Geisa

General information: First Jewish presence: 1600; peak Jewish population: 180 in 1861; Jewish population in 1933: 67
Summary: This small Jewish community, made up of small traders, experienced considerable growth in the 19th century; by 1860, Jews constituted 11% of the general population. Local Jews were engaged in an array of occupations: there were butchers, a watchmaker and even a Jewish doctor. The community maintained a synagogue, a mikveh, a charitable association and a school. The school—it had been opened in 1875—was closed in 1924, after which Jewish children received religious instruction at the general local school. Moritz Goldschmidt, a veteran teacher who died in 1916, achieved local fame as an expert in the region’s geography and history. When World War I began, Jews from Geisa were quick to join the military; four fell in combat. The anti-Jewish boycotts had, by 1938, decimated the town’s Jewish-owned businesses. On Pogrom Night, the few remaining Jewish establishments were vandalized; the synagogue, set on fire after its contents had been strewn in the street, was later destroyed. Twenty local Jews were deported, seven of whom are known to have survived the Shoah and returned to Geisa; they had all, however, emigrated by 1948. A plaque was unveiled at the synagogue site 50 years after Pogrom Night.
Photo: The distinctive, octagonal roof of the synagogue of Geisa. Courtesy of: City Archive of Geisa.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin
Sources: AJ, LJG
Located in: Thuringia