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WUPPERTAL, city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany; formed by the amalgamation of Elberfeld, Barmen, and other towns in 1929. Elberfeld had a Jewish population by the latter part of the 16th century – in 1593 every Jew had to contribute ten thalers for the defense of the town. An expulsion order of 1598 was carried out only half-heartedly. Sixty Jewish families were admitted in 1671. A new Judenordnung ("Jews' Statute") was introduced into the duchy of Juelich in 1749, imposing a heavy tax burden. The yarnmakers of Elberfeld had always strenuously opposed Jewish settlement, and in 1794 all Jews were expelled from the town, returning when it was under French rule (1806–15). Their position then greatly improved. In 1808 there were nine Jewish families in the town, and 21 in 1818. A synagogue was built in 1865. In 1875 the number of Jews in Elberfeld was 813, growing to 1,104 in 1880; 1,705 in 1905; and 3,000 in 1932. The poet Else *Lasker-Schueler was born there.

After the 1794 expulsion, Jews were admitted into Barmen under French rule; however, by 1877 there were no more than ten families in the town. The community numbered 584 in 1905, and 750 (0.33 percent of the total population) in 1926 (unchanged in 1933).

The number of Jews in Wuppertal was approximately 3,500 (0.8 percent) in 1933, but had decreased to just over 1,000 in 1939, plus about 650 so-called Mischlinge (mixed Jews). In November 1938 the synagogues were destroyed and many Jewish inhabitants deported to *Dachau. Most of those who remained at the outbreak of war in 1939 perished in the Holocaust. A "branch" of the *Buchenwald concentration camp operated outside Wuppertal in 1942–43. A small Jewish congregation was re-established after 1945, numbering approximately 150 persons in 1967.

The Jewish community numbered 82 in 1989 and 2,293 in 2004. The increase is explained by the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. A new synagogue was consecrated in 2002. In 1994 a new cultural and educational center was opened in memory of the members of the Jewish community who were expelled and killed during the Nazi era. Built on the site of the destroyed synagogue in Elberfeld, it serves as a venue for exhibitions, lectures, and seminars. Wuppertal is the seat of the Else Lasker-Schueler Society, founded in 1990.


E. Jorde, Zur Geschichte der Juden in Wuppertal (1933); Monumenta Judaica, Handbuch (1963), index; K. Duewell, Die Rheingebiete in der Judenpolitik des Nationalsozialismus vor 1942 (1968), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: K. Schnoering, Auschwitz begann in Wuppertal. Juedisches Schicksal unter dem Hakenkreuz (1981); P. Busmann, Auf den Schatten gebaut. Von der inneren zur aeusseren Entstehung der Begegnungsstaette Alte Synagoge Wuppertal (1996); U. Schrader and H. Jakobs, Ma Towu… Alte Gebetbuecher der Juedischen Kultusgemeinde Wuppertal (2000); L. Goldberg, Dies soll ein Haus des Gebets sein fuer alle Voelker (2002); T. Ahland and U. Schrader (eds.), Haus des Lebens. Der juedische Friedhof in Wuppertal-Barmen (2004).

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