Osterode am Harz

General information: First Jewish presence: 15th century (possibly 14th century); peak Jewish population: 123 in 1830 (2.8 % of the total population); Jewish population in
Summary: The Jewish community of Osterode was founded in 1697. A rabbinate was based in Osterode from 1698 until 1709 and again from 1809 until 1813. The 17th-century Jewish community established a synagogue in a private residence—a rear building on Langer Krummer Bruch. The Jews of Osterode purchased the synagogue site in the 1780s; in 1893/94, the front building was converted into a school and an apartment for the teacher. The synagogue was replaced by a larger house of worship in 1788, and we also know that the community maintained two cemeteries: the first, established in or around the year 1670 and enlarged in 1844, was closed in 1863; the second, established on Schwimmbadstrasse, opened in 1869. In 1934, Jewish-owned stores were damaged. A shochet and a teacher/ chazzan served the community that year, and three schoolchildren received religious instruction. A local branch of the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith (established in 1924) and a Zionist group (founded in 1935) were active in the community of the 1930s. The community was dissolved in June 1938. On Pogrom Night, SS men destroyed the synagogue’s interior and the teacher’s apartment. Jewish homes and a Jewish-owned store were vandalized, and four or five men were imprisoned. The synagogue and school were sold in 1938. At least 29 Jews emigrated from Germany; 15 moved to other German cities or to the Netherlands. Two Jews were deported to Theresienstadt in 1942 and 1945. Between three and ten Osterode/Harz Jews perished in the Shoah. The synagogue building—it served as a workshop after the war—was later converted into an apartment building to which a memorial plaque has been affixed. The new cemetery was desecrated in 1988.
Photo: The Jewish school and synagogue building in Osterode am Harz in the 1920s or 1930s. Courtesy of: City Archive of Osterode, ref. 10- 01-118-026.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Sources: EJL, FGW, JGNB1, SIA YV
Located in: lower-saxony