General information: First Jewish presence: 1266; peak Jewish population: 248 or 300 in 1905; Jewish population in 1933: 161
Summary: The Black Death pogroms of 1348/49 resulted in the murder or expulsion of Wesel’s Jews, and it was only after 1625 that another Jewish presence was recorded there. In 1829, Wesel became an independent Jewish community. Two synagogues were established in Wesel during the 17th century: the first, of unknown location, served the regional rabbi, David Jacobs, as an office after 1640; the second synagogue, in use from 1694 onwards, was located at 1299, Rheinstrasse. In 1844, the community acquired the house on Rheinstrasse (present-day Nieder/Pastor Boelitz Strasse), after which the building served as Wesel’s main synagogue. The Jewish school, located on Feldstrasse after 1861, was moved to Willibrordiplatz in the early 20th century. According to records, the community consecrated three Jewish cemeteries: at Esplanade in 1693-1696, at an unknown location in 1793 and at Ostglacis in 1880. One hundred and sixty-one Jews lived in Wesel in 1933. As a result of the anti-Jewish boycott (implemented on April 1, 1933) 20 local, Jewish-owned businesses shut down during the years that followed. On Pogrom Night (November 1938), rioters burned down the synagogue and school buildings (both had been defunct since 1935), desecrated the older Jewish cemetery and wrecked the town’s remaining Jewish-owned businesses. In 1939, forty-six Jews still lived in Wesel. Thirty Jews, the town’s last, were deported in 1942, and Wesel was declared “Judenfrei” or “free of Jews” in the autumn of 1943. Between 87 and 94 local Jews were murdered by the Nazis. Memorial plaques have been unveiled in the Jewish cemetery and at the former synagogue site.
Photo: The synagogue of Wesel in 1923. Courtesy of: City Archive of Wesel.
Photo 2: The burned synagogue of Wesel on the morning of November 10, 1938.
Author / Sources: Benjamin Rosendahl
Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-NRW