Halle on Saale

General information: First Jewish presence: 12th century (second half ); peak Jewish population: 1,387 in 1910; Jewish population in 1933: 1,300
Summary: The Jews of Halle were persecuted between 1343 and 1348. Expelled from Halle in 1493, Jews did not return to the area until 1688, after which they quickly established a new synagogue. Assur Marx, a bookkeeper at the Polish court, received permission, in 1692-93, to purchase land for a cemetery. Halle’s 19th-century Jewish community opened a new cemetery and synagogue in 1869 and 1870, respectively. The congregation was presumably liberal, for an organ was installed in the synagogue in 1901. We also know that the community maintained a school for religious studies, numerous social organizations, a new synagogue (established in 1927) and a new cemetery (1929). On April 1, 1933, the boycott against all Jewish businesses was implemented in Halle, triggering a mass rally. At least six Jewish professors, 13 lawyers and 41 Jews in public service lost their jobs. By June of that year, Halle’s Jewish population had dropped to 1,086. In 1932/33, the leaders of the community were Hugo Maizer, Max Jovishoff and Dr. Marcus Felixbrodt; the representative committee consisted of 15 members led by W.S. Lewin, Th. Heilbronner and M. Fried; and nine committees dealt with social concerns (culture, welfare, ritual slaughter, accounts, taxes, finance, and day care). The rabbi was Dr. Kuhlberg, and the teachers were Dr. Rubinstein and Heymann K. Kaufmann. Four welfare organizations were active in the community: the Barmherziger Bruederverein, or Compassionate Brotherhood (headed by Herman Weiss); the Germania Loge, or Germania Lodge, (headed by H. Loewendahl); the Israelitischer Frauenverein, or Israelite women’s association, (headed by Flora Schlesinger); and a Bikur Cholim, or association for visiting the sick (headed by Moritz Kratzer). Dora Ettlinger was president of a union of nurses associated with the Germania Loge. Two hundred and fifty children received religious instruction in 1932/33. On Pogrom Night, rioters descended on the “am grossen Berlin” synagogue; there, they ransacked, pillaged and burned the synagogue and its contents (including 14 Torah scrolls, Judaica, the organ and the tapestries). The Tahara hall in the Boelckestrasse cemetery (present-day Dessauer Strasse) was set on fire, the Jewish community center on Germarstrasse was ravaged and Jewish-owned businesses and homes were plundered. One hundred and fifty Jewish men were arrested on Heydrich’s orders: Leo Hirsch, the community leader, and several others were held at the police station; one hundred and twenty-four were sent to Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. Five hundred and eighty-four Halle Jews emigrated from Germany. Beginning in October 1939, the remaining Jews were subjected to forced labor. Between 1940 and 1942, 17 committed suicide. In 1942, Halle Jews were confined to seven “Jews’ houses,” from which 262 were eventually deported to the East, an ordeal that only 43 survived. At least 422 Halle Jews perished in the Shoah. In July 1944, 92 Jews—they were, presumably, married to Christians—were still living in Halle. The new Jewish community, established in 1947 with 50 members, opened a synagogue in 1953.
Photo: On the left side, the synagogue and Jewish community center of Halle an der Saale. Courtesy of: Jewish community of Halle.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: EJL, FJG, YV
Located in: saxony-anhalt