General information: First Jewish presence: 1350; peak Jewish population: 549 in 1871; Jewish population in 1933: 367
Summary: The earliest known record of a Jewish presence in Elbing (present-day Elbag, Poland) mentions the Black Death pogroms of 1350, when Jews fleeing western and southern Germany settled in the town. Although Jews were officially forbidden from residing and working in Elbing, some were allowed to maintain property. Records from the late 18th century provide evidence of an established Jewish community. In 1824, the community consecrated a synagogue (160 seats) and a ritual bath. Elbing was home to a Jewish school, established in the 19th century, and we also know that beginning in 1875, the community employed its own rabbis; the last acting rabbi was Dr. Siegberg Neufeld, who immigrated to Palestine in 1939. During the 1860s, in response to growing population numbers, the community enlarged the synagogue and built a new community center. By 1880, 549 Jews lived in Elbing. Loeser & Wolff, Elbing’s Jewish-owned cigar factory, was among the leading industrial concerns in Prussia, employing in 1926 some 4,000 people. Four hundred and sixty Jews lived in Elbing when the Nazis came to power, and they continued to organize a wide range of cultural events under increasingly hostile conditions. Many Elbing Jews later left for larger cities or emigrated from Germany. On Pogrom Night, nearly all of the remaining Jewish men were arrested; Jewish-owned shops were destroyed, and the synagogue was torched after the sacred objects had been stolen.
Author / Sources: Fred Gottlieb
Sources: EJL, LJG
Located in: east-prussia