Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Hanover, Germany

HANOVER (Ger. Hannover) is a city in Germany. Sources dating from 1292 note the presence of Jews in Hanover's "old city" (Altstadt). The period was one of significant expansion for the city and, therefore, Jewish moneylenders were welcomed and promised protection by the city council. A municipal law of 1303 prohibited anyone from molesting the Jews "by word or deed." The Jewish community grew significantly, and by 1340 ritual slaughter was permitted in the city. During the *Black Death persecutions the Jews were driven from the city. In 1369–71 only one Jew lived in Hanover until he, too, was expelled by the council, with the permission of the duke. In 1375 the dukes yielded to the city the privilege of admitting Jews and retaining their taxes. Shortly thereafter historical records again attest to the presence of Jews in the city. By 1500 several Jews also lived in the "new city" (in 1540, there were three families in the old city, and five in the new). During this period the Jews maintained a synagogue and a rabbi. In 1451 the bishop of Muenden forced the Jews of Hanover to wear the distinguishing *badge , and in 1553 the Jews were compelled to listen to the court preacher Urbanus Rhegius in the synagogue. Between 1553 and 1601 the dukes issued six orders of expulsion against the Jews, but they were either canceled or not carried out. Apparently the Jews who were under the protection of the city were not affected by these orders. In 1588 the council forbade all business connections with Jews, and for a long time Jews did not live in the "old city."

In 1608 the residence of six Jewish families in the "new city" is mentioned, but when they opened a synagogue it was destroyed by the burghers (1613). In the 17th century the dukes permitted the settlement of several wealthy Jews in the "new city." At the request of the Court Jew Leffmann *Behrens , a resident of Hanover, a rabbinate was founded for the Duchy of Hanover. In 1704 a synagogue was established in Behrens' home. In 1710 only seven Jewish families lived in the city, but subsequently their numbers increased considerably, reaching 537 in 1833. Hanover became an important center of Jewish learning and increasingly the residence for important Jewish figures in the financial world. A larger synagogue was built in 1870 and expanded in 1900. From 1848 to 1880 Solomon *Frensdorff , the masoretic scholar, headed a teachers seminary. Hebrew printing took place in Hanover during the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the more significant works produced was Jacob b. Asher's commentary on the Pentateuch (1838). Prominent rabbis of Hanover include Nathan *Adler (1831–45) and Selig Gronemann (1844–1918). The Jewish population numbered 1,120 in 1861 (1.9% of the total population), 3,450 in 1880 (2.8%), 5,130 in 1910 (1.7%), 4,839 in 1933 (1.1%), and 2,271 in 1939 (0.5%). On the eve of World War II Hanover had one of the 10 largest Jewish communities in Germany, with over 20 cultural and welfare institutions. The anti-Jewish boycott started even before the nationwide boycott of April 1, 1933, when the Karstadt Department story fired all its Jewish employees. There was anti-Jewish rioting in May 1933 and the attacks continued the next year. Jews understood their perilous plight; many left and others closed their business and professional practices. By 1938, 552 Jewish business and legal and medical practices in Hanover were no longer operating. As their public life as Germans narrowed, Jewish communal life became more intense. In October 1938, 484 Jews of Polish origin were expelled to Poland. On Kristallnacht the synagogue was burned, Jewish stores were looted and homes ransacked. The mortuary was also destroyed and the mikveh was wrecked. Three hundred and thirty-four men were arrested and sent to Buchenwald. In a rapid operation on September 3–4, 1941, 1,200 Jews were evicted from their homes and consigned to 15 "Jew houses." Deportations began in December 1941 and continued in March and July 1942, when the Jewish population was reduced to some 300. In February 1945 Jews married to non-Jews were deported. At least 2,200 Jews from Hanover died in the Holocaust. Some 100 survived within the city.

After the war 66 survivors of the prewar community returned. In 1963 a new synagogue was opened; in 1966 there were 450 Jews in Hanover (0.03% of the total population). In 1988 the European Center for Jewish Music was established at the University for Music and Theatre. It is devoted to the reconstruction and documentation of liturgical music. The Jewish community numbered 379 in 1989 and 3,898 in 2004. The membership increased due to the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Since 1997 the community has employed a rabbi. In 1995 a liberal community was established which had more than 450 members in 2005. It is a member of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany. Hanover is the seat of two associations of Jewish communities in Lower Saxony: the association which is affiliated with the Central Council of Jews in Germany with nine communities (founded in 1953) and the association of liberal Jewish communities (founded in 1997) with seven members (2005).

Former German State

The Duchy of Hanover was formed out of the former territories of *Brunswick and Lueneburg in the 17th century. Duke Ernst August (1679–98) obtained the title of elector through the services of Leffmann Behrens, whose descendants continued in the service of the crown till the middle of the 19th century. Other prominent families of Court Jews were David, Cohen, and Gans. The dukes established their rights of taxation and guardianship over the Jews, expressed in the Judenordnung of 1723, in force until 1842, which severely restricted the number of Jews there. In 1808 the Jews of Hanover received civil rights either through annexation of the territory to France or its incorporation in the newly created Kingdom of Westphalia. These rights were abolished in 1815, and the basic 1842 legislation concerning the Jews confirmed discrimination against them by expressly excluding Jews from state posts. The Jewish oath was rescinded only in 1850. The Jews finally achieved emancipation three years after Hanover passed to Prussia (1866).


H. Bodemeyer, Die Juden: ein Beitrag zur Hannoverschen Rechtsgeschichte (1855); Wiener, in: Jahrbuch fuer die Geschichte der Juden und des Judenthums, I (1860), 167–216; idem in: MGWJ, 10 (1861), 121–36, 161–75, 241–58, 281–97; 13 (1864), 161–84; M. Zuckerman, Dokumente zur Geschichte der Juden in Hannover (1908); S. Gronemann, Genealogische Studien ueber die alten juedischen Familien Hannovers (1913); Blau, in: Zeitschrift fuer Demographie und Statistik der Juden, 8 (1912), 70–75; 10 (1914), 110–6; S. Stern, The Court Jew (1950), index; Leben und Schicksal: zur Einweihung der Synagoge in Hannover (1963); Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 337–40; A. Loeb, Die Rechtsverhaeltnisse der Juden im… Hannover (1908); Pinkas ha-Kehillot (1963); S. Freund, Ein Vierteljahrtausend Hannoversches Landrabbinat 16871937 (1937); H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 2 (1954), 11–85; BJCE. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A.Quast, Nach der Befreiung. Juedische Gemeinden in Niedersachsen seit 1945. Das Beispiel Hannover Goettingen (2001; Veroeffentlichungen des Arbeitskreises Geschichte des Landes Niedersachsen (nach 1945), volume 17); R. Roehrbein, Waldemar, Juedische Persoenlichkeiten in Hannovers Geschichte Hanover (1998); P. Schulze, Beitraege zur Geschichte der Juden in Hannover (1998; Hannoversche Studien, volume 6); P. Schulze (ed), Juden in Hannover. Beitraege zur Geschichte und Kultur einer Minderheit (1989; Kulturinformation, volume 19); C. Ochwadt, Die Kristallnacht in Hannover. Erinnerungen eines damals 15jaehrigen (1988); M. Buchholz, Die hannoverschen Judenhaeuser. Zur Situation der Juden in der Zeit der Ghettoisierung und Verfolgung 1941 bis 1945 (1987; Quellen und Darstellungen zur Geschichte Niedersachsens, volume 101); P. Schulze (ed.), "… dass die Juden in unseren Landen einen Rabbinen erwehlen …" Beitraege zum 300. Jahrestag der Errichtung des Landesrabbinats Hannover am 10. Maerz 1987 (1987); F. Homeyer, Gestern und heute. Juden im Landkreis Hannover (1984); S. Spector (ed), Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust (2001).

[Zvi Avneri / Larissa Daemmig (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.