General information: First Jewish presence: 1685; peak Jewish population: either 58 in 1890 or 59 in 1934; Jewish population in 1933: between 51 and 59
Summary: Records from 1685 mention a Jewish family living in the town. As the community was always very small, with no rabbi or mikveh, it was incorporated into the rabbinate of Lenhausen. Services were conducted in prayer rooms until 1857, when Isaak Bamberger funded the construction of a synagogue on Nordstrasse. In 1842, a cemetery was consecrated in Schmallenberg. According to a statement by the mayor, 59 Jews lived in the town in 1934. While the mayor denied the existence of any Jewish organizations in town, he did mention that some local Jews were members of the Reich Federation of Jewish Front Soldiers. On Pogrom Night (November 1938), unusually, local SA men refused to take part in the violence, which was carried out by SS men from Neheim. All local Jews were arrested on Pogrom Night; the women and children were released, but the men remained in custody. The synagogue was burned down on November 10. After 1939, the town’s remaining Jewish families lived in three designated “Jews’ houses.” Deportations began in March 1942. Of those who still lived in Schmallenberg in 1939, nearly all perished in the Shoah, including the few who had managed to flee to the Netherlands. Seven Jews returned to the town after the war. The land on which the synagogue once stood was sold to the municipality in November 1938. After the war, it remained in private hands with the stipulation that it would not be used for commercial purposes. In 1970, Nordstrasse was renamed Synagogenstrasse (“synagogue street”); in 1980, the municipality unveiled a plaque in memory of the synagogue; and on January 31, 1988, a bronze plaque listing the names of Schmallenberg’s murdered Jews was placed alongside the first plaque.
Photo: The synagogue of Schmallenberg in the winter of 1930. Courtesy of: the Voss Archive, Schmallenberg.
Author / Sources: Benjamin Rosendahl
Sources: AJ, EJL LJG, SG-NRW