General information: First Jewish presence: 18th century; peak Jewish population: 240 in 1885; Jewish population in 1933: 94 (see below)
Summary: Wickrath’s Jewish population figure for 1933 includes Jews from the affiliated communities of Wickrathberg, Beckrath, Herrath and Wanlo. The Jewish community of Wickrath maintained a synagogue, a school and a cemetery, all established in the 19th century. Inaugurated in 1814, the synagogue was replaced in 1860 with a new building. Other communal organizations included a Jewish women’s association, with 30 members (established in 1880); a men’s association, which organized funerals and aid for the sick and indigent (25 members); and a society that took care of guests of the community. Few Jewish families prospered in Wickrath, and many left for Rheydt and Moenchengladbach in search of opportunities in the developing textile industry. In 1936, the Spier family, Jewish owners of a leatherrefining factory, was forced to leave Germany after being accused of tax evasion. Later, on Pogrom Night (November 1938), rioters set the synagogue on fire and demolished Jewish homes and shops; Jewish men were deported to Dachau. The remaining Jews were forcibly moved into “Jews’ houses” in 1939, soon after which they were deported. A memorial plaque was later unveiled in Wickrath.
Photo: Inside the synagogue of Wickrath in or around the year 1930. Courtesy of: City Archive of Moenchengladbach.
Author / Sources: Swetlana Frank
Sources: FJG, LJG, SG-NRW