General information: First Jewish presence: 1712; peak Jewish population: 157 in 1925 or 160 in 1927; Jewish population in 1933: 130 or 141
Summary: Jonas Leffmann, the founder of the community, served as its leader for over thirty years (from 1817 to 1842). The community belonged to the synagogue district of Gladbeck until 1931, when it was recognized as an independent Jewish community. Viersen’s Jews conducted services in prayer halls until they acquired a building at 10 Rektoratsstrasse in 1862, in which the ground floor housed the Jewish school and the upper floor the synagogue. Jewish cemeteries were consecrated near Rahserstrasse (on the outskirts of town) and at Auf der Loeh, the latter of which was established at some point after 1907. In 1933, the synagogue district to which Viersen’s Jewish community belonged numbered 492 members. The town’s Jewish school was shut down in 1932. In Viersen, the boycott of Jewish-owned businesses was enforced zealously, with members of the SA and SS damaging Jewish property as early as 1933. On Pogrom Night, Jewish homes were vandalized and Jewish men were jailed in Anrath. The synagogue’s inventory was confiscated and stored in a local history museum, which was destroyed during the war. Both the synagogue and the cemetery were appropriated by the municipality. Most Jews left Viersen after Pogrom Night; only 48 still lived there in 1939. Deportations from Viersen began in 1941; according to Yad Vashem, at least 147 local Jews perished in the Shoah. The site of the former cemetery contains a memorial plaque. Viersen is no longer home to a Jewish community.
Author / Sources: Benjamin Rosendahl
Sources: EJL, LJG, SG-NRW, YV