Bad Godesberg

General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 121 (includes affiliated villages) in 1933
Summary: Founded as an independent Jewish community in 1875, the Jewish community of Godesberg (Bad Godesberg since 1926) was classified as a sub-community of Bonn in 1885. The first available record of a cemetery is dated 1730, years after it was consecrated. The cemetery was desecrated in 1885 and closed in 1895, after which the authorities gave the Jewish community land for new burial grounds. By 1812, the community had established a prayer hall in a private residence. A synagogue was inaugurated in 1850, and we also know that a considerably larger one was opened in Mehlem (an affiliated community) in 1875. Schoolchildren studied religion with teachers from neighboring communities until the late 19th century, when the community hired a teacher who also served as chazzan and shochet. In 1933, seven schoolchildren received religious instruction. A women’s association and a charity society were active in the community. On Pogrom Night, the synagogues in Bad Godesberg and Mehlem were set on fire; Jewish businesses and homes were destroyed. The Godesberg synagogue site was cleared in 1939, after which the land was sold to a local resident. Eighty-two local Jews emigrated from the country; others relocated within Germany. Beginning in 1939, the remaining Jews lived in so-called “Jews’ Houses.” In January 1942, some of the residents were moved to Cologne while the others were placed in a former monastery in Bonn-Endenich, places from which they were later deported to the East. Local Jews who were married to Gentiles were deported to Theresienstadt in 1944. At least 32 Bad Godesberg Jews and five from Mehlem perished in the Shoah. A memorial plaque was unveiled at the former synagogue site in 1985. In Mehlem, a garden was planted at the synagogue site.
Author / Sources: Nurit Borut; Sources: EJL, GH6, GH25 JRS