General information: First Jewish presence: 1650; peak Jewish population: 54 in 1869; Jewish population in 1933: 24
Summary: In 1848, a Jewish community was officially founded in Weilerswist as an affiliate of the regional congregation of Euskirchen. Services were conducted in a small prayer room—the house was owned by Michael Kaufmann and Simon Carl—until 1848, when the community built a synagogue at 45 Hauptstrasse (present-day Koelner Strasse); the new synagogue seated 28 men and 18 women. A Jewish cemetery was consecrated in Weilerswist a few years before the synagogue was opened. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue was burned to the ground in the presence of the fire brigade, whose members were instructed to protect the surrounding buildings from the blaze. The mob, consisting of local residents and people who came from outside the village, plundered Jewish homes and a shop owned by Willy Kain, who was detained at the police station. (Extensive documentation is available on court hearings related to thefts committed by villagers during the pogrom.) In 1939, the municipality bought the former synagogue site and sold it shortly thereafter. At least 15 Jews from Weilerswist perished in the Shoah. A memorial plaque was later affixed to the building that now stands where the synagogue once did.
Author / Sources: Swetlana Frank
Sources: FJG, LJG, SIA, YV