General information: First Jewish presence: 1568; peak Jewish population: 39 in 1843; Jewish population in 1933: 31
Summary: The earliest available record of a Jewish presence in Hemmerden is dated 1568, after which records are silent about local Jews until 1728, when the city authorities granted Jakob Isaak a license to trade in priestly garments decorated by wine-staining and bearing the local lord’s coat of arms. It was around this time, too, that Jews were granted the right to conduct services and perform religious rituals. A synagogue was established in 1787 and a cemetery in 1813, but it was not until the mid-1800s that the community was able to build a new house of worship. On October 20, 1859, the Jews of Hemmerden celebrated this accomplishment with a festive inauguration. Although the Nazis had expropriated the synagogue in early 1938, it was nevertheless destroyed on Pogrom Night. Concerned about the safety of a nearby fuel depot, the mayor ordered the rioters not to burn down the synagogue. The building served as a prisoner detention center for the duration of the war. Later reconstructed, it is now a warehouse; a section of the building, however, has been restored as a memorial.
Author / Sources: Moshe Finkel
Sources: LJG, SIA, SG-NRW