Altenburg (Thuringia)

General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 165 in 1925; Jewish population in 1933: 130
Summary: According to records, Altenburg was home to a synagogue and a Judengasse during the 14th century, proving that an organized community existed there. The community was annihilated in the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49, and we also know that the local aristocracy prohibited Jews from settling in the area from 1540 until 1800, so that it was only in the 19th century that a lasting Jewish community was established in Altenburg. Burials were conducted in Leipzig, the nearest large community, until the early 1920s, when a section of the municipal cemetery was allocated for Jewish use. An influx of Jewish immigrants, mainly from Galicia, arrived in Altenburg during the same decade; in 1925, they founded their own community and set up a synagogue in a rented hall on Pauritzerstrasse. In 1938, a few weeks before Pogrom Night, members of this Polish community were deported to the Polish-German border and abandoned there. On the night of November 10, 1938, the day after Pogrom Night, the remaining Jewish houses were raided; the inhabitants assaulted and forced to stand in the street in their nightclothes. The synagogue was destroyed, and the men were deported to Buchenwald. The 80 or so Jews who still lived in Altenburg in September of 1939 were moved into several “Jews’ houses,” subjected to forced labor and deported in 1942/43. Very few of these deportees survived the war. In 1944, two concentration camps, incarcerating approximately 2,000 Hungarian and Polish Jews who had been sent there as slave laborers, were set up inAltenburg; 99 inmates were buried in the cemetery. In 2002, a memorial plaque listing their names and dates of death was unveiled there. Eleven Jews, apparently survivors of these camps, lived in Altenburg after the war. A local school produced a film about the town’s Jewish community in 2005.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin; Source: EJL, FJG, LJG
Located in: thuringia