General information: First Jewish presence: 1699; peak Jewish population: 151 in 1935; Jewish population in 1933: 125 or 160
Summary: The Jewish community of Castrop developed comparatively late (in the early 19th century), because Castrop was not located near any prominent trade routes. The Jewish cemetery and the prayer hall, the latter of which was located in Joseph Levi’s home on Muensterstasse, were established in 1743 and 1800, respectively. Castrop’s Jewish elementary school, which also housed an apartment for a teacher, was opened in 1839. The school was moved into the newly built synagogue at Am Ort (or Schulstrasse, present-day Simon-Cohen-Platz) in 1845; the timber-framed house of worship was inaugurated—women sat in a designated gallery—on August 15-17, 1845. Later, in 1921/22, an apse was added to the building. Many Castrop Jews prospered during the late 19th century, enabling the community to establish a sisterhood, a literature club and youth organizations. Several Jewish communities eventually merged to form the regional congregation of Castrop-Rauxel, and by the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of important businesses in the area were owned by Jews. The anti-Jewish boycott of 1933 had little effect in Castrop-Rauxel. Between 1935 and 1939, however, the Jewish population decreased by 75 percent. On Pogrom Night, November 1938, Jewish-owned stores were vandalized and looted, private residences were wrecked and Jews were assaulted. SA men from Herne set fire to the synagogue, after which the city demanded that the congregation remove the ruins, an obviously impossible task. The remaining Jews were eventually moved to designated “Jews’ Houses” and, later, deported. At least 80 local Jews perished in the Shoah (146 according to Yad Vashem). A memorial plaque marks the location of the destroyed synagogue.
Photo: The synagogue of Castrop-Rauxel after renovations in 1921/22. Courtesy of: City Archive of Castrop-Rauxel.
Author / Sources: Ruth Martina Trucks
Sources: EJL, FJG, LJG, SG-NRW