General information: First Jewish presence: 1347; peak Jewish population: 617 in 1900; Jewish population in 1933: 515
Summary: Records from the 14th century tell us that Hildesheim was then home to a synagogue (located on the Judengasse, or “Jews’ Alley”). Later, in the mid-15th century, exorbitant taxes forced Jews out of the city, after which the synagogue was torn down and a chapel built on the cemetery site. The Jewish community, reestablished in the 16th century, established a prayer room in a school building on Lappenberg. A Jewish cemetery was consecrated on Poggenhagen in the mid-17th century, and we also know that another cemetery was later consecrated on Teichstrasse. It was not until 1849, however, that the modern Jewish community built its reform-oriented synagogue. By 1933, the community was maintaining a chevra kadisha, a sisterhood, and a history and literature society; later, a Hillel lodge, another sisterhood, a Jewish youth organization, a sports group and a Zionist group (called Brit Haolim) were established in Hildesheim. On Pogrom Night, SS and SA men set the synagogue on fire. (It was not until 1940 that the site was cleared.) Jewish homes and establishments were vandalized that night too, and Jewish men were imprisoned and sent to Buchenwald for several weeks. The Jews of Hildesheim were forced to sell the synagogue property, but the expense of cleaning the site, which was billed to the community, meant that the town paid practically nothing. Thirty students were still attending the Jewish school in 1940, after which enrollment numbers swiftly diminished; records indicate that the school closed in 1942, when the children and their parents were deported. According to a transport list, 51 local Jews were deported to Theresienstadt on July 23, 1942. The community’s memorial book informs us that 103 Hildesheim Jews were either deported or went missing during the Shoah. There were also three or four suicides. In February 1945, approximately 500 prisoners from Bergen-Belsen—most were Hungarian Jews—were imprisoned in Hildesheim’s town hall. It is not known how many of them perished, but six are buried in the cemetery on Peine Strasse. In 1984, a memorial stone commemorating the destroyed synagogue was unveiled in Hildesheim; and in 1988, an elaborate monument was unveiled in the town. Hildesheim’s new Jewish community, formed in 1997, was officially recognized as the Jewish Cultural Community of Hildesheim on May 6, 1998.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: HH
Located in: lower-saxony