General information: First Jewish presence: 11th century; peak Jewish population: 98 in 1843; Jewish population in 1933: unknown (14 in 1930)
Summary: It is likely that Jews lived in Xanthen during the period of the Roman Empire, but it was only in the 11th century that their presence was recorded there. Although those Jews enjoyed the patronage of the Archbishop of Cologne (a city they had fled during the Crusades), they were massacred in Xanthen during the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49. It was not until the 17th century that another Jewish community was founded in Xanthen; the new community was affiliated with the Jewish congregation in Geldern. Local Jews established a prayer hall (on Schanstrasse) in the 1780s. From the late 18th century onwards, burials were conducted at the Jewish cemetery in Heesberg, where today the surviving gravestones are arranged in three circles. In 1891, after a Christian child was found murdered, a Jewish man named Adolf Wolff Buschof and his family were arrested on charges of ritual murder. Although all the charges against Buschof were dismissed in 1892, the ensuing anti- Semitic agitation drove out many local Jews. On Pogrom Night (November 1938) in Xanten, rioters desecrated the Jewish cemetery and damaged the synagogue and Jewish homes. In 1945, the synagogue was destroyed during a bombing raid. According to records, approximately 30 local Jews were murdered in the camps. In 1988, two plaques were unveiled in Xanthen—one at the cemetery, the other at the former synagogue site. In 2007, memorial stumbling stones were unveiled next to several former Jewish homes.
Photo: The synagogue of Xanten before Pogrom Night in 1938. Courtesy of: City Archive of Xanten.
Author / Sources: Swetlana Frank
Sources: FJG, LJG, SG-NRW