Jewish cemeteries in Leipzig - Jüdische Friedhöfe in Leipzig

Hands of the Kohen - symbol of blessing on some graves of the Old Israelite Cemetery

There were and are three Jewish cemeteries in Leipzig . The town's first Jewish cemetery in the Johannistal no longer exists. The old Israelitische Friedhof on Berliner Straße was used from 1864 to 1928. Funerals are still held today in the New Israelite Cemetery on Delitzscher Strasse, which opened afterwards .


In the late Middle Ages , Jews were deprived of their right to live in Leipzig. Only from 1710 there were isolated settlements. The times of mass were an exception . Jewish traders were sometimes even welcome here. If one of them died during this time, a burial in Leipzig was not possible. A transfer to hometowns not too far away or to the Jewish cemeteries in Naumburg or Dessau was necessary , each for a fee. From 1798 Jewish merchants, especially those from Brody , tried to find a burial place in Leipzig. It was not until 1814 that their efforts were crowned with success.

The first Jewish cemetery

The first Jewish cemetery in Johannistal
Location of the first Jewish cemetery

For 200 thalers and an annual license fee of 20 thalers, the Brodyer merchants received permission from the Leipzig council to set up a burial site in Johannistal . ( Location ) The site was next to the city's gunpowder warehouse , where the new observatory was built in 1861 . From 1832 the cemetery was surrounded by allotment gardens.

The first funeral took place on November 28, 1814. 334 people were buried over the next 50 years. The closely spaced tombstones gave the typical appearance of a Jewish cemetery. The shortage of space for graves and the Saxon regulation to build a morgue in every cemetery, which was no longer possible here, led to the closure of the cemetery in 1864, which initially remained as such.

In 1937 the Jewish community received the notice of the cemetery being terminated by the National Socialist Leipzig city council. The dead were exhumed and the bones were buried in individual containers at the New Israelite Cemetery (see below) in a mass grave. Only a few important personalities received individual graves. The tombstones were smashed into small pieces, with the exception of a few that were also placed in the New Israelite Cemetery, and reused at burials. The cemetery area was added to the surrounding allotment gardens.

The old Israelite cemetery

In 1862 the Jewish community had privately acquired a strip of land adjacent to Berliner Strasse. ( Location ) In 1863, work began on laying out a burial site. In addition to the morgue, this included ritually necessary rooms and the cemetery administrator's apartment.

The 400-meter-long site extends from Berliner Straße to Theresienstraße, which will be built later, and is less than 50 meters wide. It is bordered to the west by the later buildings on Hamburger Strasse and to the east by the north cemetery, which opened in 1876. It is accessed by a central main path. The first four of the five departments are each divided by dividing walls. On these and on the side walls there are wall places of family and inheritance burials, which are rather untypical for Jewish cemeteries and here mainly represent the banks such as Ariowitsch, Kroch and Breslauer. A wall tomb is also that of the rabbi Abraham Meyer Goldschmidt and his wife, the pedagogue and women's rights activist Henriette Goldschmidt. A memorial immortalizes the names of 121 Jewish war dead during the First World War .

The cemetery was damaged by vandalism during the Nazi era and the Second World War . Small number stones in the rows of graves mark lost tombs and graves that have never had a tomb, including victims of concentration camps . A floor slab in the children's section indicates that Jewish children played in the cemetery during the Nazi era because they were forbidden to do so in public areas.

At the end of the 1920s, the burials were transferred to the New Israelite Cemetery, but revived again after its devastation in 1938. The cemetery houses over 5000 grave sites. The buildings in the entrance area were demolished after being hit by bombs in World War II. The old Israelite cemetery is now a listed building and is looked after by the cemetery department at the Office for Urban Green and Waters of the City of Leipzig.

The New Israelite Cemetery

The former mourning hall
Inside the mourning hall, view of the dome.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish community tried again to build a new cemetery, since the old cemetery was foreseeable to be full. On a plot of land acquired by the Jewish community on Delitzscher Straße on the northern outskirts of the city opposite the St. Georg Hospital ( Lage ), planting began in 1925 to create a cemetery. At the entrance to the approximately two hectare site, a mourning hall was built in 1927/1928 in an 18-month construction period according to plans by the architect Wilhelm Hallerbuilt. The U-shaped two-storey building is grouped with its functional rooms around a central domed building with a three-arched pillar porch. The dome hall had a floor area of ​​18 by 18 meters, above which the double-shelled dome rose, outside with a height of 21.5 meters and an octagonal floor plan, inside round with stalactite-like concrete cones. The cemetery was inaugurated in May 1928.

Ten years later, on November 10, 1938, the day after Kristallnacht , the construction of the cemetery fell victim to an arson attack by the NS motor corps. The domed hall remained almost undamaged. It was blown up in 1939 by order of the NSDAP district leadership. Without the buildings, the dead could no longer be buried, which is why the old cemetery was used.

In 1948 the clean-up work on the devastated cemetery was finished and funerals could take place again with the help of two barracks. In 1951 a sarcophagus-like memorial was created for the murdered Leipzig Jews with the inscription in German and Hebrew "You peoples all hear and see my pain" on the site of the former domed building. When a new mourning hall was built from 1953 to 1955 on part of the former cemetery building, the memorial was moved inside the cemetery.

Among the 1,500 or so graves in the New Israelite Cemetery are those of the well-known choir conductor Barnet Licht , the founder of the Leipzig synagogue choir Werner Sander and the founder of the former Leipzig Eitingon hospital Chaim Eitingon . In the back are the historical gravestones from Leipzig's first Jewish cemetery. Russian names dominate among the more recent tombstones, as the Jewish community in Leipzig is mainly composed of Russian immigrants.


  • Steffen Held: Jewish cemeteries in Leipzig . Special issue of the city history messages of the Leipziger Geschichtsverein eV, Leipzig 1999.
  • Wolfgang Grundmann: The New Israelite Cemetery . In: Leipziger Blätter No. 3, 1983, pp. 90-91.
  • Michael Brocke, Christiane Müller: House of Life . Reclam-Verlag Leipzig 2001, ISBN 3-379-00777-3 , pp. 217-219.
  • Josef Reinhold: There are still traces: to the history of the former Israelite cemetery in Johannistal . In: Leipziger Blätter No. 40, 2002, pp. 24–26.
  • Kerstin Plowinski: A "good place" in Leipzig - the old Israelite cemetery . In: Leipziger Blätter No. 45, 2004, pp. 80–82.
  • Katrin Löffler: Cemetery birthdays · In 1814 and 1864 Jewish cemeteries were opened in Leipzig . In: Leipziger Blätter No. 64, 2014, pp. 60–62.


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