General information: First Jewish presence: 1685; peak Jewish population: 480 in 1925; Jewish population in 1933: 364
Summary: The earliest record of a Jewish presence in Saarlouis is dated 1685. Although many of the town’s Jewish-owned business were attacked and severely damaged after the decision was made (in 1919) to place the Saarland region under the auspices of the League of Nations, Saarlouis’ Jewish community continued to grow and peaked in 1925. Jews conducted services in prayer rooms until 1828, when the community inaugurated a synagogue, with a mikveh and an elementary school, on Silberherzstrasse (Postgaesschen). The school was closed in 1875, after which the community employed a teacher/chazzan; another functionary served as shochet and as an aide to the chazzan. Saarlouis’ Jewish cemetery was consecrated in 1905, and we also know that the synagogue was renovated in 1878 and again in 1915. In 1933, 364 Jews lived in Saarlouis and the nearby villages; several Jewish associations and branches of nation-wide organizations were active in the community that year. Most Jews left Saarlouis after the Saarland was returned to Germany in March 1935. On Pogrom Night, the five remaining Jewishowned businesses were destroyed and looted, as was the synagogue’s interior. Several Jews were assaulted that night. In September 1939, Saarlouis’ remaining 18 Jews were forced to leave the town: 15 emigrated from Germany; three were deported to the Gurs concentration camp on October 22, 1940. Saarlouis’ Jewish cemetery, severely damaged during the war, is now a memorial site. The synagogue building—it served as a carpenter’s shop at some point—was converted into a church in 1968. In 1986, three years after the structure was demolished, a new building was erected on the site; inside, a memorial room was built in honor of the destroyed Jewish community and its former synagogue.
Photo: The synagogue of Saarlouis in or around the year 1920. Courtesy of: City Museum of Saarlouis.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AJ, EJL
Located in: saarland