General information: First Jewish presence: 16th century; peak Jewish population: 40 in 1880s; Jewish population in 1933: 39
Summary: Jews settled in Gemen after their expulsion from the archbishopric of Muenster in 1560. The community established a prayer room at 92 Loewenstein (a residence) in the early 19th century; although the house was destroyed by fire in 1864, it was quickly rebuilt and used for another 50 years. In 1912, an Art Nouveau-style synagogue of Orthodox orientation was inaugurated on Ahauserstrasse. Other communal institutions included a mikveh (located in a private residence on Rohrig) and a Jewish cemetery on Otto- Hahn-Strasse, the latter of which was consecrated in 1810. In 1935, during a synagogue service, worshippers were attacked by Austrian members of the Nazi Party who were stationed near Gemen. On Pogrom Night (November 1938), SA men set the synagogue on fire, destroying the interior and roof. The ruins were demolished in 1943. By 1939, 32 Jews had left Gemen. According to records, 26 local Jews perished in the Shoah. A memorial stone was unveiled at the former synagogue site in 1988. Oskar Loewenstein, co-founder of the Association for the Safeguarding of Traditional Judaism in Westphalia, was a native of Gemen.
Author / Sources: Beate Grosz-Wenker
Sources: EJL, SG-NRW