ESSEN (in Jewish sources: עסא), city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Jews are first mentioned there in the 13th century. During the *Black Death (1349) they were expelled from the city, but subsequently allowed to return. Jews are mentioned in a list of taxpayers of 1399. Between 1545 and 1578 there were no Jews in Essen. The first municipal law concerning the trades open to Jews was passed in 1598. Jurisdiction over Essen Jewry was disputed between the monastery and the municipality during the period 1662 to 1686. Although there were only seven Jews living in Essen in 1652 and 13 in 1791, a synagogue was built there in 1683 and a cemetery consecrated in 1716. Several Jewish physicians were living in Essen in this period. With the city's expansion in the mid-19th century the number of Jews rose from 19 in 1805 to 750 in 1869.
There were approximately 5,000 Jewish residents in 1930 and 4,500 (0.7% of the total population) in 1933. Jewish businesses were Aryanized and Jewish workers, no matter how prominent, were fired, including Benno Schmidt who invented stainless steel and was dismissed by Krupp and Company. The synagogue built in 1913 was desecrated by the Nazis in 1938. Seven hundred Jewish men aged 16–60 were arrested and deported to Dachau. Among the Jews not arrested were Ingo Freed and his father; Freed went on to serve as the architect of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. By May 17, 1939, 1,636 Jews remained in Essen. Those who had not already left were deported between 1941 and 1943. Deportations commenced when 247 Jews were sent to Lodz on October 27, 1941; 121 were sent to Minsk in November; an unknown number were deported to Riga in December; and in April 1942, 355 were sent to Izbica and from there presumably to Belzec. According to ration cards issued in 1942, there were 527 Jews left in May who were confined to the Holbeckshof camp in Essen-Steele and from there were deported to concentration camps. Two hundred ninety-four were sent to Theresienstadt on July 21. In April 1944, 39 Jews still lived in Essen, mostly people in mixed marriages. In the fall the Jewish population grew as an acute labor shortage at Krupp led to the arrival of 520 young Jews. Many later died in Bergen-Belsen. About 100 survivors returned after the war. A community was again established in Essen after the war and a synagogue was opened in 1959. There were 170 Jews living in Essen in 1970 (0.03% of the total population) and 130 in 1989. As a result of the immigration of Jews from the Former Soviet Union, their number rose to 667 in 2003.
S. Samuel, Geschichte der Juden in Stadt und Stift Essen … 1291 – 1802 (1905); Baron, 14 (1969), 209ff.; idem, Geschichte der Juden in Stadt und Synagogenbezirk Essen 1802 – 1913 (1913); Germ Jud, 2 (1968), 227; H.J. Steinberg, Widerstand und Verfolgung in Essen 1933 – 1945 (1969). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Zimmermann, Juedisches Leben in Essen 1800 – 1933 (1993).