General information: First Jewish presence: 15th century; peak Jewish population: 247 in 1900; Jewish population in 1933: 96
Summary: Steele’s 15th-century Jewish community was, at times, affiliated with the larger community in Essen. It was not until 1878 that the Steele community earned autonomous status. Beginning in 1791, local Jews conducted services in a prayer room. A larger synagogue and a Jewish school were established in 1802, and we also know that in 1883, the community inaugurated a new synagogue—with a nearby school—at Isinger Tor. No tombstones remain from Steele’s first Jewish cemetery, Am Knottenberg, which was in use from the 17th until the 19th century. The new cemetery on Hiltrups Kamp, consecrated in 1855, was used until 1943. On Pogrom Night, local SA and SS men set fire to the synagogue and the school; both were later demolished. Between 1941 and 1943, Steele’s Jews were sent to the Holbeckshof concentration camp, from where they were eventually deported to the East. Approximately 50 local Jews perished in the Shoah. A memorial plaque was later unveiled at 4 Isinger Tor; at the synagogue site, the outline of the destroyed house of worship has been etched into the pavement; and at the site of the former Holbeckshof camp, an inscription honors those who suffered there.
Author / Sources: Beate Grosz-Wenker
Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-NRW