General information: First Jewish presence: 1306; peak Jewish population: approximately 280 in or around 1895; Jewish population in 1933: 191
Summary: Jews were massacred in Herford during the Black Death pogroms of 1349. The town was home to few Jewish families during the 15th and 16th centuries, but records from the mid- 17th century mention the existence of a small community, members of which conducted services in a private residence and buried their dead in the Friedhofstrasse cemetery (consecrated before 1679). Prominent Herford Jews included Salomon Joel Herford (1750-1816), a court Jew. In 1851/52, the Jews of Herford erected a synagogue at 21 Komturstrasse; this house of worship was renovated in 1893, during which time a complex—it housed a school and a community center—was opened in Herford. It was during the 19th century, too, that local Jews, many of whom were involved in the linen trade, enjoyed greater economic opportunities, triggering a growth in community membership. Nevertheless, many Jews left for larger cities after 1914. In 1933, 191 Jews lived in Herford. Active in the community were a women’s association (founded in 1883) and a welfare organization (1886), both of which provided services for the sick and indigent. Rabbi Lewin instructed children in religion until June 1941. On March 28, 1933, members of the SA and SS blocked the entrances to Jewishowned stores, the first of many such discriminatory practices. The synagogue was set on fire in 1934. On Pogrom Night, rioters burned down the synagogue building and ransacked Jewish homes; 14 men were sent to Buchenwald. Later, in 1939/40, the synagogue was torn down. By 1941, approximately 36 Jews had emigrated. The remaining Jews were confined to so-called “Jews’ houses” from which approximately 76 were deported in 1941/42. In 1944/45, 23-25 Herford Jews who were married to ethnic German spouses were deported to the Oberloquiz (Buchenwald) and Elben (Kassel) camps. Founded after the war, the new Jewish community of Herford-Detmold conducted services in the former community center. In 1978, a memorial stone was unveiled on Komturstrasse; and in 1999, a plaque was unveiled in Kleine Markthalle. In honor of the former Jewish community, memorial stumbling blocks are scattered throughout the city. Today, the community conducts its services in a new synagogue, built on the former synagogue site and inaugurated in March 2010.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Sources: EJL, FJG, HU, LJG, SIA