• August Gottschalk House Esens. Memorial on the Modern History of East Frisian Jews
The East Frisian town of Esens is located in the Wittmund district. Since 1990, a memorial and a permanent exhibition commemorate the Jewish community of Esens in the »August Gottschalk House« - the former Jewish community centre. By 1940, the National Socialist administration had expelled all of the Esens Jews from their home town.
Image: Esens, 2004, August Gottschalk House, left the north wall of the synagogue which was destroyed in 1938, Detlef Kiese
Esens, 2004, August Gottschalk House, left the north wall of the synagogue which was destroyed in 1938, Detlef Kiese
The first Jews settles in Esens in the mid-17th century. The first synagogue was built in about 1680, the first Jewish cemetery can be dated back to 1702. The Jewish community reached a peak with about 100 members in the 19th century, but around 1871, it shrank to close to 90 again. In 1933, there were about 80 Jews living in Esens. When the National Socialists came to power, Jews in Esens, as in all of Germany, were subjected to exclusion from public life, being barred from associations and economic activities. During the »Kristallnacht« on November 9/10, 1938, members of the SA destroyed the interior of the synagogue and set fire to the building. In the aftermath, many Jews left Esens. In January 1940, it was decreed that all Jews have to leave Esens by April 1, 1940. On March 9, 1940, the last Jews de-registered at the city council and shortly afterwards, Esens was declared »judenfrei« (»free of Jews«).
Image: Esens, 2004, August Gottschalk House, left the north wall of the synagogue which was destroyed in 1938, Detlef Kiese
Esens, 2004, August Gottschalk House, left the north wall of the synagogue which was destroyed in 1938, Detlef Kiese
It is not known exactly how many Jews from Esens fell victim to the National Socialist policy of extermination. At least 40 Esens Jews were murdered by the SS in ghettos and extermination camps. Over fifty could emigrate early enough and thus save their lives.
Image: Esens, 2004, August Gottschalk House, Detlef Kiese
Esens, 2004, August Gottschalk House, Detlef Kiese
The »Ökumenischer Arbeitskreis Juden und Christen in Esens e.V.« (»Ecumenical Work Group of Jews and Christians in Esens«) association unveiled a memorial stone in 1988. It stands in front of the remains of the synagogue which was destroyed in 1938 and not far from the former Jewish community centre. The inscription reads: »In memory of our Jewish fellow citizens who were the victims of National Socialist terror between 1933 and 1945. Here stand the remains of their synagogue, which was destroyed on November 10, 1938. This stone was set up by citizens of Esens to commemorate the victims and as an admonition to future generations. November 9, 1988.«
The Jewish community centre was renamed to »August Gottschalk House« in 1990 in honour of Esens-born teacher, religious official and Esens councillor August Gottschalk (1870-1927). It now houses a memorial and a permanent exhibition documenting the history of East Frisian Jewry.
Name
August-Gottschalk-Haus Esens. Gedenkstätte zur neueren Geschichte der ostfriesischen Juden
Address
Burgstr. 8
26427 Esens
Phone
+49 (0)4971 5232
Web
http://www.august-gottschalk-haus.de/
Open
March to October: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. and by appointment.
Possibilities
Guided tours, library, archive