General information: First Jewish presence: 1694; peak Jewish population: 280 (or 273) in 1933
Summary: The presence of Jews in Remscheid was documented in 1694, but it was only in the 1860s that a functioning Jewish community developed there. Eastern European Jews, many of whom settled in Remscheid during the years 1900 to 1915, made up 50% of the local Jewish population. Members of the mainstream community prayed in Wuppertal-Elberfeld; the Eastern European Jews conducted their own services in Orthodox prayer halls at, among other locations, 161 Freiheitsstrasse and 90a Bismarckstrasse, the latter of which housed murals by local artist Heinrich Mandelbaum. The community maintained a cemetery in the Bliedinghausen district (on Steinacker Strasse), as well as a charity organization and a chevra kadisha. Several Zionist organizations were active in Remscheid by 1933, as was the Jewish sports club Bar Kokhba. Soon after the Nazis’ election victories, the Bismarckstrasse prayer room was closed down as a result of its proximity to local Nazi offices; the room was moved to Bankstrasse. The anti- Jewish boycott was immediately enforced in Remscheid, and many Jews accordingly left town, in response to which HeHalutz, the Zionist association, set up a branch in Remscheid in 1938. In October 1938, Eastern European Jews were expelled to the German-Polish border. One month later, on Pogrom Night, Jewish homes and businesses were vandalized, and five or eight Jews were sent to Dachau. The Bankstrasse prayer hall was destroyed. The deportation of local Jews began in October 1941. At least 63 Jews were deported directly from Remscheid and 23 from occupied Europe. According to some estimates, the number of deported Jews was 170, all of whom perished. Remscheid is no longer home to a Jewish community, nor were memorials ever unveiled at the prayer hall sites.
Author / Sources: Benjamin Rosendahl
Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-NRW