Jewish cemetery

The Jewish burial ground in Rüthen is as such the oldest, originally preserved cemetery in Westfalen. In 1625, the town of Rüthen gave the local Jews the moat at the edge of the northern town wall, east of the Hachtor, as a permanent burial ground for their deceased, after Jewish burial grounds had already been established there in earlier times (probably since the late Middle Ages). Evidence of older Jewish life in Rüthen can be found in written sources from the years 1447 and 1279. A continuous Jewish settlement in the town of Rüthen took place from 1587. The Jewish community was destroyed by the Nazis in 1942.

The right of burial in the local "Judenhagen" - the oldest name of the Jewish cemetery at the Hachtor - granted by the council of the town of Rüthen in 1625 was additionally valid from the year 1700 for the Jews who since then have also been documented in the town village of Altenrüthen. The last grave was laid out in 1958, since then this cemetery is to be regarded as orphaned or closed according to Jewish rites.

The extremely rare original topography of a Jewish cemetery surviving from the urban Middle Ages, which is still visible here, makes this burial ground a Westphalian cultural monument of supra-regional importance.

In 2009, the city of Rüthen was the first municipality in North Rhine-Westphalia to collaborate with the Steinheim Institute for German-Jewish History in Duisburg in the scientific cataloging and indexing of the 80 gravestones remaining from more than 200 gravesites on a total area of 1821 square meters with the aim of digitally editing them. The institute employee Nathanja Hüttenmeister M.A. translated and interpreted the inscriptions with their ornamental symbolism and explained the sepulchral cultural development of the burial place. The biographical and genealogical research results, which she also compiled in the process, can be supplemented, expanded, and possibly corrected in the future without any problems due to the transparency and flexibility of the selected digital edition technique. The city archives of Rüthen( will be happy to receive any suggestions and information in this regard.

Link to the Steinheim Institute homepage

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