Jewish life on Norderney and the increasing spa anti-Semitism

From 1885 to 1914, between twenty-two and thirty-five Jews lived on the island of Norderney (0.5– 1.1 % of the population); in 1933, there were twenty-eight Jewish residents and, in 1935, only nine. The number of Jewish workers, salaried employees, and shopkeepers who stayed in Norderney only during the bathing season was higher. In 1923, sixty-five Jews lived permanently on the island, mostly butchers’ assistants, maids, kindergarten teachers, shop assistants, merchants, and hoteliers. Among them were also foreign Jews from Russia and Austria-Hungary. 

In contrast to many health resorts on the mainland and the other East Frisian islands, which preferred “Christian guests,” Jews were accepted and integrated on the island of Norderney until 1933 and were largely spared anti-Semitic abuse. 

As early as 1871, various German seaside resorts and spas on the mainland publicly declared that they did not approve of Jewish guests visiting them. Through notices and advertisements in the “Organ des Centralvereins deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens” (Organ of the Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith), Jewish vacationers could find out which resorts or lodging establishments had anti-Semitic attitudes. Among the large North Sea resorts, Norderney, Helgoland, Wyk on Föhr, and Westerland/Sylt were considered “friendly to Jews,” and at the Baltic Sea also Heringsdorf on Usedom. Especially the North Sea resort of Borkum and the Baltic resort of Zinnowitz on the island of Usedom were “anti-Semitic.” In the 1920s, Jewish bathing guests on the island of Norderney made up a considerable proportion of the spa guests; at times, it is said that almost half of all those seeking recreation were Jews.

Timeline Norderney

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