General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 483 in 1925; Jewish population in 1933: 200
Summary: The earliest available reference to a Brandenburg Jew is dated 1313. The town was home to a synagogue as early as 1322, but its location is not known. Although Jews were expelled from Brandenburg/Havel after the Black Death persecutions of 1348, they established a new presence there in 1372. By 1490, the town was home to a Judengasse (probably presentday Lindenstrasse); records from the late 15th century also mention a Jewish cemetery. Jews were expelled from the town yet again in 1573, and it was not until 1671 that the forefathers of the modern community moved to Brandenburg. In order to accommodate the growing population, the community built two synagogues—one in 1781, the other in 1883; the latter, located on 15 Grosse Muenzenstrasse, was renovated in 1903. Although the community had maintained a Jewish cemetery before 1720, a second one was consecrated in 1747. A rabbi and chazzan were hired in 1859, and we also know that local Jews were served by a shochet, a teacher of religion and a servant, the last of which, together with his wife, cared for the sick and dying. Brandenburg was also home to a mikveh. By the end of the 19th century, Brandenburg Jews were involved in a wide array of professions; many were merchants, but others worked as dentists, lawyers and chemists. On Pogrom Night, SA men burned down the synagogue. The cemetery was desecrated, and the mortuary (built in 1770) torn down. Jewish-owned stores were damaged and looted, and Jews were assaulted, one of whom, a woman, committed suicide. Ninety Jews were deported to the East in the early 1940s; twenty-eight were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto in April 1942. Ten Jews, presumably protected by marriages to Gentiles, survived the war in Brandenburg. A memorial plaque was later affixed to the wall of the destroyed synagogue on Grosse Muenzenstrasse.
Photo: For the holiday of Shavuot, the synagogue of Brandenburg was decorated with plants. Courtesy of: City Archive of Brandenburg.
Author / Sources: Beate Grosz-Wenker
Sources: AJ, EJL, SIA, WDJB
Located in: brandenburg