At the synagogue site, which now accommodates apartments, a memorial stone was unveiled in November 1988.
Photo: The synagogue of Nordhausen, probably in the 1920s. Courtesy of: Town Archive of Nordhausen.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Sources: AJ, DJKT, EJL, FJG, YV
Located in: thuringia