General information: First Jewish presence: 16th century; peak Jewish population: 80 in the mid-19th century; Jewish population in 1933: 45 Jews (nine families)
Summary: Jews first settled in Werne in the 16th century, under the protection of the Bishop of Muenster. Although most local Jews were merchants, a few managed to establish themselves as craftsmen. In 1820, the Jewish community built a small synagogue on the market square. School-age children were able, from 1808 onwards, to study religion and Hebrew in the apartment of the community’s teacher; Werne was also home to a Jewish school for several years during the 1860s. Consecrated in the 17th century and enlarged in 1780, Werne’s Jewish cemetery was built near the city hall; today, it contains 35 extant gravestones. On Pogrom Night, rioters assaulted Jewish men and destroyed the synagogue and many Jewish residences. A number of local Jews managed to emigrate from Germany before 1940, taking with them a Torah scroll that has since been put on display by the Hebrew Tabernacle Congregation of New York City. In 1981, a commemorative plaque was affixed to the wall of the Jewish cemetery; another plaque has been unveiled next to Werne’s city hall.
Author / Sources: Swetlana Frank
Sources: LJG, SG-NRW