General information: First Jewish presence: 16th or 17th century; peak Jewish population: 88 in 1895; Jewish population in 1933: 34
Summary: Very few Jews lived in Gemuend before the 18th century. It was not until the 19th century, in fact, when Jews from neighboring towns joined the Gemuend community, that the congregation began to experience significant growth. Religious services were conducted in a private residence, and records suggest that the community may have maintained a mikveh. In 1874, after overcoming financial difficulties—Gemuend Jews were mainly cattle dealers and butchers—the community inaugurated a synagogue on Muehlenstrasse; in celebration of this achievement, local Jews decorated the streets with flags. We also know that between 1845 and 1942, burials were conducted at the Jewish cemetery on Koelner Strasse. On Pogrom Night, non-local SA men destroyed the synagogue’s interior and burned down the building. Records indicate that several Jewish families fled to Belgium. Others moved to larger cities from which they were eventually deported to the East; the Gemuend community chairman perished in Auschwitz. In 1979, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the former synagogue site. A memorial stone, which lists the names of the 13 Shoah victims from the area, was unveiled at the Jewish cemetery in 1988. (The cemetery was not severely damaged during the Nazi period.)
Photo: Demolition of the ruins of the former synagogue of Gemuend in 1942. Courtesy of: Hans-Dieter Arntz, Euskirchen.
Author / Sources: Beate Grosz-Wenker
Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-NRW