General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 229 in 1884; Jewish population in 1933: 202
Summary: Although a local duke, by the name of Rudolf, allowed Jews to settle in Guben in 1319, they were expelled in 1348 as a reaction to the duke’s declining fortunes. Another Jewish community was expelled from Guben during the Black Death pogroms of 1348/48. Records suggest that the town was home to a Jewish cemetery as early as the 15th century, but it was not until the 1650s that a stable Jewish presence was established in Guben. By 1834, 31 Jews lived in Guben. Their synagogue, located near the Neisse River (in present-day Poland) was inaugurated in 1837. The community was formally founded 12 years later. More than 200 Jews lived in Guben by the early 1850s, at which point a cemetery was consecrated in Reichenbach (a former village). We also know that a larger synagogue was built on Am Kastaniengraben in 1878. By 1900, most local Jews had established themselves as merchants, lawyers or doctors; prominent Jewish cloth and hat manufacturers also lived in Guben. The synagogue was destroyed on Pogrom Night, as were Jewish shops and establishments; Jewish men were assaulted and sent to Sachsenhausen. Later, in 1942, all elderly Jews were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto. In 1944, 300 Jewish women of Hungarian origin were deported to Guben to perform forced labor in a factory. At least 37 Guben Jews managed to emigrate from Germany. Most of the remaining Jews were deported to the East and perished in the Shoah. The Guben Protestant Church has maintained the Jewish cemetery since 1945; it was, however, desecrated in 1992 and 2000.
Author / Sources: Beate Grosz-Wenker
Located in: brandenburg