General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population 613 in 1933
Summary: The earliest available records of a Jewish presence in Kiel are from the 17th century, when “court Jews” settled there. It was not, however, until the 19th century that the Jewish population experienced considerable growth. Synagogues were inaugurated on Kehdenstrasse and Hassstrasse in, respectively, 1782 and 1869, the latter synagogue gave way to a new house of worship, on Goethestrasse/ Humboldtstrasse—the building accommodated 650 seats and a Jewish school—in 1910. Kiel’s Jewish cemetery on Michelsenstrasse (still in use) was consecrated in 1852. Many Eastern European Jews moved to Kiel’s Gaengerviertel neighborhood after 1918. In 1933, Kiel was home to 613 Jews; 80 children received religious instruction from a teacher/chazzan. Active in the community were a Jewish women’s association (established in 1892) and two other foundations, all of which conducted welfare work, as well as seven local branches of national Jewish organizations. The community maintained a mikveh and a library that year. Kiel’s rabbi emigrated in the summer of 1933, the same year in which two Jewish lawyers were murdered and Jewish university instructors were dismissed from their posts. The bravery with which local non-Jewish residents defied the anti-Jewish boycott (initiated in April 1933) resulted in its lack of success in Kiel. In 1938, as a result of the Nazis’ racial laws, local Jews opened a public school. Polish Jews returned to Kiel shortly after their deportation in October 1938. On Pogrom Night, members of the SA, SS and Nazi Party damaged the synagogue’s interior and set parts of it on fire. Jewish property was destroyed that night, and approximately 55 Jewish men were arrested, of whom 10 were sent to Sachsenhausen. Later, in 1939/40, the synagogue was torn down. In 1939, local Jews were moved into “Jews’ houses.” Most emigrated or moved to other German cities, 12 committed suicide and approximately 50 were deported to Riga in 1941. At least 240 Kiel Jews perished in the Shoah. In 1967/68, an apartment building was erected on the synagogue site (on Goethestrasse). A plaque and a memorial were unveiled there in, respectively, 1968 and 1989. Kiel is now home to two independent Jewish communities (on Wikingerstrasse and Jahnstrasse) with approximately 550 members.
Photo: The synagogue of Kiel. Courtesy of: The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Art. No. 65/69.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Sources: AJ, EJL, FJG, LJG, SIA, W-G
Located in: schleswig-holstein