Since 1994, »Wuppertal Old Synagogue Community Centre« has been located on the premises of the former Elberfeld Synagogue (today a district of Wuppertal), which was built in 1865. The centre documents the history of Jews in Wuppertal. The synagogue burned down to its foundations when the National Socialists set fire to it on November 10, 1938.
The first Jewish community was founded in Elberfeld at the beginning of the 19th century. Individual Jews had lived here already in the 16th and 17th centuries, yet a Jewish community could only develop after the Prussian reforms of 1812 had been passed, granting Jews economic freedom. In 1846, there were 92 Jews residing in Elberfeld. The community steadily grew, already comprising of about 600 members in 1871. In 1863, the Jewish community purchased the plot of land on Genügsamkeitstraße, on which it inaugurated its new synagogue in 1865. The community continued to expand: in 1895 it had 1,200 members, by 1925 it had doubled to about 2,300 members. After the National Socialists' rise to power, anti-Semitic violence grew more frequent in Wuppertal, which Elberfeld had been incorporated into in 1929. In the night of November 9/10, 1938, National Socialists and their followers attacked Jews in Wuppertal, they destroyed Jewish shops and set fire to the synagogue in Genügsamkeitstraße. It burned down completely. At least 125 Jews from Wuppertal were deported to the Dachau concentration camp; they were released several weeks later. In consequence, many Jews emigrated: on May 17, 1939, there were only about 1,000 Jews remaining in Wuppertal. Between 1941 and 1944, the SS deported several hundred Jews from Wuppertal to ghettos and concentration camps in occupied Eastern Europe.
At least a thousand Jews from Wuppertal were deported during the Holocaust. It is not clear how many of them survived.
After the war, the plot of land where the synagogue once stood was used as a parking lot. In 1962, a bronze plaque was affixed bearing the inscription: »Here stood the synagogue of the Jewish community. It fell victim to racial fanaticism on November 9, 1938. The city of Wuppertal, November 9, 1962«. In 1988, the city counsel decided to build a memorial on the premises, which was dedicated as the »Wuppertal Old Synagogue Community Centre« in 1994. The complex consists of several parts: one part has been built to resemble the façade of a tenement building, levelling out the street's incline. The base at the lower end of the premises is where the buildings of the community centre are located. In the courtyard granite slabs mark the layout of the former synagogue, some of whose foundation fragments can still be discerned. Linked to this is an apple orchard, with trees planted on a slope. An exhibition documents the history of Jews in Wuppertal. The community centre moreover sees itself as a place of encounter.
- Begegnungsstätte Alte Synagoge Wuppertal
- +49 (0)202 563 284 3
- +49 (0)202 563 284 3
- Tuesday to Friday as well as Sunday: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed on holidays.
- Exhibition, events, library