General information: First Jewish presence: 1273; peak Jewish population: 821 in 1900; Jewish population in 1933: 596
Summary: Although Jews were persecuted in Landau during the Black Death pogroms of 1348/49, a Jewish presence was re-established there in 1354. Later, at some point during the 15th century, the Jewish community disappeared from Landau. It was not until 1517 that Jews were permitted to return to the town. Landau was home to a synagogue in the 14th and 15th centuries and to a prayer room in the 16th century. Another synagogue, established in 1648, burned down in 1691, after which it was rebuilt. In 1884, the modern community inaugurated a synagogue at 3 Kaiserstrasse. We also know that the Jews of Landau maintained a mikveh. A private Jewish school and a district rabbinate were established in Landau in 1837 and 1838, respectively. After the school closed down in 1869, the community employed a teacher of religion who took on some of the duties of the chazzan; a second chazzan served as the community’s shochet and accountant. Landau’s Jewish cemetery—it was consecrated in, at the latest, 1532—was confiscated in 1688, after which burials were conducted in Essingen until 1847, when the community consecrated a new cemetery. In 1933, 596 Jews lived in Landau and 13 in the affiliated village of Arzheim; 94 children received religious instruction. Five Jewish associations and a welfare organization were active in the community. Landau’s district rabbi was Dr. Berthold Einstein, who was succeeded in 1935 by Kurt Metzger. Five Jews of Polish origin were deported to Poland in October 1938. On Pogrom Night (November 1938), axewielding SS men burned down the synagogue and destroyed Jewish homes. The town’s Jewish men were sent to Dachau; Jewish women and children were sent to Mannheim. In all, 260 Landau Jews emigrated from and 226 relocated within Germany. On October 22, 1940, 35 local Jews were deported to Gurs, in France. At least 158 Landau Jews perished in the Shoah. The cemetery houses a monument to the destroyed Jewish community.
Photo: The synagogue of Landau, probably at the end of the 19th century. Courtesy of: City Archive of Landau.
Photo 2: The synagogue of Landau, on fire, in 1938. Courtesy of: City Archive of Landau.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans
Sources: AJ, EJL, FJG