General information: First Jewish presence: late 17th century; peak Jewish population: 124 in 1824; Jewish population in 1933: 82
Summary: By 1824, most local Jews were textile merchants, cattle traders, storekeepers and manufacturers. According to records, the community consecrated a cemetery on Muehlenweg in 1702, prior to which burials were conducted in Wittmund. Later, in 1828, the Jews of Esens replaced their 17th-century prayer room with a synagogue on Burgstrasse, next to the mikveh and school (both were built in 1819). A community center and a new school were established in 1899, the latter of which was presided over by a teacher who served as shochet and chazzan. We also know that the community maintained organizations for Jewish men and women, and that Jews were elected to the town council after World War I. In 1933, 82 Jews still lived in Esens, of whom more than 40 left during the following years. On Pogrom Night, members of the SA and SS burned down the synagogue; Jews were taken from their homes; the men deported to Sachsenhausen. After Pogrom Night, the remaining 20-25 Jews were forced to move into the school building. In March 1940, Esens’ last Jews moved to Berlin, from where they were deported to Auschwitz in 1942. The cemetery—it had been heavily damaged during the Nazi period—was partly restored in 1980. The former community center was converted into a memorial between 1987 and 1990, and a plaque was unveiled at the synagogue site. At least 60 local Jews died during the Shoah.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AH, AJ, EJL
Located in: lower-saxony