General information: First Jewish presence: 1345; peak Jewish population: 113 in 1901; Jewish population in 1933: 27
Summary: Local records from 1345 mention a Jew who was engaged in commerce at that time. Rheinbach’s Jewish community was established in the mid-17th century, a century during which the whole town burned down twice, and Jews were persecuted in local witch-hunts. In 1780, when nine Jewish families (39 Jews) lived in Rheinbach, the magistrate petitioned to limit the Jewish population to three or four families. Later, in 1843, 60 Jews lived there (total population: 1,597). Communal institutions included a synagogue on Schweigelstrasse (established in 1872) and two cemeteries: the first, in Rheinbach-Wormersdorf, is located on the edge of the woods near Tomburg (three gravestones are still intact); the second, located on present-day Am Juedischem Friedhof (literally “at the Jewish cemetery”), was built near the freight yard. On Pogrom Night, rioters set the synagogue on fire and confiscated Torah scrolls and ritual objects. Five Jewish men were arrested and sent to a concentration camp. The synagogue ruins were later torn down. Of the 19 Jews who lived in Rheinbach when World War II broke out, all were sent to the East, via the Bonn-Endenich transit camp, in February 1942. At least 48 Rheinbach Jews perished in the Shoah.
Photo: The burned synagogue of Rheinbach in 1938. Courtesy of: City Archive of Rheinbach.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: EJL, IAJGS, YV