General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 138 in 1854; Jewish population in 1933: 85
Summary: Eisleben’s 14th-century Jewish community lived in a ghetto called the Judendorf, or “Jews’ village,” near the town’s marketplace. Jews were temporarily expelled from the town in the 15th century; later, in the mid-16th century, Count von Mansfeld banished them once again. Nevertheless, a new Jewish community was founded in Eisleben at some point during the Napoleonic period (either in 1812 or in 1814), around which time a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery were established on Lutherstrasse, not far from the birthplace of Martin Luther. The Jewish community of Eisleben became the main community for the entire local district in 1857, and it was during the 1950s that a new house of worship was built on the site of Eisleben’s previous synagogue; the ground floor of the new building housed a school for religious studies and lodgings for the teacher. A new Jewish cemetery, at 6 Magdeburger Strasse, was consecrated in 1877. Jews were physically attacked in Eisleben during the Naziled boycott of Jewish businesses in 1933. On Pogrom Night, November 1938, rioters vandalized the cemetery and Jewish-owned homes and shops. The synagogue was not torched because of its proximity to a row of houses, but its interior was destroyed. Four Jewish men were deported to Buchenwald. The synagogue was sold in 1939, after which the Jews of Eisleben were affiliated with the Jewish community in Halle. In 1941, the 17 Jews who remained were forcibly moved into communal accommodation in a so-called “Judenhaus,” or “Jews’ house”. In 1942, Eisleben’s remaining Jews were deported to Theresienstadt. At least 24 Eisleben Jews perished in the Shoah. A memorial plaque, bearing an engraving of the Shema prayer in Hebrew and in German, has been unveiled near the Market Church, and a street sign that reads “Juedenhof” or “Jews’ courtyard” marks the site of the former Jewish quarter in the old part of town.
Photo: The synagogue of Eisleben on a postcard showing the skyline of town in 1920. Courtesy of: R. Seidel, Eisleben.
Author / Sources: Beate Grosz-Wenker, Fred Gottlieb
Sources: AJ, EJL, LJG, SUN, YV
Located in: saxony-anhalt