Verden an der Aller

General information: First Jewish presence: 1571; peak Jewish population: 120 in 1875; Jewish population in 1933: 78
Summary: On January 31, 1858, Verden an der Aller’s Jewish community inaugurated its first synagogue at 7 Johanniswall; the building also housed a school and a mikveh. Jewish burials took place in Hoyerhagen until 1834, when a cemetery was consecrated in Verden. Although many Jews left Verden after 1933, a Jewish youth group continued to organize classes in Hebrew and Jewish history; on Sabbath afternoons, youths organized a minyan. On October 28, 1938, David Gruenfeld, a teacher of religion who had been born in Poland, was deported to his country of birth. Later, on Pogrom Night, rioters smashed windows in Jewish-owned businesses. At approximately five o’clock in the morning, SA men, most likely from the Etelsen Fuehrer School, ransacked the synagogue and set it on fire. Thirteen Jewish men were arrested and imprisoned for two or three weeks, after which they were forced to leave Verden. The synagogue’s ruins were leveled, and the community was forced to sell the property. Twelve Jews managed to flee after Pogrom Night. On November 17, 1941, at least 20 Jews were deported to Minsk, where all but one were killed. One local Jew—he was married to a Catholic resident—survived the war in Verden. Of those Jews who still lived in Verden in 1938, at least 29 perished in the Shoah. Three Jews returned to Verden after the war. The cemetery was vandalized in 1960. In 1966, in memory of the former synagogue, a memorial plaque was affixed to the Johanniswall; in 1993, a monument was unveiled at the town hall in memory of Verden’s murdered Jews.
Photo: Firefighters standing in front of the burning synagogue of Verden an der Aller on the morning of November 10, 1938. Courtesy of: Town Archive of Verden an der Aller.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: EJL, JGNB1
Located in: Lower Saxony