Schluechtern

General information: First Jewish presence: 13th century; peak Jewish population: 382 in 1905; Jewish population in 1933: unknown
Summary: Records from the 13th century describe a cemetery in Schluechtern in which 34 Jews from the neighboring city of Fulda were buried. During the 17th century, refugees from Hungary and Spain formed a community there; records tell us that it numbered 105 members by 1776. The Jewish community flourished towards the end of the 19th century, reaching its peak, of 382 persons, in 1905. In 1898, when the old synagogue (built in 1670) was no longer able to accommodate the congregation, the community inaugurated a new synagogue; the architectural style was Byzantine, and the building accommodated 300 worshipers. Local Jews also maintained a Jewish elementary school for some 80 children, as well as a ritual bath and a cemetery. In Schluechtern—the city was home to a rabbinate—the teacher of religion served as shochet and chazzan. The congregation was Orthodox. The Jews of Schluechtern engaged in many businesses. In 1933, approximately 100 Jews left the city, most for larger cities, some for the United States. The community suffered great losses during Pogrom Night: the interior of the synagogue was wrecked, the ritual articles were destroyed and Jewish homes were looted. Thanks to the intervention of the fire department’s chief, the synagogue exterior was left intact. At least 51 Schluechtern Jews died in the Shoah. In 1949, memorial stones were unveiled at the cemetery, bearing the names of 120 murdered Jews from the Schluechtern district. Although the former synagogue building was again used as a prayer hall after the war, it was converted into a clothing factory in 1950. Later declared a protected monument, the site now serves as a cultural center; there, a memorial plaque commemorates the destroyed synagogue and its 358 congregants.
Photo: The synagogue of Schluechtern in 1930. Courtesy of: Town Archive of Schluechtern.
Author / Sources: Fred Gottlieb
Sources: AJ, EJL, LJG
Located in: Hesse