General information: First Jewish presence: 1230; peak Jewish population: 300 in 1895; Jewish population in 1933: 188
Summary: Although records from 1230 mention a Jewish resident in Iserlohn, it was not until the 17th century that a Jewish community was established there. During the early 18th century, Lutherans often attacked local Jews at Easter time. Banned from trade and crafts, Iserlohn Jews earned a living through peddling, ritual slaughtering and moneylending. In 1790, Jewish children worked in local factories making buttons and needles. In Iserlohn, a Jewish cemetery was inaugurated in 1819. Later, in 1831, the community built a synagogue and school on Mendener Strasse. Local Jews became more prosperous in the late 19th century, specializing in the textile trade; Iserlohn was also home to Jewish industrialists, doctors, lawyers and teachers. Jewish commerce declined during the Nazi period, and the Jewish population dropped from 132 in 1936 to 87 in 1939. Earlier, in October of 1938, 12 Jews (four families) were expelled to Poland. In 1941/42, the remaining Jews were forcibly moved into one house, after which they were deported to the East. Eighty-one Iserlohn Jews perished in the Shoah. The synagogue site—the building was torched and destroyed on Pogrom Night—now accommodates a department store. A memorial plaque has been affixed to the building.
Author / Sources: Dorothea Shefer-Vanson
Sources: AH, EJL, SIA, YV