General information: 1st Jewish presence: 1748; peak Jewish pop.: 316 in 1925 and 1930; Jewish pop. in 1933: 270 (at the beginning of the year) and 193 (at year’s end)
Summary: The earliest record of a Jewish presence in Wanne-Eikel is dated 1748. A permanent settlement was established there at the beginning of the 19th century, but it was not until October 1, 1907, that local Jews were classified as an independent Jewish community. Jews conducted services in prayer halls until June 19, 1910, when a synagogue was inaugurated at 48 Langekampstrasse (formerly Heinrichstrasse); the building also housed a Jewish elementary school (opened on April 1, 1910) and an apartment for a permanent teacher. Although the community did not have a mikveh, it did maintain its own cemetery at Eichener Bruck. In 1933, anti-Semitic violence escalated in Wanne-Eickel. The Nazis enforced the boycott of Jewish stores zealously, causing many bankruptcies. As a result, 40% of the Jewish population had left the town by the end of the year. In October 1938, the town’s Eastern European Jews were expelled to the Polish border. One month later, on Pogrom Night, the synagogue and several Jewish-owned stores were set on fire, a number of Jewish homes were destroyed and Jewish men were sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. By 1939, most Jews had left Wanne-Eickel. Beginning in 1941, the remaining Jews were deported to the camps of Eastern Europe. At least 130 local Jews were killed in the Shoah. A memorial plaque was later unveiled not far from the former synagogue site. Several Jews reside in the town today, but as of this writing, there is no official Jewish community.
Photo: The synagogue of Wanne-Eickel before its destruction in 1938. Courtesy of: City Archive of Herne.
Author / Sources: Benjamin Rosendahl
Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-NRW