The Jewish Museum of Westphalia, which opened in 1992, aims to provide visitors an insight into Jewish history and culture in Westphalia. The small Jewish community of Dorsten existed until January 1942, when the National Socialists deported the 12 Jews who remained in Dorsten until then.
In 1808, the Duke of Arenberg first permitted two Jewish families to settle in the Westphalian town of Dorsten. By 1816, a Jewish community counting 29 members had been established. At the time, the community had two prayer rooms. The community grew to comprise 100 members in 1858, and in 1869, it purchased a synagogue building in the Wiesenstraße. The synagogue community Dorsten had three sub-communities from 1910 on: Buer, Gladbeck and Bottrop; later, they all became independent. In 1933, there were about 48 Jews living in Dorsten. During the »Kristallnacht« on November 9 and 10, 1938, members of the SA and the SS and supporters of the National Socialists destroyed the synagogue's interior. They did not set fire to the synagogue due to its close vicinity to other buildings. All objects from the synagogue's interior, however, were brought to the market square and burned in front of the old town hall. Later, several Jewish families were interned in the synagogue until their deportation. The SS and the Gestapo deported about 12 Dorsten Jews in January 1942. In February 1943, the city of Dorsten purchased the synagogue building. In August 1943, the building caved in and was then completely destroyed during an air raid on March 23, 1945.
Most of the 48 Jews residing in Dorsten in 1933 emigrated from Germany under National Socialism in order to escape the increasingly harsh anti-Jewish measures. At least 12 Jews who had stayed in Dorsten were deported in 1942 by the SS and the Gestapo. Their fate remains unknown. The Dorsten Jewish Museum tries to exemplify traces of Jewish life and convey information about Jewish culture and traditions.
The establishment of the museum was brought about by the »Dorsten under the Swastika« work group, which was founded in 1982. The members of the work group came up with the idea of establishing a museum that would inform visitors about Jewish culture and traditions, thereby countering anti-Semitic prejudices. In 1987, the »Association for Jewish History and Religion« was founded; in 1992, it opened the Jewish Museum of Westphalia. In August 2001, a new building was opened and the permanent exhibition redesigned and extended. Also part of the museum are a library and a school, which has its own educational and cultural programme.
- Jüdisches Museum Westfalen
- +49 (0)2362 452 79
- +49 (0)2362 453 86
- Tuesday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Guided tours, educational programme, events, library