General information: First Jewish presence: 1720; peak Jewish population: approximately 100 in the 19th century; Jewish population in 1933: 22
Summary: According to records, a Jew settled in Ratzebuhr (presentday Okonek, Poland) for the first time in 1720. Two more Jewish families settled there shortly afterwards, and in 1752 the Jewish population was 23. Ratzebuhr’s Jewish cemetery (it was concealed by the buildings on Tempelburgstrasse) was probably consecrated in or around the year 1752, as records from that period mention a Jewish gravedigger. The Jewish community, which grew to a respectable size during the early 19th century, eventually established a synagogue at the crossroads—also called Hindenburgplatz— of Tempelburgstrasse, Danziger Strasse and Forststrasse. An official performed the duties of teacher, chazzan and shochet. By 1889, however, the community was no longer hiring the aforementioned official. The cemetery and synagogue were closed in 1890 and 1920, respectively. As was the case all over Germany, the situation deteriorated further following the anti-Jewish boycott of 1933. In 1935, a sign was placed at the entrance to the town warning that Jews entered “at their own risk.” Although the synagogue was sold in September 1938, it was nevertheless burned down on Pogrom Night. The chairman of the congregation was arrested and compelled to pay for the demolition of the synagogue’s ruins. Approximately 40 Ratzebuhr Jews were murdered in the camps.
Author / Sources: Ruth Martina Trucks
Sources: EJL, LJG, YV
Located in: pomerania