Bad Laasphe

General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 151 in 1880; Jewish population in 1933: unknown (127 in 1934)
Summary: The records suggest that Jews began to settle in Bad Laasphe towards the end of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), earning their livelihoods as merchants, cattle and textile traders, and butchers. The community built a synagogue in 1721, followed by another in 1750. In the late 1860s, the building was expanded to include a mikveh and a school, the latter of which was officially recognized as an elementary school in 1869. It was during the 19th century, too, that the town’s Jewish population experienced significant growth: from 80 in 1810 to 151 in 1880 (out of a total population of 2,184). We also know that, at some point in the 1760s, the community consecrated a cemetery (a gift from the Count of Wittgensehen) next to to the Christian burial grounds. After World War II, good relations prevailed between Jewish and Christian residents of Bad Laasphe, with Jews becoming active in the town’s social life. This period of peaceful coexistence ended with the Nazis’ election victories, after which businesses were boycotted and Jewish traders excluded from the cattle markets. Jewish children were expelled from local public schools in 1934. On Pogrom Night, a mob broke into the synagogue and smashed the furniture and ritual objects before (this was done on the street) setting the contents on fire. Jewish homes and stores were heavily damaged on Pogrom Night, and local Jewish men were sent to Sachsenhausen. Beginning in 1933, 60 Jews left the town, 26 of them for the United States. Forty-three were deported to Zamosc (in Poland) in April 1942; and in July 1942, 18 others were deported to Theresienstadt. All but two perished. In 2004, the cemetery was placed on the city’s memorial list.
Author / Sources: Moshe Aumann Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-NRW