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DORTMUND (Heb. תירמוניא), city in Germany. A privilege issued by Emperor Henry IV to the city of *Worms in 1074 granted the Jews there trading rights in Dortmund market. In 1096 Mar Shemaryah, fleeing from the crusading mob, killed himself and his whole family in Dortmund. Records pointing to the existence of an organized Jewish settlement there date from the 13th century. The Jews paid a contribution of 15 marks to the imperial treasury from 1241 to 1250. They had their own quarter or street. While in 1250 it was the archbishop of Cologne who granted a privilege to the Jews of Dortmund and was responsible for their protection, these rights and duties had passed to the emperor by 1257, and from 1300 devolved on Count Eberhard of the Mark. By 1257 the community had a Magistratus Judaeorum, a rabbi (clericus or papen), a cantor, shoḥet, and a Schulklopfer, and possessed a synagogue, a communal center, a cemetery, and a mikveh, for which ground rent had to be paid. Jews participated in the guarding of the city walls.

In the *Black Death period the Jews were expelled from Dortmund (1350); the Judenturm ("Jews' Tower") was built with the spoils seized from them. They were readmitted in 1372 (for six- to ten-year periods) after making a payment to the count. Subsequently taxes were levied from individuals and not from the community; moneylenders were allowed to charge an interest rate of 36.1% on loans made within the city but twice as much outside. Jews could acquire property only with the permission of the municipality. There were no more than ten Jewish families living in Dortmund in 1380. Another expulsion seems to have taken place around the end of the 15th century as in 1543 the Jews were readmitted for an initial period of ten years, only to be expelled once more in 1596. A privilege granted in 1750 indicates the existence of a new community in Dortmund with elders elected every three years. Under French rule (1806–15) the Jews in Dortmund as elsewhere gained equal rights.

After its incorporation into Prussia in 1815, Dortmund expanded considerably as the result of the industrial revolution. The Jewish population also increased, from 120 in 1840 to 1,000 (1.5% of the total) in 1880, and 4,108 in 1933 (0.8%). The community built a modest synagogue around 1850 and a magnificent building in 1900. Benno *Jacob, the Bible scholar, became rabbi in Dortmund (1906–29); K. *Wilhelm served as rabbi from 1929 to 1933. The community had its own elementary school, apart from a religious school, and a variety of political, charitable, and social institutions, including a communal magazine. As the main congregation was *Reform, a small Orthodox congregation (*Adass Jisroel) was established, supported also by immigrants from Eastern Europe who arrived after World War I. The pattern of persecution in Dortmund followed the evolution of German policy. The Jewish population was 4,108 (out of 540,000) in 1933. The boycott was strictly enforced and sustained beyond April 1, 1933. More than 250 Jews were arrested in the initial year of the Nazi regime. The community tried to sustain its members, offering assistance to needy members, who grew in number. The Jewish school expanded to meet growing needs and then declined as Jews left. Unlike other cities, the community was forced to close its synagogue before Kristallnacht. By August 1938 the Jewish population was reduced to 2,600 through emigration. In October 600 Jews of Polish citizenship were expelled; Jewish businesses were Aryanized at a growing pace. On Kristallnacht 600 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen; 500 more fled the city. On the outbreak of war the Jewish population was 1,222; the Jews soon became confined to "Jewish houses." Dortmund became an assembly point for deportations to the East, with about 40,000 deported in eight transports between 1942 and 1945. On April 27, 1942, between 700 and 800 Dortmund Jews were deported to Zamosc and then on to Belzec. On July 29, 1942, 331 elderly Jews were deported. By July 1944 only 334 were left, mainly partners of mixed marriages, but of those too the majority eventually suffered the same fate.

The post-war community, formed in 1945, numbered 351 in 1970, with a synagogue, communal center, and old-age home (opened in 1956). The Jewish community numbered 337 in 1989 and 3,800 in 2005 owing to immigration from the former Soviet Union. In 1998 the community center and synagogue were rebuilt. In 2003 a Jewish kindergarten was opened. From 2005 the community employed a rabbi. Dortmund is the seat of the Association of Jewish Communities in Westphalia.


Germ Jud, 1 (1934, repr. 1963), 88–90; 2, pt. 1 (1968), 170–4; H.C. Meyer (ed.), Aus Geschichte und Leben der Juden in Westfalen (1962), includes bibliography; Kaiserling, in: MGWJ, 9 (1860), 81–91; B.N. Brilling, Zur Geschichte der Juden in Dortmund (1958). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: U. Knipping, Die Geschichte der Juden in Dortmund waehrend der Zeit des Dritten Reiches (1977).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.