General information: First Jewish presence: 16th century; peak Jewish population: 160 in 1933
Summary: The synagogue of Ahlen after Pogrom Night. Courtesy of: State Archive of North Rhine – Westphalia, State Attorney of Muenster. The history of Jewish Ahlen began in 1546, when Bishop Franz von Waldock offered his protection to any Jews who wished to settle there. It was not until 1678, however, that a continuous Jewish presence was established in the town. The Jewish community experienced steady growth during the 18th and 19th centuries, numbering approximately 100 members in the second half of the 19th century (2-3% of the total population) and peaking at 160 in 1933. The synagogue, in use since 1757, was burned down on Pogrom Night. A cemetery was consecrated in Ahlen in the late 1780s, as was a new one in the 1930s. We also know that Ahlen was home to a Jewish elementary school between 1835 and 1939. The school—it had been officially recognized by the municipality in 1847—restricted its curriculum to religious studies in 1922, when enrollment there began to dwindle considerably. The Rosenberg family, which owned enamelware factories and traded in grain and textiles, was the most prominent Jewish family in Ahlen; its members chaired the community council until the Nazi period. In response to the deteriorating economic and political climate, many Jews left Ahlen after 1933: 17 reached Palestine and 17 North and South America. On October 6, 1939, the remaining 49 Jews were expelled, after which most moved to other German towns. In all, 98 Ahlen Jews who did not succeed in escaping from Germany were sent to the camps, where they perished.
Photo: The synagogue of Ahlen after Pogrom Night. Courtesy of: State Archive of North Rhine – Westphalia, State Attorney of Muenster.
Author / Sources: Moshe Aumann; Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-NRW, SIA
Located in: north-rhine-westphalia