Hamburg - Wandsbek

General information: First Jewish presence: 1570; peak Jewish population: 285 in 1885; Jewish population in 1933: 144 or 170
Summary: Although Jews may have resided in Wandsbek in 1570, the earliest record of their presence there is dated 1621, when writs of protection were issued to them. In 1634, King Christian IV of Denmark, who then ruled over the region, granted Jews the right to form a community, soon after which local Jews established a cemetery or a synagogue. The cemetery—it was consecrated on Katunbleiche (at the corner of Koenigsreihe and Litowstrasse) in 1634 or 1675—is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in northern Germany. In 1671, when Hamburg and the surrounding area came under French rule, the Jewish communities of Wandsbek, Altona and Hamburg formed a synagogue district. The community was home to some of the most acclaimed rabbis in Ashkenaz: Rabbi Jonathan Eybeschuetz; Rabbi Jacob Emden; and Rabbi Raphael, born Jekuthiel, Kohen. Local Jews had established their own synagogue by 1634. In 1840—the three communities had ended their centuries-long cooperation in 1810—the independent Jewish community of Wandsbek built a synagogue on present-day Koenigstrasse. Other communal institutions included a Jewish school (founded in 1876) and a cemetery (opened in 1887). The community hired a rabbi in 1858. The Jewish population in June 1933 was either 144 or 170 (sources provided differing population figures). Several Jewish associations were active in the community, most notably a branch of the German Zionist organization. The anti-Jewish boycott forced most Jewish businessmen to sell, after which Jewish emigration from Germany accelerated. The last synagogue service was held in October 1938. On Pogrom Night, rioters destroyed the synagogue’s interior, desecrated the cemetery and looted Jewish-owned stores. The 129 Jews who still lived in Wandsbek in 1939 were deported during and after 1941. Ninety-two local Jews perished in the Shoah. At the synagogue site—the building was torn down in 1975—a memorial plaque was later unveiled; the cemetery is now protected as a historical monument. Wandsbek is now part of the city of Hamburg, which is home to a large Jewish community.
Photo: The synagogue in Wandsbek was used only on the occasion of Shabbat and holy days. The daily prayers were usually said in a smaller synagogue located in the community building. Courtesy of: Archives of the City State of Hamburg.
Author / Sources: Benjamin Rosendahl
Sources: EJL, LJG, JVL
Located in: hamburg