Bad Bentheim

General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century; peak Jewish population: 81 in 1885; Jewish population in 1933: 24
Summary: The Jewish community of Bad Bentheim emerged in the 17th century. By 1881, most members were merchants and butchers. Jewish cemeteries were consecrated in Bad Bentheim in 1694 and 1874 (on In den Bergkaempen and Hilgenstiege, respectively). The community established a synagogue on Synagogenstiege/Willhelmstrasse in 1853 and a school in 1864, the latter of which moved to new buildings in 1874 and 1912 and closed in 1922. Bad Bentheim Jews were active in local politics and social life, serving on the board of the sports club, the teachers’ association and the organization of poultry farmers. A branch of the Jewish Benevolent Society (an organization that aided Jewish migrants from Poland) was established in Bad Bentheim at some point in the 1920s. In 1933, 24 Jews lived in Bentheim, of whom at least 11 left before 1938. Later, on Pogrom Night, Jewish men were arrested, Jewish properties were vandalized and the synagogue’s interior was demolished; ritual objects were left on the street, but a neighboring resident saved them from destruction. The municipality confiscated the synagogue, after which, in 1939, the building was sold. Twelve local Jews left (most fled to the Netherlands) after Pogrom Night; the town’s last two Jews left in 1942. At least 17 Bad Bentheim Jews died in the Shoah. During the 1960s, the synagogue site accommodated a commercial building. A memorial was erected on Synagogenstiege in 1985.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen; Sources: AH, HU, JG NB1, SIA
Located in: Lower Saxony