General information: First Jewish presence: 1277; peak Jewish population: 210 in 1880; Jewish population in 1933: 132
Summary: Records from the years 1318, 1389, 1425 and 1535 mention various synagogues in Wetzlar. In 1756, a new synagogue was inaugurated on Pfannenstielgasse, seating 50 men and 23 women. At some point during the 16th century, the Jewish community consecrated a cemetery in Wetzlar; another cemetery was consecrated at Silhoefer Tor (near the town wall) in the 17th century, and we also know that new Jewish burial grounds were opened on Bergstrasse in 1882. In 1933, 132 Jews lived in Wetzlar. A chevra kadisha, a women’s association and two charity associations were active in the community; a teacher/chazzan instructed nine Jewish schoolchildren in religion. On Pogrom Night, rioters destroyed the synagogue’s interior, desecrated the cemetery and ransacked Jewish homes and businesses; Jewish men were arrested, after which, it is assumed, they were sent to Buchenwald. During the years 1933 to 1938, 26 local Jews emigrated, 16 relocated within Germany and four passed away. The remaining Jews were forcibly moved to a barracks on Jahnstrasse. Approximately 50 local Jews were moved to Frankfurt am Main, from where they were deported in 1942. At least 68 Wetzlar Jews perished in the Shoah. French POWs were interned in the synagogue building during the war. The synagogue was renovated soon after the war and served Jewish internees at a displaced persons camp located near Wetzlar. The camp closed in 1948, after which the synagogue was sold to a local brewery; in 1958, the building was demolished. A retirement home—the building bears a memorial plaque—was erected on the site in 2003. Earlier, in 1989, a memorial was unveiled at the Jewish cemetery.
Author / Sources: Heidemarie Wawrzyn
Located in: hesse