General information: First Jewish presence: 18th century; peak Jewish population: 161 in 1816 (28% of the total population); Jewish population in 1933: 35
Summary: In 1901, the Jews of Willmars replaced their old synagogue with a new house of worship at 80 Dorfstrasse (which later became 31 Lappichstrasse). The town’s Jewish elementary school was closed in 1920, after which the community opened a school for religious studies, presided over by a teacher who also performed the duties of chazzan and shochet. Although local Jews were able to maintain a mikveh, burials were conducted in Neustaedtles. In 1933, two Jewish children studied religion with a teacher from Mellrichstadt. On October 8, 1938 (one month before Pogrom Night) three Nazis from Bad Neustadt an der Saale ordered Willmars’ remaining Jews to assemble in the synagogue, clear out the contents and break up the Torah Ark and furniture for wood, after which the Jews, while being abused and insulted by approximately 100 onlookers, were forced to carry the synagogue’s contents to a Jewish-owned yard. The ritual objects were transferred to Bad-Kissingen, where they were destroyed on Pogrom Night. Sixteen Willmars Jews left Germany (14 for the United States), three relocated within the country, six left for unknown destinations and one died in Willmars. The village’s last Jews left in May 1941. At least 22 local Jews perished in the Shoah. The synagogue was converted into a residential building after the war. In 1980, a memorial plaque was unveiled near the former synagogue site.
Author / Sources: Nurit Borut
Sources: AJ, EJL, PK-BAV
Located in: bavaria