General information: First Jewish presence: 1635; peak Jewish population: 406 in 1885; Jewish population in 1933: 398
Summary: In 1810, the Jews of Aurich established a synagogue at 13 Kirchstrasse (renovated in 1911). The community also maintained a school (with an apartment for the teacher) and a mikveh, the latter of which was located in the synagogue building. Burials were conducted in neighboring Norden until 1764, when a Jewish cemetery was consecrated in Aurich. This Orthodox Jewish community was served by its own rabbi until 1826; later, between 1841 and 1846, Samson Raphael Hirsch served as the provincial rabbi for Aurich. Although a local Jew was elected to the town council in 1913 (one had also been elected in 1848), in that same year attempts were made, for the first time, to forbid Jewish ritual slaughter. In 1933, 398 Jews lived in Aurich, with which the smaller communities of Grosefehn, Sandhorst and Kirchdorf were affiliated. Anti-Semitism intensified in the town in 1930, and the mayor, who had defended Jewish residents from propaganda being spread by the Protestant pastor and local Nazis, was forced out of office in 1933. Although many Jews had sold their properties by 1935, 54 students were registered at the school in 1937. On Pogrom Night, SA men set the synagogue on fire and seized other Jewish properties. After abusing Jewish men in a local hall, the SA sent between 40 and 50 of their victims to perform forced labor in Ellernfeld, after which they were imprisoned in Aurich before being sent to Sachsenhausen, where they were interned for several weeks. Only 17 children attended the Jewish school after the pogrom. In early 1940, in response to the likelihood of evacuation, most of the remaining 155 Jews fled Aurich; the last 20 left in March 1940. Approximately 150 Aurich Jews emigrated from Germany, but many of those who had fled to the Netherlands were later deported to the extermination camps. According to the records, 200 Aurich Jews perished in the Shoah. Today, a memorial stone (at “Auf dem hohen Wall”) together with a model of the former synagogue commemorates the destroyed house of worship; another plaque commemorates the site of the former Jewish school.
Photo: The burned synagogue of Aurich. Courtesy of: Town Museum of Aurich.
Photo 2: The synagogue of Aurich after Pogrom Night in 1938. Courtesy of: Town Museum of Aurich.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans; Sources: EJL, JGNB1
Located in: Lower Saxony