Torgelow – Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (English)

Location: Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
About this community: Torgelow was mentioned for the first time in 1281 when the Brandenburg Margrave Otto IV signed a document at the Castle Torgelow. At the beginning of the 18th century, Torgelow became well-known when iron was found in the area; thereupon King Frederick II (Prussia) issued the founding document for the establishment of an iron and steel plant in 1753 and Torgelow developed into an industrial village.

Not much is known about Torgelow's Jewish history. However, it is documented that 21 Jews lived in Torgelow in 1910 and 14 (constituting 0.2% of total population) in 1925. They joined the synagogue community in Ueckermuende, which was approximately 12 km away from the village. A statute of the Ueckermuende Jewish community (1860) indicated that several small villages in the region, such as Torgelow, Altwarp, Neuwarp, and Eggesin, were affiliated with the synagogue district. According to several sources, a synagogue existed in Torgelow at least in the 1930s. No Jewish cemetery has been documented.

In 1933, nine Jews resided in the town. Among them was the businessman and clothier Julius Gronemann, who participated in the volunteer fire brigade and served as its secretary until the Nazis' assumption of power. Gronemann ran a textile store at 1 Wilhelmstrasse. Later, under the Nazi rulers’ pressure, he leased his shop to his former employee Wilhelm Koerner, member of the NSDAP, in 1934. As in many German towns and cities, the Nazis' anti-Jewish boycott was also implemented in Torgelow in April 1933. A former female employer of Julius Gronemann wrote to his great-grandson about the harassments at 1 Wilhelmstrasse: "… Nazi stormtroopers stood in front of the shop telling the customers … that the shopkeeper was Jewish and told them to buy at an Aryan shop. Although some of the customers turned on their heels, the majority weren’t put off and said they had been buying at Mr. Gronemann’s shop for years and they wouldn’t dream of shunning it. It was a very hard time for the old man so he decided to sell his shop by the end of 1933. Unfortunately I don’t know if it was an ordinary sale or already a kind of expropriation."

On Pogrom Night in November 1938, the synagogue was burnt, as documented by the historian Wolfgang Wilhelmus. A day later, on November 10th, NS officials reported that the windows of a Jewish-owned shop had been smashed. During the entire Nazi era, Torgelow's few Jews were harassed, persecuted and forced to leave for other German cities. Some emigrated to Palestine, Belgium, South America and Shanghai. Julius Gronemann moved to Stettin, from where he was deported. On his last postcard to his children he wrote: "We'll be deported to Poland and we know our destiny." At least four local Jews were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau and apparently in other concentration camps in the East.
Sources: Brocke, Michael, Stein und Name. Die jüdischen Friedhöfe in Ostdeutschland (Neue Bundesländer/DDR und Berlin), Berlin, 1994

Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Deutschen Juden (Ed.): Führer durch die Jüdische Gemeindeverwaltung und Wohlfahrtspflege in Deutschland 1923-1933 [1933/34]

Wolfgang Wilhelmus, Juden in Vorpommern, Schwerin, 2007.
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