General information: First Jewish presence: late 17th century; peak Jewish population: approximately 100 in the late 19th century; Jewish population in 1933: approximately
Summary: Members of the Jewish community of Celle included court Jews, merchants, manufacturers, physicians, lawyers, bankers and department store owners. The Jewish community consecrated a cemetery on Am Berge in 1692. In 1740, prayer rooms were replaced by a synagogue on Im Kreise (enlarged in 1883). We also know that the community maintained a Jewish school— established in 1832 and presided over by teachers who at times served as cantors and ritual slaughterers—a choir, a charitable association and a sick fund. On Pogrom Night, Jewish-owned homes and businesses were vandalized, Jews were publicly abused and Jewish men were deported to Sachsenhausen. The synagogue’s interior was destroyed, and ritual objects and Torah scrolls were thrown onto the street. By October 1939, only 15 Jews lived in Celle. Beginning in 1942, the remaining Jews were forced to live in the school house, awaiting their deportation to the concentration camps. In 1945, an Allied attack on Celle’s railroad allowed concentration camp prisoners to escape. Hunted down by the SS and local residents, thousands were killed. At least 12 Celle Jews died during the Shoah. The synagogue, one of the oldest frame houses in Lower Saxony, was renovated by the town in 1974. It not only bears a memorial plaque, but has, since 1997, been used by Celle’s new Jewish community.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AH, HU, JGNB1, SIA
Located in: lower-saxony