General information: First Jewish presence: 14th century (perhaps earlier); peak Jewish population: 70 in 1936; Jewish population in 1933: 56
Summary: Jews were persecuted in Kusel during the Black Death pogroms of 1349. In 1542, local Jews were expelled from the region, as were all Jews living in the Duchy of Zweibruecken. It was not until the mid-18th century that Jewish presence was re-established in the town. In 1844, the community inaugurated a synagogue on Ziegelgasse. Burials, however, were conducted in Thallichtenberg. Fifty-six Jews lived in Kusel in 1933. Later, on Pogrom Night (November 1938), rioters vandalized the synagogue, destroyed its interior and damaged Jewishowned stores and houses. Jewish men were sent to Dachau. Fifteen Kusel Jews managed to escape to safe countries, approximately 30 went to countries that were later occupied by the Nazis, and the others relocated within Germany. On October 22, 1940, the remaining Jews were deported to the concentration camp in Gurs, France. At least 23 Jews from Kusel perished in the Shoah. The synagogue building—used as a public bathhouse after 1938—was torn down in 1982 or 1984.
Author / Sources: Esther Sarah Evans