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Synagogue Celle

The Jewish Synagogue

Celle is a picturesque historic town in the German state of Lower Saxony. The city now has more than sixty-nine thousand inhabitants, which is a lot more than during the Second World War, but that is partly due to the mergers with other places in the vicinity.

Around 1928 Celle had a textile spinning mill. It was nationalized in 1936 and turned into a secret-accounting GmbH, as it became a clandestine silk processing factory for making parachutes for the infamous 'Fallschirmjäger'. In 1934 an airfield was opened in Celle-Wietzenbruch, intended for civil aviation. After the war, it was mainly known as the starting point for the famous airlift to Berlin from 1948 to 1949. But more about the war history of the airport in the next chapter.
We're going back to the Old Town. Here is located in the Im Kreise 23-24, the Synagogue of Celle. From 1738 there already existed a Jewish community with the name 'Judenschaft Celle. Incidentally, the old town survived the Second World War unscathed, because only the station area was hit by Allied bombings.
In the heyday of the synagogue, around the 1920s, the Jewish community consisted of 110 people. Later the number of members would decrease to seventy in 1933 and finally to fifteen in October 1939. During the 'Reichspogromnacht' (Kristallnacht) of 9 to 10 November 1938, the Nazis destroyed the interior of the synagogue with axes. The historical twelve scrolls of parchment and the library were thrown into the street and destroyed. The building's historic stained-glass windows were also smashed in with pickaxes. One window has been preserved and hangs inside the church building. The synagogue was not set on fire because otherwise the adjacent buildings would also be destroyed by fire. From 1942, Jews were imprisoned at house number 24, in the smallest space, awaiting transport to one of the extermination camps. Jews from other parts of the Landkreis Lüneburg were also held here pending deportation. After the German capitulation, many Jews from Bergen-Belsen were accommodated as 'displaced persons' in the Heide-Kaserne of the city of Celle.

Photo 1: Celle . synagogue
Photo 2: One of the remaining authentic windows of the synagogue
Photo 3: The interior with two old parchment scrolls
Photo 4: This wall painting appeared during a restoration

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  • Text: Pieter van Wijngaarden
  • Photos: Pieter van Wijngaarden
  • Stadtarchiv Celle
  • Wikipedia

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