Bendorf am Rhein

General information: First Jewish presence: 1339; peak Jewish population: 261 in 1939 (see below); Jewish population in 1933: 209
Summary: The earliest available record of a Jewish presence in Bendorf am Rhein, dated 1339, mentions a Jewish moneylender. By 1700, the community had consecrated a cemetery, and in 1711, it inaugurated a synagogue. Most local Jews earned a living as cattle traders and butchers. Bendorf ’s synagogue burned down in 1825, after which (in approximately 1827) the community consecrated a new synagogue building. Opened in 1869, the town’s Jewish psychiatric hospital was moved to a new building in 1873. On New Year’s Eve, 1895, a group of townspeople set off an explosion near the synagogue, destroying 56 windows in the synagogue and 13 in a Jewish-owned home. Many years later, in 1930, local children desecrated the synagogue building. According to several sources, however, Jewish- Gentile relations in Bendorf were relatively good. Two hundred and nine Jews lived in Bendorf am Rhein in 1933; 12 Jewish children received religious instruction, and two chevra kadisha organizations (one for men, the other for women) were active in the community. On Pogrom Night (November 1938), the synagogue was wrecked and its ritual objects were set on fire at the municipal sports field; Jewish homes were also damaged that night. The synagogue building was purchased (in fact, expropriated) by the town authorities the following year. It was in 1939, too, that the Jewish community recorded its peak population figure, for many Jewish patients from hospitals in other parts of Germany had been transferred to Bendorf. In 1940, the Nazis transferred another 500 patients to Bendorf ’s Jewish psychiatric hospital, then the only one of its kind in Germany. The patients and staff were deported to the East in March 1942. Approximately 1,000 Jews passed through this hospital on their way to the camps, including 32 Jews originally from Bendorf. The Jewish community of Koblenz was awarded ownership of the synagogue in 1949, soon after which, in 1950, it sold the building. The new owner let the building deteriorate, so that in 1970 the structure was demolished. A new building was eventually erected there, to which a memorial plaque was affixed in 1979.
Author / Sources: Bronagh Bowerman; Sources: AJ, EJL, FJG, SG-RPS