General information: First Jewish presence: late 17th century; peak Jewish population: 46 in 1843; Jewish population in 1933: unknown (4 in 1931)
Summary: A small Jewish community was founded in Poembsen, now part of Bad Driburg, after the Thirty Years’ War. In or around the year 1800, the community built a prayer hall near the home of one of its members. A purpose-built synagogue, capable of accommodating approximately 70 worshippers, was built in 1886; funding for the construction of the brick synagogue was raised with considerable difficulty by a few dedicated congregants. We also know that local Jews consecrated a cemetery in nearby Nieheim. Very few Jews lived in Poembsen in 1933, when the Nazis implemented the anti-Jewish boycott. On Pogrom Night, the SA broke into the synagogue and vandalized its interior; fortunately, the forewarned synagogue wardens had removed the Torah scrolls prior to the assault. After Poembsen’s remaining Jewish properties had been vandalized and the synagogue incinerated (this happened the following day), the authorities forced the remaining Jews to sell the synagogue property for a paltry 500 Reichsmarks, deducting 300 Reichsmarks for demolition costs. The town’s remaining Jews were deported during the war years. A memorial plaque was unveiled in Poembsen in 1989.
Photo: The synagogue of Poembsen after it was destroyed on Pogrom Night in 1938. Courtesy of: Ghetto Fighters House Photo Archive, 43341.
Photo 2: Prayer service in the synagogue of Poembsen, with F. Gruenewald, S. Ostheimer, E. Gruenewald and R. Schoenstadt, in the 1930s. Leo Baeck Inst. Archive
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin
Sources: LIG, SIA