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


MAGDEBURG, city in Germany. The Jewish community of Magdeburg is one of the oldest in Germany. As early as 965 there were Jews living in the town, and they were placed under the jurisdiction of the archbishop by Otto the Great. They traded in the "clothing-court" (Kleiderhof), in the merchants' quarter, and conducted their trade even beyond the Oder River. Their quarter, the Judendorf, was situated in the south of the city, in the archbishop's domain. The Jews took part in the funeral procession of Archbishop Walthard von Magdeburg in 1012. The cemetery dates from the 13th century – the oldest gravestone bears the date 1268 – later enlarged in 1312 and 1383. In 1213 the soldiers of Otto IV destroyed the Judendorf, and four years later the Jews moved to nearby Sudenburg, where numerous other Jews already lived. Demanding jurisdiction over the Jews in 1260, the canons of the cathedral laid claim to the fines they paid in silver, while those paid in gold were to remain the property of the archbishop. Prominent in the city were R. Hezekiah b. Jacob, who corresponded with R. Isaac Or Zaru'a (*Issac ben Moses of Vienna), and R. *Ḥayyim b. Paltiel, rabbi in Magdeburg in 1291, who was in correspondence with R. Meir of Rothenburg. The Jews were persecuted in 1302 and again during the *Black Death disturbances of 1349, despite the attempts of the archbishop and the city authorities to protect them. They were attacked again in 1357 and 1384 when another epidemic broke out. Archbishop Dietrich employed a Jewish court banker between 1361 and 1367. In 1410 Archbishop Guenther issued a letter of protection (Schutzbrief) for a period of six years, at a cost to the community of 40 silver marks. During the 15th century the community maintained a flourishing yeshivah. In 1493 the Jews of Magdeburg were expelled; the synagogue was converted into a chapel and the cemetery destroyed.

When the great elector, Frederick William, readmitted Jews to *Prussia (1671), Schutzjuden settled once more in Magdeburg. From 1703 they were to be found in Sudenburg, from 1715 in the newer part of town (the Neustadt), and from 1729 in the Altstadt. A religious school was founded by the modern community in 1834 and a hevra kaddisha in 1839. Rabbis of the community included Ludwig *Philippson, editor of *Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums; Moritz *Guedemann, and Moritz Spanier, both of whom wrote a history of the community. Eduard *Lasker and Otto *Landsberg were repeatedly elected to parliament from Magdeburg. The prosperous community, which included 45 doctors (who founded their own club in 1903), had about 20 social, cultural, and charitable organizations in 1933. The number of Jews increased steadily from 330 in 1817 to 559 in 1840; 1,000 in 1859; 1,815 in 1885; 1,843 in 1910; and around 3,200 in 1928, then dropped to 2,361 (0.6% of the total population) in 1933. The synagogue, built in 1851 and enlarged to seat 900 in 1897, was burned down on November 10, 1938. The men were interned in *Buchenwald. By May 17, 1939, only 679 Jews remained in the town, and the majority were transported to concentration camps. On July 1, 1944, there were still 185 Jews living in Magdeburg, mainly partners of mixed marriages, who managed to survive the war. After the war, some Jews returned to Magdeburg. In 1962 the Jewish community numbered 79 and diminished to 49 in 1969. It declined even more during the 1970s and 1980s, dwindling to 35 in 1989. But in 2005 it rose to 635 members due to the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Magdeburg is the seat of the Association of Jewish communities in the State of Saxony-Anhalt, which was founded in 1994.


M. Guedemann, in: MGWJ, 14 (1865), 241–56, 281–96, 321–35, 361–70; M. Spanier, Geschichte der Juden in Magdeburg (1928); idem, in: ZGJD, 5 (1892), 273, 392–5; Vogelstein-Rieger, 1 (1895), 315; D. Kaufmann and M. Freudenthal, Die Familie Gomperz (1907), 236–42; MGADJ, 1 (1909), 110; 3 (1911/12), 164; S. Neufeld, Die Juden im Thueringisch-Saechsischen Gebiet…, pt. 2 (1927), 8, 14–16, 168–70; Germ Jud, 1 (1963), 163–70; 2 (1968), 505–10; FJW (1932); PKG; E. Forchheimer, in: Geschichtsblaetter fuer Stadt und Land Magdeburg, 46 (1911), 119–78, 328–40; O. Simon, in: AJR Information, 15 (Nov. 1960): S. Stern, Der preussische Staat und die Juden, 1 (1962), Akten, no. 135–9, 371–410a; 2 (1962), Akten, no. 496–571. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Seibert, "Magdeburg," in: J. Dick, Wegweiser durchdas juedische Sachsen-Anhalt, vol. 3 (1998), 23–36; K. Kaergling, (ed.), Juedisches Kult- und Kulturgut. Spuren zur Geschichte der Juden in Magdeburg (1992); G. Kuntze, Unter aufgehobenen Rechten (1992); A. Maimon, M. Breuer, Y. Guggenheim (eds.), Germania Judaica, vol. 3 (1987), 772–83.

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