General information: First Jewish presence: 16th century; peak Jewish population: 809 in 1905; Jewish population in 1933: 581
Summary: Although the first Jews to live in Emden were Sephardim, the Jewish community that later developed was mainly Ashkenazi. In 1905, the year in which the community recorded a peak population figure, most members were cattle and used-goods traders, butchers, moneylenders, merchants and physicians. Emden, which always had its own rabbi, eventually became the district rabbinate. In 1836, the community replaced its synagogue (on Judenstrasse or “Jews’ Street”) with a new building; it was enlarged in 1910 to include a mikveh, as well as 320 seats for men and 250 for women. A Jewish school was established near the synagogue in 1845, prior to which children were either tutored privately or attended a charity school. Emden Jews maintained numerous Jewish associations: six charities, 16 smaller associations and sick funds, a home for the elderly, a women’s association, youth clubs and literary circles. The chevra kadisha and Talmud Torah Association were founded in 1661 and 1896, respectively. Jews were also active in local trade associations. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, 581 Jews still lived in the town; the Nazis’ anti-Semitic legislation was immediately enforced. On Pogrom Night, SA men burned down the synagogue; some ritual objects were stolen, others were saved. Jewish properties were vandalized and looted, Jews were arrested and publicly humiliated, and one man was killed. We also know that Jewish men were deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp that night, where two died. Today, several memorials and plaques commemorate more than 400 years of Jewish history in Emden. At least 465 Jews from Emden died in the Shoah.
Photo: The synagogue of Emden in the 1920s after its renovation in 1910. Courtesy of: City Archive of Emden.
Photo 2: The burning synagogue of Emden on the night of November 9, 1938. Courtesy of: City Archive of Emden.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AH, HU, JG NB1, SIA
Located in: lower-saxony