I. Buildings Integral to the Former Life and/or Persecution of Jews in Hamburg - Neustadt/St. Pauli.
© Wilhelm Mosel, Deutsch-jüdische Gesellschaft Hamburg.
5. Rear of Nos. 24 and 30 Neuer Steinweg.
The former synagogue in Neuer Steinweg was built in 1654 and was the first synagogue of
German (Ashkenazi) Jews in Hamburg. The first German Jews arrived in Altona around
1610, and in Hamburg in 1621, after the Portuguese (Sephardi) Jews had arrived in Hamburg
in the 1580s. The synagogue was founded in 1654 when the Jewish community numbered 18 families,
some 100 individuals. It was in use up until the official opening of the synagogue in Köhlhofen
The concealed location of the former synagogue was a result, among other things, of the 1710 Juden-Reglement (Jewish Rules), a Hamburg law regulating the legal position of the Jews. Article 5 of the said law stated that the Jews were not allowed "public" buildings. A consequence of this was that they had to hold their relgious services in private houses. This was one reason why that in Hamburg, until late into the 19th century, synagogues were established in courtyards at the rear of houses.
Up until the second half of the 19th century the majority of Jews lived within the triangle formed by the roads: Holstenwall-Poolstraße / Köhlhofen and Mühlenstraße / Schlachterstraße. A description from 1810 states: "the long Elbstraße, Marktstraße, Peterstraße, Marienstraße ... with their numerous alleyways constitute the principal Jewish district. In 1810, Hamburg became incorporated into the French Empire and under French law. This short period of occupation was of considerable importance for the Jews. The 1791 French law, and the three Napoleonic decrees of 17.03.1808 guaranteed French Jews equal civic and political rights. The conferring of political rights to the Jews meant that they were called up for military service, and had to pay high Kontributionen (contributions) to the French. Jews fought against the French and gave finamcial support in the fight to liberate Hamburg, and in the fortification of the town in 1813.
In 1813 the French prepared to lay siege to Hamburg and the French military commander ordered all inhabitants unable to provision themselves for a period of six months to leave the town. 20,000 citizens of Hamburg, of whom 3,000 were Jews, were expelled. Around 3,000 people died as a result of this action of whom many were Jews. Most of those expelled from Hamburg entered Altona where a committee of Christians and Jews cared for them.
One of the 1808 Napoleonic decrees was to have a lasting significance for the organization of the triple Jewish community of Altona, Hamburg and Wandsbek (AHW) as this decree caused the immediate and permanent dissolving of the association of the "triple community". This was enforced by the so-called Separation Law of 26.04.1812. Chief Rabbi Zebi Hirsch Samöscht (1740-1807) was the last chief rabbi of the "triple community". After him Rabbi Lase (1741-1814) took up office. He was born in Berlin, initially settled in Posen/Poznan, Poland, before being appointed to the "triple community", where he eventually became the chairman of the rabbinical court.
When one of the French military commanders imposed 50,000 Francs of the Hamburg Jews Rabbi Lase refused. He also refused to report to the General sending his son instead. He again refused when on the following day soldiers attempted to compel him by force. He did not live to see the liberation of the town. He was buried in the cemetery in Neuer Steinweg.
German text: Dipl.-Pol. Wilhelm Mosel, Deutsch-Jüdische Gesellschaft, Hamburg.