General information: First Jewish presence: unknown (see below); peak Jewish population: unknown; Jewish population in 1933: unknown
Summary: Although Jews may have settled in Epe before 1805, it was only then that a continuous Jewish presence was established there. In nearby Ahaus, the synagogue association issued a statute that established the sub-community of Gronau- Epe-Nienborg. Services were conducted in a rented prayer room until 1891. In 1907, the community inaugurated a synagogue on 5 Wilhelmstrasse; the brick building accommodated approximately 50 worshipers, a balcony for women and a mikveh. Although the Jews of Epe were not able to hire a teacher or a cantor, it is likely that religious education was provided by the district rabbinate of Muenster, to which the community belonged. Burials were probably conducted in Gronau, where a Jewish cemetery had been consecrated in 1828. On Pogrom Night, SA men ravaged the synagogue and set the building on fire. Jewish homes were also damaged, and Jews were assaulted. Reports mention a Jewish woman, who had been treated thus and whose husband had been arrested, pleading for help, but to no avail, for her non-Jewish friends feared reprisals. Hugo Lebenstein, Simon Pagener and an 84-year-old by the name of Jonas were dragged onto the street and abused so badly that they had to be hospitalized. Next to the burning synagogue building, SA men sang festive songs and tried to prevent the fire brigade from extinguishing the fire. A memorial plaque was later affixed to the synagogue building, now used by the Red Cross as a social hall for the elderly. At least 68 Epe Jews perished in the Shoah.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans