NORDHAUSEN


NORDHAUSEN, city in Thuringia, Germany. The earliest documentary evidence for the presence of Jews in Nordhausen dates from 1290, and by 1300 a Jewish community had come into being. Shortly thereafter a Judenstrasse, mikveh, and synagogue were established. A Jewish well is noted in records dating from 1322, and a cemetery is mentioned in 1334. During the course of a disturbance in 1324, the community's synagogue was destroyed. The Jews of the period made their living primarily through moneylending, and their sound economic position brought more Jewish immigrants into the city. In 1333 the municipal council agreed to the adjudication of all disputes between Jews by the rabbinic court. During the course of the *Black Death persecutions of 1349, however, a number of Jews suffered martyrdom. Frederick the Brave was partly responsible for deaths of Jews during this period. (A legendary account published in a Worms prayer book indicates that the entire Jewish community went dancing to its death, willingly submitting to the funeral pyre.) Although refugees from the persecutions fled to *Erfurt and *Frankfurt, by 1350 at least one Jew had already returned to resettle in Nordhausen. Abandoned Jewish property was transferred by King Charles VI to Count Henry von Hohlstein. Despite the upheaval and loss of life and property, by the end of the century a small Jewish community had reestablished itself in Nordhausen, holding its religious services in a private house. In 1391 King *Wenceslaus released the burghers from their debts to the Jews on payment of a fee to the royal chamber.

A small number of Jews continued to live in Nordhausen during the 15th century. In the 16th century they were subject to increasingly restrictive legislation, and they were finally expelled in 1559. They settled in the surrounding towns, however, and continued to trade; the right to trade in Nordhausen itself was granted in 1619. By 1630 there were four *Schutzjuden ("protected Jews") in the city; in the 18th century, however, no Jews were left. A modern community came into being only in 1808, after Nordhausen was annexed by *Westphalia. By 1817 there were 74 Jews in the city; in 1822 there were 100; in 1840 the number was 210; and in 1880, it was 494. A new cemetery was consecrated in 1827 and enlarged in 1854. The first rabbi in Nordhausen was Nathan Meyer, who assumed his post in 1817. A synagogue was dedicated in 1845, and the community was officially recognized in 1847. Among the prominent members of the community in the 19th century was the banker and philanthropist Jacob Plaut (1816–1901). From 1908 until 1925 the community was served with distinction by Rabbi Alfred Sepp. In 1925 the community numbered 438; in 1933 it had 394 members, five cultural and philanthropic organizations, and a religious school. In 1939, under the pressure of Nazi persecution and consequent emigration, the number of Jews declined to 128; in 1942 there were only 19. The community came to an end during World War II. The Jewish cemetery is preserved. In 1988 a memorial was consecrated to the synagogue that had been destroyed in 1938.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Germania Judaica, 1 (1963), 247; 2 (1968), 590–3; H. Stern, Geschichte der Juden in Nordhausen (1927); S. Neufeld, Die Juden im thueringisch-saechsischen Gebiet waehrend des Mittelalters (1917), passim; E. Carmoly, in: Der Israelit, nos. 4–8 (1866); Der Orient, 9 (1848), 48, 80; AZJ, 37 (1873), 127–8; A. Lewinsky, in: MGWJ, 49 (1905), 746–51; FJW, 118–9. ADD BIBLIOGRAPHY: Germania Judaica, vol. 3, 1350–1514 (1987), 994–1000; M. Schroeter, Die Verfolgung der Nordhaeuser Juden 1933 bis 1945 (1992); J.-M. Junker, "Vom Schicksal der Nordhaeuser Synagoge nach dem Pogrom 1938," in: Beitraege zur Heimatkunde aus Stadt und Kreis Nordhausen vol. 18, (1993) 62–66; M. Kahl, Denkmale juedischer Kultur in Thueringen (Kulturgeschichtliche Reihe, vol. 2) (1997), 112–15.

[Alexander Shapiro]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.