Jewish cemeteries (Rees) - Jüdische Friedhöfe (Rees)

There are two Jewish cemeteries in the Lower Rhine city ​​of Rees ( North Rhine-Westphalia ) : the old cemetery in the street Am Weißen Turm, which was used as a burial place by the Jewish community from 1780 to 1872 , and the new cemetery in the Weseler street which took place from 1872 to 1979 funerals. [1]

The first mention of a Jewish citizen (Salomon, called Vynes) is in Rees in 1346. The first Jewish burial site existed on the city wall at the White Tower in Rees as early as 1700/1702. In 1979, Erich Plaat, the last citizen of the Jewish faith, died in Rees. He was buried in the New Cemetery. [2]

Old cemetery (at the white tower)

Old Jewish cemetery at the White Tower

The Jewish Old Cemetery, which is located on the city ​​wall , Am Weißen Turm, and was used from 1780 to 1872, has 24 tombstones today (2019). The burial place was also used by Jewish citizens from Haldern , Millingen and Isselburg . The cemetery is closed, digging over is not permitted according to the Jewish rite. Therefore, when the burial site was occupied, the new cemetery on Weseler Strasse was opened. [3]


Before a Jewish cemetery in Rees was built on the city wall (= outside the city for fear of contagion and epidemics; not endangered by the Rhine flood), a monastery of the Templar Order (White Templar Lords; dissolved in 1312) probably stood there in the Middle Ages . In later years the area was part of the city fortifications, which were renewed by the French occupation in 1758–1763. In 1815 there were six Jewish families (Cohen, Herz, Mandel, Marcus, Spier and Wolff) living in Rees. In 1846 there were already 126 Jewish citizens living in the city of Rees. [4]

“Around 1700, the city of Rees sold the Jewish community a piece of land on the approximately eight-meter-wide city wall to build a flood-free cemetery. This was expanded in 1786. In 1872 this cemetery was closed because it was completely occupied; Since then, burials have taken place in the second Jewish cemetery on Weseler Strasse. The location of this cemetery is unique in the Rhineland. Since Jewish burials were required outside the city by order of the Rees magistrate at that time, the graves in the vicinity of the city could have been washed away during floods of the Rhine. The burials on the flood-free city wall did not violate the city's instructions. A permanent burial place for the Jewish fellow citizens was created. The cemetery is closed all the time.[5]


Entrance to the Jewish cemetery on the city wall

S. Mendel and S. Mendel, geb. Spier. The tombstone is decorated with a symbol of the Israelite tribe Cohen ( Kohanim ), two priestly hands giving blessings .


In 1976 the cemetery was still "in a deplorable condition " [6] because children played there and the city of Rees, which maintains the burial site today, did not (yet) feel responsible.


At the suggestion of the Rees city archivist Hermann Terlinden , who was already working on the Jewish burial sites in Rees in the 1970s, the local historian Dieter Roos documented the inscriptions on the gravestones in the two Jewish cemeteries in Rees. Dieter Roos created occupancy lists as well as location and occupancy plans, made copies and photographed and measured the stones. With the support of Jacob Becker (Netherlands), the Jewish community in Aachen (R. Adler) and Ulrich Hein ( Gerhard Mercator University / Duisburg University of Applied Sciences)) the existing Hebrew gravestone inscriptions could be translated. The publication of Dieter Roos' work was financially supported by the North Rhine-Westphalia Foundation. Photos of the gravestones were taken between 1992 and 1994 by Dieter Roos and Herbert Schüürman .

From 1985 to 1987 all gravestones were photographed by Michael Brocke . The Reeser Dieter Roos created a full documentation of all graves from 1990 to 1996. From 1991 to 1993 a list of the cemetery was drawn up by Dieter Peters .

New cemetery (Weseler Strasse)

Jewish cemetery on Weseler Strasse

The Jewish New Cemetery on Weseler Strasse in Rees was used as a burial place by Jewish citizens from 1872 to 1979 and today (2019) has 69 gravestones. The area of ​​the New Cemetery was initially larger and ran between Weseler Strasse and Feldstrasse.

The cemetery was badly damaged during the November pogrom in 1938. The city of Rees asked the Jewish community to put the tombstones up and put them back in order. In 1941 the last head of the community was forced to cede the unoccupied northern part of the cemetery, 570 m², to the city of Rees. The city of Rees did not return the area illegally acquired during the Nazi era after the war.

The symmetrical facility on a rectangular floor plan can be entered via a gate from Weseler Straße with a wide central aisle. Steles standing in eight rows face the central aisle. Most of the graves are well preserved, some with stone surrounds. The oldest tombstones are in the left part of the cemetery, the younger ones on the right. [7]

The last Jewish citizen, Erich Plaat, was buried on February 28, 1979 in the Jewish cemetery on Weseler Strasse.

Tombs and burials

The older of the 69 tombstones are written in Hebrew , but newer ones are also written in German.


An inscription reads: "You only grieved your husband, children and relatives once when you left the world too early." [8]


  • October 30, 1872: First burial in the New Cemetery.
  • August 1, 1970: Moritz Plaat, officer in the First World War, last living in the Haldern district
  • February 28, 1979: Erich Plaat, brother of Erich Plaat, from Haldern.


The maintenance of the New Cemetery is today commissioned by the city of Rees.


As with the Old Cemetery, Michael Brocke photographed all gravestones from 1985 to 1987. The Reeser Dieter Roos created a full documentation of all graves from 1990 to 1996. From 1991 to 1993 a list of the cemetery was drawn up by Dieter Peters.


Because of the persecution of Jews during the Nazi tyranny and its consequences, there is no Jewish community in Rees today (2019). Rees belongs to the area of ​​the Jewish community Duisburg-Mülheim / Ruhr-Oberhausen . The closest synagogues are in Duisburg and Oberhausen.


  • Brocke, Michael and Mirbach, Hartmut: Boundaries of Life. In Jewish cemeteries on the Lower Rhine . Duisburg 1988, 92 pages. (Pp. 89-92: Directory of Jewish cemeteries in the Düsseldorf administrative region, edited by Barbara Pörsch).
  • Peters, Dieter: Land between the Rhine and Maas. Genealogical data from Jewish cemeteries in the former Rhine province and in the Dutch province of Limburg . Kleve 1993, 326 p. (Contains allocation lists)
  • Pracht-Jörns, Elfi: Jewish cultural heritage in North Rhine-Westphalia, part 2. Düsseldorf district . Cologne 2000, 707 pp. (Contains history)
  • Reuter, Ursula: Jewish communities from the early 19th to the beginning of the 21st century . (= Historical Atlas of the Rhineland VIII.8.) Bonn 2007.
  • Roos, Dieter: The Jewish cemeteries in Rees, Reeser Geschichtsverein Ressa, eV (Ed.) , Emmerich 1996, 212 p. (Pp. 4–61, 206–209; contains a full documentation of the old and new cemetery).
  • Terlinden, Hermann: The Jewish cemeteries in Rees . In: Matenaar, Franz (ed.): Calendar for the Klever Land. To the year 1977 , Kleve 1976, p. 100f. (contains: history of the old and new cemetery),


Commons : Old Jewish Cemetery (Rees) - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Neuer Jüdischer Friedhof (Rees) - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Roos, The Rees Jewish Cemeteries , 1996.
  2. vgl. Terlinden, 1976, 100f.
  3. s. Roos, The Rees Jewish Cemeteries , 1996.
  4. s. Terlinden, 1976, 100f.
  5. Quoted from: Stadt Rees, Jüdische Friedhöfe
  6. Vgl. Terlinden, 1976, 101.
  7. See the text of the city of Rees "Jewish cemetery on Weseler Strasse" on the city's website.
  8. cit. after: Terlinden, 1976, 101.