Summary: According to a Duesseldorf address book, 22 Jews lived in Benrath in 1903 (Benrath became a district of Duesseldorf in 1929). The Jewish community of Benrath-Hilden- Himmelgeist-Urdenbach was affiliated with the synagogue district of Duesseldorf. At some point in the 1890s, the community inaugurated a synagogue at 11 Friedhofstrasse; the brick building had three rounded side windows and a seating capacity of 35. Records suggest that the synagogue was not used after 1929, when the community became part of the one in Duesseldorf. On Pogrom Night (November 9-10, 1938), the synagogue was ravaged and burned down; although it is clear that the SA planned and carried out the violence, the press described it as a spontaneous act on the part of the local population. In Benrath, the destruction of Jewish homes and businesses was thorough: the Stern family home—their business had earlier been “aryanized”—was ravaged, and Alex Stern was arrested. A Mrs. Heumann was forced to watch as SA men and local residents destroyed and plundered her family business; at the Steinberg family home, furniture and goods were thrown out the windows; and a Mr. Samuel, after donning the uniform and decorations of his service in World War I, seated himself in the window of his shop. The next day, on November 10, Jewish possessions were burned in the marketplace. The destruction was so thorough that no Jewish shop was able to resume business. The Jewish community, which was ordered to remove the “unsightly” synagogue ruins, was unable to complete the job within the deadline. The job was then given to the Christian residents of 9 and 13 Friedhofstrasse, but this time without a deadline. At the former synagogue site, a memorial plaque was later unveiled. We do not know how many Benrath Jews perished in the Shoah, but Yad Vashem records tell us that two were murdered in Sobibor, one in Amersfoort (in the Netherlands) and one in Theresienstadt.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: SG-NRW, SIA, YV