General information: First Jewish presence: mid 1400s; peak Jewish population: 172 in 1797; Jewish population in 1933: 160
Summary: The city of Stralsund, founded in the mid-1200s, quickly developed into the most prosperous city in northern Germany. Although Jews were allowed to conduct business in Stralsund, they were forbidden to live in the city. By the mid-1400s, however, Jews had been granted permission to live in Stralsund, albeit in ghettos; this medieval community lived on the Judengasse (“Jews’ alley”), where they consecrated a prayer room. As was the case in towns all over Germany, the Jewish community was expelled from Stralsund in 1492. The year 1757 marked birth of Stralsund’s modern Jewish community. Joachim Giese, a Christian banker who was interested in having Jews manage his financial institutions, was instrumental in obtaining the legal permits that would enable them to live and work in the town. In 1787, one year after receiving permission to build a house of worship, the Jewish community inaugurated a beautiful synagogue with a seating capacity of 200; attached to the synagogue was a mikveh. Stralsund Jews were not particularly affected by the anti- Jewish propaganda of the very early 1930s. From 1933 onwards, however, the situation worsened daily. To enforce the anti-Jewish boycott, Nazis placed troops at the entrances to Jewish-owned businesses, warning people not to shop there. During the years 1933 to 1938, nearly 30 percent of the Jewish population left Stralsund. On Pogrom Night, Jewish-owned businesses were plundered and set on fire. The synagogue was vandalized, after which it, too, was set on fire; it did not completely burn down, however, and was subsequently used by the emergency services as a storage facility. Destroyed during a wartime bombing raid, the building was torn down in 1950. A small memorial plaque was later unveiled in the vicinity of the synagogue site.
Author / Sources: Moshe Finkel