[Rundweg Religion]

Dorsten's History - Station 23: Jewish Community Translation:Lyn

Two pairs of eyes are searching along the row of houses on Wiesen Street "Wiesenstraße" until they stop and stare at a bright frontage. Yes - here is about where the Jewish meeting rooms could have been. Sarah Fochler (19) and Fabian Haase (19) are looking for signs and clues. Signs and clues about the Jewish lives destroyed in their town.

Of course, Sara (an sixth form pupil at the Petrinum Grammar School) and Fabian (a pupil just about to do his A'levels at the St. Ursula Grammar School) have already learnt a lot about National Socialism. However, about what happened here in those times....? Dead loss. "Local events are hardly ever discussed", regrets Sara Fochler. It's for this reason that she didn't hesitate when the history teacher, Dr Josef Ulfkotte, asked, about a year ago, if anyone from a group of pupils was interested in helping out to produce a History Station "Geschichtsstation" about the Jewish Community in Dorsten.

Within the framework of the project The History of Dorsten, "Dorstener Geschichte", organised by the Town of Dorsten together with the Lions Club Dorsten-Hanse and the Petrinum Grammar School, the 23rd Station can be created. The appeal didn't awaken much interest. Maybe that's not surprising - entering the 13th year of school, the bell for last round for the fight to pass A'levels is ringing - one is stressed out enough already, without taking on extra work. Sara was, however, very enthusiastic. Florian as well.

Confidently, both of them started on the project. Luckily, there are still helpful teachers and a Jewish Museum, here, where the well-researched history of the Jewish citizens in Dorsten is available. "Thomas Ridder from the Jewish Museum provided us with a great synopsis", the pupils say thankfully about the reliable source. The pupils also informed themselves with the help of the publications about the history of the Jewish community produced by the research group "Dorsten unterm Hakenkreuz". "We literally leafed through them just looking for the relevant words", confessed the pupils, talking about their time-saving way of working. "There's not space for much on the board, anyway," says Fabian grinning. "Quite a lot of things had to be excluded just because of space technicalities."

The jumble of dates, generally well-known decrees and pogroms were omitted. The year 1808 is important, however, when the first Jewish citizens, the butcher Michael Samuel and Moyses David from Wesel, settle permanently in Dorsten. More families came and settled in the following years. They worked as cattle traders and butchers, chair upholsterers and cobblers, shop merchants and hawkers. The highest number in the Jewish community was 100; this number was counted in 1856, which was an important date because the very large, in terms of area, main synagogue community was established.

Then came the First World War 1914-1918: Eight Jewish men from Dorsten participate in the First World War; three of them fall. "An important piece of information is shown through this, that the Jewish citizens felt themselves to be patriotic Germans, who risked their lives for their Fatherland," explain Fabian and Sara. (Dorstener Zeitung)



The Archbishop of Cologne, Ernest of Bavaria "Ernst von Bayern" passes the first Jewish decree "Judenordnung" for west Recklinghausen "Vest Recklinghausen". For the following 200 years a few Jewish citizens live in Dorsten and Lembeck.

Gravestone of Ezechiel Hess in the Cemetery



The "Judenfeld" in Hasselbecke (nowadays still the "Judenbusch") is mentioned in a document. There is proof that the land has been used as a cemetery since the beginning of the 19th century. More cemeteries are later created in Lembeck and Wulfen.

The USA forbids the further importation of slaves.




The first Jewish citizens settle permanently in Dorsten and shortly afterwards, they set up a prayer room. Gradually the centre of the Jewish community becomes Wiesen Street "Wiesenstraße".



By order of the Prussian government, the main Jewish community develops in Dorsten. This incorporates Buer, Marl, Bottrop, Kirchhellen, Lembeck and Altschermbeck as well as Osterfeld,Erle, Rhade and Wulfen.

Obituary in the local Dorsten newspaper

1914 - 1918


Eight Jewish men from Dorsten participate in the First World War; three of them fall.

Japan leaves the League of Nations




There are about 90 Jewish citizens living in Dorsten, Lembeck and Wulfen. Some familes leave their homes and emigrate because they are frightened of the National Socialists.



SA- and SS-members as well as members of the NS-youth organisations damage the cemetery in Judenbusch, ravage the synagogue and burn contents on the Market Place.



The Jewish citizens in Dorsten are forced to live together in two "Judenhäusern" (54 Lippe Street and 24 Wiesen Street "Lippestr. 54 und Wiesenstr. 24")

Amalie Perlstein (d. 1941) with her grandchildren Ursel and Liesel, both of whom were murdered in the concentration camp.



The last of the Jewish citizens still living in Dorsten and Lembeck are deported to the Riga concentration camp. There, the tracks of many deported people are lost forever. Max and Ernst Metzger are the only two Jewish citizens from Dorsten to survive the Holocaust and they emigrate to America after the war.

The Peace Movement (


ab 1982


The research group "Dorsten unterm Hakenkreuz" studies the history of the Jewish community.

ab 1990


A few Jewish families from the former Soviet Union settle and make Dorsten their home.

Jewish Museum Westphalia




The Jewish Museum of Westphalia "Jüdische Museum Westfalen" is opened as an educational building for historical and contemporary Judaism in the region and in 2001, a modern extension is added to it.


Daten und Fakten

Eröffnung - 9th November 2005

Adresse - Moat grounds close to the Jewish Museum

Geodaten - 51°39'34.92 6°58'01.75

The editing team of the history station

The History Station

Sara Fochler and Fabian Haase contributed to the history information board abot the Jewish community.

During long and detailed discussions, down to the tiniest changes in their choice of wording, Sara and Fabian omitted things which they considered to be superfluous. The final editing was performed by Dr. Ulfkotte.

The Entrance to the Museum

"It's not at all easy to combine complex connections together in such a way that they remain understandable and make sense", stated the town historian "Stadthistoriker". "We have learnt a lot more about effective team-work and being prepared to make compromises as a consequence of our work on the history station "Geschichtsstation"," think both in unison.

The modern Extension

Der moderne Anbau

"All of this has naturally affected us emotionally but we should not just show Jewish citizens in their role as victims," explain the pupils. Therefore, the information board does not end with the end of the Jewish community but continues to relate the work of the research group "Dorsten unterm Hakenkreuz" and of the Jewish Museum Westphalia "Jüdische Museum Westfalen" in highlighting historical and contemporary Judaism.

Opening Celebrations 2005

View over the Moat of the History Station

On 9th November 2005, the history station opposite the Jewish Museum is revealed. When the cover falls away from the board, Sara and Fabian are maybe thinking that only a few streets away on exactly that day, 67 years ago, the bawling Nazis stormed into the synagogue in Dorsten with burning, flaming torches. (Dorstener Zeitung)