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Adelebsen Jewish Community Records

 Collection
Identifier: RG 244

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains records of the Jewish community of Adelebsen, Germany, from 1832 to 1917. During this time Adelebsen, a small town in the vicinity of Göttingen, was at first located in the kingdom of Hanover (Hannover). When the latter was annexed by the kingdom of Prussia in 1866 it became known as the province of Hannover; and in 1871 it became part of the German Empire. The records document the evolution of communal life, including introduction of synagogue regulations in Hanover, the building of the Adelebsen synagogue, the hiring of the Jewish teacher for the school, the formation of a synagogue choir, and the struggle to maintain the Jewish school as the community declined in size in the late 19th century.

A small amount of material pertains to the Jewish community in Barterode, some members of which eventually joined the Adelebsen community (see especially Folders 46, 60, and 66). One set of court minutes records a hearing in which the Jewish community of Güntersen was also represented (Folder 66). Also, a letter and enclosed documents sent to the Adelebsen community by Rabbi Heilbut (Landrabbiner of Stade) relate to the Jewish community of Stade, a city near Hamburg (Folder 59).

Slightly more than half of the collection consists of financial records, which span the years 1834 to 1917, with gaps (Series I). Included are copies of the community's official financial statements and/or the supporting documents: lists of monies collected, including taxes, donations, fines, and fees; and receipts and pay orders documenting expenses. Also included are the accounts of its charitable association from 1854 to 1860 (Subseries I.3). The financial records reflect the growth of the community through the mid 19th century, and the decline in size thereafter, including information about enrollment in the Jewish school.

The collection also contains a variety of correspondence of the community executive (Vorstand), or, specifically, the superintendent (Vorsteher). The correspondents fall into several categories: government offices (Series II), including the municipality of Adelebsen, and district offices in Uslar and Hildesheim; rabbis (Landrabbiner) in Hanover and Hildesheim, who headed regional districts of Jewish communities (Series III); community members (Subseries IV.2); and, in a few instances, other individuals or organizations, for example, two federations of German-Jewish organizations, the Deutsch-Israelitischer Gemeindebund and the Verband der deutschen Juden (Folders 96-97).

The government-related correspondence includes material pertaining to several petitions or disputes (Subseries II.1), in some instances including correspondence with attorneys, as well as other more general correspondence (Subseries II.2). The latter files include a few cases concerning complaints made by community members over tax assessments; one instance, in 1890, of superintendent Leopold Stehberg registering a complaint about the distribution of anti-Semitic fliers by a certain forestry assistant (Folder 73); and material about the Jewish school in 1901-1904 (Folder 75).

The earliest items related to the Landrabbiner are a handwritten copy of the Hanoverian synagogue regulations (Synagogen-Ordnung) of 1832 (Folder 76), signed by Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler, and minutes of two meetings with Rabbi Adler, with one topic, in 1836, being the need for a new synagogue. The regulations contain rules providing for order and decorum in the conduct of synagogue services, addressing matters such as regular attendance, appropriate dress, and being quiet during services. Such regulations were adopted by Jewish communities throughout German-speaking lands in the early 19th century. Based on the regulations the community superintendent was empowered to levy fines on members who broke the rules; these monies collected are reflected as income in the financial records in Series I, including account books from the 1840s that specify members' infractions (Folders 41-42). The regulations and the associated fines are sometimes the topic of announcements posted by the community executive (Folder 85), or correspondence received from members (Folder 93).

The correspondence from community members includes more than a dozen letters from Sally Blumenfeld, who was the teacher at the Adelebsen Jewish school for nearly 50 years, from 1861 to 1910 (Folders 90-92). One topic of Blumenfeld's letters in 1862 is the founding of a four-part mixed choir. Interestingly, the collection also contains a circular letter of 1849 in which superintendent Rosenstein argues for the formation of a synagogue choir, garnering the signatures of 20 community members (Folder 84).

Among the various other types of records (Series IV) are fliers on which the executive body or the superintendent made announcements or called meetings (Subseries IV.1); an 1841 regulation governing communal tax assessment (Folder 100); several sets of municipal court minutes including ones documenting the oath-taking, or swearing in of Jewish community officers and assessors (see Folders 14, 67, and 74); and a few groupings of items on specific topics, including negotiations for the employment of the Jewish teacher in the years before Blumenfeld's arrival (Folder 101); communal matzah-baking preparations at Passover time (Folder 102); and elections (Folder 105).

Following are family names that occur frequently in the records: Dannenberg, Edelstein, Eichenberg, Freudenstein, Gräfenberg, Katzenstein, Löwenstern, Löwenthal, Meyenberg, Müller, Oppenheim, Rosenbaum, Rosenstein, Rothschild, Stehberg, Unger.

Dates

  • circa 1775, 1830-1917
  • Majority of material found within 1832-1917

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in German, with very occasional use of Yiddish or Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

Permission to use the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archivist.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archives. For more information, contact:

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

email: archives@yivo.cjh.org

Historical Note

The small German town of Adelebsen is located about 15 kilometers west of Göttingen, today in the German state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen). It serves as the central municipality (Flecken) for the satellite villages of Barterode, Eberhausen, Erbsen, Güntersen, Lödingsen und Wibbecke. The area was historically part of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneberg; and, following the Napoleonic Wars, the kingdom of Hanover (Hannover). The latter was annexed by the kingdom of Prussia in 1866.

Under Prussian rule and subsequently as part of the German Empire (1871-1918), the region was known as the province of Hanover. Adelebsen came under the provincial administration (Landdrostei) of Hildesheim. Adelebsen itself was a local government seat until 1859, when it was brought under the jurisdiction of the government seat in nearby Uslar.

The Jewish community in Adelebsen had its beginnings in the late 17th century. The first documentation of Jewish residents is a listing for a peddler and farmer by the name of Hertz Naphthali, and his wife and children, in a tax list of 1675. In 1696 there were two Jewish families in the town; and in 1796, 20 families. Through the early 19th century, Jews needed permission to settle in the town (as was the case elsewhere in Germany), in the form of a writ of protection (Schutzbrief), which specified their occupation, and Jews who did not have such permission were periodically expelled. Jews were granted full civil rights for a time under Napoleonic rule (1807-1813), and then, finally, in the kingdom of Hanover, in 1842.

The number of Jews in Adelebsen steadily increased through the mid 19th century. In 1848, there were 149 Jewish residents, making up 13% of the town's population. The Jews of Adelebsen mostly earned their living as peddlers, merchants, or proprietors of small businesses, including cattle and horse dealing; linen and cotton weaving; and lottery collection.

The community built a schoolhouse in 1836, which also contained the living quarters of the Jewish teacher. It was located at 15 Lange Straße ('Long street'), the street on which most Jewish residents lived. As was typical, the office of teacher was combined with that of cantor (Vorsänger) and kosher butcher (Schächter).

Baruch Schlesinger, of Goslar, was a teacher for several years in the mid 1850s. Sally Blumenfeld, of Momberg, Hesse, took up the teacher's post in 1861, and remained for nearly fifty years, until 1910. Due to the dwindling number of students, the school closed in 1915.

Teacher Blumenfeld also headed the burial society, or chevra kadisha (Chewra kadischa); and he was active in the Jewish teachers' association (Lehrerverein) of Hanover, and helped to create the union (Verband) of Jewish teachers' associations of Germany, in 1895. Upon his retirement he moved to Göttingen and died there, in 1925. (He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Adelebsen.)

Like other Jewish communities in Germany, Adelebsen came under the jurisdiction of a regional, government-appointed rabbi, or Landrabbiner. In that capacity Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler, of Hanover, issued synagogue regulations (Synagogenordnung) in 1832, applicable to all the Jewish communities in the kingdom of Hanover. Adelebsen also came under the more local jurisdiction of the Landrabbiner in Hildesheim.

In the late 1830s, the community erected a new synagogue, which was located in the vicinity of the schoolhouse. A communal mikveh, for ritual baths, was built around 1860.

In 1861 the Jewish community in the village of Barterode was administratively combined with the Adelebsen Jewish community, a step that had been under discussion since around 1844.

Following are the approximate terms in office of some of the elected heads (Vorsteher) of the Adelebsen Jewish community, from the mid 19th to early 20th century:
  1. 1842-1844 Simon Löwenstern
  2. 1844 S. M. Freudenstein
  3. 1845-1847 Simon S. Eichenberg
  4. 1848-1850 Dr. Heinemann Rosenstein
  5. 1851-1856 Simon Löwenstern (for a second term)
  6. 1857-1862 Simon S. Eichenberg (for a second term)
  7. 1862-1868 Herz Stehberg
  8. 1868-1882 Salomon Gräfenberg
  9. 1883-1888 Albert Stehberg
  10. 1889-1922 Leopold Stehberg
Rosenstein, a physician, later moved to Einbeck, where he achieved local renown as a 'doctor of the poor' (Armenarzt), and an advocate in educational and cultural matters, and in 1890 was awarded the imperial Order of the Red Eagle (Rote Adlerorden), 4th class, for his civic service. Salomon Gräfenberg was the father of the famous gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, who was born in Adelebsen and spent his boyhood there; the family moved to Göttingen in 1893, where Ernst attended high school and university.

In the late 19th century there was a marked decline in the size of the Jewish community, with the nearby city of Göttingen being a destination for some. There were only 69 Jewish residents in Adelebsen in 1895; 51 in 1911; and 46 in 1925.

When Hitler assumed power in 1933, there were just 32 Jewish residents in the town (2% of the total population). In the night of 9/10 November 1938 (Kristallnacht, or the night of broken glass), Jewish residents of Adelebsen were mistreated, some of them were arrested, and the synagogue was burned down, in actions led by SS and SA members who had arrived from Göttingen, with local SS and SA members joining in.

Of 14 Jews still residing in Adelebsen in 1942, some seven of them were deported to the Warsaw ghetto in March, and those remaining were deported to concentration camp Theresienstadt in July. The only survivor, Noa Rothschild, returned to the town at the end of the war, in July 1945, and died there in May 1948, becoming the last community member to be buried in the Adelebsen Jewish cemetery.

The cemetery is on the outskirts of town to the west, on a steep incline, and in the past was known in the town as the "Judenberg" (Jews' hill). The cemetery was expanded several times so that it comprises five distinct sections. It contains 229 headstones dating from 1733 to 1948. In 1999 to 2004 the graves and cemetery were restored with funding from the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz (German foundation for monument protection).

References

"Adelebsen/Solling (Niedersachsen)" (2008). Klaus-Dieter Alicke (Ed.). Lexikon der jüdischen Gemeinden im deutschen Sprachraum. 3 vols. Güterloh: Güterloher Verlagshaus. vol. 1, cols. 15-17. Available online at: www.jüdische-gemeinden.de

Schaller, Berndt, & Eike Dietert (2010). Im Steilhang: der jüdische Friedhof zu Adelebsen: Erinnerung an eine zerstörte Gemeinschaft. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen. Available online at: http://books.google.com

Extent

1.67 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Abstract

The collection contains records of the Jewish community of Adelebsen, Germany, spanning the years 1832 to 1917. During this period Adelebsen, a small town in the vicinity of Göttingen, was at first located in the kingdom of Hanover. When the latter was annexed by the kingdom of Prussia in 1866 it became known as the province of Hanover; and in 1871 it became part of the German Empire. A small amount of material pertains to the Jewish community in Barterode, some members of which eventually joined the Adelebsen community. Approximately half of the collection comprises financial records covering the period from 1838 to 1917 (with gaps), including annual statements; account books; lists of taxes, donations, synagogue fines, and synagogue seat fees collected from members; lists of families with school-age children; and accounts of the Adelebsen Jewish charitable association. The remainder of the records comprise administrative correspondence and documents, with correspondents including the government offices in Adelebsen, Uslar, and Hildesheim; the rabbis who headed regional districts of Jewish communities ('Landrabbiner'); and community members, including Sally Blumenfeld, the long-time teacher heading the Jewish school. Noteworthy documents include a handwritten copy of the Hanoverian synagogue regulations issued by Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler in 1832, with later amendments; minutes of two meetings with Adler, one in 1836 at which he initiated the project to build a new synagogue; a regulation of 1841 governing the community's tax assessment; minutes of oath-taking by community officers and assessors in the Adelebsen municipal court; election materials; and files related to matters such as employment of the Jewish teacher, petition for exemption from the municipal poor tax, preparations for matzah baking, and purchase of a garden plot to expand the Jewish cemetery.

Other Finding Aid

A previous finding aid from the 1970s, in hard copy, is stored with the collection.

Acquisition Information

YIVO received the records from the Jewish Historical Commission for Lower Saxony, Göttingen, in 1948.

Related Material

Other records of the Adelebsen Jewish community are held by the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, under the heading: Israelitische Gemeinde Adelebsen. Also, objects from the synagogue and from Jewish families of Adelebsen are held by the Städtisches Museum, Göttingen (see Schaller & Dietert, 2010, p. 9). In addition, the Leo Baeck Institute holds the following collections: the Graefenberg Family Collection (AR 231), containing material on Ernst Gräfenberg (son of Salomon Gräfenberg) and a genealogical history of the Gräfenberg family of Adelebsen; and the Müller Family, Barterode, Collection (AR 3701), containing material related to Herz Simon Müller and Moses Müller, of the Barterode Jewish community, which eventually merged with the Adelebsen community (there are items related to both individuals in the current collection).

According to an older finding aid for the present collection, the Jewish Historical Commission for Lower Saxony (donor of the collection) also held a group of 20 photographs showing the Jewish cemetery and some of the homes of Jews in Adelebsen, which had been used in an exhibition mounted by the commission in Germany in 1948. The whereabouts of those photographs are unknown.

Processing information

According to a previous finding aid, the collection was received in a disorganized state, with loose documents mixed up and scattered. The archivist who initially processed the collection reconstructed as best as possible some of the groupings of documents indicated by the handwritten labels on original paper folders, and created an inventory list. Those original folders (made out of blue paper) evidently date from the 1860s, and offer only limited clues to an original order. During the present processing, large heterogeneous groupings of items that had earlier been categorized only broadly by chronology were further examined and distributed into the basic categories reflected in the current arrangement scheme, in order to facilitate access. The collection was also re-foldered into acid-free folders.

In the present finding aid, if an original paper folder is included, its presence is noted at the beginning of the folder description, and its German-language title is transcribed and given in parentheses following the English-language folder title. German-language titles found on the front covers of items that are bound booklets are similarly transcribed and conveyed, with the exception of those on the community financial statements (Series I.1), which tend to take a generic form.
Title
Guide to the Records of the Adelebsen Jewish Community circa 1775, 1830-1917 (bulk 1832-1917) RG 244
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Steven M. Lowenstein / Additional processing completed, and finding aid compiled and encoded by Violet Lutz
Date
©2015
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States