Dortmund - Dorstfeld

General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 110 in 1885; Jewish population in 1933: 83
Summary: Jews arrived in Dorstfeld at some point in the 1600s, after they were banished from the nearby city of Dortmund. The Dorstfeld authorities announced that they would welcome these Jews, triggering the establishment of what would become the largest and most important Jewish community in the area during this period. It is worth noting that in 1818, when the ban on Jews living in Dortmund was rescinded, Dorstfeld lost half of its Jewish population in fewer than 25 years. Services were conducted in private residences until 1818, when a modest synagogue, with a simple wooden door and plain glass windows, was built in Dorstfeld. The curtains were not made of silk, but, rather, of inexpensive cotton, and the furniture, including the ark, was of low-grade cedar. The synagogue was renovated in 1860, and a small school was constructed adjacent to the building. Anti-Semitism escalated in early 1938: the exterior of the synagogue was defaced with anti-Semitic slogans, Jewish-owned businesses were vandalized and Jews were humiliated and mocked in the streets. The deteriorating situation climaxed on Pogrom Night, when SA members broke the synagogue’s windows and demolished the interior; the Torah scrolls and other holy books were thrown onto the street and set on fire. The synagogue building was torn down in 1940. A granite block, with a plaque mounted on it, was later unveiled near the former synagogue site.
Author / Sources: Moshe Finkel
Sources: LJG, SIA, SG-NRW