General information: First Jewish presence: mid-1300s; peak Jewish population: 510 in 1925; Jewish population in 1933: 378
Summary: Jews lived in Gera sporadically during the 14th and 15th centuries. Expelled from the town in the mid-1400s, they did not return until 1880. The modern community, formed in 1885, established and maintained a small prayer room. With an influx of Jews from Poland, Gera’s Jewish population reached 510 by 1925. The Jews of Gera were mainly involved in commerce; Hermann Tietz, a Polish Jew, founded a small department store that would become a nation-wide chain. Looking for ways to accommodate the growing congregation, the Jewish community convinced the owners of the prestigious Hotel Kronprinz to allow them to build an extension to the hotel that would serve as a synagogue. The owners agreed, and the new synagogue was inaugurated in 1919. The Orthodox Jewish community maintained its own synagogue. Many local Jews emigrated from Germany after the 1933 elections. The two synagogues were vandalized on Pogrom Night, but it was the Orthodox house of worship that was burned down. For obvious reasons, the SS decided to spare the hotel synagogue, choosing, instead, to burn its ritual objects on the street. The hotel was later destroyed during a bombing raid. A memorial plaque has been unveiled at the synagogue and hotel site.
Author / Sources: Moshe Finkel
Sources: DJKT, EJL, LJG, SIA
Located in: thuringia