History of the Jewish community in Essen

The collection focuses on the lives of Jews in Essen during the 20th century. It contains audio interviews, short biographical accounts and more detailed biographies, correspondence, private photographs, diaries, school reports, poetry albums, and other material documenting a large variety of individual experiences. Contacts to former members of Essen’s Jewish community and their descendents continuously provide new material that is integrated in the collection.

Different kinds of documents on Essen Jewry such as secondary literature, newspaper articles and essays – are a further source of information..

A special emphasis of our collection lies on the history of the synagogue itself. Building plans, drawings and other official documents relating to its construction, and numerous photographs illustrating the different phases of its eventful existence are on display.

Book of Memory

Between 1985 and 2006 the Old Synagogue conducted a special project entitled “Book of Memory”. Inspired by the concept of active remembrance, individual citizens, pupils, school classes and youth groups undertook to trace and document the life and fate of a particular person murdered in the Shoah. The Old Synagogue supported the research, providing information and establishing contact to living relatives or friends. It furnished general advice and supervised the implementation of the individual research.. On completion, the project comprised some 400 entries.


The small reference library contains a selection of books and articles on Jewish history, culture, religion and art, as well as general reference works. This is complemented by a section containing original editions of Jewish writing from the first half of the 20th century.

Reading and research facilities

The holdings of the collection are fully catalogued and are – subject to individual restrictions – available for academic, educational and journalistic use.

The use of the facilities is free-of-charge. However, a fee is levied for special services, material costs as well as use of material subject to copyright restrictions..

Please contact us prior to your visit.


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