The History of the Stommeln Synagogue

Documents dating back to 1305 and 1321 substantiate the existence of a Jewish community in Stommeln as early as the middle ages. It is likely to have been completely annihilated in the plague pogroms of 1349.

There is no historical evidence of Jews resettling in Stommeln until the beginning of the 18th century. A larger Jewish congregation developed in the course of the 19th century.

In 1831/1832, the first synagogue was raised in a secluded backyard location; up to then, a former stable had been used as prayer house. In 1861, the membership of the Jewish Congregation peaked at 78 persons. About twenty years later, the synagogue preserved to this day was built in the same location as the first structure, and consecrated on August 11, 1882. In 1890, the number of Jews living in Stommeln totalled 40.

Following World War I, more and more Jews left Stommeln and moved to major cities or abroad. It is assumed that the last chairman Jewish Congregation moved to Cologne sometime around 1926. At this time, the synagogue was probably no longer used for worship because the Congregation no longer included ten grown men, the minimum quorum to form a so-called minyan. During the Holocaust, the last Jews remaining in Stommeln were deported by the Nazi authorities in 1942.

The synagogue had already been sold in 1937 by the Jewish Congregation in Cologne, the legal successor of the Stommeln Congregation, to a local farmer. The latter used it for storage, and this explains why the building was spared during the pogroms of November 1938. During the post-war period, the synagogue was forgotten, and not until the late 1970s did its memory re-enter the public mind.

In 1979, the City of Pulheim acquired the dilapidated building and began to restore it in 1981. The synagogue was rededicated in 1983 and has been used for cultural events ever since. In 1990/1991, the Synagogue Project was initiated and masterminded by Dr. Gerhard Dornseifer, the Head of the Culture Department at the time, who died in 2001.


Diashow (11 Pictures)