General information: First Jewish presence: Middle Ages; peak Jewish population: 150 in 1857; Jewish population in 1933: 75
Summary: During the First Crusade, Archbishop Hermann III made Kerpen a place of refuge for the terrorized Jewish population of the surrounding area. The community, however, was destroyed in the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49. In or around 1720, several Jews established themselves in the town as traders, brewers and moneylenders. The community opened a cemetery and a synagogue in 1823 and 1830, respectively. Kerpen was also home to a Jewish school between 1823 and approximately 1939; there, the average enrollment was between 10 and 20 pupils per year. Many Jews left Kerpen after the Nazis’ election victories. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue was vandalized, as were the remaining Jewish homes. In 1941/42, the remaining 35 Jews were deported to the camps, from which they did not return. The synagogue, which had been forcibly sold to the municipality at a bargain price, was used as a warehouse and later converted into a residence. In 1988, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the entrance to the municipal cemetery.
Author / Sources: Harold Slutzkin
Sources: EJL, SG-NRW, SIA