General information: First Jewish presence: 1654; peak Jewish population: 296 in 1905; Jewish population in 1933: 220
Summary: In 1667, a considerable number of Jews settled in Bocholt. The community established its first synagogue in 1683, albeit illegally, in a private residence. The local magistrate shut it down after discovering its existence. The synagogue reopened a few years later, and remained in use until 1747, when the authorities once again shut it down. Finally, in 1798, after years of negotiations, Jews were granted permission to build a synagogue on condition that it would be modest and inconspicuous, and would not stand directly on the street— therefore the new house of worship was built behind an apartment building. We also know that the synagogue housed a mikveh, and that a school was later built on the site. By the late 1800s, the Jewish community of Bocholt was the largest in west Muensterland (northwest Germany, bordering the Netherlands). On Pogrom Night, SS and SA troops marched into the center of the town and split into two groups: One group set out to vandalize Jewish homes and businesses while the other set its sights on the synagogue. The latter, after breaking the doors and smashing the windows of the synagogue, vandalized the interior and then proceeded to burn the ritual objects. Although the synagogue was set on fire, the fire department, fearing the possibility of damage to the surrounding buildings, extinguished the blaze. After Pogrom Night, a furniture manufacturer used the building as a storage site until it was destroyed in a bombing raid. Shortly after the war, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the Jewish cemetery; and in 1988 a plaque was unveiled at the synagogue site.
Author / Sources: Moshe Finkel
Sources: LJG, SG-NRW, SIA