General information: First Jewish presence: 1768; peak Jewish population: 199 in 1871; Jewish population in 1933: approximately 120
Summary: The history of Jewish Ortelsburg (Polish: Szczytno) began in 1768, when Berek Samulowitz and Isaak Lewin received permission to settle there. The community consecrated a cemetery in 1815; a synagogue in 1835; and a new synagogue and mikveh, on Polnische Strasse, in 1886. Russian troops destroyed the synagogue during the first weeks of World War I, and it was not until 1923 that a new house of worship, designed by August Wiegand, was inaugurated in Ortelsburg. Beginning in 1835, the Jews of Ortelsburg employed a chazzan and a Jewish teacher. In 1847, Ortelsburg founded a synagogue community with the Jews of Friedrichsdorf, Passenheim, Schwentainen and Willenberg; it was not, however, until years later that the government officially approved the “statutes for the synagogue community of Ortelsburg.” The Deutsche Freiheitsbewegung (German Freedom Movement) triggered an increase in anti-Jewish violence. In the early 1930s, stones and fire bombs were thrown at and into Jewish homes; Nazis attacked Jews on the street. In March 1933, the Nazi Party won more than 87% of the local vote. On Pogrom Night (November 9-10, 1938), the synagogue was burned down. Seventy-five local Jews perished in the camps.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: EJL, LJG
Located in: east-prussia