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Ostróda – Osterode (Picture Extract Wikipedia Commons Antekbojar / CC BY-SA)

The Jews in Ostróda (Osterode) settled here quite early. In 1707 only one inhabitant of the Mosaic faith is mentioned, the next mention of Jews comes from 1716. In 1735, there were already about ten Jews in Ostróda (Osterode), with a fairly high level of wealth. Undoubtedly, one of the most significant Jewish families in Ostróda (Osterode) was the Samulon family. Its patron was Samuel (Samulon) Abraham Ascher. The Samulons, trading in porcelain and cloth making, over time made a considerable fortune, as well as a high reputation among merchants. The “Reich Federation of Jewish Front-Line Soldiers” (Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten) operated in Ostróda (Osterode). Other more important associations were: Association of Jewish History and Literature, together with the main library, and the German-Jewish Wandering Society of Ostróda (Osterode).

The Jewish community in Ostróda (Osterode) gradually grew in number – in 1735 there were about ten people living there, in 1812 – 15, in 1846 – 108 (3.8% of the population), in 1858 – 160 (4.9%), in 1880 – 222. In 1900 – 242, at that time they constituted almost 10% of the students of the local junior high school and 16% of the town councilors. Since 1835, the house of prayer was located on the current Puławskiego Street. A new synagogue in Moorish style was built in 1893 at Gartenstrasse, today’s Olsztyńska Street.

Archival photographs of the synagogue in Ostróda (Osterode) (Source: R. Kabus, Juden in Ostpreussen)

In the first two decades of the 20th century Ostróda (Osterode) seemed to be an oasis of tolerance, this situation changed radically in the 1930s. Already in 1930 the Jewish cemetery was demolished and attempts were made to set the synagogue on fire, and in 1932 a bomb was planted at a Lonky merchant’s shop in the market square. In 1933, after Hitler came to power, 123 people of Jewish origin lived in Ostróda (Osterode). The first pogroms took place as early as 1935, and during the “Kristallnacht” on 9/10 November 1938 the synagogue, the pre-burial house and the cemetery were razed to the ground. In 1937, Ostróda (Osterode) was inhabited by 75 Jews, and according to the census of 17 May 1939, only seven Jews and seventeen people from mixed marriages.

Jewish cemetery Osterode
The last tomb stone in the Jewish cemetery in Ostróda (Osterode)

The Jewish cemetery in Ostróda (Osterode) was found in 1735, this year the information about the purchase of land for its use comes from. It occupied an area of about 0.2 ha. At the same time a house of prayer was opened. Ostróda’s (Osterode) cemetery is located in the present Armii Ludowej Street, on the so-called “Polish Hill”, in the vicinity of the Catholic cemetery. It has not survived to the present day, destroyed during the “Crystal Night” and was further devastated in the 1950s. Only the remains of the brick wall and two Matzevot (tomb stones), which were found accidentally in its area, survived the storms of history. These belong to Justine Samulon née Rautenberg and T. Samulon. In 2002 the area of the necropolis was cleaned up by the Ostróda Cultural Association “Sasinia”.

Text: Seweryn Szczepański – seweryn.szczepanski@op.pl
Photo: Ryszard Bogucki


Excerpt from the letter of David Mannheim Chairman of the “Union of Former Teachers, Cantors and Community Officials from Germany. Haifa-Kirjath Bialik IV, Palestine, dated 10 Apr. 1945. He was permanently employed as cantor and religion teacher in Osterode for 15 years until his retirement Oct 1935.

“For today I would like to add to my report about the damage in 0sterode / 0stpr. (not to be confused with Osterode am Harz) that there was also a beautifully laid out cemetery there, surrounded by a large stone wall and with an imposing mortuary – massively built with a large dome.
The hall and the stone wall were built in 1900 by a rich Krause family who emigrated from Osterode to America at a cost of about 12000 gold marks.”

Letter to the AMERICAN FEDERATION OF JEWS FROM CENTRAL EUROPE in New York

Link to German webage for more photos on ahnen-suche.de >>

Link to original web page cmentarze-zydowskie >>

Bibliography:

  • Müller, Zur Geschichte der Juden in Osterode Ostpr , “Oberländische Geschichte Blatt”, 1903, Heft 5
  • Kabus, Juden in Ostpreussen, Husum 1998
  • B. Kozłowski, Dawna Ostróda. Obrazy z życia wschodniopruskiego miasteczka , Dąbrówno-Warszawa 2006
  • Skrobot, Z dziejów Żydów ostródzkich , “Raptularz Ostródzki. Gazeta Zamkowa”, nr 2, styczeń-luty 1998
  • Deutsches Städtebuch. Handbuch statistischer Geschichte, Bd. I: Nordostdeutschland, hrsg.: E. Keyser, Stuttgart-Berlin 1939
  • Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, Bd. 552: Volks-, Berufs- und Betriebszählung vom 17. Mai 1939, Heft 4: Die Juden und jüdischen Mischlinge im Deutschen Reich, Berlin 1944
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