General information: First Jewish presence: 1783; peak Jewish population: 59 in 1885 (10% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: unknown (43 in 1930)
Summary: The history of Jewish Embken began in 1783, when a Jew named Lester Cain was permitted to settle there. In 1866 or 1867, prior to which prayer services had been conducted in a private residence, the Jewish community purchased a building on Neffetalstrasse (formerly Kirschlandstrasse) and converted it into a synagogue; in the adjacent house, which was also owned by the community, the synagogue’s caretaker lived free of charge. We also know that Embken’s Jewish cemetery was consecrated in 1884, and that the congregation belonged to the district synagogue association of Dueren. Anti-Semitic violence erupted in Embken as early as 1935. Later, on November 10, 1938, SA men ravaged the synagogue; a boy removed the Star of David from the roof. Using straw from Theo Classen’s barn as fuel, the rioters set fire to the building, which burned down to its foundations. Outside, SA men burned the Torah scrolls and ritual objects. Kahn’s house was ravaged on Pogrom Night, and the Schwarz family home was set on fire. Seven local Jews were deported to the East at the outset of the war. According to Yad Vashem, at least 34 Embken Jews perished in the Shoah. As a result of post-war vandalism, the Am Muehlberg cemetery now has only 26 gravestones. In 1985, 1987 and 1988, the cemetery was heavily damaged. As of this writing, a memorial has never been erected in Embken.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans