General information: First Jewish presence: 17th century; peak Jewish population: 223 in 1846; Jewish population in 1933: 200
Summary: Merzig authorities closed this community’s prayer room, which was located in a private residence, in or around the year 1729, and it was not until 1780 that Jews were permitted to establish another. The town was home to a Jewish cemetery (consecrated before 1748 and enlarged in 1904 and again in 1910) and, after 1842, to a synagogue on the corner of Rehstrasse and Neustrasse. Merzig Jews maintained a Jewish school from 1823 until 1876, after which the community employed a teacher of religion, who also performed the duties of chazzan and shochet. In 1933, approximately 200 Jews still lived in Merzig. Seventeen children studied religion that year, and nine Jewish associations were active in the community, with which the Jews of Brotdorf and Hilbringen were affiliated. Most Jews left Merzig after the Saarland region was returned to the German Reich in March 1935. Accordingly, the community was disbanded in 1937. On Pogrom Night, the synagogue was set on fire, Jewish-owned homes and businesses were vandalized and the cemetery was largely destroyed. The synagogue building was subsequently repaired and used by the municipality until 1944, when the building was destroyed during an air raid. On October 22, 1940, at least seven Merzig Jews were deported to Gurs, France. At least 44 local Jews perished during the Shoah. The cemetery, restored in 1949, houses a memorial plaque (unveiled there that same year). A plaque was also erected at the former synagogue site in 1961; and in 1976, one year after the street on which the synagogue once stood was renamed Synagogenstrasse (“synagogue street”), a new plaque was unveiled at the site.
Author / Sources: Heike Zaun Goshen
Sources: AJ, EJL
Located in: saarland