II. Buildings Integral to the Former Life and/or Persecution of Jews in Hamburg - Eimsbüttel/Rotherbaum I.
© Wilhelm Mosel, Deutsch-jüdische Gesellschaft Hamburg.
16. Nos. 35-55 Rentzelstraße.
In 1711 Altona was besieged and bombarded by Sweden. Privation and pestilence were the result. As a consequence Hamburg closed its border with Denmark, to which Altona then belonged. This prevented the Jewish dead being transported to Altona. In 1711 the Hamburg Senat (executive) ceded the Jews a small area (200 ft²) for a period of two years adjacent Sternschanze. When in 1713 Altona was burnt to the ground the head of the Jewish community requested the Senat for an extention to the cemetery and permission to fence the entire area. The Senat in its consent stated that the initiative could not be praised enough. Shortly thereafter the plague broke out in Hamburg and Denmark prohibited traffic between Hamburg and Altona. The Senat felt bound to allocate a cemetery "bei dem Grindelihof" (adjacent Grindel) to the German and Portuguese Jews of Hamburg. The first burial took place in 1713. No further Jewish dead were taken to Altona (Denmark) until 1714. Following the resumption of traffic between Hamburg and Altona no further burials took place in Grindel but in Altona once again. (At this time Grindel was effectively the border between Hamburg and the monastery in Harvestehude. In 1350 it was described as being densely wooded. Up until 1850 Grindelberg and Grindelhof were a part of Grindel). When in 1715 traffic between Altona and Hamburg was prohibitted by Hamburg, the plague having broken out in Altona, burials recommenced auf dem Grindel, in the centre of which rose a small knoll under which the plague victims rested.
Following the reopening of traffic between Altona and Hamburg once again, burials continued as formerly in Ottensen and Altona, and Wandsbek, and the cemetery adjacent Grindel served only for foreign Jews. In 1806 the Hamburger jüdischen Gemeinde requested an enlargement of the cemetery which was granted by the Hamburg Senat. In 1816 a further request for an enlargement of the cemetery was again granted, and in 1832 the Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde (German Israelite Community) acquired an additional area. Finally in 1835 the Hamburg Senat offered the German Jewish Community their own burial area. The community accepted the offer of an enlargement, which took place in 1837.
From 1934 the Jewish cemeteries in Altona and Wandesbek were denied the Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde (German Israelite Community) due to the financial levy imposed by the Holstein administration. From then on the cemetery in Grindel became the main cemetery of the Jewish communities in Hamburg.
The cemetery was known as the Grindelfriedhof (Grindel cemetery) for a short period, and later officially known, by non-Jews, as Judenkirchhof. The area adjacent the Judenkirchhof was known as "Beim Pestberge" (adjacent Plague Hill), or more commonly as "Bei den Sandgruben" (adjacent Sand Pits). Due to the Hamburg Senat's burial regulations of 1882 the cemeteries of the Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde (German Israelite Community) and the Portugiesisch-Jüdischen Gemeinde (Portuguese Jewish Community) were closed to family graves in 1899. In 1909 the cemetery was closed. The area bordering the Grindel cemetery was formerly quiet and traffic free. Later, An der Verbindungsbahn, a major arterial road, was constructed, that ran along one side of the cemetery. The Hamburg administration had repeatedly stated the necessity of clearing the entire cemetery.
In 1931, Rentzelstraße was widened and the graves bordering the cemetery wall were to be exhumed (for Orthodox Jews exhumation is unimaginable). This was prevented by Chief Rabbi Dr. Samuel Spitzer. He instructed the graves be dug deeper.
In 1935 the Hamburg Senat demanded that the Deutsch-Israelitischen Gemeinde (German Israelite Community) vacate the cemetery. Following numerous negotiations with the responsible government departments the vacation of the cemetery was finally set for June 1937. The chief rabbi stipulated the rules to be observed for the exhumation. Each family could transfer their deceased to individual graves in the cemetery of their choice. The board of directors of the community decided to rebury rabbis and men who had served the community in Ehrengräbern (hononary graves). A special place in the Jewish cemetery in Ohlsdorf was assigned to bodies exhumed from the Grindel cemetery. The remains of the exhumed bodies were buried in a common grave in the centre of this area. 80 Ehrengräbern were laid out on the four sides of this common grave. 6,500 gravestones were registered and photographed in the Grindel cemetery by the Jewish community. However, there were more than 8,000 individuals buried in the cemetery, the remaining having no gravestones.
The Torah scrolls, that had been damaged in the Great Fire of 1842, were also buried in the Grindel cemetery. They were also reburied in the Ohlsdorf cemetery. Work was especially difficult near An der Verbindungdbahn, where in 1930 several rows of graves had been laid deeper with the widening of the road. It was necessary to dig to a depth of 13 metres beneath the cemetery wall.
The remains of Gabriel Riesser, one of the pioneers of the civil emancipation of the Jews, and
of the preacher Dr. Naphtali Frankfurter, were the first to be transferred to the Ohlsdorf
cemetery. The remains of Chacham Isaac Bernays, and the other rabbis were exhumed later.
Mit gebrochenem und niedergeschlagenem Herzen treten wir hier an die Stätte unserer Tränen und
The following rabbis were also buried in the Grindel cemetery:
The following Jewish poets and writers were buried in the Grindel cemetery:
The two buildings, situated in the cemetery, built by the architect J. H. Klees-Wülbern were
also demolished when the cemetery was cleared. The administration building carried the Hebrew
The chapel carried the Hebrew inscrition:
The housing blocks erected on the area of the former Grindel cemetery are today renovated and the property of the SAGA (Siedlungs-Aktiengesellschaft Hamburg) Housing Trust.
There is a memorial plaque situated between the housing blocks, bordering on An der Verbinungsbahn.
German text: Dipl.-Pol. Wilhelm Mosel, Deutsch-Jüdische Gesellschaft, Hamburg.