General information: First Jewish presence: 16th century; peak Jewish population: 130 in 1903; Jewish population in 1933: 72
Summary: Although records from the second half of the 16th century mention the presence in Ahaus of individual “protected” Jews, it was not until 1678 that Jews began to reside there permanently. The community’s first synagogue, erected in 1818, was destroyed in a neighborhood fire in 1863, after which, in 1869, a new synagogue was inaugurated. Ahaus Jews also maintained a Jewish school and a mikveh, the latter of which was built behind the synagogue in 1898. The synagogue was vandalized in 1934 and in 1935, and we also know that the building was set on fire on Pogrom Night, when Jewish homes and stores were severely damaged. By 1941, 46 Jews had left the town, of whom 17 had gone to the Netherlands and 16 to other localities in Germany.Eighteen Jews were later deported to the ghettos in Riga and Theresienstadt; of these, most ultimately perished in the Auschwitz and Sobibor death camps, as did some of those who had earlier reached the Netherlands and other German cities. At least 47 Ahaus Jews perished in the Shoah.
Photo: Devastated interior of the synagogue of Ahaus after a bomb attack in 1934. Courtesy of: City Archive of Ahaus.
Author / Sources: Moshe Aumann; Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-NRW
Located in: North Rhine-Westphalia