General information: First Jewish presence: 1621; peak Jewish population: unknown; Jewish population in 1933: 20-22
Summary: Although records indicate that a “protected Jew” lived in Fuerstenau in 1683, it was not until the 19th century that the town’s Jewish community experienced considerable growth: from five Jewish families in the early 1800s to 56 Jews in 1846. In 1871, however, the Jewish population dropped to 31. The Jews of Fuerstenau consecrated a cemetery in, at the latest, 1773. Services were conducted in a rented house at 42, Sievers until 1854, when a synagogue was inaugurated on Schwertestrasse. The first leader of the community was Moses Bachmann, the second Siegfried Bachmann and the third Markus Judenberg. Fuerstenau, which belonged to the district rabbinate of Minden, was home to a Jewish school, a Jewish teacher and a cantor. We also know that the synagogue association of Fuerstenau, established in 1853, included the Jewish communities of Loewendorf, Boedexen and Brenkhausen. The Jewish cemetery, called auf dem Judenberg (“on the Jews’ hill”), was and still is located close to the road to Boedexen, from where one can access the cemetery through two small gates. Records tell us that the site was enlarged in 1773; the oldest extant tombstone, however, is dated 1825. The last burial was conducted in 1940. Neglected for many years, the cemetery is now properly maintained: several stones have been re-erected, and 32 others have been preserved. The graves (Jews from Albaxen and from Stahlen are also buried there) are arranged according to family name, for example, Rosenstein, Lipper and Bachmann. On Pogrom Night, rioters set the synagogue on fire, after which the damaged building was remodeled into a garage. Less than 10 months later, when World War II broke out, only 18 Jews remained in Fuerstenau; all were deported to the concentration camps, where most of them perished. At least 42 Fuerstenau Jews perished in the Shoah, of whom 27 were deported to the extermination camps directly from the town.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: EJL, GLJW, SG-NRW