General information: First Jewish presence 1810-1820; peak Jewish population: unknown; Jewish population in 1933: unknown
Summary: The first Jewish family to settle in Eitorf arrived in the decade between 1810 and 1820; thereafter a small Jewish community developed. Although Jewish population figures are not available for this town, we can assume they were always low. Eitorf’s Jews became a designated, “special” community, affiliated with the larger Jewish community in nearby Uckerath, in 1863. They were affiliated with the congregation in Geistingen in 1887. In 1893 the Eitorf community established a prayer hall in a residence on today’s Krabach-Talstrasse (formerly 10 Leienbergstrasse); the house of worship was inaugurated by Rabbi Falk Cohn, from Bonn, on June 16 that year. Owing to an increase in the town’s Jewish population, a larger prayer room was opened—it too was inaugurated by Rabbi Cohn, assisted by the cantor, Mr. Rosenbaum-Geistingen—in the same building in 1921. This new prayer room was open all the Jews of the joint Eitorf-Geistingen community. It was also used by many guests from out of town, including those who came to Eitorf to visit its spas. The prayer room was on the ground floor; a non-Jewish family lived on the floor above it. There is no mention of a mikveh. Discontent grew among Eitorf’s Jews, who felt they did not receive much in return for the fees they paid to the community authorities in Geistingen; therefore, from the year 1915 onwards, they sought independent status. They did manage to open their own cemetery in 1918, but were definitively refused independence in 1919. On Pogrom Night, November 1938, the windows and interior of the prayer room in Eitorf were destroyed; the cost of the damage came to between 400 and 500 Reichsmarks. In 1939 the owner of the building carried out renovations, replacing the glass in the three windows and installing some larger windows too. Presumably, any Jews who remained in Eitorf after Pogrom Night were deported to the camps. As of this writing, Eitorf does not have a memorial for the town’s former Jewish house of worship, but a commemorative “stumbling stone” has been installed, listing former residents of the town who became victims of the Shoah. According to Yad Vashem, at least 25 Eitorf Jews perished during those years.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: SG-NRW, SIA, YV