General information: First Jewish presence: 1261; peak Jewish population: 600 in 1883; Jewish population in 1933: 200
Summary: Kolberg (present-day Kolobrzeg, Poland) was probably home to the first Jewish settlement in Pomerania. Although town records from the mid-15th century mention a Judenstrat (“Jews’ street”) Jews were prohibited from settling in Kolberg throughout the following three centuries. It was not until the first half of the 19th century that this ban was rescinded, after which the community grew rapidly. The cemetery dates back to 1815/20, and we also know that the synagogue was inaugurated in 1845, one year after its foundations were laid. Salomon Goldschmidt, the community’s second rabbi, served from the 1860s until 1925; he was not, however, the only rabbi to serve the community during this 60-year period. Rabbi Goldschmidt contributed to the establishment, in 1874, of a convalescent home with mineral baths. The home, which was privately funded, took in many needy Jews free of charge. A memorial was unveiled in honor of one of the founders, physician Dr. Hermann Hirschfeld. Not surprisingly, the town gained a reputation as a health resort. Another prominent Kolberg Jew was Magnus Hirschfeld, a pioneer in the field of sexology: in 1908, he founded the first German journal on the subject; in 1918, he established the Institute for Sexology in Berlin. Hirschfeld left for France in 1933 and died in Nice. In 1919, anti-Semitic posters started appearing in spas; accordingly, Jewish guests suffered frequent mistreatment. Later, the Nazi authorities banned Jews from parts of the beach and urged convalescent homes to reject Jews. The dire political and economic circumstances forced the Jewish congregation to abandon the cemetery. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue and Jewish-owned stores were vandalized and destroyed. The hospital was shut down after several violent attacks and converted into a storage facility for coal. In 1940, many Kolberg Jews were deported, together with Jews from Stettin, to Lublin, from where they were forced to march further east. One hundred and forty local Jews perished in the Shoah. A Star of David, embedded in the pavement at the former synagogue site, commemorates Kolberg’s Jewish community.
Author / Sources: Ruth Martina Trucks
Sources: EJL, LJG, FJG, YV
Located in: pomerania