General information: First Jewish presence: Middle Ages; peak Jewish population: 163 in 1885 (5% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 128
Summary: Although we do not know when Jews first settled in Fritzlar, records do tell us that a Jewish community— whose members were mainly moneylenders— was annihilated during the Black Death pogroms of 1348/1349. The town’s modern Jewish community developed in the 19th century. The Jews of Fritzlar consecrated a cemetery on Schladenweg in 1733. In the early 19th century (records tell us that it was before 1827), the community replaced its 18th-century prayer room with a synagogue on Untere Nikolausstrasse; the building also accommodated a Jewish school whose teacher served as shochet and chazzan. In 1897, a new synagogue and school were erected on Holzstrasse (present-day Neustaedter Strasse). Records indicate that the synagogue was thoroughly renovated in 1930. Fritzlar was home to two Jewish associations (one for men, the other for women) and a charitable organization. At some point during the 19th century, the community temporarily split as a result of religious differences. In 1933, 128 Jews still lived in Fritzlar, many of whom left town due to increasing oppression. Later, on Pogrom Night (November 1938), SS men and members of the Hitler Youth set the synagogue on fire, soon after which the building was pulled down. The Jewish cemetery was demolished in 1943. In 1941 and 1942, Fritzlar’s remaining Jews were deported to concentration camps. At least 70 Fritzlar Jews perished in the Shoah. After the war, Jewish displaced persons were housed in Fritzlar by the United Nations; all eventually left, mostly for Israel. Today, a memorial plaque commemorates the destroyed synagogue.
Photo: The synagogue of Fritzlar, probably in the 1930s. Courtesy of: City Archive of Fritzlar.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AH, AJ, EJL
Located in: hesse