General information: First Jewish presence: 1790; peak Jewish population: 80 in 1911; Jewish population in 1933: 44
Summary: Records indicate that the Jews of Polch had established a prayer hall on Kirchstrasse by 1850. In 1867, construction work began on a synagogue, located on a street which would later be renamed Ostergasse; it was not until 1877, however, after a series of financial setbacks had delayed the construction process, that the synagogue was finally inaugurated. The community maintained a mikveh until the 1930s. In 1933, 44 Jews lived in Polch; two children received religious instruction. A welfare society and a charity association were active in the community. On Pogrom Night, rioters set the synagogue on fire, damaging the women’s balcony. After the pogrom the community was forced to sell the synagogue to the municipal authorities. By 1941, 24 Jews had emigrated from Polch and 15 had relocated within Germany. The town’s last five Jews were deported to the East in 1942. At least 22 local Jews perished in the Shoah. Although the municipality transferred the synagogue’s ownership to the local post-war Jewish community in 1950, the latter eventually decided to return the building to the authorities, after which it was used a storage site until 1980. Restored during the years 1981 to 1983, the synagogue was thereafter declared a protected monument. Cultural events have been hosted there since 1984, and the building houses a memorial plaque and a permanent exhibition in honor of the destroyed Jewish community.
Author / Sources: Bronagh Bowerman
Sources: EJL, FJG, SG-RHN, SIA, YV