Once a centre of Jewish life: on the site where a bland multi-storey car park now stands, there once stood the community house, a centre of Jewish life in Hanover. The commission for its design had been awarded in 1875 to the architect Edwin Oppler who, not long before, had built the New Synagogue.
Life in the community
After Jews are granted equal rights under the law, the Jewish Community in Hanover expands rapidly. Following the rise in their registered members (75 in 1844, 326 in 1871, 1081 in 1914), a new community house is built. The community’s office staff as well as the cemetery administration, welfare office and the community library all move into the finished red-brick, three-storey building. In addition, there are classrooms for teaching religious education. On the top floor there is an apartment, which serves as the living quarters for the family of the community secretary.
In 1925, a second community house is acquired in Ohestrasse near Waterlooplatz. It has a neighbouring building that houses a Jewish kindergarten and an after-school care centre for schoolchildren. The front of the building accommodates welfare facilities, such as a soup kitchen, a clothing bank and a nurse’s station.
A school is founded
In May 1935, lessons begin at a Jewish school with four teachers and 84 schoolchildren in the building at Lützowstrasse 3. The aim is for children to be able to learn in an environment that is not burdened by the increasing anti-Semitism. A few years later, it is the only school in Hanover, apart from the school at the Israelite Horticultural School Ahlem, where Jewish children are still allowed to be taught: after the “Night of Pogroms” on the 9th to the 10th of November 1938, throughout Germany Jews were forbidden to attend state schools because – according to the Reichsminister for Education Bernard Rust – it is “beyond all bearing for German schoolchildren to sit in a classroom with Jews”. Jewish children are now barred from secondary schools. Attendance at vocational schools is only permitted if – as in Ahlem – it serves the purpose of emigration.
In 1939 and 1940, many community members move into the building at Lützowstrasse. This is after having been evicted by their “Aryan” landlords. In April 1940, the school is relocated from here to the Ohestrasse Community Centre, which was larger. Lessons are continued to be held there until the beginning of September 1941. For the time after that, the city authorities have other uses for the two community houses and for 13 other Jewish properties.
The community house in Lützowstrasse is turned into one of Hanover’s 15 “Jewish houses”, into which the Jewish residential population is crammed before being deported. At the start of September 1941, 125 people move into the 11 rooms of the house: families, married couples, single people. Almost all of them leave Hanover on the first major deportation on 15 December 1941 to the Riga Ghetto. The few that remain are transferred to other “Jewish houses”.
After the last Jewish occupants move out in February 1942, the building stands empty. Community secretary Samuel Herskovits has to move with his family into the “Jewish house” in Ohestrasse and later to the grounds of the Israelite Horticultural School Ahlem. In June 1943, they are put on a transportation to the Theresienstadt Ghetto. It is not known whether the building has new occupants after it is vacated. It is completely destroyed during the air raid from 8th to 9th October 1943.
Additional online information
Wikipedia entry Edwin Oppler
Wikipedia entry History of the Jews in Hanover
Youth! 1918-1945 Exclusions [in German]
Wikipedia entry Education under National Socialism [in German]
Further reading: Click here
Texts and images: Michael Pechel