General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 405 in 1864; Jewish population in 1933: 195
Summary: Jews established a significant presence in Bernburg during the 17th and 18th centuries. Although Bernburg Jews were highly influential in the courts, in business and in the professions, the government forced them to pay “protection money.” Among the town’s prominent Jewish residents was Rabbi Dr. Salomon Herxheimer, whose prolific work included a translation of the Hebrew Bible into German. The community conducted services in a synagogue (established in 1731) until a larger house of worship was consecrated some 100 years later. Two hundred Jews lived in Bernburg in the early 1930s, but that number dwindled considerably after the Nazis implemented their boycott of Jewish-owned businesses (1933). On Pogrom Night, the synagogue was plundered and torched, Jewish-owned business and homes were destroyed and Jewish men were sent to Buchenwald. Of the 16 Bernburg Jews who were sent to Theresienstadt in 1942, only two survived. Bernburg was the site of a notorious psychiatric hospital where approximately 5,000 individuals, mostly Jews from the concentration camps, were “euthanized” with carbon monoxide gas. The synagogue ruins were demolished soon after Pogrom Night. On November 9, 2000, a memorial dedicated to the former synagogue was unveiled in Bernburg.
Photo: The destroyed synagogue of Bernburg in 1938. Courtesy of: Town Archive of Bernburg.
Author / Sources: Fred Gottlieb; Sources: JGEN, LJG
Located in: saxony-anhalt