Bad Freienwalde

General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 82 in 1880; Jewish population in 1933: 10 families
Summary: Jews settled in Bad Freienwalde in 1671, when Elector Frederick William I of Brandenburg issued an edict, soon after which Isaac Levy became the town’s first protected Jew. The Jewish cemetery at the foot of the Galgenberg hill dates back to the same period. Services were conducted in the Boas family home until 1819, when the community purchased a building (at 145 Jopenstrasse) and established a synagogue and teacher’s residence there. It was not, however, until 1848/50 that the Jewish community of Bad Freienwalde was officially founded. The local spa, popular among Berlin Jews, would later be referred to contemptuously as the Judenbad (Jew’s bath). On Pogrom Night, SA men set fire to the synagogue. Nearly all local Jews managed to emigrate from Germany before the deportations began. At the synagogue site—the ruins were cleared in 1969— a memorial stone stands above the stairs that once led congregants into the synagogue. The cemetery was leveled in 1950, but one of the tombstones was used as a memorial stone. The town’s library was named after Hans Keilson (born in Bad Freienwalde in 1909), a Jewish writer, physician and psychoanalyst who survived the Shoah in the Netherlands.
Author / Sources: Beate Grosz-Wenker Sources: AJ, EJL, LJG, SIA, WDJBG
Located in: brandenburg