General information: First Jewish presence: 1635; peak Jewish population: 100 in 1880; Jewish population in 1933: 11
Summary: This Orthodox community consecrated a cemetery on Gartenstrasse during the second half of the 17th century. In 1798, local Jews established a prayer room in the house of Joseph Herz. After 1793, Jewish children received religious instruction from a tutor. The synagogue on Georgstrasse was built in 1810, with a mikveh next door (in the Hoffmann house). The Jewish community also maintained a boarding school during the years 1840 to 1860. Eleven Jews lived in Schermbeck in 1932/33. Hugo Schoenbach was chosen as the leader of the community in 1933; he was deported to Riga in 1941, where his one-year-old daughter perished. Sybilla van Geldern, also present in Schermbeck in 1938, died in 1943. (The available information on her place of death is confusing: one source claims she died in Auschwitz, a second lists Minsk, and yet another informs us that she died while on a transport from Theresienstadt.) Rika Hoffmann (born in 1859), who had not only taught knitting courses but also looked after the synagogue for many years, was deported in 1943; she was the last to go, and she perished in Theresienstadt in 1943. The synagogue building, called Bertha House, was used as an education center by young Zionists. The Gestapo shut it down in 1937, and we also know that it was burned down on Pogrom Night. The following day, local thugs burned Judaica in the synagogue’s garden. On June 23, 1982, a memorial plaque was unveiled in the town. At least 22 Schermbeck Jews perished in the Shoah.
Photo: The synagogue of Schermbeck in or around the year 1925. Courtesy of: Town Archive of Schermbeck.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: FJG, LJG, SG-NRW