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Brandenburg, Germany

BRANDENBURG, German province. The earliest Jewish community in the mark of Brandenburg was established in Stendal before 1267. In 1297, it received a liberal grant of privileges which served as the model for the other communities there. Most of the communities ( *Berlin , Pritzwalk, Salzwedel, Spandau, *Frankfurt on the Oder) maintained synagogues but few had rabbis. A liberal charter, granted to the Jews in Neumark in 1344, was later extended to the Jews of the mark of Brandenburg (1420, 1440). The Jews were not restricted to a specific quarter in the cities of the mark and were often granted rights of citizenship. Many of the communities were annihilated during the *Black Death (1349–50). The Jews were expelled from the area in 1446, but permitted to return a year later. Exorbitant taxes were levied in 1473 which only 40 Jews were able to pay. In 1510 a charge of desecrating the *Host developed into a mass trial in which 38 Jews were burned at the stake and the remaining 400 to 500 Jews expelled. Elector Joachim II (1535–71) permitted Jews to trade in Brandenburg (1539) and to settle there (1543) after discovering that the accusations were groundless. The favor he showed toward his *Court Jews Michel *Jud and *Lippold was greatly resented. On Joachim's death anti-Jewish riots broke out and the Jews were again driven out. Jews expelled from *Vienna in 1670 were permitted to settle in Brandenburg, then part of Prussia. The Jewish population in the province of Brandenburg, excluding Berlin, numbered 2,967 in 1816; 12,835 in 1861 (an increase mainly due to emigration from Poland); and 8,442 in 1925. After World War II, few Jews lived in the area. In the Land Brandenburg there were 162 Jews in 1989 and 1,028 in 2003, mostly in Potsdam.

The City of Brandenburg

Jews are mentioned in the city at the end of the 13th century. In 1322 they owned a synagogue and several private houses. Despite the sufferings caused by the Black Death, their numbers increased during the second half of the 14th century; the privilege accorded to them by Elector Frederick II in 1444 mentions their "weakness and poverty." In 1490 mention is made of a Jewish street and in 1490–97 of a Jewish cemetery ("kiffer," a corruption of the Hebrew kever). The Host desecration libel in 1510 led to the execution of Solomon b. Jacob and other Jews of Brandenburg (see above). In 1710 five Jewish families with residential rights were living in the city. A community was organized in 1729. It acquired a prayer hall and two cemeteries (1720, 1747). The Jewish population numbered 21 families in 1801 (104 persons; out of the total population of 10,280); 18 families in 1813; 130 persons in 1840; 209 in 1880; and 469 in 1925. It had declined to 253 by 1939 and came to an end during World War II. The Jewish community was not reestablished after the war.


Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 105–6; A. Ackermann, Geschichte der Juden in Brandenburg an der Havel (1906); Handbuch der juedischen Gemeindeverwaltung (1926–27), 10; H. Heise, Die Juden in der Mark Brandenburg bis zum Jahre 1571 (1932). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Diekmann (ed.), Wegweiser durch das juedische Brandenburg (1995); E. Herzfeld, Juden in Brandenburg-Preussen (2001); E. Weiss, Die nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung in der Provinz Brandenburg (2003).

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