History of the Jews in Hamburg
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The history of the Jews in Hamburg in Germany, is recorded from at least 1590 on. The Jews of Hamburg have lived primarily in the Jewish neighbourhoods of Grindel and New Town, where the Sephardic Community „Newe Salom“ (Hebrew: נוה שלום) was established in 1652. Since 1612 there have been toleration agreements with the senate of the prevailingly Lutheran city. Also Reformed Dutch merchants and Anglican Britons made similar agreements before. In these agreements the Jews were not permitted to live in the Inner-City, though were also not required to live in ghettos.
From 1600 onwards, also German Jews settled in Hamburg, but in 1649 these Ashkenazi Jews were driven out of the city. From then on, only Sephardi Jews were permitted to live in Hamburg.
Around 1925, about 20,000 Jews lived in Hamburg. When the Nazis came to power, most synagogues were destroyed and soon the associated communities also were dissolved. In 1945, a Jewish community was founded by survivors of the Shoah. And finally in 1960 the new Synagogue "Hohe Weide" was built.
The Jewish Community in Hamburg, began with the establishment of Sephardic Jewish from Spain and Antwerp. They came around 1577, as they were expelled from Spain. Before the destruction of the Jewish community by the Nazis, Eimsbüttel was the center of Jewish life in Hamburg. There were several synagogues, the most famous were the "Neue Dammtor-Synagoge" (1895), the "Bornplatzsynagoge" (1906) and the Temple on Oberstrasse (1931).
Jewish community in Altona
Haskalah / Jewish emancipation
Approximately 6,500 Jews lived in Hamburg in 1800. Thus, they represented a share of six percent of the city's total population. This was the largest Jewish community in Germany. Since in 1812 the French annexation administration ordered the dissolution of the 1671-founded cross-border joint Ashkenazi community Altona-Hamburg-Wandsbek (Hebrew: אה"ו; Dreigemeinde AHU), combining the three Ashkenazi congregations of Altona (est. 1622) and Wandsbek, both in Holstein, and the 1662-founded one in Hamburg, then First French Empire, resuming its independence as the "German-Israelite Congregation of Hamburg" (German: Deutsch-Israelitische Gemeinde zu Hamburg; DIG), comprising by city-statute, enforced again in 1819, all Ashkenazi Hamburgers.
The decisive assistance in the fight for equal rights came because in the elections 1848 the Jews had voting rights. To get those votes, two opposing groups promised them equal rights. Then, in February 1849, they received all citizens rights which was the start for integration. On 1 February 1865 a new law abolished the compulsion for Jews to enrol with one of Hamburg's two statutory Jewish congregations (the Ashkenazi DIG; or the Sephardic Holy Congregation of the Sephardim Beit Israel [German: Heilige Gemeinde der Sephardim Beith Israel / Hebrew: בית ישראל]; est. 1652).
So the members of the Reform-aligned New Israelite Temple Society were free to found their own Jewish congregation. The fact that its members were no longer compelled to associate with the Ashkenazi DIG meant that it could possibly fall apart. In order to prevent this and to reconstitute the DIG as a religious body with voluntary membership in a liberal civic state the DIG held general elections among its full-aged male members, to form a college of 15 representatives (Repräsentanten-Kollegium), who would further negotiate the future constitution of the DIG. The liberal faction gained nine, the Orthodox faction 6 seats. After lengthy negotiations the representatives enacted the statutes of the DIG on 3 November 1867.
The new DIG constitution provided for tolerance among the DIG members as to matters of the cult (worship) and religious tradition. This unique model, thus called Hamburg System (Hamburger System), established a two-tiered organisation of the DIG with the college of representatives and the umbrella administration in charge of matters of general Ashkenazi interest, such as cemetery, zedakah for the poor, hospital and representation of the Ashkenazim towards the outside. The second tier formed the so-called Kultusverbände (worship associations), associations independent in religious and financial matters by their own elected boards and membership dues, but within the DIG, took care of religious affairs.
Each member of the DIG, but also any non-associated Jew, was entitled to also join a worship association, but did not have to. So since 1868 the Reform movement formed within the DIG a Kultusverband, the Reform Jewish Israelitischer Tempelverband (Israelite Temple association). The other worship associations were the Orthodox Deutsch-Israelitischer Synagogenverband (German-Israelite Synagogue association, est. 1868) and the 1892-founded but only 1923-recognised conservative Verein der Neuen Dammtor-Synagoge (Association of the new Dammtor synagogue). The worship associations had agreed that all services commonly provided such as burials, britot mila, zedakah for the poor, almshouses, hospital care and food offered in these institutions had to fulfill Orthodox requirements.
On 1 January 1938, after the incorporation of neighbouring cities into Hamburg in 1937, the smaller Ashkenazi congregations of Altona (Hochdeutsche Israeliten-Gemeinde zu Altona; HIG), Harburg-Wilhelmsburg (Synagogen-Gemeinde Harburg-Wilhelmsburg) and Wandsbek (Israelitische Gemeinde zu Wandsbek) merged in the DIG, on this occasion the Nazi Reich Ministry of ecclesiastical affairs forced the greater DIG to adopt a new name. The Nazi administrators took pleasure in humiliating the congregation by denying its continued use of the name Deutsch-Israelitische Gemeinde, arguing the term Deutsch (i.e. German) would be impossible for Jewish organisations, the Nazi government generally denied Jewish Germans their Germanness, Israelitisch (i.e. Israelite) were too ambiguous, the clearly anti-Semitic doctrine demanded the term Jüdisch (i.e. Jewish) and in December 1937 the Reich Ministry of the Interior objected the term Gemeinde which would be inapt, because the term also stands for a commune or municipality in German law (Gemeinde, however, means as much congregation, but there was no way to argue with the ministry), so the greater DIG renamed as Jüdischer Religionsverband Hamburg (JRH; i.e. Hamburg Jewish religious association).
In March 1938 the JRH was deprived its status as statutory corporation (Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts; entailing loss of tax privileges), followed by the abolition of its constitutional bodies on 2 December the same year, such as the legislative college of representatives (Repräsentanten-Kollegium), subjecting the JRH executive board directly to Gestapo orders. In 1939 the tiny Sephardic congregation was forced to merge in the JRH, which again had to also enlist non-Jews of Jewish descent categorised by the Nazis as racially Jewish, such as irreligionists or Christians with three or more Jewish grandparents. Thus having lost its character as a merely religious congregation, but turned into an administration of those Hamburgers persecuted by Nazi anti-Semitism. On 1 August 1942 the tasks of the JRH were handed over to the new Reichsvereinigung (RV), on 21 November the JRH was formally merged in the RV.
Many Hamburg Jews are commemorated by Stolperstein.
Jewish Community since 1945
On 8 July 1945 12 Jews met in Hamburg in preparation of a refoundation of the congregation. On 25 July more interested persons joint and they appointed a provisional board of 15, with 170 people who indicated their will to join. On 6 September 1945 a provisional synagogue opened on the street Kielort 22/24 and on 18 September the same year 72 members elected the first postwar board.
- location of Sephardic Community „Newe Salom“
- Peter Freimark, „Das Oberrabbinat Altona-Hamburg-Wandsbek“, in: Die Geschichte der Juden in Hamburg: 2 vols., Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 1991, vol. 2: 'Die Juden in Hamburg 1590 bis 1990', pp. 177–185, here p. 182. ISBN 3-926174-25-0.
- On 4 November 1864 the Hamburg Parliament passed the Law concerning the relations of the local Israelite congregations (Gesetz, betreffend die Verhältnisse der hiesigen israelitischen Gemeinden) with effect of 1 February 1865.
- Ina Lorenz, „Die jüdische Gemeinde Hamburg 1860 – 1943: Kaisereich – Weimarer Republik – NS-Staat“, in: Die Geschichte der Juden in Hamburg: 2 vols., Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 1991, vol. 2: 'Die Juden in Hamburg 1590 bis 1990', pp. 77–100, here p. 78. ISBN 3-926174-25-0.
- Saskia Rohde, „Synagogen im Hamburger Raum 1680–1943“, in: Die Geschichte der Juden in Hamburg: 2 vols., Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 1991, vol. 2: 'Die Juden in Hamburg 1590 bis 1990', pp. 143–175, here p. 157. ISBN 3-926174-25-0.
- Ina Lorenz and Jörg Berkemann, „Kriegsende und Neubeginn: Zur Entstehung der neuen Jüdischen Gemeinde in Hamburg 1945-1948“, in: Die Geschichte der Juden in Hamburg: 2 vols., Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 1991, vol. 2: 'Die Juden in Hamburg 1590 bis 1990', pp. 633–656, here p. 633. ISBN 3-926174-25-0.
- Cf. 'Reich and Prussian Minister of ecclesiastical Affairs', Letter to the Hamburg State Office, 15 January 1938, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Bestand 113-5, Akte E IV B1, reprinted in: Die Geschichte der Juden in Hamburg: 2 vols., Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 1991, vol. 1: 'Schreiben des Reichs- und Preußischen Ministers', pp. 444seq. ISBN 3-926174-25-0.
- Cf. 'Board of the German-Israelite Congregation of Hamburg', Letter to the Hamburg Office for School and Culture, 24 December 1937, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Bestand 113-5, Akte E IV B1, reprinted in: Die Geschichte der Juden in Hamburg: 2 vols., Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 1991, vol. 1: 'Schreiben des Reichs- und Preußischen Ministers', pp. 444seq. ISBN 3-926174-25-0.
- Ina Lorenz and Jörg Berkemann, „Kriegsende und Neubeginn: Zur Entstehung der neuen Jüdischen Gemeinde in Hamburg 1945-1948“, in: Die Geschichte der Juden in Hamburg: 2 vols., Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 1991, vol. 2: 'Die Juden in Hamburg 1590 bis 1990', pp. 633–656, here pp. 633seq. ISBN 3-926174-25-0.
- Ina Lorenz and Jörg Berkemann, „Kriegsende und Neubeginn: Zur Entstehung der neuen Jüdischen Gemeinde in Hamburg 1945-1948“, in: Die Geschichte der Juden in Hamburg: 2 vols., Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 1991, vol. 2: 'Die Juden in Hamburg 1590 bis 1990', pp. 633–656, here p. 635. ISBN 3-926174-25-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Judaism in Hamburg.|
- Institute for the History of the German Jews (Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden, IGdJ) (in German) (in English)
- Key Documents of German-Jewish History by the Institute for the History of the German Jews (in German) (in English)
- Das jüdische Hamburg; Ein historisches Nachschlagewerk by the Institute for the History of the German Jews (in German)