DUESSELDORF, city in Germany, capital of North Rhine-Westphalia. Jews are first mentioned there in 1418; the cemetery of the community then served the whole region of *Berg. They were expelled from Duesseldorf in 1438. In 1582 permission was granted to one *court Jew to settle there. The community numbered 14 families in 1750 and 24 in 1775. Of these the most distinguished was the wealthy *Van Geldern family, one of whose members, the court Jew Joseph (d. 1727) in the service of the duke of *Juelich-Berg, was head (parnas umanhig) of the Jewish community of the duchy. He donated a synagogue to the community in 1712, where services were held until 1772. Joseph van Geldern's son and grandson followed him in these communal offices. During the 19th century Duesseldorf Jews achieved importance in trade and banking. The community increased from 315 in 1823 to 5,130 in 1925. A seminary for Jewish teachers functioned from 1867 to 1874. Leo *Baeck served as district rabbi from 1907 to 1912.
The events of November 10, 1938, were particularly calamitous for the Duesseldorf community since the diplomat Vom Rath, who had been assassinated by Herschel *Grynszpan at the German embassy in Paris a few days earlier, was a native of Duesseldorf. The main synagogue, built in 1905, and two Orthodox synagogues were burned down. Seven Jews were killed or died from the effects of their wounds, and about 70 were injured. In May 1939, 1,831 Jews remained in Duesseldorf, dropping to 1,400 in 1941. Most were deported to Minsk, Lodz, Riga, and Theresienstadt. Only 25 Jews remained in Duesseldorf in 1946. The community was reconstituted after the war, and in 1951 the Central Council of Jews in Germany was established in Duesseldorf. The main German Jewish newspaper, the Allgemeine Wochenzeitung der Juden in Deutschland (today Juedische Allgemeine), founded in 1946, was published there until 1985. A synagogue was inaugurated in 1958. The community numbered 1,585 in 1969. Owing mainly to the immigration of Jews from the Former Soviet Union, the number of community members rose to 7,237 in 2003. A Jewish elementary school was opened in 1993.
A. Kober, in: Festschrift… Martin Philippson (1916), 293–301; A. Wedell, in: Geschichte der Stadt Duesseldorf… zum 600 jaehrigen Jubileum (1888), 149–254; M. Eschelbacher, Die Synagogengemeinde Duesseldorf, 1904 – 1929 (1929); FJW (1932–33); B. Postal and S.H. Abramson, Landmarks of a People… (1962); H. Lachmanski, Duesseldorf und Heinrich Heine… (1893); E.G. Lowenthal, in: Die neue Synagoge in Duesseldorf (1958), 3–12. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Genger (ed.), Aspekte juedischen Lebens in Duesseldorf (1997); Juden in Duesseldorf (1998); H. Schmidt, Der Elendsweg der Duesseldorfer Juden (2005).
[Zvi Avneri /
Stefan Rohrbacher (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.