General information: First Jewish presence: 13th century; peak Jewish population: approximately 150 in 1835; Jewish population in 1933: 40
Summary: The earliest available record of a Jewish presence in Bergheim is dated 1240. It was not until 1635, however, that Jews established a lasting presence in the town. Beginning in 1810, the Jewish community conducted services in a prayer room at 10 Hauptstrasse; many years later, a Jewish school was established in the same building. In 1883, a synagogue (it also housed the school) was built at 10 Klosterstrasse. Other communal institutions included a mikveh and two cemeteries: the first, located at Knuechelsdamm, was consecrated in the 18th century (enlarged in 1804) and closed in 1862; the second, located at Bethlehemer Strasse, served the community from 1862 until 1933. Although only 40 Jews lived in Bergheim in 1933, they still maintained a mikveh and provided a single school-age child with religious instruction. The synagogue was sold in August 1938. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue’s new owner prevented the SA from destroying the building. Instead, the men loaded the synagogue’s contents onto a truck, paraded their loot through the streets and, finally, set everything on fire. Jewish homes were damaged and their furniture was thrown onto the street. Most of the remaining Jews left Bergheim after the pogrom. At least 63 Bergheim Jews perished in the Shoah. What remained of the synagogue—the building was destroyed during the war—was torn down in 1986. At the site, now a park, a memorial plaque commemorates the former house of worship.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn; Sources: FJG, HU, LJG, SIA, YV