Bodenfelde-Uslar

General information: First Jewish presence: 1403 (Uslar), 1689 (Bodenfelde); peak Jewish population: 35 in 1885 (Uslar), 45 in 1816 (Bodenfelde); Jewish population in 1933
Summary: In 1843, the Bodenfelde-Uslar-Wahmbeck regional Jewish community was founded; Lippoldsberg joined in 1867. By 1933, the community was known as the joint community of Bodenfelde-Uslar. At some point in the 18th century, a prayer hall was established in a private residence in Bodenfelde, in which the Jews of Lippoldsberg and Uslar also prayed. The house was sold in 1753, after which services were conducted in Lippoldsberg until 1760, when another prayer room was established in Bodenfelde. Uslar Jews prayed in their own prayer room (it was moved on several occasions) from the 1890s onwards. In Bodenfelde, local Jews established the following institutions: a cemetery in the early 1820s; a synagogue in 1825; a mikveh in 1859 (used until 1890); and an elementary school—it was presided over by a teacher who also served as chazzan and shochet—by 1819. Uslar’s elementary school was closed in 1895. In 1933, five schoolchildren from Bodenfelde received religious instruction. A chevra kadisha and a charity fund were active in the community. In June 1937, the authorities ordered that the community be disbanded. The synagogue was sold to a local shoemaker that year, after which the ritual objects were placed in the care of an elderly brother and sister who, because of their poverty and advanced age, could not leave. On Pogrom Night, local residents prevented the SA from burning down the synagogue and the remaining Jewish house; the two elderly Jews were driven out of their home by a mob. Later, in September, 1939, SA men damaged the cemetery. Nine Bodenfelde Jews emigrated and six relocated within Germany. In July 1942, the two elderly Jews were deported to the East; and in December 1938, Uslar’s last Jewish resident, a Jewish woman who had converted to Christianity, left the town. At least 31 Jews from Bodenfelde and Uslar perished in the Shoah. The cemetery was fully restored in 1990; the synagogue building is now a storage site. In 1988, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the site of the former prayer hall.
Author / Sources: Nurit Borut
Sources: GUVN, PK-NW, SH
Located in: Lower Saxony