25. Former Synagogue
Built in 1885/86
About midday of 10th November 1938,
the synagogue was set on fire and
desecrated. Rebuilt between
1998 and 2013.
The building, which was erected in 1885/86, was defiled on the 10th of November 1938 and set alight. Local inhabitants participated in this deed as well as a raiding party from the surrounding towns. Processes took place in 1950 and 1951 in Coblenz and Mayen. In the majority of the cases, the proceedings were mitigated or repealed at first instance, for reasons of amnesty, the prison sentences already having been served and due to the reigning zeitgeist. The ruin has been a monument worthy of protection since 1986. Following a suggestion by the school pupils of the Kurfürst-Balduin academic high school, an initiative was created for its reconstruction as a memorial and meeting place. The “Ehemalige Synagoge Münstermaifeld” (Former Synagogue Münstermaifeld) booster club, succeeded at completing the project in 15 years.
The building inscription above the entrance to the synagogue
"Come let us fall down and worship and kneel before the Eternal, our Creator" commemorates the year of dedication 1886 (6th verse, 95th Psalm).
There had been an independent synagogue congregation since 1863. A new cemetery was inaugurated near Mertloch in 1868, replacing the old burial place in the Eltz forest.
On 10 November 1938, the local SA leader asked the master locksmith Johann Maur to open the synagogue. When he refused, the gate was opened by force. The petrol for the arson was organised locally. Named SA men in 3 civilian vehicles without number plates from Polch, Ochtendung, Obermendig and Niedermendig are said to have been the main perpetrators. An intervention by the fire brigade is said to have been prevented by Mayor Adams.
The following witness statement brings the event back to life. St. Wendel, 03.02.1948, testimony of Pastor Peter Deschang: "At the time of the synagogue fire I was working as a chaplain in Münstermaifeld. That morning I was on my way to Münstermaifeld on my motorbike, coming from a branch.
As I was driving towards the village, I saw a cloud of smoke rising and I immediately suspected a larger fire. Deciding quickly, I drove towards the spot. When I arrived at the scene of the fire, I noticed a large number of people standing there. When I asked what kind of building was burning, Mr. Stein replied that it was the Jewish synagogue.
Mr Stein was standing near me. I can't remember whether he was wearing a uniform or not. Nor do I remember whether there were other SA men at the scene of the fire. However, since no one went to extinguish the fire, I immediately suspected arson. I could not make any perception that could lead to the conclusion of the perpetrators.
The question I asked earlier was answered by Stein in a harsh tone. He did not engage in any further exchange of words with me. I saw that my personal effort to extinguish the fire was futile and expressed my indignation in brief words, got on my motorbike and drove away.
When I was asked if I could remember any people who had gathered there, I had to answer that I did not know the inhabitants of the town at that time. I can only remember Stein. To what extent Stein was involved in this arson is beyond my knowledge.
Even during my later activity in Münstermaifeld I did not find out the names of such men who were involved in the fire or the arson. I have not suffered any disadvantages because of my expression of indignation about the synagogue fire."
After the pogrom, the community had offered to sell the building. Then the city withdrew its offer to buy and the mayor Adams stated in 1942: "The matter rests for the time being. Resubmission after the end of the war. Only the foundation walls remain on the site, which require demolition."
Trials took place in 1950 and 1951 in Koblenz and Mayen. The first-instance convictions were mostly mitigated or completely overturned on the basis of amnesties, served imprisonment and because of the times. The witnesses were usually not very cooperative.
Since 1986, the ruins have been a monument worthy of protection. At the suggestion of the pupils of the Kurfürst-Balduin-Gymnasium, an initiative was launched to rebuild it as a memorial and meeting place. The "Former Münstermaifeld Synagogue" association succeeded in completing the project in 15 years.