General information: First Jewish presence: 1645; peak Jewish population: 670 in 1900; Jewish population in 1933: 497
Summary: Jews were not permitted to live in Luebeck while the city was part of the Hanseatic League (1230- 1535). The earliest record of a Jewish presence there is dated 1645. In 1656, Polish and Lithuanian Jews fleeing Cossack pogroms were allowed to settle in nearby Moisling, which would become part of Luebeck in 1762. The Jews of Moisling, however, were not allowed to enter Luebeck except for during the brief period in which Luebeck was under French jurisdiction; during that period, in 1812, Luebeck’s first synagogue was inaugurated on St.-Annen-Strasse. In 1821, the city senate issued a decree expelling all Jews, after which most moved to Moisling, where the Danish decree offering them protection was still valid. Moisling, then, had a thriving Jewish community for 200 years, with 500 members, a lifetime appointed rabbi, a synagogue and a school. Finally, on October 19, 1848, in the context of the Revolution, Jews were granted full civil rights. In 1851, Jews in Luebeck built a synagogue at Wahmstrasse, but the house of worship was soon unable to accommodate the growing community. In 1880, a new synagogue was inaugurated on St.-Annen-Strasse; at the time, Dr. Salomon Carlebach, founder of the renowned rabbinic dynasty, was Rabbi of Luebeck. The Luebeck Jews maintained a cemetery at Niendorfer Strasse in Luebeck- Moisling—it was consecrated during the 17th century—a Jewish elementary school (100 pupils in 1837) and, after 1904, a Jewish old-age home at 11 St.-Annen-Strasse. In Luebeck, anti-Jewish measures were implemented immediately after the Nazis’ election victories; these included boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses, the renaming of all street names connected to Jews or Judaism, and the public burning of Jewish books, resulting in considerable Jewish emigration. Nevertheless, Rabbi Winter founded a Jewish elementary school in Luebeck in 1933. Although 293 Jews still lived in Luebeck during the summer of 1938, the synagogue was no longer in use. Later, on Pogrom Night (November 1938) over 200 SA, SS and Gestapo men looted nearly every Jewish store and apartment in the town. The synagogue was not burned down, for it was adjacent to the “aryan” St.-Annen-Museum and had already been sold to Luebeck’s municipality (in 1939). Nevertheless, the ritual objects and the exterior’s large Star of David were taken as trophies and given to scrap metal dealers. Seventyfive local Jewish men were sent to Sachsenhausen that night. By 1941, 359 Jews had left the city. The remaining 140 Jews were deported to Riga and Theresienstadt; of these, only 11 survived the war. There is a memorial plaque next to the former synagogue and cemetery. Jewish displaced persons—the city was home to a post-war DP camp—founded a new community after the war, but it was dissolved in 1968 as a result of dwindling membership numbers. Today, with the arrival of Jews from the former Soviet Union, Luebeck is once again home to a Jewish community.
Photo: The synagogue of Luebeck. Courtesy of: The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, NWD 218/2.
Author / Sources: Benjamin Rosendahl
Sources: EJL, LJG
Located in: schleswig-holstein