In Monheim am Rhein, the Jewish cemetery in the Sandberg area and the memorial at Kradepohl square commemorate Jewish life and its brutal end under National Socialism. The Catholic cemetery commemorates the men and women who were forced to work in Monheim during the Second World War.
In addition, the Stolpersteine and one Stolperschwelle act as little memorials dotted about the town.
After being granted permission to build a prayer house on Grabenstrasse in October 1844, Monheim’s Jewish community established a cemetery in the Sandberg area, at that time still far from the nearest settlement.
The oldest legible inscriptions on the six gravestones that still exist date from the 1890s, including those for Bernhard Herz (1830–1896) and his wife Friedericka, née Josephs (1826–1891). The final burials were those of Helene Wagner (née Herz) in 1953 and her husband Hermann in 1960.
In 1967 the town had the cemetery grounds redefined and enclosed by a wall. On May 18, 1969, a stone slab with an inscription commemorating Monheim’s Jewish community was unveiled. Designed by sculptor and master stonemason Heinz Püster (1908–1983), it was donated by the local branch of the association for civil self-protection "Bundesverband für den Zivilen Selbstschutz."
On November 9, 1988 – the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht – a memorial with an inscription commemorating the injustices of 1933–1945 was unveiled at Kradepohl. It recalls the victims of the National Socialist persecution of Jews. The German inscription also appears in Hebrew: "זכר לעוול". The work was created by the Baumberg sculptor Hans Schweizer (1925–2005).
Regular commemorative events take place at the memorial, for example during the annual youth exchange between the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium and Shifman High School from our Israeli twin town of Tirat Carmel or on November 9 after the annual ceremony in the Altstadtkirche church to remember Kristallnacht on the same day in 1938.
Near the southern wall of the Catholic cemetery, a memorial stone for twenty forced laborers buried there was dedicated in December 2018. The German plaque reads: "Here lie forced laborers who lived and worked in Monheim." It unites but also corrects the inscriptions of two older stones which can be found close by.
One of them was donated by the chain factory Pötz & Sand, as the inscription suggests: "Erected by the company Pötz & Sand in gratitude to our loyal Russian colleagues, who perished in the bombing raid on February 21, 1945." However, not all of the ten people honored with inscriptions actually died on February 21, 1945, not all of them were of Russian origin, and they didn’t all work for Pötz & Sand.
A smaller stone whose donor is unknown mentions the names of a further ten forced laborers.
A group of students at the Peter Ustinov school and their teacher Gregor Randerath came up with the idea for the commemorative plaque on the outside of the wall on Friedhofstrasse, which was added in February 2005. It commemorates forced laborers in Monheim, Baumberg and Hitdorf during the Second World War. The number 1400 in the inscription is a reference to this. The first forced laborers were Polish prisoners of war who came to Monheim in 1939.
The sculpture "Klagende Mutter", or "Lamenting Mother", by the Monheim sculptor and master stonemason Heinz Püster (1908–1983), was unveiled on the national day of mourning in 1954. In front of the group of figures, there is a stone tablet with the inscription "For our dead | 1914–1918 | 1939–1945". A document was inserted into the base of the monument, which reads:
"[...] nine and a half years after the end of the Second World War, the community of Monheim dedicates this memorial to the memory of those who have fallen in all wars and of those who gave their lives for their convictions. This memorial was created from a seven-ton limestone block according to a design by the sculptor Heinz Püster. It depicts a mother with two children who has lost all her worldly belongings following the death of her husband at war and the devastating night-time air raids. Her gaze into the unknown is marked by mourning and lamentation. The boy’s face shows that he has already acknowledged this misery, while the girl looks up at her mother, amazed and unaware. All have come to know mankind’s capacity to kill. The dead shall be honored, but the destruction of the life created by GOD shall be condemned. […] It is the will of its sponsor, the office director Hugo Goebel, that this memorial should remind the community of the inviolable dignity and the natural rights of every individual to life, freedom, property, freedom of conscience and the right to resist."
Monheim am Rhein had the sculpture and plaque restored in July 2020.
Buter, Peter; Pohlmann, Rudolf: Franz Boehm 1880–1945. Glaubenszeuge und Märtyrer, Monheim am Rhein 2005.
Hennen, Karl-Heinz: Zwangsarbeit in Monheim, Baumberg und Hitdorf, Monheim am Rhein 2012.
Hennen, Karl-Heinz: Geschichte der Juden in Monheim / History of Jews in Monheim, Monheim am Rhein 2014.
Hennen, Karl-Heinz: Verfolgung und Denunziation im Amt Monheim 1933 bis 1945, Monheim am Rhein 2020.