General information: First Jewish presence: 1431; peak Jewish population: 150 in 1850; Jewish population in 1933: 55
Summary: Few Jews lived in Rees before 1840, at which point the Jewish community replaced its old synagogue (it had been destroyed in a flood) with a new house of worship; the sanctuary was located on the second story, while the ground floor accommodated a mikveh, classrooms and communal offices. In 1854, the congregation established itself as an official community. From the early 20th century onwards, however, community membership gradually decreased as local Jews left for larger towns and cities; after 1933, more Jews left the town as a result of Nazi persecution. On the afternoon following Pogrom Night, local Brown Shirts (Nazi storm troopers), enthusiastically assisted by a female branch of that organization, smashed the synagogue’s windows, set its interior on fire and threw out its ritual objects. Rees’ few remaining Jews were deported during the early years of the war. The synagogue building was destroyed during a wartime bombing. The site now accommodates a residential property to which a memorial plaque has been affixed.
Photo: A prayer room was located in a private building on Oberstadtstrasse in Rees. The picture is of Oberstadtstrasse in or around the year 1920. Courtesy of: City Archive of Rees.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin
Sources: LJG, SG-NRW, SIA